For those who thought that 13 Reasons Why's season 3 pivot from a story of a young woman’s death by suicide and its painful aftermath, to a straight-up murder mystery, don’t get it twisted: 13 Reasons Why is not season 1 of Riverdale. Though it does incorporate noir tropes — Clay (Dylan Minnette) and new character Ani (Grace Saif) play detectives with their own agendas here — the show is still a lens into the darker side of 2019’s youth. Rape culture, homophobia, drug use, gun violence: 13 Reasons Why wraps what could be considered issues-of-the-week on a different teen drama into one sprawling, if bleak, coming-of-age story. The problem here is how much misery will these teenagers have to endure just to come of age? In case you thought otherwise, the kids are still not alright on 13 Reasons Why, and probably won’t be until the end of the fourth and final season.
But without further ado... let's get to binging.
Episode 1 Recap: “Yeah, I’m The New Girl”
If the season 2 finale of 13 Reasons Why suggested that the veil of darkness had yet to lift from over Liberty High School, then the third season premiere meets those expectations, and then some. There is much to unpack here, and the person doing that unpacking is a new face: Meet Ani (Grace Saif) our new narrator and a newly-important member of the secret-keeping clique that was solidified when Hannah Baker (Katherine Langford) delivered her tapes. She’s the one untangling the web of lies created by her new classmates, but likely has plenty of her own.
Ani is the daughter of a home care worker. In the episode, we discover the family she’s working for and living with, is the Walker clan — specifically, Bryce’s grandfather, whom Bryce (Justin Prentice) and his mother Nora (Brenda Strong) now live with following the breakup of the Walkers’ marriage. Bryce is now attending Hillcrest Academy and playing on their football team. Since Bryce is no longer at Liberty, it’s Ani who is the connective tissue between him and those still at the high school.
Ani proclaims in the episode that she is the new girl who has no interest in “doing the shy thing.” Instead of hiding, she challenges, encourages, and befriends all of our favourite (and not-so-favourite) characters. In flashbacks, Ani encourages Jessica (Alisha Boe) to run for school president and jokes with an aggro Clay (Dylan Minnette) about giving her the “worst” student tour she’s received at any of her five high schools in three years. In present day, she is Clay’s closest confidant, though he doesn’t seem to trust her entirely. Maybe for good reason? Ani, it’s revealed, is narrating this episode — with a promise to spill all the things she knows about this group — in what seems like a police interview.
The first episode of the show toggles back and forth between two important time periods, with Ani’s voice narrating it all. In flashbacks, the show returns us to just after the spring fling dance, when Tyler (Devin Druid) showed up with an arsenal of weapons and intent to murder his classmates.
The second time period is present day, where those involved with the Hannah tapes (as well as others who were at the dance when Tyler threatened a shooting spree) are still terrified that their cover-up of Tyler’s murderous plot will be discovered, as will their involvement in some big fight between the Hillcrest and Liberty High football players.
For those who were waiting to find out what happened to Tyler after the dance, Clay sent Tyler away with Tony so he could get rid of Tyler’s weapons — which he did, successfully. What to do with Tyler was a whole other issue. Clay and Tony come up with the plan that they and a select group of friends — most of whom were involved with Hannah’s trial last season, as well as some of Tyler’s new friends like Cyrus (Bryce Cass) and Mackenzie (Chelsea Alden) — will cover up what really went down, while also taking turns to make sure that Tyler doesn’t commit any other acts of violence. The idea is to create a human shield of companionship around Tyler, which, it should be noted, is hardly a replacement for getting Tyler the help he really needs.
However, eight months after the spring fling dance, Tyler is keeping it together...and everyone else is just barely managing. It’s fall of the group’s senior year, and honestly, it’s amazing they even made it here. Jessica is school president and accused by Principal Bolan (Steven Weber) of inciting a “riot” at the homecoming game, which left many football players, including Zach (Ross Butler) and Monty (Timothy Granaderos) injured. Zach’s in particularly bad shape: Thanks to an injury from Bryce, he’s off the field and in crutches, with his chances of playing college ball cut.
Jessica gives no effs about the principal chastising her, as Hillcrest “started it,” even though Liberty High threw all the first punches. Does this have to do with Bryce, who plays for Hillcrest? Jessica says no, it does not. But also...doesn’t everything come back to Bryce?
At least, that’s what we think because Clay is taken to the police station in the middle of a school day. The gang (plus Ani) suspects that maybe Clay is finally being held accountable for what went down with Tyler, but Deputy Standall (Mark Pellegrino) — who also happens to be the father of Alex (Miles Heizer) says there’s another issue at play here. Bryce is missing. He hasn’t been seen since the homecoming game.
We know from the trailers that Bryce is dead, which means that, as it was with the first season, 13 Reasons Why is once again a mystery series. With Hannah, we knew the “who” of the death, but not the “why.” Here, it seems like everyone has a reason to want Bryce dead...which means narrowing down suspects will not be easy.
Clay, per usual, spirals, as he tells everyone that Bryce is MIA. Most people are surprised but not concerned, as Bryce could just be drunk in some Vegas hotel room. Bryce’s mother isn’t too sure of that: She knows most people hate her son for good reason, and even admits he’s kind of a monster...just one she would really like to know is safe.
Clay’s brain never shuts off, and so he suspects that someone did hurt Bryce — which is very bad, because Clay just sent Bryce a text announcing he wants Bryce dead.
Clay’s not the only person with contact to Bryce. For some reason, Bryce left Tyler a voicemail, telling him that things were “taken care of.” In secret, Zach tries to leave a message for a missing Bryce. Monty’s not sure why he’s taken to the police station, but for some reason, the cops suspect he knows more about Bryce’s disappearance than he let on.
Then there’s Ani, who might have more secrets of her own than anyone. She declares, via voiceover, that her life changed forever when she met Bryce. In a flashback, we see Bryce watching Ani swim in the pool. Does Bryce...have feelings for Ani?
One thing is certain: 13 Reasons Why’s secrets are just starting to surface.
Some other info to remember…
Alex and Jessica are broken up, and are teetering between “friendly” and “don’t ever touch me again.”
Alex may be taking some sort of medication, but it’s unclear why. He’s also working out a lot, and his hair is now a natural brown.
Justin and Clay share a “cottage house” (as Ani calls it) separate from the main house. It’s very Ryan and Seth!
Tyler takes a photo of himself, shirtless, every day in the exact same spot. He starts with a picture revealing bruises left by Monty and the others after they sexually assaulted Tyler with a broom. Is Tyler making a time lapse? Could he be building a case against Monty?
Episode 2 Recap: “If You’re Breathing, You’re A Liar”
With Bryce still missing, everyone is on edge. When Clay notes that Zach is wearing the lucky rabbit’s foot that Chloe (Anne Winters) gave him months before, he becomes suspicious. He decides to look into the relationship between Chloe and Zach, which brings us to a flashback from eight months earlier.
Chloe no longer attends Liberty High — she left shortly after the spring fling dance, after she told Jessica she was pregnant. One person Chloe claims she never told about her pregnancy was Bryce. She did, however, inform Zach, who seems to have a crush on Chloe: He offers to raise the baby as his own, but Chloe says she plans to get an abortion.
