Trigger Warning: This post contains language about sexual assault, suicidal ideation, gun violence, and substance use that some readers may find disturbing.
Major spoilers for all three seasons of 13 Reasons Why ahead.
13 Reasons Why season 3 debuted on Netflix on August 23 and there were plenty of questions to be answered following the close of the second season. The series, adapted from the book by Jay Asher, follows a group of students at Liberty High School as they grapple with issues including suicide, sexual assault, substance abuse, bullying, and more following the death of a classmate.
Season 1 focused on the death by suicide of student Hannah Baker (Katherine Langford) and her friend Clay Jensen’s (Dylan Minnette) efforts to figure out the events leading up to her passing based on tapes she left behind. The show caused major controversy for its portrayal of Hannah’s death, and showrunners recently removed the scene.
In season 2, as Hannah’s friends and family process her death, the Bakers’ (Kate Walsh and Brian d’Arcy James), file — and lose — a lawsuit against the school for not protecting their daughter. Meanwhile, it becomes clear that Hannah’s and Jessica Davis’s (Alisha Boe) sexual assaults by Bryce Walker (Justin Prentice) weren’t isolated incidents and that Liberty’s baseball team is responsible for a number of other assaults. Meanwhile, Tyler Down’s (Devin Druid) own sexual assault at the hands of Montgomery de la Cruz (Timothy Granaderos) nearly drives Tyler to commit a school shooting at the Spring Fling dance, but Clay stops him right before he does anything drastic.
Even before the premiere of season 3, 13RW had already announced a major plot point for the new season: that Bryce is dead, but nobody is sure who killed him. So, whether you want a sneak peek of what happens in season 3 before jumping in, if you’ve already seen it and want some clarification on the season’s somewhat confusing timelines, or just want to know what goes down during season 3 without watching it, read on for our recap.
It’s eight months after the Spring Fling dance and time for a new school year. A new student at Liberty, Ani (Grace Saif), is now narrating and is friends with Clay. She is Kenyan by way of London. Her mother is a live-in nurse to Bryce’s grandfather, who lives at Bryce’s mother’s, Mrs. Walker’s (Brenda Strong), house — which means that Bryce and Ani live together.
In a flashback to the night of the dance, Clay, Tyler, and Tony Padilla (Christian Navarro) have left the school and haven’t been apprehended, who are told the near-shooting was a false alarm. Tony and Clay take Tyler’s guns.
The students who know what happened — Clay, Tony, Jessica, Alex Standall (Miles Heizer), Zach Dempsey (Ross Butler), Justin Foley (Brandon Flynn), and a few others — protect Tyler’s secret and keep him company so he won’t do anything rash. They don’t know that Montgomery sexually assaulted Tyler.
Word spreads that, after the recent homecoming football game — with Bryce playing for his new school, Hillcrest — Bryce disappeared. Clay is questioned by police because he sent Bryce a threatening text just before. Meanwhile, Justin is living at Clay’s home as the Jensens are adopting him, and Jessica is student body president, promising to eradicate rape and jock culture at the school.
Zach was injured by Bryce in the game and can’t play football. In a flashback, Bryce’s ex-girlfriend Chloe (Anne Winters) tells Zach she is pregnant with Bryce’s baby. He supports her in getting an abortion, but they don’t tell Bryce.
Ani becomes friendly with Bryce and sympathizes with him because he’s being bullied at Hillcrest, ostracized by his friends at Liberty, and abandoned by his dad, whom his mom is divorcing.
Bryce’s corpse is found.
Word spreads that Bryce's body was found in the river. Ani and Clay wonder if Justin and/or Jessica could be responsible, but they deny it. Although Alex and Jessica had been dating, Jessica and Justin are hooking up again.
Tyler asks Tony if they got rid of all his guns. Tyler says he kept one but wants to get rid of it.
Ani and Clay being questioning if Tyler could’ve killed Bryce, but Tyler denies it.
In a flashback, Jessica, Tyler, and other students form a group, Hands Off Our Body, also known as HO, made up of sexual assault survivors and allies.
Tyler tells Clay he kept the gun to use on himself. In a flashback, Tyler confronts Bryce about whether he told Monty to attack him, as Monty claimed. Bryce says no and that he knows of the Spring Fling secret and will keep it.
Tyler tells Clay he decided to live and that’s why he wants to give up the gun. Justin says he’ll get rid of it and uses it to threaten his mother’s ex-boyfriend, Seth, who has been lurking around because Justin stole money from him.
The cops find steroids in Bryce’s car.
The cops think Bryce was dealing steroids. At school, Alex throws out his own steroids, which he was taking to bulk up and get Jessica back. Clay and Ani consider the possibility that Alex is the murderer.
In a flashback, Monty hooks up with Winston (Deakan Bluman), a Hillcrest student, and then beats him up due to his confusion about his own sexuality.
In another flashback, Bryce brings Alex to a sex worker because he knows Alex is sexually frustrated and missing Jessica and wants to help him. Plus, Bryce has been with the woman before, too. Ani and Clay realize Alex was buying steroids from Bryce and that Bryce started charging him more after they had a fight — a potential motive.
Ani finds Tony’s Mustang in Mrs. Walker’s garage.
Tony is being questioned by the cops, and Clay and Ani wonder if he could be the killer. At Bryce’s funeral, the HO group protests.
In a flashback, Tony discovers his family has been taken and is scheduled for deportation. Bryce, hearing that Tony needs money, buys his Mustang.
The police find footage from the previous spring of Clay pointing a gun at Bryce.
Clay becomes the center of the investigation. The cops ask if Bryce and Clay were fighting over Ani, but Clay says they’re just friends. The cops show Clay a pair of Ani’s underwear found in Bryce’s room with traces of blood and semen — which could’ve given Clay motive. Now, the friend group wonders if Clay could’ve done it.
