'13 Reasons Why' Season 3 Review

Updated on October 1, 2019
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13 Reasons Why is an American teen drama web television series developed for Netflix by Brian Yorkey, based on the 2007 novel Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher. Dylan Minnette, Christian Navarro, Alisha Boe, Brandon Flynn, Justin Prentice, Miles Heizer, Ross Butler, Devin Druid, Amy Hargreaves, Derek Luke, Kate Walsh, and Brian d'Arcy James all reprise their roles with Grace Siaf being a new addition.

Season three is set eight months after the end of season two. Clay and his friends are struggling to cope with the cover-up of Tyler's attempted massacre at the Spring Fling, while helping him towards recovery. However, acrimonious tensions reach a boiling point during Liberty High's homecoming game, which results in the murder of Bryce Walker. The students of Liberty High are once again forced under the microscope as the investigation into Bryce's death threatens to expose their darkest secrets.

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I really don't know where to start, so I'm just going to say I really didn't like Season 3 of 13 Reasons Why. This season had a lot of problems from the narrative and story to the characters, but the biggest one it had was the fact that it was so boring.

The entire season felt sluggish, dull, slow, stretched out, and boring. The core premise was actually promising. However, the execution was poor. Mainly because of how much the story was stretched out and stuffed with filler. So much of it could've and should've been cut. It became clear very early on that this story did not justify 13 episodes, with each episode being over 50 minutes long.

I love binge watching shows. I can usually finish ones like this one over the course of a weekend, but this one took me nearly two weeks. Mainly because I kept falling asleep or zoning out in the middle, making me have to constantly rewind it.

I can't remember the last time a show has dragged me to the end like this one did. Worse was the fact that the ending wasn't great. To be fair, I rarely ever love the ending of these murder mystery stories. If I didn't hate it, then I consider it a win. I didn't hate this one, but it was disappointing and felt like a huge wasted opportunity. The entire season felt like an equally missed opportunity. They played it extremely safe in so many situations where they shouldn't have.

This season was oddly the most predictable of the three. Worse is the fact that this is the one that really relied on being unpredictable. They pretty much spoon fed the audience everything. Most of the episodes followed the same formula that was as stale as it was predictable. First it started off with someone finding a clue making someone else look guilty. Then they investigate and find secrets only to find out in the end that the person was innocent. They did this over and over again to the point that whoever they thought did it could pretty much be considered innocent. This made every episode feel repetitive, boring, and, worst of all, like a waste of time.

The season was also filled to the brim with filler. They added in relationship problems, love triangles, teen angst, and subplots that either didn't go anywhere or were left unresolved. Filler isn't automatically bad, but here you can tell most of it was there just to be there. If they truly had to add filler, they could've at least made it entertaining.

One of the worst parts was how everything was manipulated for the sake of prolonging the plot. Characters kept secrets and told lies when they didn't need to. By the end of the season, you really don't care what people say because of all the bs they say and do. Maybe it was on purpose. Maybe they were trying to up the mystery thing and make you question everything to increase the tension, but it just came off as annoying. Each secrete being revealed just made me angrier and angrier, especially after I realized how much time was wasted because of it.

The characters were also so dull this time around. I loved them in the first season, but here they were just boring. There were only a couple of characters I liked. Tyler, Bryce, Monty, and Ani's mother. Two of those characters are the bad guys and one plays a very small role. With the exception of Ani's mother, all three of the characters got genuine development and arcs. A lot of the times, the characters just felt like pawns there to fill in the gaps. This was even more disappointing considering that a few of these characters actually got great stories, but they were only in one episode and swayed far from the central story.

At times, it felt like they had 13 different writers each write an episode without knowing what the others wrote. It backtracked so many times, and even forgot what it had previously established. One second characters would be mad at each other, but the other they'd pretend like nothing ever happened.

The season also had a few more issues. As a male, I didn't necessarily agree with everything they said, and they also struggled with the messages they were trying to say.

With that being said, this season did do a few things well. Visually, the flashbacks were lighter than present day. It wasn't groundbreaking, but it was something I noticed and liked. I loved the story and development Bryce got. One of my biggest concerns going into this season was how they were going to make people care about Bryce. He's a serial rapist and a downright terrible person, but I loved how they developed him. Honestly, I thought he was the best part of this season.

I also loved the development and story that Monty got. He took over Bryce's role of being the most hated character, and he really filled in those shoes well. Tyler was my favorite good character. He had a heartbreaking story of tragedy and redemption that I loved. Episode 4 focused almost entirely on his story, and it was by far my favorite of the season.

Season 3 had some great moments from Jessica giving an inspirationally powerful speech to Monty's heartbreaking scene with his father. This season clearly had the potential to be great, but it's so clear that they overextended themselves way too much. For every five minutes of something great, you're stuck watching 45 minutes of something mediocre and boring. I think if they would've cut out all the filler, stopped the prolonging, and ended the pointless side plots, this really could've been great.

