13 Reasons Why: Five major questions explored in season two, from the Polaroids to 'the clubhouse'
A mysterious clubhouse, an unknown girl, plenty of secrets — the five major mysteries from season 2 of 13 Reasons Why.
When the trailer of 13 Reasons Why season 2 released, there was instant curiosity about a Polaroid photo that was depicted in it. The central conceit in season 1 had been a series of audio cassettes (7 in all), that Liberty High School student Hannah Baker records, listing the 13 reasons that led to her death.
The retro aesthetic was strong in season 1 — not just because of the use of an obsolete piece of technology (the cassettes) but also the music that permeated each of the episodes, underscoring so perfectly all its emotional highs and lows. So the polaroids in season 2 seemed to be carrying forward the same retro vibe.
Just how big a role do the Polaroid photos play in 13 Reasons Why season 2?
Well, as we now know, not as big a role as the tapes in season 1. In season 1, Hannah's voice on the cassettes served as a sort of omniscient narrator. It was through her words that Clay, and us viewers, uncovered the series of events that made her feel ending her life was the only option.
In season 2, the polaroids do not serve as a similar narrative device. In fact, they do not even make too many appearances, scattered sporadically across the 13 episodes. What the polaroids represent, is a trail of breadcrumbs, laid out by one of *our* personal favourite characters from the show. (We won't be revealing the name here; read our more detailed — and possibly spoiler-riddled — review of 13 Reasons Why season 2.)
Right from the first Polaroid that Clay receives, their purpose becomes clear: to indicate that Hannah and her friend Jessica were not the only girls from Liberty High that Bryce Walker sexually assaulted. One in particular, shows Bryce raping a clearly unconscious girl. Clay must discover the identity of the girl, which might be one way of bringing Bryce to justice for his crimes against Jess and Hannah as well.
In tracing this girl, Clay also comes across a mysterious space, presumably on the Liberty High campus, where this (and other) sexual assaults have taken place. And it goes by the moniker 'The Clubhouse'.
That's mystery number 1 on season 2 of 13 Reasons Why.
Here are other major questions the story raises, leading to its dramatic series finale:
1. What is Alex trying to remember?
Season 1 ended with Alex Standall (Hannah's one-time best friend until he and Jessica start dating) attempting suicide. Season 2 sees Alex dealing with the repercussions — severely limited motor functions along one side of his body, acute memory loss, the anxieties of those who love him and fear for his well being. Listening to Hannah's tapes makes him remember the sequence of events that he'd forgotten. But there's something else that's not on the tapes that Alex is also trying to remember. What is it, and does it have any bearing on the mystery that Clay is trying to solve? What drove Alex to want to shoot himself?
2. Who was Hannah Baker?
Season 1 presented Hannah Baker a certain way — but as season 2 reminds us, we were essentially listening to only one side of the story: Hannah's story, the way she wanted it to be told. Season 2 tells us that Hannah may have been pretty selective in narrating certain events — or not narrating the things she felt weren't important at all. The picture that emerges of Hannah in season 2 through the testimonies in court of various characters (it's for the case her mother has brought against Liberty High) is a more complex, less white-and-black one. These new accounts don't always show Hannah in a flattering light. And they make her even more enigmatic than before.
3. Is Clay losing it?
Clay has been on a downward spiral of sorts ever since Hannah's suicide (following so close on the heels of the death of his friend Jeff Atkins). At season 2's start, he seems to be in a better place — he has a new relationship with Sky and vehemently claims to have put Hannah behind him. Of course, we know better. As the trial between Hannah's mom and Liberty High begins, Clay begins to unravel. He starts seeing (and speaking with) Hannah's ghost. He begins to wonder if he even knew her at all (as conflicting testimonies about her are presented in court). Meanwhile, he's in trouble at school with the jocks and at home with his parents. The stress he's under causes him to take a very questionable decision: he releases all of Hannah's tapes online. How will things end for Clay?
4. What is up with Tony?
Tony in season 1 was the guy who knew everything — after all, he was the person Hannah entrusted the tapes to. No matter what Clay was going through, in his uncovering of Hannah's story, Tony was there to make things better, to offer guidance and advice, to suggest solutions. In season 2, unflappable Tony is a thing of the past. As suggested in season 1, Tony has secrets of his own, and they may be of the pretty unsavoury variety. So what is Tony hiding? Why is he running scared?
Who is threatening and harassing the students of Liberty High in a bid to get them to shut up about the events that led to Hannah's death? While our first suspect would be Bryce Walker or one of his minions, the answer isn't as clear cut as that.
How do all of these mysteries and questions get resolved in 13 Reasons Why season 2? Read our detailed post-season analysis to find out.
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