By Raven Madison, Opinion
The fourth and final season of “13 Reasons Why” wraps up the series by finally allowing arguably the most popular character, Clay, to narrate the final details of the story and deal with the tragic issues in a realistic and appropriate way that gives it a very heartfelt and passionate ending.
The season picks up with six friends who are bound secretly by framing Monty for the death of Bryce. While they were dealing with this secret, each character was also going through their own individual struggles.
This was especially true for Clay. The season focuses on him and his need to protect his friends rather than focusing on his own health and safety. Clay, recently diagnosed with dissociation, has been dealing with the mental struggles that have been obvious to the viewer all along.
The overall narrative of season 4 seemed a bit flawed, especially in the timeline. It began by introducing the audience to a funeral for who we now know to be Justin. The show is known for flashbacks, so it was not surprising when it switched from the funeral to a different setting six months earlier. However, as the show progresses, the flashback between the present and the past stop, and the season is then only seen from the viewpoint of the past, leading up to the funeral.
Some of the storylines were unnecessary to the overall arc of the season. Tony’s struggle with his boxing career and making the decision of whether or not to go off to college seem pretty minuscule as this did not play a significant role in the plot and could have been left out altogether to give more attention to other characters.onship that they shared in season three.
The student body goes up against the principal in protest and the school begins to riot for Clay as he was beaten by school police guards after taking one of their guns to prove a point. This scene gives off a sense of helplessness from the students’ standpoint as they have no choice but to standby watching the assault take place. It is this same feeling of helplessness that drives them to try and overthrow the school in retaliation.
The real tear-jerker came at the end of the show were the characters as well as the audience learns that Justin has been suffering from HIV/AIDS throughout the season. Though the show did not tell explicitly how he contracted the virus, they related it to his time spent being homeless, having sex with other men and his off-and-on drug habit using unsterilized needles to get his fix. This was an unexpected plot twist to the story since the season opened with Justin being much healthier and sober as he appeared to be doing much better with his addition.
Now knowing that he had the virus, it makes sense of why in the middle of the season, he was experiencing symptoms of sickness though he had said he was not using again. I felt like this was supposed to be one of the many hints to the audience that he may have had sever underlying health concerns that the characters were unaware of. However, with everything else going on in the show, it seemed too hard for his friends to solely focus on that and put the pieces of the puzzle together until it was too late.
One thing about this season that I was not a fan of were the screen effects that were used when Clay or other characters talked to other characters who were dead. It gave the episodes more of a horror show type feeling rather than a drama about teen struggles.
In the prior season, there were scenes with the color seemingly desaturated, contrasted in other episodes with more vivid colors and saturations. In season three, this was done to differentiate the time and setting change; however, season four’s use of the effect appeared random with no thought-out explanation. It was off-putting and not in connection with the overall tone of the show
For me, the most recent “13 Reasons Why” ended in a perfect way for viewers to appreciate, even though all of the characters did not have a “perfect” ending. It was a realistic ending offering hope for future for everyone involved.
As they graduated high school, they were able to resolve a lot of the baggage accumulated since the beginning of the series. Clay and Jessica’s thoughtful monologues served as a final nod to everything the characters had been through together.
This was an emotional season to watch, and that is not new for 13 Reasons Why… but the outcome was well worth it. I am glad that the show boldly dealt with topics that other shows aimed at younger audiences failed to acknowledge.