The final season of 13 Reasons Why is here and as complicated as ever. Even though some characters have moved on, graduated, died, or been murdered, there are still a ton of characters to keep track of. This 13 Reasons Why season 4 recap will help viewers keep tabs on all the intertwining storylines as the show draws to an end.
Last season ended with Bryce Walker's (Justin Prentice) death and the friend group pinning his murder on Monty De La Cruz (Timothy Granaderos), who'd been killed in jail awaiting a rape trial. The friends framed Monty to help Bryce's real killer go free (or killers, depending on how you look at the situation). Season 4 picks up about a month after the events of season 3 and steamrolls right into more confusion, paranoia, mystery, and intrigue.
Episode 1: "Winter Break"
The series opens on a funeral — another funeral. We soon learn that this one is separate from either Monty's or Bryce's, because it's taking place six months in the future. A pastor speaks about how things need to change so that young people stop dying. Um. Yeah.
Then the show flashes back to six months previously at Christmastime, so about a month after the events of season 3. Clay Jensen (Dylan Minnette) is sleeping and wakes up to Justin Foley (Brandon Flynn) coming in to their shared room. "Put your clothes on, we gotta go. Monty, he's still alive," Justin says. It's a startling discovery since Monty was presumed dead in season 3, and then Clay and his girlfriend Ani Achola (Grace Saif) pinned Bryce's murder on Monty. (Alas, Clay and Ani are still dating.) But it becomes apparent that it's just a dream when Clay and Justin's visit to Monty in jail ends with Monty attacking Clay and Clay waking up in a sweat. He's been having recurring bad dreams, and seems to be dealing with some PTSD from his own arrest for Bryce's murder and then covering up the crime by helping frame Monty.
Justin is still at a rehab facility after admitting last season that he needed some help on his journey to recovery, and Clay hasn't opened up to him or anyone about his nightmares. But Clay's parents are worried because his grades are slipping and he hasn't prioritized applying to college. (A classic problem that the kids on Riverdale also share, so don't feel too bad, Clay.)
Clay's voiceover reveals that he only feels alive and like himself when he's helping his friends, so when Tyler Down (Devin Druid) calls and needs a ride, Clay jumps into action. It turns out that Tyler needs a ride to the Sheriff's station, which can only mean trouble. Clay tells Jessica Davis (Alisha Boe) to keep planning the welcome home party for Justin while Clay takes care of Tyler. He waits in the car for Tyler who comes out and reveals that the police found Tyler's bag of guns and traced it to him. Clay and Tony (Christian Navarro) had helped Tyler hide the bag after Tyler decided not to go through with a school shooting in season 2. Clay panics that the cops are onto Tyler, but Tyler tries to calm him down. He says that he lied to police about the bag being stolen from him, and since they could only trace the bag but not the guns to Tyler, they are safe. Clay doesn't seem so sure, and it only adds to his growing stress. He thinks that if the cops can tie the guns to Tyler, then Tyler may rat them all out for covering up Bryce's murder in exchange for saving himself.
At Justin's welcome home party, the whole friend group gathers for the first time since framing Monty. They've been busy with winter break and dealing with the magnitude of their problems and staying away from each other. But no longer. However, the mood is dampened a bit when Justin suddenly breaks up with Jessica, citing the need to focus all his energy on his recovery. When they're alone, Clay asks if Justin talked about Bryce while in rehab. Justin says yes, because it's part of the healing process, but that he just mentioned missing Bryce — not that they'd covered up his murder. (Obviously, Clay.)
At the police station, Sheriff Diaz (Benito Martinez) notices that Ani's interrogation tape doesn't exist. There's only a written statement of everything she said. This is notable, because it was Ani who spun the whole story about Bryce being killed by Monty. She and Alex Standall's (Miles Heizer) dad Deputy Standall (Mark Pellegrino) worked on the cover-up together, because Alex is the one who actually contributed to Bryce's death when he knocked him off the dock and into the lake and didn't help him back out before Bryce had drowned.
Meanwhile, Jess is trying to put together a living arrangement similar to the one that Clay and Justin have for herself and Ani. She invites Ani to stay at her house since Jess' mom and brothers are relocating to Seattle, but Jess and her father are sticking around until the end of senior year. Originally, Ani was going to move to Oakland with her mother, but her mom agrees to let Ani live with Jess so long as Ani visits regularly and has a sundown (!) curfew. After they straighten out Ani's ability to stay on the show, er... at Liberty, Jess and Ani head into the woods to destroy the confession tape that Bryce left for Jess in season 3. It's clear that she's trying to put him behind her, but she's haunted by the image of him — literally. She sees Bryce in the woods in some sort of PTSD-induced flash.
Upon returning to school from winter break, the building has been upgraded with metal detectors and school resource officers (SROs), who play a similar role police officers, but are assigned to work only within a school building. It's a heavy response from school leadership to add them to the mix.
When Jess walks through the metal detector, her bra sets it off and the male SRO tells her that she'll need a pat-down. As a sexual assault survivor, the idea is triggering to Jess, so she refuses and storms off to the principal's office. She demands that Principal Bolan (Steven Weber) hire female SROs for pat-downs. The principal agrees and asks Jessica to be his eyes and ears "out there" in exchange for letting her have some say over the new security measures. She's student body president, so she probably deserves to have some input on that.
New character alert! At career day, we meet Estela De La Cruz (Inde Navarrette), Monty's sister. She doesn't seem to be like her brother at all, and asks Jess if she can join her anti-sexual assault club HO (Hands Off Our Bodies). Another new student is also wandering around, but we've met him before: Winston Williams (Deaken Bluman) is Monty's alibi for the night of Bryce's murder. He used to go to Hillcrest, but he transferred schools to go to Liberty for the last semester. He says it's because he got expelled from Hillcrest, but Clay thinks he's there to dig up evidence, since he knows Monty is innocent. Clay is incredibly paranoid about everything all season, and this is just the start.
Meanwhile, Winston has struck up a conversation with Tyler about joining yearbook (mostly so that Winston can get access to old yearbooks and peruse them for clues about who really killed Monty). No one except Clay and Ani know the truth about Winston, so Tyler isn't suspicious at all.
Clay notices that the football team has "De La Cruz" jerseys to honor Monty, because they think he's innocent in Bryce's death. Clay loses it and starts beating one of the football players up. It's jarring because it's so very uncharacteristic for Clay.
Later, we see he's back in therapy with his old middle school psychologist Dr. Ellman (Gary Sinise). They're working on Clay's intrusive thoughts and his frequent panic attacks that have ramped up lately. "When I lose control, it's not good," Clay tells Dr. Ellman. "It's ugly." That will be important to remember down the road. Also important to note is that Clay seems kind of jealous of Justin's connection with his parents, whereas a season ago he loved having a brother.
That night, Clay has another dream-like vision wherein he hears Bryce's confession tape again (the one Jessica destroyed, which is how we know this isn't exactly reality) and he thinks he sees shadowy figures walking away from his house.
Clay may be pretending to be fine for everyone around him, he's very much the opposite.
A Few Details That Will Matter A Lot Later...
The reason Bryce couldn't save himself when Alex pushed him into the water is because Zach Dempsey (Ross Butler) had badly beaten him shortly before. So Alex killed Bryce, but Jessica and Zach are responsible too. As a result, Zach has taken to drinking a lot in season 4 and doesn't seem to care what happens to him.
Tony's dad was deported last season and is denied a visa in season 4, episode 1.
Alex kisses Zach in a moment of sudden bravery, but Zach turns him down gently.
Tyler definitely lied to Clay: At one point, Sheriff Diaz asked Alex's dad, "This Tyler kid, you really think he can help us?"
Episode 2 Recap: "College Tour"
This episode also starts with a flash forward to the funeral six months from now, in an effort to keep fans wondering about the central mystery of who dies this season. The pastor again talks about how people haven't done enough to help save these children's lives. You can say that again.
Flash back to the current storyline and Clay is filling out a college application in the middle of the night when he gets a FaceTime call from Monty. Confused, he declines it. Monty calls back, and Clay declines it again and blocks the number. Then Clay sees a shadowy figure in the room and follows it, knowing that it's not Justin. (Justin is asleep in bed). The water is running in the bathroom when Clay gets in, but the shadow has vanished. Suddenly, it's morning, meaning Clay jumped from 3:00 a.m. to 7:00 a.m. while thinking seconds had passed. The lack of sleep he's been getting is messing with his mind.
When the students arrive at school, they see red graffiti painted on the doors. "Monty was framed," the letters shout. The friend group is concerned. If someone is looking into the truth, it's only a matter of time before someone finds out what they've done. When Clay finds a red smiley face painted on the inside of his locker, he becomes convinced that the graffiti artist is trying to frame him. He says he doesn't trust most of the friend group anymore.
SRO officer Ted Wynn (Matt Passmore) stops Tony in the hallway because he has red paint on his hands. Tony says it's just from his auto body shop. Wynn notices that Tony is a boxer and seems excited about that.
The students head out on a tour of the local college. Zach wants to ditch with Alex, who declines. Zach seems completely unconcerned that the truth may come out, and this dangerously carefree attitude carries on throughout the whole season. On the bus, Clay sees Winston and Tyler hanging out and grows concerned, since no one else knows what a potential danger Winston could be. Just then, a can of red spray paint rolls down the bus aisle and lands at Clay's feet. He scoops it up quickly and shoves it in his backpack to dispose of later in case anyone is watching. Principal Bolan will later ask Clay if he is responsible for the graffiti, because they got an anonymous tip about him. Clay denies being involved, saying it wouldn't make sense for him to have been. The principal agrees.
Once at the college, the tour group splits into two. Clay tells Alex to keep an eye on Tyler, and Alex tells him the same about Zach. Zach almost immediately splits from the group to go to a college party. Clay follows. Soon they're playing drinking games and Clay gets intoxicated fairly quickly. He watches a young woman stumble down the stairs and follows her back up the stairs. He seems concerned when he notices a guy approach her and unbuckle his belt. It's Bryce (only it can't actually be, so this must be some sort of drunken flash). Bryce tells Clay to rape the unconcious girl, but Bryce isn't really there, so the girl's boyfriend comes back to find Clay just standing there. Understandably, the boyfriend freaks out and chases Clay downstairs and grabs him. Then it's Clay's turn to freak out as he screams, "Let me go!" over and over again.