Zach fronts Chloe the money for the abortion, after she tells him a horrible story about how she attempted to receive one from a clinic that poses as an abortion provider in order to dissuade people from terminating their pregnancy. (These are unfortunately all too real, and were recently discussed on The Bold Type’s third season.) Zach takes Chloe for an abortion at a real clinic, but the visit turns into a scary situation when protesters attempt to stop her from entering. A “clinic escort” approaches Chloe and offers assistance, until the escort is also revealed to be a protester, who puts a bloody model of a fetus in Chloe’s hand. It’s a terrifying bait-and-switch, played like a scene from a horror movie, and I just want to give Chloe a huge hug.
Chloe receives the abortion, then tells Zach she’s leaving Liberty. (SMART MOVE, GIRL.) Zach makes Chloe promise they can still see one another over the summer, as, again, Zach totally loves this girl. Whether they’re secretly dating or just friends is unclear, but they’re still close. In present day, Zach tells Clay and Ani that no, Bryce did not know Chloe was pregnant or that Zach helped secure her the abortion — so that can’t be why Bryce attacked him on the football field. Chloe dumped Bryce months ago, and Zach claims Bryce was unaware of the deep connection between Zach and his ex-girlfriend.
It’s Ani, in flashback, who consoles Bryce following his breakup with Chloe — though it’s not the only struggle Bryce was dealing with at the time. Unlike at Liberty, Bryce was not the most popular guy at Hillcrest. When he sits down to talk to some Hillcrest football players, he thinks he’s meeting with some like-minded individuals who want to talk about hooking up with girls. One player (Hart Denton, a.k.a. Chic on Riverdale) seems to be like the private school version of Bryce...until his switch flips and he reminds Bryce that the team has no interest in hanging out with a rapist. Later, Bryce’s teammates shove him down the stairs, leaving visible bruising and cuts. Ani’s mother cleans up his wounds while Bryce’s mom accuses him of being unable to get his shit together.
Speaking of Bryce’s mom...did someone pluck her out of Game of Thrones? She’s clearly bitter over having to take care of her ailing father, whom she alleges was abusive, and her troublemaking son Bryce, whom she believes may be even worse than her husband.
“Men are cruel to prove they are not weak, but they doth protest too much,” Mrs. Walker tells Chloe, seemingly to ensure she won’t have Bryce’s baby. “I was raised by a cruel man and to escape him married another.”
“Bryce is worse than both of them.”
Ani has a more sympathetic heart for Bryce. When she finds him crying over Chloe and the drama at school, she agrees to stay with him per his request. It’s unclear where Bryce’s heart is — could he be a changed man, or is he a sociopath playing Ani the way he has so many other people?
In present day, Ani goes into Bryce’s room and finds a notepad. There’s still the imprint of words on it, like someone had written a letter and peeled off a page. Using a pencil to shade in the words, Ani learns that Bryce was writing a letter to Jessica. An apology, maybe?
Whatever Bryce wanted to tell Jessica, it’s unclear if he had the chance. In present day, Tyler — who has been struggling to tell Clay something all day — takes a walk down by the river, as Ani’s voiceover notes that some people react to violence by committing violence against themselves. Does Tyler plan to end his life? The scene cuts to officers pulling a body out of the river, and we’re worried about what Tyler’s plan is...until we see the face of the body. It’s not Tyler, but a bloated, blue Bryce. RIP, but not?
Episode 3 Recap: “The Good Person Is Indistinguishable From The Bad”
News of Bryce’s death spreads throughout Liberty High, with Clay and Ani now more determined than ever to find out who would want to not just hurt Bryce, but kill him.
After pulling the Zach thread, Ani and Clay turn to the person most likely to want Bryce dead: Jessica. Ani and Jessica are friends, with Ani acting as her campaign manager during her winning presidential campaign.
Despite what Ani tells the police — or whoever she’s narrating this story to — Ani did, in fact, know that Jessica’s rapist was Bryce. She also saw Jessica confront Bryce, after the trial, to tell him that she’s doing “really great” despite him breaking something in her when he raped her. Bryce doesn’t exactly apologize to Jessica, but he does admit that things went “too far” with her and Hannah and the rest of his survivors. It’s not good enough for Jessica: She calls him a “psychopath” and leaves.
Since Ani knows that Bryce wrote Jessica that letter before his death, she suspects that maybe Jessica had a strong reaction to Bryce’s apology — and maybe even killed him as a result. It’s a thin theory, but Ani has another way into the Jessica-is-a-killer theory. In flashbacks, it’s revealed that Jessica confided in Ani about the bad sex she was having with then-boyfriend Alex. She just didn’t feel like her body belonged to her anymore. Ani told Jessica to buy some vibrators and explore sex that way. Jessica did, and had a great time. Still, she admitted to Ani that there was a part of the experience that didn’t feel so healthy: The fact that she was fantasizing about someone bad for her, who could help her “rewrite” the story surrounding her rape. Ani and Clay mistakenly assume that the person Jessica hooked up with was Bryce.
...They may be the worst detectives in the world, because anyone with half a working brain cell could put it together: Obviously, it was Justin whom Jessica explored her sexuality with. This led to some particularly steamy sex, just about everywhere. (The bathroom at Monet’s! Clay’s bed! School! Nowhere is off-limits!) Jessica ends things with Alex — “This needs to be done,” she says after a particularly bad bedroom session with her boyfriend — and suddenly we’re back to Jessica and Justin 2.0.
All this is revealed after Clay and Ani — who are suspicious of Jessica — follow her to the motel where she’s meeting up with Justin. Clay and Ani come in, guns blazing, ready to lie to the police (their favourite pass time these days) in order to protect whichever one of them really killed Bryce. Clay’s suspicious of brother Justin, because Clay knows that Justin also confronted Bryce at some point after the spring fling dance, where Bryce revealed he knew all about the gang’s Tyler cover-up. Yet Justin and Jessica are totally innocent — at least, of killing Bryce.
If Justin is guilty of something, it’s whatever the hell is going on with his drug dealing ex-step dad Seth (Matthew Alan), who shows up outside of Clay’s house to talk. Justin says he’ll kill Seth if he finds him at his home again...but why is he there to begin with?
As this drama swirls, Tyler’s mental state appears more and more fragile. He plays by the rules that his friends set for him — he’s never allowed to be alone — and seems convinced he’ll never be truly happy again. The school counsellor tells him to have faith, reminding Tyler that change can happen so subtly, it can feel like it’s not happening at all. Tyler finally realizes he might be capable of happiness at the boxing gym with Tony, where he finds himself “fighting free” for the first time.
Tyler, however, drops a bomb on Tony later in the episode. He asks how Tony and Clay got rid of his guns; Tony reminds Tyler that he is never supposed to learn that information. Tyler’s only asking though because, well...he didn’t give them all of his guns. He has one more in his room, and he needs to dispose of it, now realizing he’ll never need to use it. Tony is naturally suspicious (did no one think this was a huge flaw in their Tyler plan from the get-go?) and tells Clay the score. He’ll wait outside Tyler’s house, just in case something happens.
Unless something already happened. At the end of the episode, Tyler clicks through crime scene photos of Bryce, dead in the river...revealing that he has a gunshot wound through the back of his head. Someone shot Bryce — and Tyler’s gun is right there next to him. Could this be the murder weapon, and is Tyler to blame?
With 10 episodes left in the season...likely not. Still, Tyler may have more secrets than anyone expected.
