Did [Spoiler]’s Return in the Finale Bring ’13 Reasons Why’ Full-Circle?
[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for Season 4, Episode 10 of 13 Reasons Why, “Graduation.”]
There’s no denying that Netflix’s teen drama 13 Reasons Why veered far from its course set in Season 1 but it seems that one star’s return may have tied things together. If you haven’t tuned into the final season of the series, beware of spoilers, because we’re examining how one big cameo brought the series full circle in the end.
Debuting back in 2017, 13 Reasons Why stirred up a strong response (both negative and positive) for its dramatization of Hannah Baker’s (Katherine Langford) story. Based on Jay Asher’s YA novel, the show followed the events which Hannah claimed led to her suicide, leaving behind 13 tapes recounting each reason for her decision.
Seen as controversial for its depictions of rape and suicide, the series received major backlash and ultimately shifted gears by the time Season 2 arrived, providing informational guidance on how to open up about tough subjects with parents and trusted adults. Focusing on the trial following Hannah’s death which examined each accused individual’s story, Season 2 bid her ghost farewell as her story concluded.
Considering the seasons that followed the first weren’t based on any source material, it’s understandable that the story would deviate over time, drifting away from Hannah and focusing on her classmates. After Netflix ordered two more seasons beyond Hannah’s goodbye, it was hard to picture how they’d keep viewers interested.
But Season 3’s answer to that question was introducing the death of Bryce Walker (Justin Prentice), essentially the series’ biggest villain. A serial rapist who consistently avoided repercussions for his actions, including his involvement in Hannah’s suicide, viewers were introduced to a different side of Bryce as he attempted to better himself in Season 3.
When he was injured by classmate Zach (Ross Butler) and left at the end of the docks where the altercation took place, former classmates Jessica (Alisha Boe) and Alex (Miles Heizer) were the ones to find him. Begging for their help, Bryce asks for assistance only to be dropped into the water by Alex, leaving him and Jessica responsible for the big death.
Sure, Hannah’s name came up every now and then, but her story became less and less prominent over time and even more so in Season 4 as Clay (Dylan Minnette), the young man who carried a flame for her, was driven mad with paranoia due in part to the stress of all the secrets he was trying to keep hidden. After Bryce’s death remained unsolved in Season 3, newbie Ani (Grace Saif) named his former friend and classmate Monty (Timothy Granaderos) as the culprit after his death in prison.
Monty was sent to prison after fellow classmate Tyler (Devin Druid) came forward with allegations of assault, which occurred in Season 2. Accusing a dead guy of murdering someone would certainly seem to solve everyone’s problems, but for Clay the guilt of letting Monty’s name get dragged ate at him. Mixing in various other complications, it would seem that 13 Reasons Why is nearly unrecognizable from its Season 1 self until Hannah shows up one last time.
In the series finale, Langford reprised her role for a split second, meeting Clay in the gym where she still wears the dress from their Season 1 Winter Formal dance. Even though the show veered from the path originally set, this nod to Hannah certainly brought things full circle in the end, allowing Clay and viewers some closure following a dramatic four season experience. Brief as it may be, the scene is far less heartbreaking than where the final season leads viewers, revealing the death of another Liberty High student (which we won’t reveal because it’s that shocking).
Other familiar faces popped back up as well, but you’ll have to tune in to see who they are — but don’t fret because 13 Reasons Why finds its way in the end, providing as satisfying a conclusion as possible.
13 Reasons Why, Season 4, Streaming now, Netflix