Back on the tour, a newly single Jess is mad that Justin is talking to the female tour guide. She accuses him of such but he laughs it off. Then she gets mad that Justin isn't more freaked out about the graffiti. "I'm sure it's going to be fine," Justin insists. Jess says that's just because Justin doesn't bear any actual responsibility like she does. Justin denies this, and says he just has a better outlook now that he's trying to get better.
Meanwhile, Alex doesn't do much keeping an eye on Tyler, but he does strike up a conversation with Winston. Soon Alex spills his whole story to Winston, including his suicide attempt from season 1. Winston tells him that he's glad Alex is still alive and makes a move to hold his hand. Alex recoils, quickly saying that he's not gay, but his episode 1 kiss with Zach indicate that Alex may be struggling to full express his sexuality.
Cut to campus police, where Clay's dad (a professor at the college) picks him up and looks severely disappointed in him. Clay missed a meeting with the Dean, but Justin attended. Clay says bitterly, "At least my parents have one son with a future." And then Clay throws up on Justin. Once Clay's sobered up, Justin confesses that he feels like he's just going to mess everything up in his life and become a junkie again. He also feels bad taking Clay's parents' money since they should be using it to send Clay through college. Clay complains that he hasn't even applied anywhere anyway, and he rejects Justin's offer to help.
At school the next day, Clay sees that Winston and Alex are hanging out now too, exacerbating Clay's fears. The principal calls Clay into his office to discuss his antics on the class trip. Clay can only focus on the photos of the graffiti on Bolan's desk. There's a sort of signature, a letter V with an arrow through it, that Clay seems to recognize but can't place. It's worth noting that when Clay went to take the spray paint can out of his bag after the class trip, he found two cans. His fear that someone is framing him is likely tenfold.
Alex and Tony are spending time at Tony's boyfriend Caleb's (RJ Brown) gym. Tony is training for a fight, because he thinks boxing is his only option after his parents were deported. Alex starts asking questions about Tony's sexuality, likely in an attempt to answer some of his own.
At therapy, Clay recounts the party events where he was standing over the girl in the room. He's scared because all he was thinking about at the time was sex, not that she was unconscious or anything else. If the scene of him standing over an unconscious woman wasn't upsetting enough, this confession is a clear sign something is incredibly wrong with this kid. Clay says he just wants to get better.
Meanwhile, Ani notices that Estela had access to red paint in the HO club room, She invites her to coffee to see if maybe she was the one to write the graffiti. She is Monty's sister after all. But at coffee, Estela says she's not there to defend her brother. However, she can't understand why he would have killed Bryce. So she didn't do the paint job, but she's starting to piece together the holes in the story too...
When Clay comes home from school, Sheriff Diaz is meeting with his parents. Both Justin and Clay are concerned, but Diaz says he's just there to let the parents know about the school's new security measures. Clay has a panic attack regardless.
That night, as he's staring at his college application, things get even worse: Clay gets a text from Monty's number that says, "Monty was framed. You framed him" along with several images of Monty. Clay starts to type his college entrance essay — directly in the online application as if he's never heard of a Google doc draft before submitting the full thing.
The subject: "I covered up a murder."
You'll Want To Remember This Graffiti Suspect List:
Estela, because she's Monty's sister and doesn't understand why he would kill Bryce.
Clay, because he had a smiley face in his locker and a paint can in his bag.
Winston, since he knows for a fact that Monty was framed.
Zach, since he's been getting blackout drunk frequently.
Tony, since he had red paint on his hands (but we know that's not a real clue, right?).
A Few Details That Will Matter A Lot Later...
When Ani talks about their future with Jess and how they'll be free from this nightmare school soon, Jess sees an image of Bryce in the doorway, suggesting she, like many sexual assault victims, will not ever be truly free of her attacker.
Zach goes to see Bryce's ex Chloe (Anne Winters), whom Zach also likes. She's worried about him because she knows he's been drinking a lot. Zach breaks down and starts crying about how everything is messed up. The guilt of the Monty frame job is really getting to him.
Episode 3 Recap: "Valentine's Day"
The school is gearing up for the Valentine's Day dance, because these are still high school students with high school activities when they're not framing people for murder.
Whoever has Monty's phone has escalated from texting Clay to calling him. "See you in school," the voice ominously tells him that morning. When Clay arrives, he sees that there have been cameras installed all over the building, adding to Clay's increasing paranoia. Then "Monty" calls again and informs Clay that if he doesn't ever answer, "Shit will rain down." Clay sees Winston on his own phone and suspects that it's him behind the calls, but the voice denies this. "Don't you recognize the phone number?" the mysterious caller asks. It's Monty's number, but it can't possibly be Monty calling, right? Right. It has to be someone else. Whoever it is, they're really sending Clay over the edge and he has another panic attack in the photography dark room. He's so wrapped up in his fake Monty stuff that he also totally misses Ani's ridiculously overt and obvious clues that she wants him, her boyfriend, to ask her, his girlfriend, to the dance. This is 2020 and, yes, Ani could have also asked her boyfriend to the dance, but Clay probably would have missed that too.
Meanwhile, Alex suggests that he and Winston go watch slasher movies on Valentine's Day, since he's not into the holiday. Winston says he has to be at the dance for yearbook, but he can hang out tonight. Alex, who has been using Tyler as a buffer during their hangouts, says that Tyler isn't free that night. Winston reminds Alex that they can hang out just the two of them. Winston clearly knows what's going on.
Justin catches up with Zach to say that he, like Chloe, is worried about him. Even though Zach can't play on the football team after his season 3 knee injury, Justin invites him to come to the locker room to hang out anyway.
In the cafeteria, Clay gets another call. The voice tells him to pick a fight and that in that fight, Clay is not allowed to fight back. Clay, looking for the solution that causes him the least amount of trouble down the road, asks Zach to do him a favor and hit him. Zach declines, so Clay goes for the low blow and taunts Zach about his injury. After being hit with a low blow at his low point by a person who is supposed to be his friend, Zach happily hits Clay. The voice on the phone tells Clay that he's impressed with his ability to follow directions.
Meanwhile, Tony asks Tyler why he keeps flaking out on their hangouts, and Tyler (unconvincingly) says he's busy with work and school. Then Tyler gets called to the office. Suspicious about whether Tyler has been telling the truth, Tony follows. But Officer Wynn stops him in the hall. Apparently the officer has an independent boxing league and he wants Tony to join. Once their conversation ends, Tony sees that Tyler isn't meeting with the counselor like he'd said, he's meeting with the principal. Tony is now extra suspicious. That concern only grows when he tries to track Tyler down at his job after school, only Tyler isn't actually there. And then Tyler says he can't help Tony DJ the dance because he's busy. It isn't like Tyler to be shady or to turn down hangouts with Tony, so something has to be going on.
Clay finally realizes that he bulldozed Ani that morning when she was talking about the dance, and he wises up and asks her to go. But then he's almost immediately distracted again when the Monty phone number sends a photo of Clay taken right then in the library. Clay knows he's being watched and dials the number to see if he can track down the person. He hears a girl's phone go off and almost attacks her until he realizes she's just talking to her mom. Witnessing his freakout, Ani forces Clay to tell her the truth, and he does. Ani tells him not to worry, there is no proof that Monty was innocent or that they framed him.
Cut to the football locker room, where Jess is giving speech on the importance of the football team setting a good example for the school with their behavior. None of them are listening, but a new (to us) character named Diego Torres (Jan Luis Castellanos) stands up for her. But since he tells the guys to listen "to the lady," she schools him on how that's not really that respectful either. All hail resident badass Jess. Still, she seems intrigued by Diego, especially since she's been pretty lonely since her breakup with Justin. Speaking of Justin, the football coach takes him under his wing and advises Justin of a Narcotics Anonymous meeting that has a younger crowd. When Justin eventually goes to a meeting, he sees that the coach is also in NA.
Alex and Winston hang out sans-Tyler after all on a cute bowling outing. They're having a great time and then Alex says he'll go to the dance to keep Winston company while he works for the yearbook. Then Alex kisses him, which we all knew was going to happen eventually. We stan, but Clay would definitely not.
Another phone call from "Monty" reveals that the mysterious person has found out that Clay told Ani about the blackmail. The voice says they can prove that Ani wasn't with Clay the night Bryce died. Since Ani is Clay's alibi, that's a problem. But Clay seems so burnt out he doesn't care. "Just do whatever you want," Clay says in a defeated tone. The voice senses Clay's frustration and says that Clay can have Monty's phone if he can find it. The clues take Clay to HO club room where he hears a phone ringing, but it turns out to just be a burner phone. "Monty" calls back and tells Clay that he'll get the phone for real at the dance.
Clay has a therapy session where he doesn't mention that he's being stalked by someone who has the phone of a dead student, which seems like something you might get some help for, but what do I know. Instead, for some reason, Clay talks about how he doesn't know if he believes in love. Clay, who's had admittedly bad experiences with love says, "If you love someone, you're going to lose them." Yeah, they should definitely unpack that. But there's no time for that clearly huge issue begging to be unpacked, because the kids need to put on their dancing shoes and Clay has a phone to find.
Tyler shows up at the dance to help Tony after all, but quickly leaves after he gets a phone call. Tony follows him out and sees Tyler get into Deputy Standall's car. Yep, there's definitely something fishy going on there. In the car, Standall says, "You do still want to help us, right Tyler?" Tyler replies that he doesn't have a choice. "You always have a choice," Standall says.
Meanwhile, Jess sees Diego at the dance and he tells her that he does respect her. He also says they can hang out to make Justin jealous. Jess is on board with that idea. News spreads fast that Diego and Jess are dancing together, and Justin, who was at a meeting, comes to the dance to confront her. "Why him?" Justin asks. Jess replies that she's just lonely. It's heartbreaking.