In a flashback, Ani kisses Clay, and things get awkward. In the present, Clay confronts Ani about being with Bryce; she says it’s complicated. Ani lies about her relationship with Bryce to the cops.
Ani questions Clay about his whereabouts after the game. He continues to be vague and realizes Ani doesn’t trust him.
Mr. Porter (Derek Luke), the former guidance counselor at Liberty, has been counseling Bryce. The police bring Mr. Porter to speak to students at Liberty for their case against Clay, but Mr. Porter helps him.
Tyler tells Clay about the assault. Clay finds a hidden stash of prescription pills in Justin’s bag with Bryce’s name on it.
The Jensens have hired a lawyer to defend Clay because the police have officially named him a person of interest in the death of Bryce.
Ani and Clay confront Justin about the drugs. In a flashback, Justin is dealing drugs for Seth to pay back the money he owes. He’s also skimming drugs off the top to do himself. Bryce helps Justin out of the situation and gives him oxycontin (which he had from an injury), saying it’s better Justin do that than heroin.
The cops question Hannah’s mom, Mrs. Baker, because she was in town the night of the killing; she says she was selling her old house, which is true.
In a flashback, Mrs. Baker tells Tony that his family was deported because of the Walkers, whose lawyers had info on Tony. Tony confronts Bryce, who admits his dad was responsible. He says he regrets hurting Hannah and never listened to the tapes. Tony plays them for Bryce, who has an emotional response.
In a flashback, Bryce tells his mom he wants to transfer back to Liberty to set things right.
In the present, the principal tells Jessica that she must apologize at an assembly with the Hillcrest football team for what happened at the game. Before the assembly, Tyler tells Jessica about the assault.
In a flashback, Jessica finds out Bryce might be coming back to Liberty and decides to do something big at the game. During the game, the HO group runs onto the field for a demonstration, and a Hillcrest player grabs Jessica’s breasts. The Liberty players storm the field, and a fight ensues.
The same night, Bryce tells Jessica he wants to give her something after the game at the pier. Then, Bryce confronts Monty about Tyler and threatens to expose his crimes if he doesn’t stay away from Tyler.
Clay plans to leave town because of the suspicion on him, but Tyler asks him to come to the assembly. Instead of apologizing at the assembly, Jessica gives a speech, asking survivors to stand up. Several students do, including Justin and Tyler. Clay, who has come to the assembly, is arrested. Justin tells Jessica that he was assaulted when he was young.
Charlie, a football player and friend of Monty’s, tells Tyler that Monty admitted to the assault in front of him and that he would go to the police.
In a flashback, Clay sees Bryce and Ani kissing at the game. When the fight breaks out, Clay goes to attack Bryce, but Justin stops him. Later, Clay texts Bryce that he wants him dead – the same text that made the police suspicious of Clay in the first place.
Zach goes to the cops and says he killed Bryce.
In a flashback, Chloe tells Bryce before the game about the abortion and that Zach supported her. On the field, Bryce intentionally injures Zach.
Zach tells the cops that he followed Bryce to the pier, seriously beat him, and left him. The police say he couldn’t have killed Bryce because he drowned.
Tyler and Charlie go to the police, and Monty is arrested for assault — and is now suspected in Bryce’s murder because he had motive.
Clay is out on bail, and Deputy Standall, who is re-examining evidence, seems to have doubts.
Ani has a plan to clear Clay’s name. She tells Deputy Standall nearly everything that has happened, including everyone who could have killed Bryce and why. Then, she frames Monty for murdering Bryce, and the other students collaborate to make the story plausible. In reality, Monty was with Winston during the murder.
In a flashback, we see Jessica and Alex approach a seriously injured Bryce. He gives her a tape. Alex picks him up to help him and suddenly realizes that Bryce has hurt everyone he ever loved; he pushes Bryce into the river, and Alex and Jessica watch him drown.
Charlie plants the cassette tape, with Bryce’s blood on it, in Monty’s locker.
Deputy Standall, speaking with Ani, realizes his son is guilty based on footprints and tire tracks at the crime scene. He tells Ani that Monty has been killed in jail, and he agrees to go forward with the coverup.
Later, the group listens to a copy of Bryce’s tape, on which he confesses to “seven or eight rapes,” apologizes for what he’s done, and says he’s trying to be a better person.
A fisherman finds Tyler’s guns that Tony and Clay had thrown in the river.
At Monet’s, Tyler reveals a photo exhibit of all the people who helped him recover over the past year.
Questions We Need to Be Answered in Season 4:
What’s going to happen once Tyler’s cache of guns is brought to the authorities?
When the truth comes out that the Spring Fling “false alarm” shooting wasn’t, in fact, false, it could mean serious legal ramifications for Tyler and his friends, who covered up the truth.
Will Ani and Clay start dating?
Although their relationship seemed to veer between friendship and something more throughout the season, they clearly have a connection, and Ani told her mom that they’re dating in the final episode. And now that Bryce and the murder case are out of the picture, there’s nothing to stand in their way.
What will happen to Justin?
Will he seek help for his substance abuse issues, as he mentioned to the Jensens in the last episode? Will the Jensens finally adopt him? If something goes wrong with the adoption, it might cause Justin to sink deeper into his addiction. Or, if he refuses treatment, the Jensens could possibly reconsider the adoption.
If you or someone you know is contemplating suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or text Crisis Text Line at 741-741.
If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, you can seek help by calling the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800-656-HOPE (4673).
For more resources on sexual assault, visit SafeBae, RAINN, End Rape on Campus, Know Your IX, and the National Sexual Violence Resource Center.
Originally Appeared on Teen Vogue