They really had about five episodes of actual story content that they could've padded and stretched out to maybe eight episodes, but 13 was clearly way too many. There is definitely a diamond at the center of this season. But it's surrounded by so much other stuff that by the time you actually get to it, it's simply not worth it.

Season 3 of 13 Reasons Why was a huge letdown that managed to do so many things wrong. My expectations weren't high, but even then I was still very disappointed. This season had some great moments, but they weren't enough to make up for all its missteps.

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The acting was one of the few saving graces this season had. Props to the actors and actresses for making otherwise dull characters watchable. It's a real shame that these great performances were almost completely wasted.

Everybody had their moment to shine, and they really delivered. From a performance perspective, it was one of the few things season 3 did right.

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Spoilers

The story and plot is where the season completely fell apart.

I actually really liked the first three episodes. I also loved the fourth episode which focused on Tyler, but little did I know that was the beginning of the end. From there on, the show never picked up again. It did have its moments scattered here and there, but from episode 5 to 13, it was just disappointment after disappointment.

The biggest spoiler here is who killed Bryce Walker. I didn't hate it. It wasn't the mail man from down the street or anything, but it was a little disappointing. Alex killed Bryce Walker. I like Alex and on the surface this wasn't bad, but the execution was poor. They were more concerned with making Alex look like the hero that they missed the mark on everything else.

The story starts at the homecoming game. During the game, Jessica and her group decide to protest. This leads to an all-out brawl. Bryce ended up deliberately breaking Zach's leg. Zach then follows him before beating him and breaking his leg and arm. Alex and Jessica then come and find him. Bryce then goes on a rant, leading Alex to throw him in the water.

This not only messed up a major message they were trying to tell, but completely destroyed all the character development Bryce got. They also did the same thing with Monty. He was given great development, only for his end to be disappointingly wasted. He ended up being murdered off screen right before having a murder pinned on him.

That leads me to my next problem. There really isn't anyone here to root for. Our main heroes all help to cover up this murder and pin it on Monty, who was dead. They also make a ton of dumb decisions.

Jessica spent most of the season trying to end boys sports and the culture behind it. Her reason behind this was that they knew what Bryce was doing, but didn't do anything about it because they were friends. That's understandable, but then she goes and does the exact same thing. She covers up for Alex after he kills Bryce because they're friends. It made her character feel so hypocritical.

Ani also made a dumb decision. She decides to sleep with Bryce multiple times, even after knowing he was a serial rapist. There was really no logic behind it. Her main purpose is to give insight into Bryce, but every other character also gives insight, making her character feel useless.

They also made Clay look like the prime suspect, but it was obvious that he didn't do it. If anything, it just prolongs the ending even more. He even decides to run from the cops, only to go back to school and be arrested.

One of the few positives was the development of Bryce. He was someone seeking redemption, but unfortunately, it was pretty much impossible. The show really made an effort to talk about redemption. Characters like Tyler and the guidance counselor also sought it, but the message never quite came around 100%. Bryce pretty much died being the Bryce we hated.

Monty again got solid development. The scene where his father spat on him was heartbreaking, but they didn't do anything with it. He then gets killed and had a murder pinned on him. With all the time they put into the character, that's how they decided to end it? It had great potential, but was ultimately flushed down the toilet for no reason.

Tyler's episode is one of my favorites in the entire series. It's redemption done right. He isn't defined by the tragedies in his life, but by how he overcame them. A lot of the other characters are unfortunately not like this. You can pretty much label them by their tragedies and nothing else. Their tragedies are their characters, and it just wasn't great to watch.

Tony also got a pretty powerful episode. He deals with his family being deported. It was a really good subplot, especially for this season, but it felt a little cheap. At times it feels as if the show relies on whatever's trending in the news to make a statement. That's not automatically bad, but the statements they do make never feel clear. It almost feels like they're trying to make people feel a certain type of way based entirely on what's really going on without the need to add actual context or social commentary on the subject. It just feels cheap.

That's pretty much it. There's more spoilers, but none of them really matter. They're just another way to deviate from the ending.

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Overall, this was a struggle to get through. Each episode drug on longer than it should've, the characters were dull, the suplots weren't great, the potential was wasted, the core story obviously wasn't meant to run 13 episodes, and it was just an overall boring mess.

Unfortunately, Season 3 of 13 Reasons Why was a huge disappointment. The show did have its moments, but it wasn't nearly enough to make up for all of its missteps. The series is clearly limping on its past legs and needs to be put out its misery.

2 stars for 13 Reasons Why Season 3

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    © 2019 Royce Proctor

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