Across the dancefloor, Clay tries to be in the moment with Ani and kiss her, but then his phone rings. "Having fun with your girlfriend? Kiss her one more time before it's too late," the voice says. Ani tells him to stop answering the calls, but Clay can't help it. The voice tells him to go the boys' locker room and he complies. Ani follows him out of the gym but gets distracted by seeing Alex and Winston making out. Since she knows the truth about who Winston is, she may now finally be compelled to tell the group before anyone else gets too close with Winston.
The showers in the locker room are stained with what is probably (hopefully) just red paint to make it look like blood. A knife sits on the ground. The voice takes Clay through an imagined version of Monty's final moments over the phone. It's pretty horrific. Clay grabs the knife and runs onto the football field when the voice instructs him to go. When he gets there, he sees Monty alive, but bleeding out. Clay tries to save him but it's no use. Clay begins to sob as Bryce also appears to him to call Clay a monster. And then Clay's reality vanishes to reveal the truth of the scenario.
Monty's body is actually a dummy painted red to look like it's bleeding. Bryce isn't there, but the whole football team, led by Diego, is. They were pulling a prank on him and used a program that allows all of the football team members to call Clay from Monty's number. Seeing Clay's severe reaction to what they thought was a mostly harmless (was it harmless, though?) prank confirms Diego's suspicions that Clay is hiding something. Clay flees the scene and walks back into the dance holding the knife and soaked in red paint that looks like blood. Ani takes one look at him and realizes that she's no longer interested in trying to stick things out with Clay. "You're right, I can't fix this," she says as she walks away.
Episode 4 Recap: "Senior Camping Trip"
Another flash forward to the funeral shows Charlie speaking in his Liberty jersey, suggesting that perhaps the person who dies may be on the football team.
Flashing back to the current timeline, Clay and Diego were both suspended for two weeks following the events of the dance. Now they're meeting with Jess and the rest of the student body leadership about whether they'll still be allowed to go on the senior camping trip. Jess votes that they shouldn't be, but the rest of the board approves it. During the meeting, Clay notices Jess and Diego are acting flirty and he silently fumes about it. Also, every year on this camping trip, the football team apparently picks a student to terrorize, so should we take bets now on it being Clay, or?
Cut to a therapy session with Dr. Ellman, who suggests that Clay speak to a chaperone if he's worried about going on the camping trip. Clay laughs the idea off, saying that adults always overestimate how helpful adults can be. It's clear with each passing episode that Clay is struggling more and more, and he tells Ellman that he feels anxious whether he's alone or with other people. He says he feels the anxiety all over his body and is afraid that he's not strong enough.
Ani and Jess' friendship is tested when Ani gets angry about Jess spending time with Diego after what he did to Clay. Jess points out that Ani slept with Bryce, Jess' rapist. It's a low blow, but a true one, and both friends look upset that she had to go there. Ani is missing the camping trip because her mother had a fall at work and she's going to Oakland to see her. Jess promises that she can take care of both Diego and Clay.
Just then, their phones buzz and soon everyone in that immediate friend group gets a message. It's sent from Clay's account, but he swears it wasn't him who sent it. It urges the friends to come clean or the truth will be revealed at the "senior share" campfire. They're all kind of freaked out about the message and it coming from Clay's computer. Meanwhile, Justin wants to know why Clay won't talk about what happened at the dance. Justin thinks Clay doesn't trust him anymore, and Clay doesn't deny it. Also, Clay’s mom says she's going to be a chaperone on the trip, which is honestly probably a good thing.
Jess says the obvious to Alex about how none of them can confess, especially since Alex's dad is the other chaperone on the trip. Oh, also Charlie gets to go even though he's not a senior. He's the football team captain, though, and promises to help keep things under control. Good luck, buddy.
There's a spooky element to the trip thanks to the Burnham Woods legend. Apparently a group of kids was "partying in ancient times, like the '80s" (yes, Clay really says this) and someone got drunk and fell and hit their head. The friends left him for dead, but he survived and killed all of his betrayers with an ax. Now he haunts the woods with said ax, naturally.
Once they're on the trip, Clay accuses Diego of hacking his email, and Diego seems genuinely confused — suggesting that maybe he really didn't send that ominous message. Clay also decides to insert himself in Alex and Winston's relationship, which he's heard about from Ani. Clay comes clean with Alex about who Winston really is. "Winston can alibi Monty for the night of Bryce’s murder," Clay says. "Does he know what I did?" Alex asks, referencing his role in Bryce's murder. Clay says no, but that Winston is digging for answers. Alex is upset that he's only just learning this now. When he next sees Winston, Alex tells him that he won't be bunking with him. "I can't do this anymore. Us," Alex says. Winston wants to know what he did wrong, but Alex walks away.
Meanwhile, the ever trusting Tyler believes that Clay really was hacked, and Tony wonders who would know how to do that, implying that Tyler has the skills to do it. Tyler is offended, but Tony points out that he was meeting with Deputy Standall the night of the dance. Tyler covers quickly with a story about how dances are triggering for him and since Standall knows why, he went to talk to him.
Away from the group, Jess and Diego are making out. She mentions that she wants Diego to leave Clay alone. He suggests that he will, but viewers should be suspicious of potential empty promises with this guy.
On the second day of the trip, Clay's mom and Deputy Standall organize a treasure hunt. Everyone surrenders their phones, takes their clue sheet, and hits the woods with a partner.
Justin and Clay are partnered up, and Justin says he doesn't think Clay wrote the email, but he's worried about what's going to happen on the trip and that Clay may not be able to handle it. Clay accuses Justin of sending the email because he has access to Clay's computer. Clay walks off, muttering about how Justin isn’t the same person after rehab. When he turns around, he notices Justin has gone missing.
Elsewhere in the woods, Jess and Alex are looking for clues together. They think they heard Clay call out, but Jess says that Diego promised to leave him alone. She suggests that she's dating Diego just to keep him away from the truth. "I'm not dumb enough to let him get close to me," she says. She reaches into a log to find the treasure the clues led to, but pulls her hand away when she realizes the log is filled with maggots. Alex runs away in disgust.
Back at the camp, Clay's mom finds the real clues in the trash can and realizes someone switched them out. The kids are out hunting clues from an unknown prankster, not their chaperones. Finally something makes at least a little sense.
Clay's looking for Justin in the woods and sees a wolf in front of him. Distracted, he doesn't notice when a group of people come up from behind and put a bag over his head. His hands are bound together and he's thrown down into a hole. He passes out and then has a dream that he's in a hospital with Monty. They talk about how the football team is after him for what he did to Monty. Monty mentions how he often acted out of rage and fear and asks Clay if anger ever overtakes his own emotions. Clay pauses, and then asks what really happened to Monty at the jail. Monty describes what it was like to die and Clay asks Monty to forgive him. "I'm not who needs to forgive you," Monty tells him.
Meanwhile, Justin is alone in the woods with a knife and looking worse for the wear. He spies a football player's jacket through the trees and runs to tackle him. But it's just Charlie. Justin tells him that some of the football players attacked Justin when Clay left him behind.
Elsewhere, Alex and Tyler come across each other after both ditching the treasure hunt. Tyler tries to defend Winston, having heard about his argument with Alex. But Alex tells Tyler who Winston really is. "He's only our friend so he can find out who really killed Bryce," Alex says, adding that he doesn't know who he can trust anymore. He walks away from Tyler and sees Zach about to row out on the lake in a boat. He joins him. Zach is drinking, as he usually is in most of his scenes. They each complain about their respective unhappiness and Alex starts to drink with him. Bolstered by the alcohol, Alex stands up in the boat but falls overboard. As he sinks, he has a flash of Bryce reaching out to hold him down, but Zach grabs him and rescues him. So many of these kids seem to have PTSD from Bryce's death that they're all seeing glimpses of him. Jess, Clay, and now Alex.
Winston finds Tyler, who asks why Winston lied to him about Monty. Winston says he was trying to be kind, since he knows what Monty did to Tyler. Winston promises he only knew Monty a little bit. Tyler doesn't seem satisfied with this answer, and he walks off.
The football guys are done with their prank on Clay now and go to let him out of his hole, but he's vanished. They also can't find one of their players. Clay's narrative voiceover says, "What if someone started fucking with the football team?” just as a bloody football jacket falls from a tree. Justin and Charlie check a nearby shed for Clay, but he's not there. Diego swears he doesn't know where Clay is. He admits to messing with the clues to send people to scary areas of the woods but that's it. Just then, one of the football players breaks out of the shed closet and he's been bound up, but by who?
In the woods, Jess hears Bryce's voice and then sees him standing there. "Why are you still afraid of me? I'm dead," Bryce asks her. "You should feel better." Then bugs start climbing out of his face in one of the more haunting visuals of the series. Hard pass on that one.
Back at camp, Alex tells his dad that he almost drowned, which makes him feel extra terrible for causing Bryce's own drowning. "I can't keep carrying this around anymore," Alex says. He considers confessing that it was him alone who killed Bryce. But his dad quickly shuts that idea down. He says that Alex's friends helped him because they know he deserves his life. His dad promises they'll make it through this. Just then they hear a scream.
Night has fallen and back at the shed Diego, Jess, Charlie, and Justin are there with the rest of the football team discussing who attacked them and where Clay is. They hear a rattling on the house and someone is scraping the sides with an ax. Just then, someone bangs on the door. It's Zach. The football team hightails it out of there, clearly spooked. Zach says the rest of them need to talk.
Cut back to Clay and he's still in the hole where the football team left him, but now he suddenly has his phone. He sees the same V and arrow symbol carved into the rock as he saw in the school graffiti. Surrounding him are all the treasure bags that the students were originally supposed to find, and a rope leading out of the hole. He seems extremely confused.
Back at the shed, more banging on the door reveals that Tony has arrived. They've now all been told about how Winston is Monty's alibi. Tony thinks Tyler sent the email, but Jess thinks it's Ani because she isn't there and she could have gotten to Clay's computer. Justin says they need to trust each other. Deputy Standall arrives and tells them to get back to camp.
