However, it’s clear from the season’s first episode that the group didn’t enjoy their senior year as much as they’d hoped to, with the season opening with the funeral of an unknown character.
Viewers are then taken back six months prior, to see Clay struggling to cope under the pressure of keeping the group’s secrets and although at the start of the episode, he insists that he’s mentally fine, by the end of episode one, he tells the viewers: “Yeah, I’m so not fine.”
Here’s everything we know so far about what’s wrong with Clay…
What does Clay suffer from?
Season four of 13 Reasons Why begins with Clay in the midst of a nightmare, dreaming that Monty is actually alive and that he’s gone to visit him in prison with Justin. The night terror ends with Monty attacking Clay, causing him to wake up covered in sweat and panting.
The next morning, we see Clay suffer a minor panic attack as his mum asks him about university plans and his poor grades, before going to the sink and intentionally cutting his thumb on a piece of shattered glass.
While Clay waits for Tyler, who is being questioned by police at the station, Clay starts to hallucinate, seeing Monty shaking his car and intimidating him. This isn’t the only time Clay hallucinates, as he sees Monty at school in the faces of the football team. This winds Clay up enough to start a fight with Monty’s friend Diego Torres and the other footballers after they accuse Clay of framing Monty for Bryce’s murder.
Clay’s girlfriend Ani even notices that Clay isn’t quite right, telling him: “What happened? Even before the fight? You went away, where?”
The panic attacks continue, with Clay suffering one on Christmas Day, and so do the night terrors, leading Justin to tell Clay that he’s been talking and screaming in his sleep.
Clay finally goes to see his therapist, Dr. Ellman (Gary Sinise) and tells him that he wants to be more in control because if he isn’t, he “might let people down”. “When I lose control, it’s not good. It’s ugly,” he says. While Dr. Ellman tries to coax Clay into revealing what is actually troubling him, he tells him that his body is telling him to pay attention.
Episode one ends with Clay hearing Bryce’s tape, on which he admitted to raping his previous girlfriends and Hannah, being played in his house, before an unknown person runs out of his house. Clay runs out into the street to see two people walking away but they soon disappear. It’s not completely clear to the viewer whether this is another hallucination or if this happened in real life, with 13 Reasons Why, you can never be too sure.
Why is this happening to Clay?
It is clear that the events of the past three seasons are causing Clay to reach his breaking point as this isn’t the first time that his mental health has begun to seriously deteriorate. In seasons one and two, Clay began to see the ghost of Hannah in the hallways of Liberty High and wherever he went. Being tormented by a hallucinated Hannah even drove him to contemplate taking his own life and murdering Bryce, who was revealed to have raped Hannah, however Clay decides not to.
However, after the events of season three, Clay is not only being tormented by his own actions, but his friends’ also. After the season three finale revealed Alex as Bryce’s killer, Clay decided to cover up the murder and allow the police to frame Monty, who was incarcerated for assaulting Tyler and had died in prison. The paranoia of the truth coming out, fuelled by the worry of his friends and untrustworthiness of certain members of the group, will be stoking Clay’s anxiety and adding to his already heavy sense of guilt.
It is also revealed in the first episode of season four that Clay feels very responsible for his friends, telling the viewer that his friends need him. This was evident in the past from the fact that he helped to cover up Tyler’s school shooting attempt by chucking his guns in the ocean and let Justin stay with him, and eventually be adopted by his parents, after the former school athlete became addicted to heroin and started living on the streets.
It looks like the lengths that Clay has previously gone for his friends will catch up with him this season, with the guns being found by police in the first episode of season four.
Clay also has the worries of any normal school student to deal with, including what he’ll do after graduation, if he even manages to graduate with his poor grades. After his mum brings up plans for college, he begins to have a panic attack, so it’s clear that his future is weighing on his mind.
Hopefully Clay will be able to make peace with his past actions and keep his cool with the help of Dr. Ellman.