Few television characters have had to deal with as much as the ones on 13 Reasons Why. From covering up a planned school shooting to setting up Monty (Timothy Granaderos) to taking the fall for the murder of Bryce (Justin Prentice), the teens of Liberty High have a lot on their plates. One character who may have a whole new slew of issues to deal with in 13 Reasons Why’s final season is Ross Butler’s Zach, according to creator Brian Yorkey’s recent interview with Entertainment Weekly — and where his story goes surprised even the writers.
On season 3 of 13 Reasons Why, Zach grieved the loss of his athletic aspirations after a fight on the football field left him with sports dream-ending injuries. Later on, the audience learns that there’s more to the story than Zach tells his friends about that fight.
It was Bryce, Zach’s friend turned mortal enemy, who broke Zach’s knee during the brawl. An angry and devastated Zach followed him to the docks where he beat him to a bloody pulp. Later on, Alex (Miles Heizer) and Jessica (Alisha Boe) arrived to find a badly wounded Bryce. When Bryce accidentally fell into the water as Alex attempted to help him up, Alex and Jessica — who was raped by Bryce before the events of season 1 — let him drown. Unaware of Alex and Jessica’s role, Zach confesses to Bryce’s murder, only to be informed by the cops that Bryce didn’t die of his injuries after all...though they certainly aided in Bryce’s death.
The events of season 3 would send anyone into an emotional tailspin, but what’s next for Zach is apparently one of the biggest twists of 13 Reasons Why’s final season, according to Yorkey.
“[In] season 4 we take Zach places that I had not expected until we really got into the room and delved into his story,” Yorkey told EW. “We took Zach some really interesting places and I've always loved that character and I love Ross Butler, so that was a lot of fun and a challenge and also a wonderful collaboration and I think it's going to be cool to watch.”
It’s unclear if Zach will be in a darker place in season 4, but it’s possible that the one-time golden boy of Liberty High loses that standing in the show’s final season. Like all the characters, he’s dealt with intense trauma, including losing pseudo ex-girlfriend Hannah Baker (Katherine Langford) after her death by suicide. Still, with the exception of beating up Bryce — something he took full responsibility for, eventually — we haven’t really seen Zach crack. Could this be the season where Zach goes full-on dark, a la Clay (Dylan Minnette) pointing a gun at Bryce in season 2?
It’s possible, but Yorkey also teased that there’s more than just darkness to 13 Reasons Why, even when the show gets unbelievably bleak.
“The series was born in darkness and as is often pointed out, it is a dark series, but we have always tried to infuse it with hope and with humor where we can, and we wanted to end on a note of hope that was earned and that was not forced and also not overly sunny in a way that wouldn't be consistent with what had gone before,” Yorkey shared with the outlet.
Whatever happens with Zach, we may not expect it...but fortunately, we won’t have to wait very long to find out what’s next. The final season of 13 Reasons Why drops on Netflix June 5, 2020.