At the campfire, Clay returns from the woods. He brings all the treasure bags with him and then accuses Diego of leaving him for dead. Diego insists that Clay wasn't there when they went to check on him. Then Clay accuses Winston of working with the football team. Winston has no idea what he's talking about. They all sit down around the campfire to answer the question of how the weekend has changed them. Winston sarcastically says that now he knows the kinds of people these students are. Clay says it hasn't changed anything, that he and his friends are bonded for life even if they don't want to be. Alex stands up, and for a moment it seems like he might confess to killing Bryce, but he just confesses to hating camping.
Winston comes to Clay’s tent and says he knows it was someone from the friend group who killed Bryce, he just doesn't know who yet.
Yes, It Matters That You Notice Charlie's Cookies
Charlie keeps kindly handing out homemade cookies to his fellow students which will become important later.
Episode 5 Recap: "House Party"
Clay's out for a run, but his mind can't stop flashing to the symbol he keeps seeing, the bloody shower from Diego's prank, and all the other inexplicable moments he's witnessed. He says he feels removed from reality and like he's watching himself from outside himself. When he returns home, it's with his dad, who found him just standing out on the pier where Bryce was murdered. They mention that last week he was found just standing in front of Bryce's old house. Clay's mom says she's going to perform a random drug test as part of making sure that Justin is okay but also that Clay is too. Clay's test comes back positive, and he accuses Justin of switching the samples. Justin, hurt, says that he's been doing good. But Clay's dad wants to know why Justin was back in his old neighborhood recently. Clay's mom grounds them both. Once alone, Clay brushes past the pointed, hurtful accusation he hurled at Justin and says he thinks his parents are tracking them, probably on the new phones they got them for Christmas that came complete with pre-installed apps. (Duh.) Justin won't tell Clay why he was in his old neighborhood and Clay won't say why he tested positive. There's not a lot of trust left between them.
Justin calls someone and says they need to meet. It's the football coach, and Justin meets him for coffee. He tells the coach how Clay accused him of switching the tests and worries that Clay's parents may have agreed. Justin feels like he can't make all the amends he needs to make to carry on with his sobriety.
Jess' dad says he wants Diego to come over for dinner since they've been texting so much. He also wants her home so she can't go to the "Find Your Drink" party. It's a gathering where all the seniors try every type of alcohol so they can "find their preferred drink" before heading off to college. Jess doesn't understand how her dad even knew there was a party. More evidence that everyone's phones are being tracked by their parents.
At school, Clay and Tony are talking. Tyler joins them and mentions that since Tony is fighting in a boxing match this weekend, Tyler can help. "He hasn’t spoken to me in two weeks ... so why now?" Tony muses when Tyler leaves.
Jess and Diego are kissing, and she asks him how her dad knows about him. One of the football players then comes by to mention that the party is off because the host's parents found out about it by reading his email. Jess considers this and when she's with her friends later she says her dad knew about her texting, and now parents are finding out about parties. Clay adds that his parents have been tracking him. They go to Tyler’s old friend Cyrus (Bryce Cass) to get help taking them off the grid so they can plan the party without their nosy parents knowing. Jess wants to know why Justin isn't there with them.
Cut to Justin sneaking in at night and Clay waking up to catch him. Clay asks if he remembers when they went to see Monty (Clay's dream from episode 1), and Justin says they never did. Clay seems confused but then he realizes that Justin had just been sneaking in. "What time is it? Where have you been?" he asks. Justin says he hasn't been anywhere.
Jess and Estela are working when Winston comes up to introduce himself to Estela. He makes a snide comment about how Jess likes to get justice for people who have been wronged. Then Winston tells Estela that they're planning a memorial for Monty at the party.
Zach catches up to Alex and says he wants to hang tomorrow night. Alex says he doesn't want to go to the party. But since Zach’s mom put cameras in his room, Zach needs to say he's with Alex to get out of the house and away from the cameras. Zach says they’re going to the party.
Speaking of cameras, that night, an unknown student sneaks into the school and smashes the cameras lining the halls.
SRO Wynn is talking to Sheriff Diaz about the boxing match that weekend. Wynn has trained Tony for it and says he's trying to get Tony to open up to him.
Later, at the coffee shop, Justin mocks Jess for being with Diego. Justin says he is not coming to the party, which is smart since he's trying to stay sober.
In a therapy session, Clay says he doesn’t know how his drug test came back positive for weed. The therapist asks what secrets Clay is keeping. Oh, you know, just a hundred.
At the party, the students are playing a game called Paranoia where they have to guess secrets about each other. (Clay would love this one.) Winston guesses that people assume Jess is happy about Bryce being dead but that Jess' life would be less complicated if he was alive. She takes a shot, indicating that he was correct. Justin shows up to the party after all and sees Clay smoking weed. Since he tested positive and his parents think he's lying, Clay thinks he might as well smoke then. Justin is upset, because he doesn't want Clay's parents to think he relapsed when he didn't. Clay, cuttingly, says that his parents never trusted Justin and that's why they tested him in the first place.
Can we just go on the record to say that we hate season 4 Clay? Cool. Glad that's settled.
Time for the Monty memorial! They're all pouring one out for him in the yard. Jess sees a flash of Monty standing at the memorial, so Clay's not the only one who's dealing with visions of him.
At the boxing match, Tony's opponent is much bigger than him, and things don't go well at first. But Tony's boyfriend Caleb is there, and he tells Wynn that Tony has an uppercut that can win him the fight. Wynn tells Tony to use it. Tony sees Sheriff Diaz in the crowd. Then Tony seemingly disassociates a bit and sees himself as his opponent. So when he knocks out his opponent, he's really knocking himself out. There's a lot to unpack there. Diaz congratulates Tony on the win and invites him to swing by the station to chat about what's next for Tony after high school. Diaz then offers to give Tyler a ride home, but Tony shuts that right down.
Back at the party, Alex is watching a movie and hiding from the crowd. Charlie joins him and gives him a weed cookie. It's not explicitly stated, but it seems implied that this is how Clay tested positive. He must have eaten one of Charlie's special cookies on the camping trip.
Clay finds Zach playing piano at the party and apologizes for not telling everyone about Winston. Zach doesn't really seem to care, but he gives Clay advice for getting Ani back. He tells Clay to whisper something in her ear that she won't be able to refuse. (Viewers don't get to know what that "something" is.) Clay doesn't use the line on Ani, though. She's still out of town with her mom. He goes up to a random girl at the party named Valerie (Yadira Guevara-Prip) and learns that her dad is Sheriff Diaz. Clay whispers Zach's magic words in her ear (gross) and they work. In the next scene, they have sex — it's Clay's first time and it goes pretty much how you would expect.
Meanwhile Zach notices that Chloe is at the party and approaches her. She is going to San Diego State for school and says she's doing really well. She thanks him for helping her get to where she is. Zach kisses her, but Chloe tells him she has a boyfriend. Poor Zach.
Jess sees Justin at the party and he's drinking. Justin says he's sad that Clay and Jess both hate him, but Jess says she could never hate him. Justin reveals that his mom is back in town, and he's been visiting her in his old neighborhood. He says she's not doing well. Jess asks what he plans to do. "I'm going to keep trying not to die, try to stay out of jail," he says. Diego happens upon the two, who have gotten a little closer during their chat. He feigns anger and then says he's just joking as he leads Jess away from Justin. Jess asks if Diego knows that Monty once beat Winston up at a party (this happened in season 3). Diego says that isn't true. Jess tells him not to trust Winston.
Speaking of Winston, he's now chatting with Estela and trying to get her on board Team Find Out What Really Happened.
Clay and Valerie have finished having sex and are back at the party when Valerie's boyfriend approaches them. "You don't own me, Aaron," she says when he gets mad. Clay tells Aaron to back off and punches him. The thing soon escalates into a full on fight, which Justin comes to break up. Clay takes some of his anger out on Justin too before stalking off. On the way out, Clay tells Diego and Winston, "I will end you."
Diego and Winston begin talking about how they need to team up to figure things out for Monty. Diego asks Winston if Monty really did beat him up. Winston confirms the story but also gives the background of how they'd hooked up at the party. He tells Diego that he knows Monty is innocent because they were together the night Bryce died. Winston tells Diego that Jess is playing him. Diego brushes that idea off.
After the party, Justin runs across Tony in his old neighborhood. Tony is there following Tyler. They watch Tyler hand a package to a guy in a car, and Justin says he knows him. "He deals guns. He sold to Tyler," Justin explains.
Meanwhile, Clay is driving home with Zach in Zach's fancy car. High on weed and booze and having sex and fighting a guy, he starts to go faster and faster until he suddenly crashes and flips the car. The screen goes black before we find out what happened to Clay and Zach.
The One Line That Basically Sums Up This Whole Show:
Jess asks Justin if it's okay for him to be drinking when he's trying to stay off drugs. "What of any of this is okay?" Justin asks, practically recapping everything that's ever happened on 13 Reasons Why.
Episode 6 Recap: "Thursday"
The students are doing an active shooter drill where they're tasked with trying to keep a fellow classmate from bleeding out after they've been shot. Clay and Justin are partners for their practice dummy, but Clay isn't any help. His brain seems to be conflating the current task with trying to keep Zach from bleeding out after the car crash from the previous episode. Then Zach's face changes to Clay's own face, and Clay is watching himself bleed out. The football coach interrupts Clay's flashes by declaring that their dummy didn't survive. Tyler and Tony's victim does survive, but Tyler makes Tony nervous when he suggests to the coach that they should have been practicing with a high-velocity, high-impact wound like one that an assault rifle would create.
Later, at therapy, Clay tells Dr. Ellman that the exercise made him feel helpless. He wishes schools would just do more to stop students from being shot in the first place. (He's got a point.) They also talk about how Clay feels he deserves to be punished because he's let his friends down.
At school, Justin says that Tyler hasn’t been back in Justin's dodgy neighborhood since they last saw him there. Tony wants to know why he was there in the first place.
Zach returns to school with his arm in a sling after an accident. Viewers learn that Clay crashed the car and then fled the scene, leaving Zach injured and alone. Clay swears that he doesn't remember doing that, but Zach tells him to stay out of his life.
Meanwhile, Diego tells Jessica that he's convinced Clay is hiding something and he's going to start looking into Clay's friends to get closer to the truth.