Moments of levity:
In order to keep his sex with Jessica a secret, Justin has Jessica hide when Clay returns to the guest house, leaving Justin in bed with a bottle of lube.
Clay, on Justin leaving old lasagna in their room: “You’re not Dr. Fleming discovering penicillin.”
Justin: “No one ever gets your jokes.”
Episode 4 Recap: “Angry, Young And Man”
So... is Tyler’s gun the murder weapon? That’s what everyone assumes at the end of the third episode, and for good reason. Ani’s voiceover reminds us that Tyler checks all the serial killer boxes — specifically, that he’s angry, young, and male. The real question here is if Tyler is a different person from the guy who plotted to kill his fellow students at the spring fling dance. Did the mercy shown by people like Clay and Tony make him a little less angry inside, or should everyone be worried?
It turns out that Tyler did use the gun he hid in his room for nefarious purposes, though not for murder. He kept the gun because he planned on using it against himself, revealing the spring fling event to be less of a murder plot and more of an endgame. Tyler couldn’t pull the trigger, though. When he realized as much, he decided to get closure from Monty. Tyler demands an apology, but Monty just smirks at Tyler. Doesn’t Tyler know that Bryce was the one who encouraged the attack and sexual assault on Tyler in the bathroom, just before the dance?
Tyler believes that Bryce is to blame, and finds Bryce in a motel room, watching porn and ripping from a bong. He pulls a gun on his one-time bully, but Bryce level-headly explains to Tyler that Monty went rogue months earlier. He’s right, but Tyler’s not sure he believes Bryce. When Bryce tells Tyler he might as well just shoot him, because he’s got nothing to live for anyway, Tyler realizes he doesn’t want to. Maybe Tyler really isn’t the same person he once was, even if he is still angry.
Clay, however, doesn’t learn all of this until later on in the episode, and he’s terrified that by letting Tyler go all those months ago, he essentially pulled the trigger on Bryce. He, Ani, Justin, Jessica, and the rest of the gang agree to keep an even closer eye on Tyler now that the gun is in play. When Clay sees a brown paper bag in Tyler’s backpack, he fears the worst, and Tyler senses this distrust brewing.
Meanwhile, we get a taste of Jessica and Tyler’s relationship over the past few months. Via flashbacks, it’s revealed that Jessica was very creeped out by Tyler, whom she would “babysit” during her shifts at the Crestmont movie theatre. Alex, however, often had to take over just to save her from the awkward stares.
One day, Jessica’s babysitting duties overlap with her new club: “Hands Off,” a club that’s waging war on the toxic culture at Liberty High. Specifically, the club supports survivors of sexual assault. Tyler joins as an “ally,” only to be chastised in present day by Casey (Bex Taylor-Klaus) when Tyler doesn’t want to protest Bryce’s funeral. “If you’re going to be an ally, be a fucking ally,” they retort. What they don’t know is that Tyler is also a survivor of sexual violence.
Clay goes over to Tyler’s house to search for his gun, and is greeted warmly by Tyler’s parents, who have no clue about their son’s one-time plans or thoughts of suicide. While Clay is looking for the gun, he finds the photos of Bryce’s dead body on Tyler’s laptop and thinks the worst again. Tyler, however, explains that it’s not what it looks like: Tyler just found Bryce in the river that way, and placed an anonymous call to the police. The reason why he was at the bridge by the river in the first place was because Tyler wanted to end his life; he just couldn’t see the good days between all the bad. Then, when he saw Bryce’s dead body, incapable of being anything but a corpse, Tyler realized he didn’t want to die at all. He wanted to live, and he wanted to get better. He thanks Clay for giving him a chance to do that.
Tyler reveals what was really in his backpack: A camera, just like the one from Rear Window. Tyler, Ani, and Clay saw the film at the Crestmont together, and Tyler remembers Clay thinking that camera was pretty cool. It’s a sweet moment — even though it doesn’t really excuse Clay from taking on Tyler’s mental health as his own pet project.
Tyler isn’t the only one we learn more about this episode. Via flashbacks, it’s revealed that Clay and Ani were almost (but not quite) a thing. Clay took Ani out on a dinner date that was misinterpreted as a study session. He gifted Ani a bike — his old one, wrapped up with a red bow — which made her cry. There’s so much romantic tension here you just want to scream “Kiss already!” at the screen, but Ani and Clay are both too invested in their murder sleuthing to focus on teenage romance. That, or maybe Ani is hung up on Bryce?
At the end of the episode, Justin declares he’ll get rid of Tyler’s gun. Instead of ditching it, he uses it to threaten Seth. Justin’s one-time stepdad reminds him that if he pulls the trigger, it’s all over for him. Justin doesn’t shoot, and instead hands Seth money — which he notes is “less” than Bryce paid him.
Tyler’s gun, as it turns out, is nothing more than a red herring in Bryce’s murder. He wasn’t shot at all, but beaten to death. Now, the police are looking for a murder weapon, which they believe to be in the river where Bryce’s body was found. The issue? Tony and Clay dumped Tyler’s other guns in the river...which means they could be in big, big trouble if that fact is ever tied to them.
As for Alex, he’s terrified because the police found something else by Bryce’s body: Vials of an unnamed liquid. Steroids, perhaps? Maybe Alex was buying them from Bryce, who we did see shooting up in season 2 along with Monty. Suddenly, Alex looks quite suspicious.
Episode 5 Recap: “Nobody’s Clean”
After learning that Bryce was selling steroids, the police search the lockers at Liberty High in order to see if they can find people who bought from him. The theory is that if someone bought from Bryce, maybe that would have reason to want him dead.
Luke, a football player, gets caught with steroids, but he didn’t buy from Bryce. Zach, the newly-minted team captain, claims he had no idea that his players were juicing. Still, the person who is most worried about the raid isn’t a football player, but Alex, who has been partaking. Fortunately, he tosses the steroids just in time to avoid trouble...but Justin finds them, and tells sleuths Ani and Clay that Alex has been doping.
Alex doesn’t need steroids for performance on the field. In flashback, it’s revealed that Alex is wounded from the breakup with Jessica, especially since he was, once again, dumped in favour of Justin. He lashes out at Jessica in Monet’s after he pressures her to explain, and she admits she had to listen to her body and find out who she was really attracted to.
It’s clear that Alex has a darkness within him that stems from his insecurity over his masculinity. When he can’t get steroids from Luke’s guy, he turns to Bryce, who offers him the “friends and family” discount. No one should feel badly for Bryce about this, but it’s obvious that Bryce will do just about anything in order to maintain friends — he’s sorely lacking in them at Hillcrest, as everyone is fully aware he’s a rapist.
Alex is fine with being Bryce’s friend (which seems completely out of character given the events of last season, but okay) and Bryce introduces him to his rich boy pastimes, like cocaine (HBO Max’s version of Gossip Girl, is that you?) and hookups with sex workers.
Ani and Clay find out about the latter by sneakily going through Alex’s phone, leading to a very awkward conversation between Clay and sex worker Melody. Though Ani and Clay assumed that Bryce was blackmailing Alex over the sex worker situation — Alex’s payments to Bryce for steroids jumped from $100 to $200 — the truth was that Alex was simply booted from the friends and family plan after a really bad night with Bryce.
