The controversial Netflix series, 13 Reasons Why, returned for its fourth and final season on June 5th. Every season was plagued by criticism or praise for their contentious storylines ranging from suicide to school shootings. This final season is no different.
Warning major spoilers ahead!
- You should watch the final season because of Ani
If you’re like me, you hated the addition of Ani’s character in the previous season. She came out of nowhere but somehow knew every single character as if she knew them from birth. She judged them, protected them, scolded them, and the entire time I just kept thinking, “who are you?” The writers failed to introduce her gradually and her addition irritated me. Not only did she act like she knew everyone, but she also hooked up with the antagonist, Bryce. However, in the final season, they fixed their Ani issue. Ani spent most of the season trying to realize why her sole purpose was just to scold or help others (we were wondering the same thing). She questioned her purpose and the character changed from being a know-it-all to a what-am-I-doing? The transformation made her character more realistic as opposed to the never wrong Ani we were introduced to. Who knew I could actually tolerate her?
- You shouldn’t watch the final season because of Monty and Estela de la Cruz
In the previous season, the 13RW writers killed off Monty after the main crew framed him for the murder of Bryce. In the final season, the main crew (Clay, Jessica, Tyler, Tony, etc.) all feel bad that they framed Monty, which led to his death, but the writers try to create a tension where the main crew is trying not to get caught. Throughout the season, there is the plotline of his sister, Estela, his former hook up, Winston and his fellow football teammates led by Diego, who are all trying to prove that the main crew framed Monty. However, nothing comes out of this. It is a weak plotline that introduces Diego or Estela’s, who we never knew existed before this season. I would’ve appreciated some purpose to Estela’s character, but there was none. She only served as a trigger for the main crew’s guilt and being Tyler’s love interest, but besides that, her character is as two-dimensional as it gets.
- You should watch the final season because of the lack of Bryce
Besides ghost Bryce showing up occasionally to torment Jessica and Clay, Bryce wasn’t really in the season. The effects of his actions were felt throughout but the writers’ attempt to humanize him was left in the previous season. If they tried to continue to humanize him in this season, they would’ve irritated many viewers, but more practically, there was no room for it in the already overstuffed season. In the previous season, the writers attempted to create a multi-dimensional Bryce, who was mostly bad but with a possible modicum of good. Whether they were successful is debatable, but leaving it out of season four was the right decision.
- You shouldn’t watch the final season because of the ghosts
As I mentioned earlier, Clay and Jessica saw ghost Bryce throughout the season. Clay also saw ghost Monty a multitude of times. If you remember, in the second season, Clay spoke to ghost Hannah, but while there it may have made more sense for the plot, in the final season, it felt overwhelming. There were so many ghosts that it started to confuse me what was a dream and what was a reality, which may have been the intention of the writers. This is not a fatal flaw for the season but it did further confuse an already complicated story.
- You should watch the final season because of the multidimensional characters
I mentioned that in the previous season, the 13RW writers attempted to create a more multifaceted Bryce. In this season, they developed many more characters in this way. Ani and Clay were no longer just a ‘voice of reason.’ Tony was more than just his sexuality and his recently deported family. Jessica was more than just a sexual abuse survivor. I could go on but you get the point. All the characters became more than what they were in the first season of the show. They were complex. They were real. They were human.
- You shouldn’t watch the final season because of Zach
While many of the characters became more complex, others were forgotten. In this season, as a result of Zach’s guilt about beating Bryce to his near-death and Monty’s death, he transforms from a stable and dependable guy to a drunk guy. This transformation is fine as long as there is some lesson learned. However, there seems to be no point to it. The show ends and he is going to pursue music at college. Although it is a nice ending for him, I never felt that there was a turning point that made him want to stop his dangerous spiral. What will stop him from doing the same thing at college?