New character alert! A new Dean named Hansen Foundry (Reed Diamond) has been brought in to help with discipline. He has a meeting with Clay where he asks if Clay was involved with the smashing of the school's cameras or has anything he wants to say on the matter. "No. There's nothing I want to tell you," Clay replies before leaving the office. Jess catches up with him to congratulate Clay on his upcoming meeting with a college recruiter from Brown. Clay is confused. He doesn't remember finishing his Brown application, but it's the one he wrote the "I covered up a murder" essay for, so that can't be good if he submitted that.
Winston and Estela are talking about Monty. She looked through her brother's stuff and found an old football playbook where the guys would write notes to each other. There's two years of conversations scrawled on the pages from both before and after Bryce's death.
A short while later, an alarm sounds and it's Principal Bolan issuing a lockdown and telling students to seek shelter. Tony notices that Tyler is missing from class. He's concerned that the lockdown may be about Tyler, since Tyler did threaten to shoot up the school dance in season 2. Everyone across the school begins barricading themselves in whatever room they're in. Naturally, there's a lot of anxiety among them.
Clay is barricaded in a classroom alone and he sees Monty in there with him. Monty taunts him by saying the shooter might be Tyler. Estela is in the bathroom when the lockdown is issued. She calls her mom and leaves a shaky voicemail telling her mother that she loves her. Meanwhile, Winston and Zach have been locked in together. Zach takes some of the painkillers prescribed to him after the car accident and washes them down with vodka. Winston offers him a bag of stronger pills.
Back in Tony's classroom, he goes through Tyler's things and finds a bunch of printed photos of guns that are for sale. Tony wants to turn them in to Dean Foundry, but Alex thinks the lockdown could just be a drill and doesn't want to do something that could hurt Tyler. "If you're wrong about this, his life is over," Alex warns, adding that if Tyler goes down they all could. "Do we protect everyone, or just ourselves?" Tony says.
In Clay's classroom, he sees Bryce as well as Monty. The two of them are both taunting Clay. Then the door handle rattles and Clay tries to calm himself by saying it could just be a teacher checking the locks. Bryce asks him why he's not afraid to die. "Maybe I just don't care anymore," Clay answers. "If you die today, is your conscience clear?" Bryce asks. Clay insists he's not dying today, but then the door handle rattles again, a shadow appears in the window, and Clay looks genuinely terrified. (As would anyone.)
Back in the bathroom, Estela hears someone crying in the stall. It's Tyler, whose fear of the lockdown is exacerbated by being stuck in the bathroom stall, which is where he was assaulted by Monty in season 2.
Jess is in the HO club room. Justin texts her to see if she's okay. Jess doesn't answer, but she does call Ani. In a voicemail, she apologizes for their silence and asks if her mom is doing okay. She says she hopes Ani doesn't hate her and that she misses her. Jess also calls her mom to say she loves her.
In the room with Winston and Zach, they're both high on Winston's pills. Winston admits that he loves Alex. Zach says he does too, because Alex never judges him for any of the bad things Zach has done. Even high, Winston's ears perk up at the admission of wrongdoings. "Like what?" he asks. Zach tells him that he beat up Bryce the night he died. "You killed him?" Winston asks. Zach says no, the police didn't attribute his death to the beating, but Zach still feels guilty. In case they die, Winston says to tell Alex that Winston loved him. Zach asks Winston to tell Bryce's mom that he's sorry.
Cut back to Tony, who's still with Alex and Charlie in a room. They hear gunshot sounds in the hall. Tony decides enough is enough and decides to take Tyler's gun photos to Dean Foundry, but the Dean just says thanks he'll look into it later. It does nothing for their current predicament. Alex begins to have a panic attack and insists that he hears his dad in the hall. Charlie calmly tries to help Alex through it, telling him that his dad isn't out there, his mind is just making him think that he hears his dad. Charlie said it's a probably a side effect of having a traumatic brain injury (TBI), which Alex sustained from his suicide attempt in season 1. Charlie googled TBIs to better understand what Alex was going through. When Alex is calmer, Charlie kisses him and Alex kisses him back.
In the bathroom, Estela wants to know who would do something like this to the school. Tyler, speaking from personal experience, says someone who is "so sad and that sadness makes you angry." Estela seems to realize that Tyler is speaking about himself. "Did you hurt someone else?" she asks. Tyler tells her that he almost did, but that his friends helped him get better. Estela apologizes to him for what Monty did.
The football team is barricading in the locker rooms, but Diego wants to go try to fight the shooter. The coach (obviously) says no. Diego taunts Justin, saying, "You're okay to just let [Jess] die?" His words prompt Justin to sneak out of the locker room to find Jess. He breaks into the HO room through a window, but Jess doesn't realize it's Justin and starts throwing things at the intruder. Eventually she notices that it's Justin. He tells her that if this is the last day of his life, he wants to spend it with her. They kiss.
Clay hears the gunshots in the hallway. He's extremely on edge and Bryce continues to taunt him about the presumed gunman. "He shot Tony, he shot Alex, he shot Justin, and you couldn't stop it. You couldn’t save anyone," Bryce says. Clay starts to cry. "I can't save anyone. I never could," he says through his sobs. Monty asks Clay if he's sorry for what he did and Clay says yes. He asks if he's going crazy and Monty coldly answers, "Going crazy? My boy, you done gone." Clay decides that he wants to try to save anyone he can, and he leaves the locked room. He sees the shooter in the hallway, running towards him. The shooter slows down and removes his hood. Clay sees the shooter as himself. Clay the shooter then fires on Clay the student.
Cut to the principal coming out of his office. There is no shooter, there's only Clay standing there. Bolan ushers Clay into his office and then Bolan gives the all clear. It was just a drill. The gunshots heard were just blanks, and officers rattled the doors. They were trying to make the drill as realistic as possible.
Even when the lockdown is called off and revealed to be a drill, the students still seem traumatized. Tyler looks pretty rattled. Charlie, Tony, and Alex are concerned about what the Dean is going to do to Tyler. And Zach, now realizing he's not going to die but that he revealed a pretty big secret to Winston, panics. He warns Winston not to tell anyone that he beat Bryce up. Winston says he knows that Zach must know who did kill Bryce.
Cut to Clay seeing the principal congratulating the officers for their (terrifying) work during the drill. Clay unravels, shouting about how the school is killing them all. He says that they're teaching them to prepare to be hunted and afraid for their lives as if the students don't already know how that already feels. "You're scaring us to death," Clay shouts. "We're kids, we should be living our fucking lives instead of practicing how to cheat death." One of the officers puts his hand on Clay, and Clay reacts by grabbing his gun. A crowd of students has gathered and is watching when an officer tackles Clay. Panicking, Clay begins shouting, "Get off me" over and over again and waving the gun. They finally wrestle the weapon away from him, and he's led away from the school on a stretcher, his arms in restraints.
Episode 7 Recap: "College Interview"
Clay's been admitted to a hospital and mentions that he has a college interview coming up. This is the episode's theme, as many of the students meet with various college recruiters. Clay has to stay in the hospital for observation so he doesn't hurt himself.
In Tyler's college interview, he says he's had a lot of struggles but he's looking to start over. He wants to study photography at school. He begins talking about one of his recent projects: taking photos of weapons. "I think guns can be beautiful," he tells the recruiter. He says he thinks people can be attracted to guns and his photo series is meant to get people thinking about why.
Winston and Estela are talking. Winston says he thinks Jess knows the truth, because Monty's playbook keeps mentioning the number 21, and that's Justin's football number. Winston says that Diego is going to try to get the truth out of Zach today. Estela is confused, because Jess has been her friend. Estela doesn't think she'd lie to her.
Sheriff Diaz is at Alex's house to talk to Deputy Standall. Alex overhears Diaz say that he still has questions about Bryce's death. He wants to know why Deputy Standall didn't record Ani's statement.
Jess is upset because there's been a rumor going around that she had something to do with them having a lockdown drill. She blames the principal for upsetting so many students with the drill. Principal Bolan says that he thinks it was more than just the lockdown that got to Clay. Jess says she needs to speak up, because she doesn't want people thinking she advocated for the cameras, the metal detectors, and the drill.
Tyler tells Tony that he wants to know if his friends are giving up on him. Tony says no one is giving up on him, but why is he shopping for guns? Tyler says he's done so much work to be better, how could anyone think he could go back to that dark place he was in during season 2?
Diego confronts Zach about how he's protecting his friends. Diego threatens that Zach needs to come clean "or pay the price."
Justin wants to know why Jess is still seeing Diego, but she says it’s her way of handling him and keeping him away from the truth. However, it seems that she also just likes him, so it's complicated.
Clay pretends to need the bathroom at the hospital and then escapes. He meets up with Ani, who is back from visiting her mom. It turns out that Ani submitted his Brown application for him. But first she rewrote his essay so it wasn't about covering up a murder. Smart. Clay gets angry at her for intruding on his life, and she promises she won't be meddling anymore.
Despite their kiss in the previous episode, Alex rejects Charlie's advances in this episode. He tries to blame his actions on being busy, but there definitely seems to be more going on there.
Justin texts Zach. He's upset that he told Winston about beating up Bryce. Justin tells Zach to fix things before Diego and Winston run too far with things.
Tony is at the sheriff's station to meet with Wynn about an upcoming boxing match. While he's waiting, Tony overhears a group of officers talking about a gun deal going down with Tyler on Tuesday night. Tony is concerned that Tyler's being led into a trap.
Ani is back at Jess' house. She accuses Jess of avoiding her, but Jess says she's just on her way to see Diego. Ani tells Jess that she's moving out to go live with Tony. But first, she apologizes for sleeping with Bryce after what he did to Jess. Ani says she was lonely and didn't think about the consequences. "I think girls do that sometimes with boys," Ani says, also seemingly pointing to Jess' own relationship with Diego.