After hanging out and doing lines of coke, Bryce declares they’re going to break into his dad’s house and mess shit up. Bryce hates his dad after he left Bryce and his mom and moved into a house down the street. Alex isn’t so down with the breaking and entering portion of the night, but Bryce reminds him that this is basically his house so...what’s the harm?
The harm, as it turns out, is that this is not Bryce’s father’s house. A little kid comes down the stairs as Alex is pulling out a samurai sword. Bryce turns to the little kid and says “If you say anything, I’ll kill you,” causing the very small child to pee his pants and start crying.
“You’re a bad person,” Alex says, almost as if this was a person whom Alex did not full well know raped two of his friends. Bryce basically shrugs it off. As Alex heads out, he calls out after him — the discount is off, buddy!
Alex tells all this to Clay and Ani, who admit Alex doesn’t have much of a motive for killing Bryce. You know, other than the fact that Bryce raped two of Alex’s friends, including one who died by suicide.
Alex’s secrets coincide with Monty’s, another person Ani and Clay are investigating. Monty considered Bryce to be his best friend, but Monty is also a total wild card. When Ani and Clay see Monty clearing out his locker before it can be searched, they go to his Jeep and find that he has an ID for a Hillcrest student in his car, in an envelope labelled “HE WON’T TALK.” The Hillcrest student is Winston — though a different Winston than the one pictured on the ID — and is it turns out, Monty’s big secret has nothing to do with steroids.
When real Winston (Deaken Bluman) meets up with Clay and Ani, he spills the tea on what really happened with him and Monty. The fake ID in the car (of an Asian-American man) was the “Winston” who took the SATs for real Winston. This is blackmail leverage that Bryce and Monty had over Winston after what happened at a party.
In a flashback, Bryce takes Monty to a “rich kid” party (Alex is also there, scoring drugs from Bryce) where Monty and Winston pretty much instantly lock eyes. Winston, it should be noted, has the most soulful swimming pools of blue eyes, so like, it tracks.
Monty finds Winston laying on the floor of a bedroom that is presumably not his own while in search of the bathroom. Winston sizes Monty up immediately with his baby blues, locks the door, and kisses him. Monty, being Monty, punches Winston in the face, before giving in to the urge to grab Winston’s face and kiss him. The kiss quickly (like, really, really quickly) turns into Monty pushing Winston’s head down to perform oral sex on him. Winston’s pretty game for this, even though Monty could not be more aggro in this moment.
Winston sees Monty walking out of the party with Bryce, and says it was nice to meet him. Maybe they can hang out sometime? Monty goes full-on Hulk over Winston’s kind ask, and beats him to a bloody pulp as Bryce pulls Monty off. He gets in a lot of shots, and Winston looks Fight Club bad.
Bryce is there to clean up Monty’s mess though. He tells Winston that Monty’s a mess and that he gets beat up at home...then tells him that he hopes a cool $5,000 will help Winston forget this ever happened. Winston eventually negotiates even more money, which Bryce is pretty chill with.
Rich people really are living in a different world.
Ani and Clay ask why Winston would keep such a secret, and Winston basically says that it’s the kind of secret you do keep. Mostly, Winston just wants to make sure nothing tarnishes his Princeton legacy — hence the fake ID thing. He has no interest in outing Monty and doesn’t want trouble.
As all of this is going on, Justin finds a buyer for Tyler’s gun — a drug dealer, whom Justin makes promise will never sell to a kid again. He obliges...but something tells me we probably haven’t seen the last of him.
At the end of the episode, Mrs. Walker finally tells her racist, senile father that Bryce is dead. He freaks out and demands his cane, which Ani looks for in the “carriage house.” (These rich kids! I can’t!) While there, she unveils a red Mustang, and peers inside. “What the hell?” Ani asks.
What the hell, indeed — because that’s Tony’s car.
Episode 6 Recap: “You Can Tell The Heart Of A Man By How He Grieves”
The episode opens with Tony in the police station. He’s taken in for questioning. Deputy Standall asks him how well he knew Bryce. Tony says he really didn’t — which clearly the cops know is a lie. When they ask him if he’s sad, as today is Bryce’s funeral, Tony says that he’s suffered far worse than Bryce’s death. We’ll find out what that is, exactly, later.
Everyone has complicated feelings about mourning Bryce so publicly. Zach and Justin aren’t sure how they can grieve their friend after every awful thing he did and feel guilty that they want to. Mrs. Walker, who, as we know, has lots of issues with Bryce, is also conflicted. He was often cruel, even to her; we saw that in season 2, when he mocked her as he recounted his rape of Hannah. The Walker family was troubled in so many ways, and this episode reveals that Bryce’s father was likely the person most to blame for Bryce’s callous side.
In a flashback, we learn that Bryce’s father (played by Jake Weber and not the nearly-identical Tim Roth) was a really, really bad guy. He left his wife and immediately bought a house down the street with his new girlfriend, content to cut his ex and his own son entirely out of his life. When Bryce sees Mr. Walker and his new girlfriend at dinner, he asks his dad about playing golf sometime — something that Mr. Walker has no intention of really following up on.
Later, it’s revealed that Bryce knows all about Mr. Walker’s dismissal of him: He breaks into his father’s real house and messes up the place, leading Mr. Walker to have a heated confrontation with his son. Bryce refuses to pay for any damages, and reminds his father of “Kaitlin,” the “nuclear option” that his mom has in their divorce. Mr. Walker doesn’t have another mistress, at least not currently: Kaitlin is his 12-year-old daughter from a secret affair.
Despite Bryce calling for all-out nuclear war on his father, Mrs. Walker has significantly more mercy, though it’s less for her ex-husband’s benefit and more for her own well-being. She tells Bryce that they must be done being controlled by Mr. Walker’s whims, and she’s right. They should move on. It seems like she and Bryce are on the right track: They even have a playful paint fight that, if you didn’t know any better, might endear you to Bryce. (Or maybe it should just endear you to Justin Prentice?)
In present day, Mr. Walker is just as much a jerk, treating Bryce’s funeral as if it’s a wedding, making the rounds among guests and smiling. He quickly becomes one of Clay’s new suspects, though Ani is quick to point out that just because Mr. Walker was a terrible father doesn’t mean he had motive to kill his own son.
Who does have motive? Tony, whose car was found in Bryce’s garage. Via flashbacks, it’s revealed that Tony’s family was taken by ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement). He sold his car to pay for lawyers to help them, though it wasn’t enough and ultimately his family was deported. Clay is upset that Tony didn’t confide in him, and Tony says it’s because Clay could never understand what he’s going through. Clay realizes it’s true, because his family always has his back and isn’t facing a threat like deportation. He goes home and hugs his mom and dad before demanding that they make some space for photos of their new son Justin on the fireplace mantle.
Though Bryce only bought Tony’s car in this episode — hardly a reason for Tony to kill him — Ani, in her police interview, teases that there is more to Tony’s story with Bryce. Did Bryce get Tony’s family deported? It’s hard to find where that would rank amongst all the terrible stuff Bryce has done, but it’s certainly very, very bad.
Bryce’s funeral turns into a disaster when Jessica’s activist group (posed as mourners) stand up in the middle of Mrs. Walker’s heartfelt speech about Bryce and call him a rapist. Mr. Walker loses it, and demands the women are arrested. The heartbreak on Mrs. Walker’s face is palpable, made all the worse by the fact that she knows for a fact they are right about her son — even if that wasn’t all he was.
