Warning: Mild 13 Reasons Why season 3 spoilers are ahead.
Season 3 of 13 Reasons Why deals with the murder of Bryce Walker (Justin Prentice), a rapist who, before the events of season 1, sexually assaulted Hannah (Katherine Langford) and was a factor in her death by suicide. Bryce was the primary villain of season 1 and season 2 of the series, but in the latest installment, Bryce believes he's on a path to redemption. In flashbacks to the months leading up to his death, Bryce goes to therapy, works through his issues with his parents, and even attempts to make amends with people like sexual assault survivor Jessica (Alisha Boe) and Hannah's mother Olivia (Kate Walsh). Actor Prentice, though, isn't confident that Bryce's actions are enough to absolve him of his crimes.
"It’s hard to redeem the actions of Bryce Walker," Prentice admits to Refinery29 at a press junket for the show in Napa, Calif. "It's difficult for him because he's also still learning about the capacity in which he's affected people."
While he is trying to be a better person, and trying to right the wrongs in his own way, there are always going to be glimpses of who he’s been, the majority of his life.
At the end of the season, a flashback to the night Bryce died reveals that he still has a long way to go in terms of finding a better person within. As he's lashing out against Jessica and Zach (Ross Butler), he screams that the world "won't let" him change, to which Jessica angrily replies that the judge who kept him out of prison for rape certainly believed Bryce was capable of it.
"I think Bryce is multifaceted, and old habits die hard, as the saying goes," says Prentice of that scene. "While he is trying to be a better person, and trying to right the wrongs in his own way, there are always going to be glimpses of who he’s been, the majority of his life — especially with certain characters. You’ll see a sweeter side of Bryce with some characters, occasionally, and then you’ll have a character come in that triggers him into his old ways."
One person who sees the "sweeter" side of Bryce is Ani (Grace Saif), a new character who is the daughter of Bryce's grandfather's nurse. Their close proximity means Bryce and Ani spend a lot of time together, and eventually, they hook up. When asked what Prentice thinks of people who might "ship" Ani and Bryce together, he makes it clear he is not onboard.
"Bryce is still learning how to be empathetic and loving towards another human being, and Ani deserves someone who already has that in spades," the actor explains. "Someone who is a decent, upright human being."
Like, say, Clay (Dylan Minnette), who pines for Ani throughout the third season?
"They’re just so cute together," Prentice laughs.