- You should and shouldn’t watch the final season because of the controversial storylines
This season included bad police behavior, active school shooter drills, protest and riots. This season has come out during a time when #BlackLivesMatter peaceful protests and riots are occurring across the nation. I’m not sure if this is good or bad timing. The storylines hit close to home because most of us are feeling to some degree what the main crew is feeling: anger, disappointment and so much more. While the writers, as always, did not shy away from controversial topics, I think it’s difficult to decide whether they pulled it off well.
- You should watch the final season because the writers knew it was the final season
Since the 13RW writers knew it was going to be their final season, they were able to construct a conclusive ending without any cliffhangers. Most of the characters got their own happy ending. We didn’t feel like they were leading us to another murder or who-dun-it mystery. We knew we were reaching the conclusion of the series so the viewer, writers and characters were prepared.
- You should and shouldn’t watch the final season because of the parents
This season, the parents banded together to pay for security cameras, metal detectors, reading their emails, text messages and tracking them. This is all an insane invasion of privacy but may have been called for with all the lies these kids tell. The parents did try to play a larger role in their children’s lives like asking questions and paying more attention. Unfortunately, they definitely went too far and didn’t do it very effectively. However, the worst decisions made by the parents goes to Clay’s parents. They have made great decisions when it comes to Justin (for the most part) but when it comes to Clay, the same cannot be said. Clay spent the entire final season doing insane things like vandalism, lying, threatening others with a gun, escaping a mental institution, testing positive on a drug test and so much more. Oh, he also almost killed himself and Zach in a crazy car accident (how did they survive that?). Do you know what punishment he got… nothing. Don’t get me wrong, his parents got him to see his therapist and continuously tried to speak to him, but sometimes that’s not enough. Instead of putting Clay on something like house arrest, they only scolded him and talked to him but nothing else. Sometimes words aren’t that effective because clearly Clay continued to do worse and worse.
- You shouldn’t watch the final season because of the lack of consequences
Yes, this season was filled with the inner emotional turmoil of the characters but those were the only consequences. The season ended with no one suffering consequences for their actions (murdering Bryce/framing Monty). Most characters were just protecting Alex, which is questionable but somewhat understandable. I think that the 13RW writers should’ve put Alex into jail. By not giving him consequences, the show teaches us the wrong lesson. It teaches us that we can do awful things and get away with it. Alex was someone who believed that Bryce deserved to go to jail for his crimes and he was right. But why doesn’t Alex deserve to go to jail as well?
- You should watch the final season because of Dylan Minnette’s acting
As I mentioned earlier, Dylan’s character goes through a really rough season. We see Clay go through dissociative episodes, panic attacks and mental breakdowns. While the plot may have felt uneven at places, there is no denying Dylan’s talent. Dylan delivered an award-worthy performance this season. We can’t help but feel every emotion and word that Clay felt and said. The range of emotions he portrayed within this season is astounding and he deserves all the praise for it.
- You should and shouldn’t watch the final season because of Justin’s death
By far the most heartbreaking moment of the season is Justin’s death. A large portion of the final episode of the series follows Justin’s rapid decline in health and his eventual death. Not only was I not expecting the writers to kill off a fan-favorite character but also I couldn’t believe that it would be from AIDS, which was only revealed in the final episode. It was hard to watch this character die after we witness his incredible redemption arc. It was an unexpected way to finish the season and I’m not sure what the writers’ intention was. Did they do it just for the shock value or because they wanted it to be a ‘realistic’ ending? Perhaps, they wanted to show that even if he became a great person, he couldn’t escape the consequences of doing drugs or selling his body for sex. Either way, the ending was one I’ll never forget.
- You should watch the final season because of Brandon Flynn’s acting
Brandon’s acting is commendable from all four seasons. I went from hating him to him being my favorite character. We saw him in his darkest moments to him finding a family. Although I don’t love the ghosts, I did like the final scene between Clay and ghost Justin where Clay read Justin’s college essay. They really were brothers. Brandon made us cry, laugh and everything in between. Like Dylan, his acting prowess is undeniable.