At the end of the episode, the cops examine the security footage from the Walker house. Remember how Clay threatened Bryce with a gun in season 2, and how Justin talked him out of murdering him right there on the sidewalk? Yeahhhhh, that was all captured on tape...and it doesn’t look so good for Clay. Gulp.
Episode 7 Recap: “There Are A Number Of Problems With Clay Jensen”
Has there ever been a more obvious title of an episode? At the midpoint of the season, Clay is finally taken to task for his somewhat-to-very problematic behaviour over the past three seasons. The cops bring Clay and Justin — who, as you may remember, was the one who talked Clay out of shooting Bryce, and himself, in season 2 — in for an interview. Clay denies hurting Bryce, and Justin insists Clay isn’t that guy.
Despite Clay denying hurting Bryce, Ani isn’t convinced that Clay is innocent in all this. The episode flashes back to the early days of Clay and Ani’s friendship, which was far more flirty than friendly. They bond over a love of a very niche sci-fi comic book, and Ani drags Clay to a cosplay convention. In Clay’s room one afternoon, Ani has Clay strip down so she can take his measurements. She then takes off her clothes, down to her underwear, and asks Clay to do the same for her. Later in the flashback, Clay drops Ani off at her house, and Ani kisses him, before quickly saying she shouldn’t have done it. Bummer, as Clay is clearly smitten.
The underwear Ani is wearing during her cosplay measurement with Clay comes into play later. The cops discover a pair of underwear with Ani’s blood and Bryce’s semen in Bryce’s room. It’s revealed through flashbacks that while Ani was flirting with Clay, she was in a sexual relationship with Bryce, that stemmed from their growing affection for one another as housemates. Ani never judged Bryce for his past, possible because she only knew the most minor details of it. Around Ani, Bryce was a different guy. Not only was Bryce sweet and caring towards Ani, but he seemed to understand and respect the concept of consensual sex.
The cops believe that Clay discovering Ani’s relationship with Bryce is what led Clay to kill him after homecoming. Clay maintains he had no idea about the relationship and therefore couldn’t have been jealous over it. Still, it is worth noting that Clay has a very toxic jealous streak, which is revealed to Ani as she interviews Clay’s friends. It all comes back to Hannah: Clay lost it over Zach’s relationship with her, even Alex’s kiss with her. Clay is our protagonist, but...is he also just one of many problematic men on this show?
Clay grapples with that question at the end of the episode, when Bryce’s “ghost” visits him, just as Hannah did in season 2. Bryce taunts Clay, reminding him that people exactly like Bryce are born every single day. He’ll never leave Clay. Hmm...maybe that psychologist and lawyer that his parents are in the process of acquiring is exactly the right idea for the very troubled Clay.
As this is going on, Jessica is dealing with her own drama. Alex is angry with her about protecting Justin telling Ani that he was with her after homecoming, which Alex knows is a lie. When Alex screams at Jessica in class, she tells him she’s “afraid” of him, and admits she knows he’s been using steroids for months. Alex exposes Jessica’s hookups with Justin, and the gossip quickly makes it way around the school. Everyone gives Justin a hard time for hooking up with the “crazy” but so “hot” Jessica, except for Zach. Perhaps it’s because of Hannah, but Zach tells Justin to love Jessica and forget about the rest of it.
Jessica faces backlash from Casey, the second-in-command of her activist group, for returning to Justin after Justin allowed her rape to take place. Jessica insists she doesn’t have to defend her personal life, but Casey insists that the personal is political. With Justin having gone through such immense change over the course of season 1, it’s easy to forget what he did to Jessica, but as old wounds are picked at over the course of season 3, it’s worth wondering what actions are unforgivable. If we can understand why Jessica forgives Justin, is Ani’s relationship with Bryce also forgivable? As Ani puts it: Should we be judged by the worst things we’ve ever done?
Episode 8 Recap: “In High School, Even In On A Good Day, It’s Hard To Tell Who’s On Your Side”
After learning that Ani believes he may have killed Bryce, Clay is angry, and eager to prove his innocence. He goes to Mrs. Walker to talk with her, in hopes that she’ll call the cops off his investigation. It doesn’t go great, but Clay does leave their talk with a letter from Mrs. Walker’s office, which is all about how Mrs. Walker secretly hated Bryce. A smoking gun?
Clay brings Ani the letter and tries to convince her of his new Mrs. Walker theory. As all this is going on, Mr. Porter (Derek Luke), the former Liberty High counsellor, is brought into the school, in order to help the police interview students regarding Clay’s possible involvement in Bryce’s murder. One by one, Mr. Porter calls in students whom Clay assumes will reveal just how “unstable” Clay is, like Jessica, Justin, Tyler, and Alex. Instead, everyone stands up for Clay, defends his gun incident with Bryce, and remarks how he truly cares about people. Not exactly the profile of a murderer.
Ani, who’s never officially met Mr. Porter before, spots him in the hallway, and realizes she’s seen him before. He was Bryce’s private counsellor, after both Mr. Porter and Bryce left Liberty. That seems really problematic considering Mr. Porter literally choked Bryce in the bathroom over Bryce raping Hannah, but sure.
Clay confronts Mr. Porter, assuming that the former counsellor is setting him up for the murder, in order to divert the cops away from Mrs. Walker or Mr. Porter himself. The counsellor denies the allegation, and instead, says he called in students whom he knew would defend Clay. The tape squad is ride or die.
Ani does some digging, during which we’re treated to flashbacks of her and Bryce in happier times. As Ani goes through Bryce’s stuff and thinks fondly about their time together, she finds his journal, which Mr. Porter had him keep. As a peace offering, she hands it over to Clay, who brings it to Mr. Porter.
Mr. Porter explains that Bryce really was trying to change, in part for a “girl from Claremont Prep,” who is “incredible” and makes Bryce “better.” This girl, of course, is Ani, but Bryce can’t exactly tell Mr. Porter that he’s hooking up with his live-in home nurse’s daughter.
It turns out that the hateful letter to Bryce from his mother was written by Bryce himself during an exercise in therapy with Mr. Porter. It breaks down the walls between Bryce and his mom, who shares that she only parented Bryce the way she was raised, which was to give him as much as possible but not be quite as open emotionally. (Mrs. Walker’s relationship with her father highlights the history of bad parenting in the family.)
Mr. Porter makes it clear to Clay that yes, Bryce was trying to change, even though he acknowledged he still had plenty of problematic thoughts. In flashback, Bryce reveals to Mr. Porter that sex with Ani is difficult for him: She wants to be on top, but he fantasizes about holding her down and being in total control during sex. Mr. Porter reminds him that dating is probably a really bad idea for him right now, but Bryce is insistent that Ani is only making him better.
Clay’s conversation with Mr. Porter in present day ends with no new suspects, but it does encourage Clay to look at Tyler, whom Mr. Porter says is “different” this year. It’s true: Tyler doesn’t want anyone to touch him, and won’t use the bathrooms at school. We know this is from his sexual assault in the bathroom the previous year, but Clay is still in the dark about that.