Meanwhile, Clay is clearly not doing well. He's pacing in a park, looking increasingly upset. Eventually, he goes to Dr. Ellman's home. He begs Ellman not to call the police, Clay just needs help. Dr. Ellman agrees to talk with him at his office. Clay says that he can't sit still anymore ever since he was arrested in season 3 and put in handcuffs and leg irons. Dr. Ellman asks him to think of a time when he felt safe. Clay recalls a time from when he was a child. He was sick and his dad stayed home with him. "He looked so worried, but I didn’t feel worried," Clay says. "I just felt glad he was there." Dr. Ellman tells him to try to remember that feeling of being glad his dad was there. When their session is over, Clay's parents pick him up and take him home with the promise that he will start seeing Dr. Ellman twice a week. At home in his bed, Clay sees the V with an arrow through it symbol on his ceiling.
The next day, Jess is at her college interview. The recruiter tells her that she's resilient. Jess responds with one of the best lines of the series. "Isn't resiliency just one more way of saying that we should cope with things rather than trying to change them? And what does real change look like?" she asks. That sentiment couldn't be more relevant to our current time. Anyway, back to Jess. She's talking about her friends and how they made decisions they could never take back and how that led to "painful, awful change." The recruiter makes an offhanded statement about how change isn't easy. Jess laughs, because of course change isn't easy.
Alex's dad pulls Justin out of class to tell him that his mother died of a presumed overdose. He offers to take Justin home, but Justin wants to stay for his college interview. Yikes, what news to get before such an important meeting.
At Alex's own college interview, he says that he doesn't deserve to go to college. The recruiter thinks he's saying that because of his disabilities stemming from his suicide attempt. It's clear to viewers that Alex thinks he doesn't deserve it because of what he did to Bryce. After the interview, Charlie asks Alex how it went. Alex tells Charlie to stay away from him. Alex seems to be punishing himself by pushing people away much like Clay also is to himself.
It's Ani's turn for her college interview. She's asked what her friends would say about her. At first, Ani says that they'd call her loyal and dedicated. But then she realizes that's just the front she's put on for them. "They only see what I want them to see," she says. The recruiter asks Ani who she really is, then? Ani says she doesn't know.
Tony comes to Clay's house to tell him about the trap he thinks the police are setting for Tyler. Clay says he's not in any shape to help other people right now, but his attempt to stand up for his own healing gets waved away by Tony. He says this isn't like Clay to turn down a friend in need.
Meanwhile, at Justin's interview, he tells the recruiter about some of his personal challenges, namely being addicted to heroin and having sex with men for money for drugs. (The latter will become important down the road.) The recruiter tells Justin that he's shown fortitude to overcome his struggles. Justin thinks he just got lucky, while his mom never got lucky. "No one ever gave her a fucking chance," Justin laments. The recruiter ignores the obvious personal pain Justin is in to tell him that everyone at the school is just so inspired by his story. It does little to make him feel better.
Charlie, who has ignored Alex's attempts to push him away, finds Alex again. He tells him that Alex is breaking his heart. Alex wants to know why Charlie even likes him. "What you’re saying is I'm dumb for liking you. You're like questioning my taste," Charlie says, offended. Alex says he's annoyed by how confident Charlie is, because Alex doesn't feel confident at all. Alex walks away, leaving Charlie behind.
It's time for Clay's college interview. He is pretty honest with his recruiter. He says his friends are the most important thing in his life and he will try to help them no matter what. "I'm really trying to do the right thing … even when it's not clear what that is," Clay says. "Even if I make mistakes along the way." It goes way better than it could have, given his fragile mental state at the moment.
At home, Justin tells Clay's parents not to say anything about his own mom's death. He doesn't want that getting in the way of Clay's own recovery at the moment. Justin says he doesn't want a funeral for his mom, because he's been to enough funerals in his life. (Justin with the truth about this super dark TV show.) Justin walks off and back into his bedroom where he takes the sheets off and sits on the mattress, crying.
Meanwhile, Ani is having a conversation with Bryce's mom Mrs. Walker (Brenda Strong). The two keep in touch, and Mrs. Walker even sent flowers for Ani's mom when she got hurt. Ani starts to cry and says she feels like she's failed and isn't strong enough. Mrs. Walker tells her that she's young and it's okay to still be figuring things out. She offers Ani Bryce's college fund, which Ani initially tries to reject, but Mrs. Walker is quite insistent. As they're talking, a suspicious Alex takes a photo of them conversing from outside the window.
At the docks, the football team and Winston meets up with Zach, who is drunk per usual. Zach says he's not telling them anything. Diego hits him over and over again until Zach says, "I'll tell you who did it. It was me. It was me all along." Diego resumes punching him, but Zach just keeps telling him to hit him harder. In Zach's mind, he sees his own face on Diego's. Zach is punishing Zach, much like Tony punished himself in the boxing match, and Clay saw himself as the shooter. They're all punishing themselves. Eventually, Diego stops hitting Zach, and Diego and the football team leaves Zach here.
Meanwhile, Tony is waiting for the police to enact their trap for Tyler. Suddenly, Clay hops in his car. He showed up after all. Just then, they see Tyler. Clay and Tony both get out of the car as the cops show up. Tyler is about to buy a gun, but the gun seller panics as he sees Tyler and Clay. The seller points his gun at Clay. He shoots and the episode fades to black.
Episode 8 Recap: "Acceptance/Rejection"
The episode opens with a dystopian dream. Clay says it's 2161 and earth has been turned into an arid landfill. The children of the world have to fight off a robot army that long ago harvested away all the adults. Clay's a vigilante hero in this video game version of his life, and he's notably wearing a patch on his jacket with the weird V symbol he keeps seeing.
Cut to real life, and Diaz is explaining why Tyler was buying illegal guns. It turns out that, in exchange for getting charges dropped against him for his bag of guns, Tyler became an informant for the police. He would buy weapons to get them off the streets. It was Deputy Standall's idea. (Real cool making a teen go into super dangerous situations, Standall.)
Back at Clay's house Justin comes home from being with Jess. Clay asks him if he's been using again. Justin tells him to worry about getting his own act together before he worries about Justin.
The title of this episode relates to the kids getting into (or not getting into) college. Jess gets rejected from her top three schools. Apparently she had taken the SAT two days after Bryce got probation for raping her. Her SAT makeup test came the week after Bryce died. Talk about bad timing. Meanwhile, Alex got into college at Berkeley, but he won't let himself be excited about that. He's too worried that he's still going to be caught for Bryce's murder. Justin got into a school (it's not stated which one), but Clay has not gotten a letter from Brown yet. Clay's parents want to take Clay and Justin to a Gordon Lightfoot concert to celebrate, mistakenly thinking that their sons are big fans. But Clay and Justin have been using "Gordon Lightfoot" as a code word in their texts ever since they learned that their parents were tracking their whereabouts and looking at their messages
Somehow, Winston, Diego, and Estella got their hands on Bryce's confession tape. Someone had dropped it off in the dark room in an envelope. Winston thinks Jessica heard it and sent Justin to take care of Bryce. Diego doesn't believe Jessica was involved, mostly because he's blinded by his love for her. Estela wants to know whether Winston wants revenge for Monty or for himself since Alex broke up with him. She's astute, for sure.
After moving out from Jess' house, Ani is staying at Tony and Caleb's. She finds out that she got into Stanford as well as the other eight schools she applied to, but none are offering her financial assistance. Tony tells her to take Mrs. Walker's money. Ani asks if Tony would take it. Tony says that it's different for him and Ani, because their parents aren't citizens, so they have to look out for themselves.
That night, Clay has another nightmare. He's at school and police are everywhere, intimidating students. This is what you call foreshadowing, folks.
At school, Diego tells Jessica that she's been seen with Justin. "So what? We're friends," she answers. But Diego is mad that she didn't tell him and that she's been blowing him off. Jess says that Justin's mom died and she's trying to be supportive. Diego tells her that Winston thinks he's being played by Jess. He suggests that maybe Jess is only with him because they're getting close to the truth about Bryce. Jess reaffirms that Justin is just a friend and kisses Diego. Justin sees through the window, and his face shows how upset he is.
Zach is meeting with the Dean, who tells him if he doesn’t get his grades up, he’ll have to repeat senior year. Zach seems unconcerned about the idea of not graduating. He says he can just get a job at a box store or fast food restaurant.
After the incident with the botched gun sale, Tyler is back at school. Tony asks if the cops know about Tyler's season 2 threat to shoot up the dance, but Tyler says no. Tyler says that Deputy Standall convinced Diaz that Tyler was just a misguided kid who liked guns, and that he could help the officers. He's hurt that his friends didn't trust him. "All you have to do is have faith In your friends," he tells Clay, in particular.
At HO club, Jess reveals that cameras have been put up even in the locker rooms. The other students want her to talk to the principal about getting them removed. She confesses that she's been secretly talking with Principal Bolan all semester to give her input on the security measures. But she promises she didn't know anything about the lockdown drill. She doesn't think Bolan is listening to her anymore. Estela is upset that Jess lied to them.
Tony has another upcoming fight, but Caleb is worried that he'll be killed by the guy because he's huge and decked out in white power tattoos. When the fight starts, Tony's opponent calls him a gay slur and tells him he's going to die. Almost immediately, he knocks Tony out. But Tony comes back and ends up knocking the other guy out. A college boxing coach from the University of Nevada comes up to Tony after the fight to offer him a scholarship. But Tony tells him that he has responsibilities here and can't go to Nevada. The coach tells him the offer lasts for 30 days and to think it over.
Jess finds Justin in the alley, where it looks like he's doing drugs or has done drugs or is thinking about doing drugs. He got fired from his job, as well. "I saw you with Diego today, you actually like him," Justin says, obviously hurt. Jess doesn't deny this. Justin says it's better anyway that Jess is with Diego rather than just waiting around for Justin to OD. It's Jess' turn to be hurt, as she promises to always be there for Justin and he tells her to leave.
At Clay's house, his parents are heading out for date night. He wants to know why they've been going on so many dates lately. So he follows them to the school where he sees they're in a meeting with Dean Foundry about how parents can check up on their children's online lives. They all have apps to track their kids' whereabouts and messages, and then the school has an algorithm that finds common trends in the students' lives. The school is trying to seem extremely on top of student safety, but Clay's dad hasn't forgotten about the drill that led to Clay's breakdown, and he says as much.
