13 Reasons Why episode three on Netflix proved the strongest instalment yet, as the series dug deep into the poisonous high school atmosphere that led to Hannah Baker’s suicide.
If there was light in the gentle, flirty exchanges between Hannah and Clay, it was quickly extinguished by the end of the episode. Instead, everyone had guilt on their conscience.
13 Reasons Why recaps
“Maybe you think I’m silly; I’m some stupid girl who gets worked up over a little thing. But little things matter,” Hannah warned.
Before rushing on to episode four, don’t miss the “little things” buried in episode three. Let’s talk.
How much is Alex to blame for Hannah’s death?
Alex is on Hannah’s list because he put her on a list. It was Alex who labelled Hannah as having the ‘Best Ass’ in the year.
At first glance you could say, as Hannah repeatedly does, that it’s only “a little thing”, a cruel but inevitable part of high school life.
13 Reasons Why recaps
- Episode 1: Why did Hannah Baker take her own life?
- Episode 2: “Complicated” friendships have fatal consequences”
Clay himself can’t understand why Hannah is so worked up over the list, but as Hannah pointedly reminds him, he has “never been a girl”.
Alex later reveals that he did it to get back at his ex-girlfriend Jessica, “because she wouldn’t have sex with me.”
All of this serves to underline the uncomfortable gender politics in this third episode, from the clichéd locker room banter to Hannah’s fear that she will be dismissed as just a “stupid girl” who makes a mountain out of a molehill.
Hannah is not stupid. It’s this ‘Best Ass’ label that leads Bryce – the rich, misogynistic, slate-jawed shit – to grab Hannah’s ass in the corner store, and cement her unfair reputation as a slut.
Alex could not have known what he had set in motion, but it’s no surprise he feels the guilt keenly. At the end of the episode, he staggers to the poolside and topples in. He eventually resurfaces.
How sweet was Hannah and Clay’s relationship?
In all this was a grim episode, a cold plunge of a storyline that made us realise just how cruel school life has become for new girl Hannah. But there was one shaft of moonlight: Clay’s tentative attempt to ask Hannah to watch the penumbral lunar eclipse on the cinema roof.
It revealed a happier, care-free Clay, and showed us some of Hannah’s old sharp self-confidence.
“Yes, I shall look at the moon with you. I might even howl,” she said, before dubbing him “Astronomy Boy” the morning after.
It makes the rest of the episode all the harsher.
What did we learn about the other characters in Hannah’s life?
The first two episodes have felt in many ways a close-knit affair. Yes, there is clearly a wider conspiracy among people who have already listened to the tape, but so far it has mainly been about Clay slowly, painfully discovering more about Hannah’s life.
Episode three, though, was different, by far the widest reaching episode to date. It’s hardly surprising, as with each tape a new person is implicated. The effect ripples further out into the school.
Characters come into sharper focus: Justin is given a back story which almost makes us feel sympathy for him; Alex meanwhile is trapped with the ‘cool’ kids, wracked with guilt over ‘the list’.
Then there‘s Bryce. Bryce the chauvinist; Bryce the person who doesn’t even know the nationality of his maid. When he grabs Hannah’s ass, it’s repulsive – and yet he doesn’t appear to be on the tapes, or at least hasn’t received them yet. His friends want to make sure he doesn’t talk to Clay about Hannah. Why?
How does Tony fit into all this?
Episode three gave us yet another hint that the classic car-driving mystery man is in league with Hannah’s parents, with Tony walking into the coffee shop with Mrs Baker.
We’re also now sure that Tony is not on the tapes, not one of Hannah’s ’13 reasons’. So why does he know so much about what Clay is going through?
For most of the series so far he has seemed an easy guy to trust, especially when set against the likes of Bryce and Justin. But the penultimate scene, when Clay sees Tony beating someone up, makes us wonder whether Clay should reveal too much.
What’s going to happen in tape four?
“Shhhh,” Hannah’s voice says. “For this next one you have to be very, very quiet. Because you’re about to do something very wrong. Be careful. And don’t get caught.”
If that’s not reason enough to press play, we don’t know what is. What are you waiting for?