On the impetus of Mr. Porter, Clay asks Tyler if he wants to share what happened to him last year. In a shaking voice, Tyler finally tells Clay the truth about what Monty did to him, and it’s gut-wrenching. (This is Druid’s finest acting thus far, but man, it’s not an easy scene to watch.) Clay asks Tyler if he can hug him, and the two boys embrace as Tyler sobs. Oof.
Clay confronts Monty about what Tyler told him, thinking it could also be a motive for him to kill Bryce, if Bryce threatened to expose that secret. Monty pretends not to know what Clay is talking about, and goads him with the information that Justin is not sober: He keeps his drugs in a fake shaving cream can. Clay goes home and finds the can, and is disappointed to learn that Justin has been lying to him for months now.
Episode 9 Recap: “Always Waiting For The Next Bad News”
Following his discovery of the bottle of Oxycodone hidden in the fake can of shaving cream, Clay confronts Justin with the evidence of his continued drug use. Justin denies it and claims that he only found the drugs the day of the funeral, when Clay saw him sneaking off to the bathroom. It was only one time, Justin says; he was upset about Bryce and didn’t know how to deal.
Lawyer Dennis (Wilson Cruz) is waiting for Clay in the kitchen to tell him that he has officially been named a person of interest in the Bryce murder investigation. Things get worse when a reporter shows up at Monet’s to ask Clay some questions — which Justin shuts down immediately.
Clay tells Ani about Bryce’s bottle of Oxycodone, but Ani denies that Bryce was using drugs. After the cops found Bryce’s steroid stash, they cleared his room. Clay realizes Justin was lying to him.
Meanwhile, Justin and Jessica decide to go public with their relationship. All is well, until Alex confronts Justin about the fact that he’s been secretly using drugs behind her back. Justin decides to cut things off with Jess, and tells her that he cheated on her — which she doesn’t believe for a second.
The truth is, Justin has been doing more than just using drugs these past few months: He was also selling them to pay back Seth. In a flashback, Justin is arrested for possession, and calls upon Bryce to help bail him out. Bryce learns that Justin is using again, and that he’s in deep trouble with Seth, so he pays Seth $5,000 to make the problem go away. (Note: At this point, Bryce has paid over $10,000 just to make his friends’ lives easier. Does no one check his bank account?) Bryce also gives Justin the bottle of Oxycodone as an alternative to heroin. “Taper off if you can,” Bryce tells Justin of the pills. “Don’t fucking die.”
In present day, Justin reveals all this to Clay, along with a text that Seth sent to Justin the day they found Bryce’s body. “I’m coming for you next,” the text reads.
“I didn’t kill Bryce,” Justin says. “But I think I’m the reason he’s dead.”
Ani, Clay, and Justin go to Seth’s house to find evidence against Seth. They find Bryce’s watch, which they assume that Seth has taken off Bryce’s body. When Seth shows up though, he claims that Justin gave him the watch in exchange for drugs.
Later, after Clay, Justin, and Ani narrowly escape Seth’s house, Justin and Clay go back to their guest house. Clay catches Justin using drugs in the bathroom, and Justin reveals that, yes, he stole the watch from Bryce’s room the day of his funeral.
Bryce isn’t the only person Justin owes a lot to. In flashbacks, it’s revealed that Zach encouraged Justin to join the football team again. When Justin couldn’t hold it together because of his drug use — much to the ire of their football coach — Zach supported him, as his captain and friend. When the team gets randomly drug tested, Justin admits to Zach that he’s not going to pass — and Zach “takes care” of the situation for Justin, allowing him to play.
Clay doesn’t know why Justin didn’t tell him he was still using — they’re brothers, and as soon as the adoption paperwork comes through, they will be legally so. Justin reminds Clay that he had to detox Justin once — he didn’t want Clay to have to go through that again.
“You know I’d do anything for you, right?” Clay asks Justin.
The feeling is mutual, and things are finally okay again between the brothers. That being said, Clay may be keeping a secret from Justin: At the end of the episode, Clay returns a call from Olivia Baker (Kate Walsh), Hannah’s mom. Hmm…what’s going on here?
Episode 10 Recap: “The World Is Closing In”
Olivia (Kate Walsh) is interrogated at the police station over Bryce’s death, but keeps her cool while also reminding the officers just how terrible they were at their jobs during the rape case. It turns out this isn’t the only time that Olivia was in town recently: She also came to visit months earlier and then met up with Tony and Jessica.
When she and Clay finally sit down, Olivia reveals she told Tony the Walkers were the ones who called ICE on his family. Clay, realizing this gives Tony motive to kill Bryce, asks him about it. Tony shares he did confront Bryce over the ordeal, but that he didn’t hurt him. Bryce didn’t know about the deportation, but that’s not enough for Tony: He wants Bryce to know how much pain he’s caused everyone, directly and indirectly. It’s time, Bryce says, for him to listen to Hannah’s tapes.
Tony and Bryce drive around and listen to all of Hannah’s tapes, and Bryce seems truly disgusted by himself. He wants to talk to Olivia and apologize for hurting Hannah, but when Tony broaches the topic with Olivia, she shuts down the idea of ever talking to Bryce. She doesn’t know what she would do if he came close to her.
Olivia finds out later what she would do when Bryce tearfully approaches her in the lobby of her hotel. “I wish you a lifetime of learning what sorry means,” she declares as the elevator doors close, refusing to forgive the tearful teenager.
Later, Olivia calls Clay, drunk, from the cemetery. In present day, Clay plays the voicemail she left him for Ani. It was right before the homecoming game — she was upset that Bryce had his “homecoming” when Hannah never did. Crying on the phone, Olivia declares she wants him dead, that she would shoot him if she could. Clay never told the police.
Also in flashback, Clay and Ani flirt at the lunch table as they watch Charlie (Tyler Barnhardt) ask his girlfriend to the homecoming dance. Ani mentions she’s never been to a dance, but boy, does she love a grand gesture — prompting Clay to go to her house later that night with flowers and an invitation.
Unfortunately, Bryce is in the driveway, and mocks Clay before he ever gets to the front door. It’s obvious to us now that Bryce was jealous of Clay’s romantic interest in Ani — but of course, Clay didn’t know that at the time. Clay gets in Bryce’s face, declares that if he touches Ani — if Bryce even looks at her — he’ll kill Bryce. Bryce laughs it off, then says that while he won’t beat Clay up, he can have sex with Ani, which makes Clay flip out. (Bryce knows exactly what buttons to push here.) Little do both boys know, Bryce’s mom was watching this interaction.
The next day, Bryce — drunk on the pool patio — asks Ani about Clay. She denies there’s anything going on with them, but also shuts down Bryce when he tells her how much he misses her. Bryce keeps telling Ani he “needs” her, eventually grabbing her arm in frustration. Ani pulls away, frightened of Bryce, and it seems like whatever was between them is definitely over.
In present day, Olivia goes to Bryce’s mother Nora and implores her not to make rash judgments over who may have hurt Bryce. At the end of the day, learning whoever killed Bryce won’t make Mrs. Walker feel much better, Olivia claims. Mrs. Walker reminds her that someone killed Bryce in cold blood — justice must be served. Olivia, however, isn’t so sure it will be, the way the investigation is going.
Justin and Clay regroup in their guest house, Justin tells Clay that he knows it was Clay who told Jessica about his drug problem. Clay apologizes but Justin says not to — he and Jessica can now be honest with one another, which can only be a good thing for them now. All’s well that ends well...except, um, not quite. At the end of the episode, the police ransack Clay’s house, then cuff him and Justin. He’s officially a suspect, and they have a warrant.
