Does Sheriff Standall Know Who Really Killed Bryce Walker On 13 Reasons Why?

Photo: Courtesy of Netflix.
Warning: Spoilers ahead for 13 Reasons Why finale “Let the Dead Bury the Dead.”
Deputy Standall (Mark Pellegrino), father to Alex Standall (Miles Heizer), has always been on the periphery of 13 Reasons Why. As a Liberty High parent he’s a constant anxious presence, terrified about his son’s well-being. As a cop, he’s more concerned than anyone about the shocking number of crimes plaguing his town. Still, viewers rarely spend more than a few minutes with the deputy every episode.
That is until 13 Reasons Why season 3, when the 2019 finale, “Let the Dead Bury the Dead,” reveals Ani’s season-long narration is actually her police interview with deputy Standall. We’ve been hanging out with Alex’s dad for 13 episodes and had no clue.
In true 13 Reasons Why fashion, this reveal pushes Standall into a terrible teenage conspiracy. This time, the scheme leaves us wondering if the series’ resident law man knows who really killed Bryce Walker (Justin Prentice) and is covering it up. All signs point to yes — especially when you take into account the suspicious scene of him burning something in an alley. Those few seconds of footage tell us everything we need to know.
The problem for poor deputy Standall is that his son, Alex, is Bryce's murderer. Alex went to the Navy Pier with Jessica Davis (Alisha Boe) on the night of the world’s worst homecoming game and shoved Bryce into the water, downing him.
However, that is not the story Ani Achola (Grace Saif) weaves for Standall. Ani spends the season building towards naming Bryce's killer via the interview. When “Bury the Dead” rolls around, she pegs unstable football player Monty de la Cruz (Timothy Granaderos), who recently died in police custody and cannot defend his name, as the murderer. She suggests Monty had underlying rage over his past history with former best friend Bryce. That rage erupted on the football field during homecoming and pushed Monty to kill after the game, Ani alleges.
The next time deputy Standall sees his son, he says, “[Bryce] was killed by Montgomery de la Cruz.”
Yet, multiple clues confirm Standall doesn’t really believe that story. Instead, he’s protecting Alex from first-degree murder charges. Standall’s pyro-friendly second-to-last scene of season 3 is our biggest signal. After the deputy tells Alex that police have settled on Monty as the killer, we see Standall standing in an alley burning some clothing. It appears the items are the clothes Alex was wearing the night Bryce was murdered (the shearling collar jacket and flannel shirt match if you look closely at the flashback). You only incinerate your child's clothing in a nondescript garbage fire if you’re definitely sure they’re a murderer.
The reason Standall knows the truth goes back to a few loaded comments Ani makes to Standall while supposedly implicating Monty for the crime. When the deputy asks why tire tracks matching his wife’s car were found at the murder scene, Ani says, “He wouldn’t have gone to the pier alone. He wouldn’t have been alone, deputy Standall.” It’s possible she is saying Alex went to the pier with Monty or subtly suggesting the truth: Alex went with Jessica.
But, either way, it’s clear Ani is subtly implying Alex was there for some reason. Ani is even more clear about the possibility Alex killed Bryce when she details the bond between Liberty’s most traumatized students, Alex included. “When someone needs them, they’ll be there. No question. They take care of each other,” she says. “So Alex would have been there for a friend. For a friend who was more injured by Bryce than he was. Or Monty was. Whose life had been destroyed by Bryce and who’s had to rebuild it, piece by piece.” The friend in question is Jessica.
No matter what other manipulative double-speak Ani says, Standall understands Alex is the killer, Ani is telling him as much to get him to let go of the case, and offering him dead Monty as the perfect scapegoat. That’s why Standall tearfully responds, “I see. Alex wouldn’t have been alone.” With just a few words, the deputy has become an accessory to a massive plot to suppress evidence and twist facts to pin a felony on a dead teen.
With Monty's hookup Winston (Deaken Bluman) waiting in the wings to destroy the 13 Reasons crew in season 4, even the adults have to watch their backs now.

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