How Clay Is Really Involved In Hannah’s 13 Reasons Why Death

Photo: Beth Dubber/Netflix.
After tons of hype from producer Selena Gomez, Netflix’s 13 Reasons Why is finally available to stream. The show follows high schooler Clay Jensen (Dylan Minnette) after he receives seven cassette tapes from his crush Hannah (Katherine Langford) following her suicide. Each side of the tapes reveals one person who was involved in the teen’s death, and one of them is dedicated to Clay.
Like Clay, viewers spend most of the series wondering, what did he do? We don’t get our answer until nearly the end of the teen drama, with the 11th installment, "Tape Six, Side A."
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By the time we get to No. 11, we’ve seen the endless traumatizing interactions Hannah had with guys, from Justin’s widely-circulated underwear photo of her to the horrifying moment she witnesses Bryce rape Jessica at a party. After all of that, it’s terrifying to think good-guy Clay is about to make the same disturbing mistake and be the latest guy in a long line to take advantage of Hannah.
Yet, that’s not what happens.
Clay’s tape reveals the first half of the party where Jessica was attacked, which Hannah confirms she only went to for Clay. The pair flirt throughout the house, give each other meaningful looks, and have even more meaningful conversations. For a few lovely minutes, 13 Reasons Why feels like a normal high school show instead of a series built around a tragic suicide.
Eventually, Hannah and Clay make their way to Jessica’s bedroom to deal with their mounting sexual tension. Clay finally kisses Hannah and their clothes quickly start coming off. It’s the first time a guy is touching Hannah with her consent, but she can’t enjoy it. She flashes back to all the creepy boys who’ve hurt her and yells at Clay to stop, throwing him off of her.
Clay looks shocked, repeatedly apologizing and asking, "What happened? I thought it was okay?" Hannah shuts down and tells her would-be boyfriend to "get the fuck out." He complies, even though a major part of Hannah secretly wants him to stay. While Hannah could argue Clay’s defeated exit led to her suicide, she doesn’t, since he was respecting her very clear wishes.
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"Clay, Helmet, your name does not belong on this list," Hannah says in the tape, using her nickname for Clay. "But you need to be here if I’m going to tell my story. If I’m going to explain why I did what I did. Because you aren’t every other guy — you’re different. You’re good. And kind. And decent. And I didn’t deserve to be with someone like you. I never would. I would’ve ruined you. It was me and everything that’s happened to me."
Hannah's words are devastating, but at least we now know Clay isn't a "real why" the young woman took her own life. Instead, his presence is such a huge part of her life, she needed to include him as a way to explain to him what really happened between them the night of Jessica’s party. Although Hannah lets Clay off the hook, he still feels guilty for not staying and telling her he loves her.
Considering the various crimes everyone else involved in the tapes has committed, Clay is the last person who should be upset with himself.
If you or someone you know is considering self-harm, please get help. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
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