Other things in this episode:
Olivia shares that her husband Andy (Brian d'Arcy James) is now married to his girlfriend from last season. Considering that it’s been just over a year since Hannah’s death, that is...an incredibly fast moving relationship.
Episode 11 Recap: “There Are A Few Things I Haven’t Told You”
Clay talks to his parents and reveals that he sent that threatening text to Bryce after homecoming — but insists he had nothing to do with his murder. Clay’s parents look concerned nonetheless, and say they’re going to talk to Dennis who, hopefully, will help clear this up.
Meanwhile, everyone else is being grilled by their parents, too, about where they were the night Bryce was killed, after the homecoming game. Jessica tells her dad she was in bed all night, even though she told Ani she was with Justin. We know she wasn’t with Justin, not really — so where was Jessica? Monty also seems to have something going on, having told Zach he was staying over at Charlie’s house — which Charlie reminds Monty is a lie.
Tyler is concerned that Clay is going to go to jail. He says he’ll tell the cops about Monty’s sexual assault, and that Bryce knew about it — which could give them enough motive to look into Monty as a suspect. Clay doesn’t want Tyler to tell anyone until he’s ready, and later on in the episode, he is ready to tell someone. He reveals to Jessica that he’s more than just an ally in their sexual assault survivor group — he was raped last year by Monty. This prompts Jessica to confront Monty, remind him that she’s watching him. “You’re a crazy bitch,” says Monty. “You should be afraid of that,” Jessica retorts.
So what actually happened the night of homecoming? We get some answers, finally. Jessica and her “HO” group staged a protest in the middle of the game, during which the group (save for Tyler, who took the photos) stripped to their underwear and painted themselves with red handprints to protest rape culture. Naturally, the boys on both sides of the field are acting like immature jerks — but one person (Hart Denton) actually grabbed Jessica’s breasts during the protest. Justin lost it, and led the charge against the other team, leading to the brutal fight.
Before the game, Jessica is approached by Bryce who, earlier that day, told his mom he wants to return to Liberty the following semester. Bryce wants Jessica to meet him at the docks later that night. Bryce has something to give Jessica. “Bring someone if you feel safer,” Bryce says. We don’t know if Jessica went or not, but with her unaccounted for, she suddenly looks extremely suspicious.
Bryce then heads to the Liberty High locker room, where he is greeted warmly by some former friends, and not at all by others. He’s there to confront Monty about what Monty did to Tyler. Bryce explicitly says that Monty raped Tyler with the broom handle, but Monty insists it was just some “hazing” or whatever. Bryce firmly says that if Monty doesn’t stay away from Tyler for the rest of the year, Bryce will make sure the police know about that time he tried to kill Clay — and literally all the other awful stuff he did, like provide Alex with the gun Alex used to shoot himself at the end of season 1. Charlie, who is there for this conversation, doesn’t look too confident about his friendship with Monty now.
In present day, Clay learns that the police have all his technology records, including his recent Google searches. It turns out that Clay writes fan fiction (oh my God) and that he “sometimes needs to kill a character.” Things are not looking great for Clay...which is why he approaches Tony at the end of the episode.
“I need you to help me disappear,” Clay declares.
Episode 12 Recap: “And Then The Hurricane Hit”
Clay leaves home, pushing everyone into panic mode. He finds Ani, who implores him not to run away. She’ll be his alibi. Clay says that he won’t let her do that, and that this is the only way for him to avoid prison. Ani, moved that Clay put herself first, kisses him — a real, romantic kiss. Still, Clay doesn’t change his plan: He takes off to hitchhike away from town.
As Clay attempts to hitchhike on the highway, he calls Tyler, to tell him he won’t be in school today. Tyler begs Clay to come back — there’s something really important happening today. Clay feels bad, and tells Tyler he’ll try his best.
Tyler’s important thing is a school assembly, with the Hillcrest football team in attendance. It’s supposed to be an apology of sorts, but instead, Jessica gives a powerful speech on standing up for the survivors in our lives. “I’m Jessica Davis, and I’m a survivor,” she says at the end, prompting others to stand up and announce their survivor status. Tyler doesn’t stand up until he sees Clay walk in the room; he showed up because he told Tyler he would.
Tyler isn’t the only surprising person who stands up: Justin also proclaims that he is a survivor, and we learn later that he was sexually abused by his mother’s boyfriend when he was a kid. He also engaged in sex work when he was living on the streets back in season 2, and said some of the guys would go further than he told them they could.
The assembly takes a sour turn when Clay is found and arrested. As Clay sits in a jail cell, Deputy Standall goes to Nora Walker and asks her questions about Clay. Did he ever buy steroids from Bryce? She says no. Deputy Standall seemingly doesn’t buy the theory that Clay was the one who killed Bryce.
As Nora talks to Deputy Standall, we’re pulled into a flashback involving her and Bryce in Nora’s yoga studio. Nora teaches Bryce some yoga positions, and instructs him through “pigeon” pose with some, um, not super subtle dialogue.
“It’s important to go slow and respect the body’s boundaries,” says Nora. “Wait for the body’s permission to go deeper, don’t force.”
Bryce sobs on the yoga mat, suggesting that he definitely got the screenwriter’s metaphor.
In present day, Clay is interviewed by the police, and we learn why he sent those texts to Bryce. He saw Bryce kiss Ani at the homecoming game.
Through flashbacks, we get a clearer picture of the homecoming game, and what Bryce was doing in the hours before his death.
Prior to the game, Bryce approaches Jessica and tells her to meet him at the dock: He needs to give her something. Then, Bryce approaches Chloe to catch up. Chloe looks nervous around Bryce, then blurts out that she was pregnant with his baby, and had an abortion. Bryce is sympathetic and kind to Chloe, but when Chloe tells him that Zach stayed with her through the whole thing his demeanor shifts.
Chloe’s revelation causes Bryce to lash out at Zach on the field. He thinks Zach stole his girlfriend. The former friends throw insults at one another, but things get really physical during Jessica’s protest. As the members of the Hillcrest and Liberty football teams attack one another, Bryce takes the opportunity to take Zach out. He lunges for Zach’s legs, breaking his knee in the process.
It’s Zach who is responsible for Bryce’s injuries before his death. Bryce goes to the dock to wait for Jessica, but it’s Zach who finds him there, alone. They exchange words, and Zach — who is angry that Bryce stole his shot at a college scholarship for football — mercilessly beats Bryce.
In present day, Zach hears of Clay’s arrest and feels guilty. Zach tells Alex that he is the one who killed Bryce, but Alex, oddly, doesn’t look too sure. Zach goes to the police station and confesses to everything: He followed Bryce to the dock, beat him up, and left him for dead. He’s ready to pay for the crime, but Deputy Standall says what Zach did was no more than assault and battery. Bryce had water in his lungs, which means he died by drowning. Someone else shoved Bryce into the water that night, and that’s what really killed him...not Zach.
This is confirmed to be true via flashback, when Bryce — wounded and unable to move on the dock — looks up. “What the hell are you doing here?” he asks as someone approaches. We don’t see who it is, but it’s a thin young man. Is Clay really guilty of this crime?