Clay meets with Jess to tell her about what all the parents are doing. He says he doesn't think they've cracked Gordon Lightfoot yet, but a security team is probably working on it. He suggests they round up the group to talk things over. "Who's left?" Jess asks. She says Zach is done and Justin's not talking to her and Ani moved out and is meeting with Mrs. Walker. Clay says they're doomed.
Later, Jess tells Alex about the parents' meeting. Alex mentions he overheard Diaz and his dad and they may reopen Bryce's case. He also suggests that they get the group together, but Jess says everyone is too mad at her to listen.
In the absolute last thing that Justin needs, Diego comes to talk to him about Jess. He says he heard Bryce's tape and he thinks she's protecting Justin because Justin killed Bryce. Justin tells him he doesn't know what he's talking about, but he should keep his mouth shut. Diego says he's gonna get the truth and he'll beat it out of Justin if he has to. The two start fighting in the school hallway and one of the SROs comes to break it up. He slams Diego against the locker for being "another fucking Mexican kid starting a fight." Justin tries to come to Diego's defense, but the officer pulls a gun on Diego and arrests him.
Jess comes out into the hall to witness this. She goes to talk to Principal Bolan while surrounded by a group of students watching in the hall. She's furious. "There are innocent people being treated like criminals," she complains. "Presumed guilty, no charge? No due process?" The students clap for her, and when Bolan tells her to get back to class, she gives a firm no. Clay joins her. "No, we're not going back to class," he says. The principal says that Diego has been released and the officer "will be disciplined if appropriate," which sets the whole crowd off. "Fuck that. Enough is enough," Jess says. She turns around and walks out with Clay and many other students following her. Zach says he’s not walking out, because when has that accomplished anything? "Historically it has accomplished things," Alex wisely notes. Zach says Jessica can make enough noise on her own, and Alex tells him he's tired of Zach being a jerk all the time. Zach asks Alex if he's tired of being afraid. Alex says yes, so Zach says they should make their own noise.
Zach and Alex start breaking windows on the building. Zach says his life is over, but Alex says there's a lot left for him even if he can't play football. (Zach injured his knee in season 3, which ended his football career.) The cops arrive and Zach and Alex run through the school and barricade themselves in the Dean's office. Zach starts to destroy the place, but stops when he notices that his file is sitting on the Dean's desk. He opens it and takes a letter out of his file, crumpling it up. (This will become important later.) The cops arrive at the office, and Zach tells Alex to go out the back way while Zach stands prepared for an altercation, holding a baseball bat.
Outside the school, Diego wants to know if they're just gonna stand there or do something? Just then Ani comes out of the school with the HO megaphone. She hands it to Jess and begins to lead a chant: "Hey hey, ho ho, SROs have got to go.” Soon the whole school is chanting the words as they start marching. Jess demands removal of SROs and security measures. Clay adds no more drills. "We want our school back," Jess says. The principal says the measures are designed to help keep students safe, but Jess says the measures are bad and Clay urges them to do something. They do, alright. They call up the officers who arrive in full riot gear. The officers tell them to get out in two minutes. Clay worries that they have guns, but Jess says they've been trained for a moment like this. Meanwhile, Tony is trying to leave. With all the officers on the scene, he's nervous. He has a record and can't be arrested. The cop in charge says their time is up and tells his officers to proceed. The riot-gear adorned men begin to walk forward, and Jess says, "Now!" The students all begin throwing objects at the officers.
When the students run out of things to throw, they start physically fighting the officers. Justin pulls Jess back, warning her that she can't be arrested. Diego is watching, and something seems to click for him. Jess spits on a cop and he punches her. In the chaos, Justin throws the megaphone to Clay who urges the students not to run away. He tells them that this is their chance to fix things, "[even] if we have to burn it down and start over." He motivates the students to attack again. A cop tackles Justin, and Diego shoves the cop off and helps Justin up. Diego wants to know why Justin said that Jess couldn't get arrested. Justin doesn't say anything and Diego thinks it means that Jess is involved in Bryce's death. Before he can say anything about it, a cop tackles Diego.
Meanwhile, Tony didn't make it out in time and he's being arrested. Officer Wynn shows up and comes to his rescue. He lets Tony go, and tells him that he was the one who called the University of Nevada coach to come see his fight.
Alex is outside now, looking for Charlie, whom he finds unconscious on the ground. Just then a car, which has been set on fire, explodes.
Cut to Clay at therapy. He says that no one found out who destroyed the principal's car. Dr. Ellman shows Clay a video. It's Clay, lighting the car on fire. "What the hell?" Clay asks. He says he has no memory of that. And in that moment, he has a sudden flash of all the other things he doesn't remember doing. He was the one who spray painted the graffiti, destroyed the cameras at school, and tormented his friends in the shed on the camping trip. Dr. Ellman says he’s been keeping secrets from everyone, even himself. Clay says he's ready to let those secrets out.
Episode 9 Recap: "Prom"
Charlie stayed the night at Alex's house, and Alex tells him to sneak out so his parents don't see that they're sleeping together.
Clay tells Justin to get up. It’s the first day back at school after a week off due to the protest. There's a whole investigation into what Justin and Diego were fighting about that started the uprising. Justin says he can't go to school because he's not feeling well. He admits to Clay that he had been using again, but that he's been clean for a few days. He says he's probably just detoxing and asks Clay not to tell his parents about his relapse. Clay agrees and goes to school.
At school, Dean Foundry is interviewing all the students about what they know. He talks to Zach about why Zach took the letter from the football coach out of his own file. Later, the Dean talks to Ani about why Diego and Justin were fighting, because he heard something about a tape. Ani doesn't divulge anything. Then it's Jess' turn to talk to the Dean. He tells her he's cancelling prom, because the parents filed a gang injunction against the school. Jess says she will make prom happen no matter what.
Tony and Caleb are arguing about the University of Nevada offer. Tony says he can't take it because he has the garage to run now that his dad has been deported.
Diego comes to the HO room to talk to Jess after she didn’t text him all week. He thinks she's been talking to Justin. Diego suggests that he knows Jess was involved in Bryce's death, but she laughs off his threats. He gets angry at her laughter and says that maybe he'll go talk to the Dean. Ever unflappable when she needs to be strong, Jess says, "So talk."
In therapy, Clay says he hasn't told anyone yet about his other crimes or what Dr. Ellman has described as Clay disassociating. Dr. Ellman says that maybe Clay should tell his friends. Clay agrees to, and they all meet up at his house. At first Jess is angry. "You're gonna destroy us," she says. Clay apologizes. Tyler suggests that they all just lie when the Dean interviews them. Clay says it's not just Foundry who's suspicious. Diego, Winston, and Estela are onto them as well.
Charlie says they can stop the school's investigation at least if they get their parents back on their side. Charlie suggests that they bond with their parents by telling them some truths and then asking for prom to be reinstated. If the school reinstates prom, the current police state of the building will be eased as well, and then Charlie thinks the investigation will go away.
After the meeting, Jess apologizes to Justin for whatever he thinks she did with Diego. She thinks Justin gave up on himself and pushed her away. Justin says he was trying to make his way back to her but she broke his heart. Jess says, "I think your heart was broken way before you met me."
Clay and Justin meet with Clay’s parents. They reveal that Gordon Lightfoot was a code word. Clay proposes a new deal where they talk more openly with each other in exchange for reinstating some trust. Clay comes clean about his role in the school's vandalism and how Dr. Ellman thinks he was dissociating. He says he's working on living with his trauma instead of ignoring it. Justin admits to having relapsed as well as stealing some things from the family to buy drugs. He says he doesn’t think he needs treatment again, just a few days to rest and clean up. Clay says they want to go to prom, and can his parents help with that?
Meanwhile, Charlie meets with his dad (played by '80s star Andrew McCarthy). Charlie comes out as bisexual and says he has a boyfriend. His dad says he always knew and is supportive. Charlie asks his dad to help them get back prom, since his father is the president of the booster club.
Jess brings her plan to Principal Bolan. She offers to take responsibility for the uprising, she can be suspended, and the cops can charge her with instigating and drop the charges against anyone else. She says that Clay's mom is asking for the gang injunction to be lifted and the booster club agreed to chaperone prom, they just need the principal to sanction the dance. She reminds him that he promised at the start of the semester that he just wanted to keep students safe and give them a good high school experience. They need prom to be part of that experience. Bolan agrees to her terms.
At Alex's house, Charlie is there for dinner. Alex comes out to his family and says Charlie is his boyfriend. Alex's dad treats it like no big deal and Alex's mom hugs him and says she's happy that he's happy.
Jess tells HO that prom is on, but tells Ani she's sad because it's not like she has anyone to go to prom with anyway. Ani says they should go together, but Jess isn't sure. So Ani gets up and starts singing "Can't Take My Eyes Off Of You" (of Heath Ledger singing in 10 Things I Hate About You fame) until Jess agrees to go. Thus begins the string of promposals.
Meanwhile, Alex is walking through the hallway at school. The walls are lined with banners saying, "Alex, will you go to prom with me?" Charlie is standing with balloons and roses but Alex walks right by. So Charlie tries again, getting Alex's whole class to wear masks of Charlie's face and hold signs that say, "Prom?" Alex sees this and says, "Well that's just creepy" and leaves. Finally, Charlie gets Alex to agree to go after he decorates a room with candles and lights that spell out, "Prom?" Alex partially agrees just to make Charlie stop, but you can tell he's also a little excited.
Estela and Tyler are talking and going through some of Tyler's old photos. Estela finds a picture of Hannah Baker. Tyler says she was nice to him when most people weren't. Then Tyler looks at Estela and asks her to prom. She answers with an excited, "Hell yes!"
At Tony's garage, Caleb brings him donuts that spell out, "Go to prom with me." So that's cute.
It's prom night and Clay's getting ready, but Justin isn't going because he doesn’t feel well. Clay says he’s worried about Justin, and Justin says he's worried about himself too.
Zach hires an escort to go to prom with him and they leave to do cocaine in the bathroom. The pair of them get progressively more drunk and high until Charlie and Alex stumble on them in the bathroom and realize that Zach's escort is barely conscious. They help send her home and get Zach back out on the dance floor to dance it off.
