Bryce’s mom, Nora (Brenda Strong), knows she raised a monster; she spent her life surrounded by monstrous men. When talking to Bryce’s girlfriend Chloe (Anna Winter), Nora explains her family’s pattern of abuse, saying, “I was raised by a cruel man, and I escaped him by marrying another. The only difference was Dad used his fist and Barry used his silence.” Bryce follows in his relatives’ footsteps. “In fact, I think he may be worse,” Nora says.
The only person who refuses to accept her judgment is, of course, Bryce Walker. He’s desperate for forgiveness and redemption that never comes. Before he dies, Bryce gives Jessica (Alisha Boe) a tape (of course) admitting all of his crimes. It is the proof that was needed during the trial, where Jessica’s testimony wasn’t enough to convict him.
These are the people Bryce wronged while he was alive.
Season 1 of 13 Reasons Why is structured as a melancholy murder mystery, examing the forces drove high schooler Hannah Baker (Katherine Langford) to take her own life. Hannah dedicates a tape to each of the people who contributed to her decision. Her friend Clay (Dylan Minnette) puts together the pieces of what happened.
Hannah’s outlook plummets after being attacked by Bryce Walker. On tape number 12, Hannah reveals that Bryce raped her in a hot tub during a party. After the traumatizing event, Hannah seeks help. But her guidance counselor, Kevin Porter (Derek Luke), minimizes the assault and overlooks her suicidal ideation. When Clay confronts him about tape 12, Bryce seethes that, "Every girl at Liberty High wants to be raped." Bryce has a seriously misguided understanding of consent. Bryce walks free, while his involvement in Hannah’s death remains a secret.
Hannah's tapes prompt Jessica Davis (Alisha Boe) to rethink an incident from her past involving Bryce.
It happens during a summer party before her junior year. Jessica and her then-boyfriend, Justin (Brandon Flynn), are fooling around. Justin leaves to get Jess a glass of water. When he does, Bryce is waiting outside the door, wanting to see Jess. He insists that "what's mine is yours." Justin, unfortunately, assents. Bryce rapes a near-unconscious Jessica. Hannah is in the closet, watching the entire incident.
After Hannah's suicide, Jessica tries to stop Bryce and testifies about the sexual assault during the Bakers' lawsuit against the school. In season 3, she becomes an activist for changing the school's rape culture.
Chloe is in a difficult position. She is in a relationship with Bryce, an extremely manipulative person, and feels pressured to be loyal. She lies on the stand for him during the Bakers' trial. But the truth of their relationship becomes clear late in season 2. Bryce seems to think that because Chloe's dating him, she will always give consent for sex. That is not the case. Bryce has sex with Chloe against her will; she listlessly watches TV as it happens. Nora Walker points out the bruises on Chloe's arm.
As 13 Reasons Why unfolds, Chloe realizes she's been gaslit and sexually assaulted by her boyfriend. She's as much of a victim as Hannah and Jessica. In season 3, she chooses to terminate her pregnancy.
Chloe, Hannah, and Jessica all grapple with the continuing reverberations of their assaults. How many other women were also hurt by Bryce? Considering Bryce's toxic outlook on consent, the answer is likely many — perhaps that will be explored in 13 Reasons Why's fourth and final season.
If you have experienced sexual violence and are in need of crisis support, please call the RAINN Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).
If you are thinking about suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or the Suicide Crisis Line at 1-800-784-2433.