Maybe. Or maybe not. Ani goes to Jess, and tells her that she had sex with Bryce, Jessica’s rapist. It was the worst thing Ani had ever done.
“So,” Ani says. “Do you want to tell me yours?”
Episode 13 Recap: “Let The Dead Bury The Dead”
We’ve made it this far, and it’s about time we get an answer about who killed Bryce Walker. Except, as Ani proves, answers don’t always come easy, and sometimes it’s lies that can finally bring peace.
Clay’s mom warns him and Justin to keep a low profile, and tells Justin that Seth won’t be a problem for him any more: He was arrested for violating his parole, and will be going to prison for a long, long time. That’s good, of course, but doesn’t exactly help Clay avoid prison time. Fortunately, Justin knows something that will, and it has to do with whatever Jessica told Ani the other night.
Meanwhile, Deputy Standall calls Ani into the police station. This is the interview we keep coming back to throughout the season. Clay worries about what Ani is going to say — she could make everything worse — but Ani insists she has a plan that will fix everything.
In her interview with Deputy Standall, she says that everyone had motive to kill Bryce, but the key was to find the person who would “take a gun...and pull the trigger.” Is this a code for something? Bryce wasn’t killed with a gun, and Deputy Standall seems well aware that Ani is saying more than most people would infer.
We cut to a scene of Alex and Tyler, where Alex asks Tyler if he still has a gun. Tyler says he doesn’t, and Alex covers — says that he just wants to make sure Tyler can protect himself. Tyler then shows Alex photos he took after the spring fling assault. He was going to take just one, as evidence, but decided to take a new photo every day instead. It shows Tyler’s body healing from the bruising — a metaphor for how he’s gotten a little better every day.
Ani reveals the truth about the spring fling dance to Deputy Standall, who wonders why he shouldn’t go arrest Tyler right now. Ani says...wait for it. There’s more to the story.
Ani reveals that it was Monty who killed Bryce. After Bryce threatened Monty over Tyler, the two exchanged heated words on the football field. This part is true: We see it in flashback, just as we see Monty threaten Bryce’s life by the Hillcrest bus after the game. What’s not true is what Ani says next: That Monty followed Bryce to the docks and killed him.
In flashback, Monty sees Winston (the boy from the party, whom Monty attacked) taking photos for the yearbook by his car. Monty approaches Winston, who looks scared. Then, Monty apologizes for beating him up the previous summer. Winston, who apparently has a death wish, asks Monty if he wants to hang out in his parent-free home. Instead of beating him to near-death again, Monty goes back to Winston’s house, where they have sex and Monty seemingly spends the night. This is why Monty could not have killed Bryce: Though Monty didn’t share this alibi with anyone, he was nowhere near the docks.
Monty doesn’t deserve to get anything from sweet, adorable Winston, but there is something really, really nice about Monty finally being vulnerable(ish) with another human being, even if he does follow up his ask to stay the night with “I’m not fucking gay.”
“You can be anything you want to be,” Winston replies, kindly.
“No,” Monty says back. “I can’t.”
So if Monty didn’t kill Bryce, who did? The person who went to the dock that night was Alex — he accompanied Jessica to have that talk with Bryce. Alex and Jessica find Bryce on the dock, unable to walk from Zach’s earlier attack. Bryce gives Jessica a tape, which now has his blood on it. (This will be important later.) Jessica insists she has nothing to say to Bryce, and she walks away — but Bryce begs her and Alex to come back. It’s freezing, he’s wet, he’s coughing blood: Surely, he’ll die out here if they don’t save him. Alex doesn’t care much for Bryce’s wellbeing, but he makes the point that Zach will be in serious trouble if Bryce dies on the dock. How little they know!
Alex picks up Bryce to help get him home, but he’s in so much pain from his broken leg that he starts ripping into Zach and threatening to kill him when he gets back home. Alex is disturbed by this, as it really seems like Bryce has reverted back to his old ways. What really gets Alex, though, is when Bryce looks at Jessica and declares that this was her plan all along. She set him up to get attacked by Zach.
Alex realizes something in that moment: He needs to end the cycle of pain. So, Alex takes Bryce and walks him over to the edge of the dock, where he lets Bryce tumble off the edge and into the water. Bryce, unable to swim, drowns...and Alex and Jessica vow never to say a thing about it.
It becomes evident what Ani is doing: She’s protecting Alex and Jessica, just like Tony and Clay protected Tyler all those months ago. This is a group of friends that stands by one another.
Deputy Standall knows his son is guilty; he saw tire tracks that matches his wife’s car. He knows Alex bought steroids from Bryce and therefore had the hair-trigger temper he’s been exhibiting for weeks now. Deputy Standall doesn’t want Alex to go to prison, and neither does Ani — they just have to make sure that the Monty theory works.
Fortunately, the gang back at the school has set the second part of the plan in motion. Charlie, who is now on Team Monty Is Bad after learning what Monty did to Tyler, plants the tape that Bryce gave Jessica in Monty’s gym locker. Ani tells Deputy Standall that’s where they may want to check for evidence against him.
Then there’s the other piece to all of this: Monty is already dead, which Ani knows. He was killed in jail while awaiting trial for Tyler’s sexual assault. “Let the dead bury the dead,” Ani implores of Deputy Standall.
Deputy Standall does just that. Later, he’s seen burning what is presumably the clothes Alex wore that night on the dock in a trash can.
Flashforward to Thanksgiving. Tony and his boyfriend Caleb (RJ Brown) have dinner with the Jensens, after Skyping with Tony’s family in Mexico. Justin admits that he is back on drugs, and the Jensens agree to support him however he needs.
Bryce’s grandfather, Nora’s father, is dying. “I wanted to give you the best life I could, Nora,” he says on his deathbed. “I wanted you to have better things than I did. I did the best I knew how. No one taught me better.” Nora says she knows, making peace as best she can with her dad.
Ani and Clay are dating now, and Clay thanks her for saving his life. “I saved you from a long trial, maybe,” Ani says, but Clay looks her in the eye and makes her accept the thanks. She saved him.
Tyler, meanwhile, has set up a photography project at Monet’s, of all the friends who helped him this year. It’s very sweet, even if everyone is looking at Tyler’s pictures like this is their first introduction to photography.
Zach is particularly impressed.
“It’s a great photo. It actually makes me seem good-looking,” he says. Tyler, echoing everyone watching at home, says: “Holy shit, dude, you know you’re good-looking, right?”
Alex and Jessica make peace at Tyler’s photo reveal.
“How are we going to live with this?” Alex asks her.
“We’re survivors, you and me,” she replies. “FML forever?”
“FML forever,” says Alex.
Oh how true those words are. After that beautiful friendship moment, we cut to a scene of a fishing boat, on which a local fisherman is pulling up...Tyler’s bag of guns. Will they be traced back to what Clay and Tony did on homecoming night?
Maybe — but don’t worry, it gets worse. Winston shows up at Monet’s, and tells Ani that Monty was with him the night of Bryce’s death.
“He was a human being,” Winston says. “He didn’t deserve to die like that.”
Jessica’s words in the final moments of season 3 are oddly foreboding.
“We deserve some fucking happiness,” she declares while sitting on the couch with Clay and Justin, who agree — they do.
Maybe they’ll finally find it...but let’s be real. Season 4 will likely bring a whole lot of strife.