Diego wants to talk to Jess. He says he doesn't want anything bad to happen to her, suggesting that he knows she's involved in Bryce's case. He adds that he misses her, but she says the feeling isn't mutual. Eventually, he gets the hint and goes back to his table.
Alex, Zach, and Jess are sitting at a table together — the three people responsible for Bryce's death. "Are we ever gonna feel okay?" Alex asks. Jess says that she hasn’t felt normal or okay in a long time, but she finds ways to be happy. Alex says that Bryce should be there with them right now. Jess points out that he would be drunk, "choosing his next victim," and bullying Alex. But Alex says that doesn't mean he deserved to die. Zach agrees, but adds that they deserve to live, and they haven't been living.
It’s Winston’s turn to talk to Ani. "I know she did it," he says about Jess, adding that he has enough to prove it. But he wants to know why Ani covered for them when she wasn’t even part of it. Ani says she got to know the friends and their messiness and she loved them. "There may come a time for you when you have to make a decision," Ani says. "All I can tell you is that I did what I did out of love."
When she leaves, Winston sees a vision of Monty across the dance floor and they start to dance. "I never could have done this dance with you," Monty says. Winston thinks he could have and says he loved Monty. "You didn't even know me," Monty points out. "I never would have let you love me." Winston says he misses him, but Monty says he just misses the idea of Monty. He tells Winston to "live with the living." They kiss and hug and then Monty pulls away and leaves with a wave goodbye. It's finally some closure for Winston.
It's time for the prom king and queen announcement, only this year it's prom king and king because Charlie and Alex were voted in. "You deserve to be happy," Jess tells Alex as she crowns him. The crowd chants for them to kiss and they do. Alex finally agrees to dance with Charlie, who asks him if he's still sad. Alex says some part of him will always be sad, "and another part of me is happier than I've ever been before." The two of them profess their love for each other.
Justin decides to come to the prom after all, and Jess sees him across the dance floor. Ani tells her to go dance with him. "I love you more than life," he says. "Don't love anything more than life," Jess tells him.
Ani sits with Clay. The two of them agree that neither of them was ready for a relationship. They agree to just be friends. Then Clay's mom joins him and he invites her to dance.
Everyone is having a great time until Justin suddenly passes out in the middle of the dance floor. And with that, there’s only one episode of the series left.
A Few Unforgettable One-liners
When Jess decides to drop all pretense with the principal and says, "Gary — I’m gonna start calling you Gary, okay?"
When Alex's brother learns that Alex has a boyfriend and his only response is, "You’re dating the fucking quarterback? Sweet."
Episode 10 Recap: "Graduation"
Justin has been in the hospital ever since fainting at prom. His doctor (played by Kate Burton, aka Meredith’s mom on Grey's Anatomy) says that Justin has HIV that’s progressed to AIDS, possibly from his IV drug use or his sex work when he was homeless. This surprises Clay, who didn’t know much about that time of Justin’s life. His illness has progressed quickly now that the symptoms have started showing up. The doctor is seeing a neurological infection as well.
Many of Justin's friends come to visit him at the hospital, but Zach can't make it past the doors downstairs. He says he watched his dad die at this hospital. Charlie tells Zach that Charlie's mom had cancer at the hospital and died, and yet Charlie is visiting Justin. Zach says he just can't do it.
At school, Winston talks to Tyler. Winston thinks Jessica killed Bryce and that Clay and Ani and the friend group framed Monty. He says he almost has enough proof for the police, but he can leave Tyler out of it. Tyler says they're his friends, and anything Winston does to them, Winston can do to Tyler.
Later, Winston meets with Alex. It's possible that Winston is wearing a wire and that this is his way of getting the rest of the proof he needs. Alex admits the truth that he killed Bryce. He tells Winston to do with that information what he wants.
At the hospital, Justin's on a ventilator now, and the doctor says he probably won't be able to come off of it without his organs shutting down. When Clay realizes that things are truly over for Justin, he panics and runs out of the hospital. He runs to the sheriff station down the street and threatens everyone inside with a gun. Sheriff Diaz calmly talks Clay down, and Clay reveals that he didn't really have a gun. Clay breaks down crying, and Diaz gives him a hug.
Tony and Clay get a chance to talk in one of the sheriff's interrogation rooms. Tony is pretty beat up, having been in a street fight. They both agree that they haven't really been looking out for each other lately.
In a therapy session, Clay says he didn't pull that stunt to die, he just wanted someone to see that he was hurting. Diaz saw. And Clay realizes that Diaz was paying attention to him all year not because he was suspicious, but because he was worried about Clay.
Alex and Charlie find Zach drinking in an alley and tell him enough. They pour out his alcohol and tell him to get it together to go see Justin. Zach has convinced himself that he is a lost cause, but Alex reminds Zach that he saved Alex’s life more than once. Now Alex is returning the favor. So Zach finally goes to see Justin.
Tony comes home to find Caleb video chatting with Tony's dad. His father tells Tony to sell the garage and go to school. He says that the garage was never his dream; his dream was for Tony to have a better life than he did. This scholarship is Tony's chance.
Dean Foundry tells Clay that he was voted class speaker for graduation after rallying the students at the protest. Clay doesn't know how he can give a speech about the future when Justin doesn't get to have one.
Later, Clay and his dad are talking, and Clay apologizes for his stunt at the sheriff’s station. His dad says that he will always worry about Clay, that's just what parents do. But he says that high school can be survived, and Clay's dad is proof of that. He hopes his son has known joy, and Clay says he has.
At school, the football coach offers Zach a coaching job next year. Zach reveals that he took the coach's letter of recommendation out of his file because he didn't think he could live up to it. The coach thinks he can, but he needs to get sober and graduate. Zach agrees to do that.
The doctors take Justin off his ventilator so he can have a chance to say goodbye. In his conversation with Jess, he tells her that she's so strong. She says he's the best thing to ever have happened to her. Justin laughs, and says he ruined her life. But Jess says, "You taught me what love is." Clay and Justin's own goodbye is equally emotional, with Clay thanking Justin for saving his life more than once.
Justin dies, and the speakers at his funeral try to make his death mean something. The pastor says, "Remember his death with sorrow and determination that spur us to action." Zach tells everyone, "The pain that we are feeling today is to remind us everyday to do better, to be better." But it should be noted, Justin's death was pretty frustrating — sacrificing a character who’s done the work to grow and live a full life, in order to scare his friends into doing the same is simply unfair.
After the funeral at Monet's, Winston asks Alex why he killed Bryce. Alex explains that he just saw red when he realized that Bryce had hurt everyone Alex had ever loved. Winston wants to know if Alex is sorry. "More than I could ever say," Alex replies. Winston says he loved Monty, but he also loved Alex so he won't turn him in. Winston hands Alex a tape that presumably has Alex's earlier confession on it. They hug and Winston leaves.
Tony sells the garage to Caleb, who encourages him to go to school so he can have his best chance at a future. Tony breaks everyone's heart when he says, "What if I'm lonely?" But Caleb assures him that they're only an eight-hour drive apart and they'll make it through.
At the station, Diaz tells Deputy Standall that family is the most important thing, and viewers can tell that Diaz has a suspicion that Standall covered for Alex in some way. But Diaz isn't upset. He tells Standall that he's officially closing Bryce's case. Suddenly a lot of people have a lot less to worry about.
Jess and Diego go get STI tests together but they both come back negative. Diego apologizes for his investigation into Bryce's murder and for thinking that Jess was involved. He says he'd like to ask her out sometime, but she says to give her time to grieve.
Then, in one of the most messed up moves of the whole series, Hannah’s mom sends the tapes from season 1 back to Clay's house. She got them back from the investigators and decided that they belonged to him. Excuse me, Mrs. Baker?
In therapy, Clay says he's angry that Justin didn't tell anyone what was wrong when it would have been so easy to save him. Dr. Ellman points out that Clay also has a hard time opening up and letting people care for him. It's a breakthrough for Clay.
It's graduation time, and Jess gives a beautiful speech about love and its role in our lives. Then Clay speaks about surviving, the ones who didn't make it to graduation with them, and how to find the best in life anyway. His closing line is pretty cheesy, but it resonated with his audience: "Even on the worst day, life is a pretty spectacular thing."
After graduation, all the students are hanging out in the gym with their parents. And even Courtney Crimsen (Michele Selene Ang) and Ryan Shaver (Tommy Dorfman) from the first season show up. Jess reveals that she's going to Berkeley. So is Alex, and Tyler is also going to be in the Bay Area studying photography. Ani says she's donating Mrs. Walker's money to the HO club, and Jess asks Estela to take over managing the club for her next year. Estela and Tyler are also officially dating. Zach says he's not taking the coaching job after all; he's going to music school for guitar and voice, although his mom thinks he's going for violin.
Meanwhile, Diego asks Winston to hang later that week, and Winston seems so thrilled to have a real friend.
Clay finally explains what the hell has been happening all season with Monty and Bryce's sudden appearances. "I just want to be clear, I don't actually see ghosts," Clay says. "I just, like, imagine people and what I would say to them." Ghost Justin chimes in, "I get it. You wrote my paper on magical realism." Justin talks to Clay about forgiveness and Clay thinks about Hannah. "I fall in love with girls too fast, too hard," Clay admits as he sees Ghost Hannah across the gym. He stands up to walk over to her, but he's interrupted by a girl named Heidi (Veronica St. Clair). She's also going to Brown next year — because, oh yeah, Clay got in. She also likes robots and is super dorky. Plus, she looks like Hannah Baker 2.0. Clay agrees to go to coffee with her because Clay has apparently learned nothing.
The whole friend group reunites to bury Hannah's tapes in the spot where Clay first listened to his own tape. Jessica sees Bryce and tells him that his time is over. He didn't win, but he did bring this ragtag group together and Jessica loves them. "That's something," Bryce says, desperate for relevancy. "Sure," Jessica answers, and Bryce turns and walks away.
Back at home, Clay finds the essay that got Justin into college. It's about a good influence in his life, and he wrote about Clay, whom he calls his brother. At his therapist's later on, Clay agrees to continue their work through the summer and as he gets adjusted at Brown and then he'll find resources on campus. Then he leaves to drive with Tony to his school in Nevada. The show fades out on them, the OG friends, together through it all.