It has been more than a year since season 1 of 13 Reasons Why premiered on Netflix. When the series returns, however, only five months will have passed for the students at Liberty High — yet so much has changed. One thing that is decidedly different this season is the dynamic between Alex (Miles Heizer), Jessica (Alisha Boe), and Zach (Ross Butler). The secrets revealed on Hannah's tapes have come to the surface, and now, in a post-tape world, this trio must rely on one another for support.
"I think that the relationship between Alex and Jessica kind of stems from that the two of them… are both recovering from very different things," Heizer told Refinery29 during a recent Netflix junket. "They are experiencing different aspects of [recovery] together, like going back to school for the first time. So I think that they get a lot closer because they kind of feel like they can relate to each other in that way."
Alex and Jessica have not always had the most caring of relationships. Though they did date, the pair broke up dramatically, with Alex eventually writing a "hot or not" list that included Jessica as "worst ass." It was a silly, stupid thing — but it was also what led to Jessica ending her friendship with Hannah (Katherine Langford). Though the two did move past their problems in season 1, based on what Heizer has said, their friendship will grow past mere politeness — they will be one another's lifeline in the new season.
Zach, meanwhile, is firmly in the "jock" clique — he's friends with Bryce (Justin Prentice), the person who raped both Jessica and Hannah in season 1. Alex was "jock-adjacent" during the show's freshman season, and he sought acceptance from Bryce and his peers — as a new kid, he wanted to fit in. But in season 2, Zach and Alex bond over something real. Zach, who was so afraid to rock the boat during the first season of the series, stands by Alex despite his popular friends' opinions.
"[Zach decides] to help Alex even though all of the other guys, especially Montgomery (played by Timothy Granaderos) are trying to not be friends with him," Butler said.
While it's clear that Alex survives that self-inflicted gunshot wound, he will have to deal with some physical limitations. It's Zach who helps him heal on a physical level. Heizer revealed of the deepened friendship: "Zach is [helping Alex with] physical therapy, and Zach is seeing him in a more vulnerable way than Alex presents to other people."
Surviving the self-inflicted gunshot wound was never a worry for Heizer: He always knew he would return to the series for its sophomore season. Showrunner Brian Yorkey filled him in on Alex's future during production on season 1.
Heizer said, "Going into season 2, it was nice to know ahead of time that it was going to be the storyline because it is such a heavy thing. [The show] provided a lot of resources. I got to meet with people who had dealt with actual survivors, and it helped me understand the way that a lot of people are affected by [Alex's circumstances.]"
The status quo has been shaken up at Liberty High, with surprising new alliances forming. Which friendships will stay strong throughout what is sure to be a season full of secrets, lies, and audiotape? Find out when the next chapter drops on Netflix May 18.