Summary: In flashbacks, Hannah accidentally loses several hundred dollars. She isn't close with Clay anymore. In her depression, she goes to one of Bryce's party and he rapes her. She begins to work on the tapes. In the present, Jessica remains hostile towards Justin. The students all receive notice for subpoenas except Sheri. Clay talks with Bryce and accuses him of being a rapist. Bryce beats him up.
The Good: There was appropriate misery for Hannah here. With just one episode left in the season, we really had to understand why Hannah did what she did. While I think there is still a big problem here (see: The Bad), the rape at the hands of Bryce is a fitting moment to send Hannah over the edge to begin feeling suicidal.
I did like getting some more background behind Justin's relationship with Bryce. It did feel pretty odd that he didn't cut ties with Bryce for being a rapist, but thankfully we were actually given a realistic reason why Justin couldn't turn on Bryce. He feels indebted to Bryce and wouldn't be comfortable repaying Bryce by turning him in and breaking their friendship. I wish we had characterization and character motivation on this level more often.
I really enjoyed the group meeting in this episode. Usually those scenes have felt like bland filler and haven't been interesting, but with the impending subpoenas, this time the scene had a purpose and a sense of tension which made it gripping and interesting. The discussion felt more important and it was nice to see the clashing ideals of all of the characters as they tried to determine what the best option was for moving forward. The truth may seem like a sensible thing, but considering the situation, it's easy to understand the thought process of those who don't want to reveal the full truth. I really enjoyed Alex's final speech suggesting that they were all flawed people who did play a part in Hannah's suicide (see: Best Moment), but I feel like that scene also had a really worrying aspect about it too (also see: The Bad).
There were some really good small scenes as well. I liked the Clay and Hannah interactions being really awkward after what happened at the party. It felt suitably sad and tragic. Sheri deciding to finally tell the truth was a nice moment as well, and continued to have her as one of the most likeable characters on the show. I also got a good laugh every time Ryan bluntly responded to Courtney's claims that Hannah lied.
The Bad: The biggest problem I have here is that Hannah has never attempted to get help for her problems. I was hoping that the party would have been Hannah's lowest point and that the rest of the show would be her trying to find some help. Unfortunately, the how has seemingly ignored the aspect of a suicidal person attempting to get help for their condition which not only makes Hannah seem extremely unlikeable (more on that later) but also misses a VERY important point about suicide. While I enjoyed Alex's speech, it suggested that they were responsible for Hannah's death because they chose not to be friends with her. While that's partially true, and it's easy for them to think that way, it seems to suggest that Hannah had tried really hard to get help but they had refused to help her. But we know from the flashbacks, that it's completely false and that Hannah never really asked for help. That makes it even harder to buy into the idea of Hannah's suicide which is really poor.
Hannah as a character is badly hurt by this development as well. The fact that Hannah didn't get help strongly implies that she actually did kill herself for attention which is the exact thing a show like this should have been doing everything to avoid. With the idea of the tapes being almost like Hannah getting revenge, this show needed to make a point to not make it seem like Hannah killed herself just to get back at the people who she thinks did her wrong. Unfortunately the show has not done that at all, and it makes Hannah seem like a really unsympathetic character which is not at all how I should feel towards a suicide victim. Katherine Langford has put on a hell of a performance as Hannah and it's a shame that the character she is playing seems really unlikeable. At this point the performance is the only real thing that is keeping me engaged in Hannah's story.
Jessica remains annoying as well. Now she seems to remember everything about the rape and how painful it was. I'm not doubting that it hurts to be raped, but she suddenly seems to recall the feeling which is ridiculous seeing how she pretended for weeks like it never happened. This storyline has been handled really poorly at times and I wish it had been executed with better character writing.
The problem with the students' scene is that a lot of them are still very shallow and I don't acre about them. Because of that, it's hard for me to get invested in what they want or what their ultimate fate will be. I wish that I had a better idea of who these characters are so I could care. But since I don't care, the whole story surrounding them has a good chance of falling flat.
Tony and Brad's scene was hard to care about too. Brad has hardly been in the show and I don't buy into his scene with Tony. While it is nice to get a scene of Tony letting out how he feels, the scene missed out on being good in my opinion because it was hinging on a relationship I really can't be bothered to care about. In the end the scene felt like an unfortunate waste of time. It also doesn't help that Tony is still a shallow character who I know next to nothing about because the show has been so preoccupied with keeping him mysterious.
Clay confronting Bryce was a total miss in my eyes. In one scene, Bryce turned into just a generic teenage villain while Clay did something seemingly out of character by confronting Bryce directly and getting him to admit to raping Hannah. There was also an extremely odd scene of him cheering afterwards. I presume that he recorded the entire conversation and that's why he is happy but why on Earth did the show not reveal he recorded it? It's a dumb attempt at shock value for the finale I presume and it left t Bryce scene feeling extremely awkward and unfulfilling. We should never be played by having a show leave a very important character motive in the dark for the sake of shock value. It ruins my emotional engagement.
The Unknown: So did Clay record the conversation with Bryce? What does he plan to do with the tape?
Why did Tyler buy a gun? Who does he want to shoot?
Who was in the ambulance at the end? Was it Clay? The show seems to be suggesting that. Who shot him? Tyler? That would make a lot of sense but I feel like it's too obvious to be the answer.
Best Moment: Alex's speech was really great and allowed us to really reflect on how guilty the entire group must be feeling after what happened to Hannah. It's true that had somebody remained close to her, she may still have been alive and it's nice to see somebody attempting to make that point.
Character of the Episode: Alex.
Conclusion: This episode was a solid continuation of the story. The show remains enjoyable but is still way too flawed, and the huge issue regarding Hannah really dragged down this episode for me. I had held out hope that the show would understand how to portray a suicide victim but I was let down here.
Just a university student who loves to watch TV. And criticize it like hell.