'13 Reasons Why': 9 Burning Questions for Season 3

9:00 AM 6/10/2018

by Jackie Strause

Netflix's controversial teen drama returns in 2019.

'13 Reasons Why'
'13 Reasons Why'
Courtesy of Netflix

[This story contains spoilers from the second season of Netflix's 13 Reasons Why.]

13 Reasons Why closed its biggest chapter with season two, but the controversial Netflix series still has a handful of other stories to continue when it returns for season three. Less than one month after releasing the sophomore season of Brian Yorkey's teen suicide drama, Netflix announced that 13 Reasons Why will be coming back for another 13 episodes in 2019

After the adaptation of Jay Asher's best-selling novel of the same name for season one, the second season continued to follow the lives of the students at Liberty High, despite Hannah Baker (Katherine Langford) running out of tapes. This time around, Polaroid pictures helped Clay Jensen (Dylan Minnette) and friends uncover the serial sexual assault happening at Liberty, led by Bryce Walker (Justin Prentice) and the baseball team. Despite the discovery, the school district still emerged unscathed when Hannah's parents (played by Kate Walsh and Brian D'Arcy James) lost their lawsuit over the school's role in Hannah's suicide. And though Jessica Davis (Alisha Boe) came forward to accuse Bryce of rape, the well-connected teen only received three months' probation — a harsh reflection of the real justice system.

Some relationships ended and others grew more complicated as the characters dealt with the aftermath of Hannah's death. The season ended on another major cliffhanger when Clay thwarted a school shooting attempt by outcast Tyler Down (Devin Druid), whose sexual assault at the hands of athlete Montgomery de la Cruz (Timothy Granaderos) played out in graphic and controversial fashion. 

Below, THR breaks down the biggest burning questions surrounding season three.

  • Will Hannah Return?

    Beth Dubber/Getty

    When Hannah exited the church after Clay's eulogy at her funeral, a white light followed her ghostly presence out the door. After haunting Clay all seasonlong he finally said goodbye, and that was the last time Hannah appeared on screen.

    Katherine Langford confirmed that Hannah would not return ahead of the season-three renewal. "Hannah...I love you...and I let you go," the actress said, quoting Clay, when announcing her exit. "This show will always be a special part of my life, and regardless of whether Hannah is there or not, I know that I will continue to strive to do work that is meaningful and has a positive impact." The season also bid a satisfying goodbye to Hannah's mother when Olivia shared with Clay a list she discovered from Hannah of 11 reasons why not to kill herself — coming up only a few short — before moving to New York City.

  • Why Did Nina Burn the Polaroids?

    David Moir/Netflix

    By answering one of this season's mysteries, 13 Reasons Why created another one when it identified Nina Jones (Samantha Logan) as the Polaroid-stealing culprit. After breaking into Clay's car and taking the pictures of the girls in the clubhouse that could have been used against both the school and Bryce, she burned the evidence. That picture proof could have been a key element in a future case, but Nina, a rape survivor and friend to Jessica, also bristled at the suggestion that she come forward with her own picture and story of her sexual assault.

    It's likely that when explaining Nina's motives in season three, creator Brian Yorkey will continue to show that the road to recovery is not the same for every sexual assault survivor. "We wanted to make it clear that recovery is not a straight line," Yorkey said of exploring the "lifelong" process through Jessica's story. "That there is progress and there are setbacks, but that there is a way through what Jessica's been through and a way to learn to be a survivor."

  • Will Chloe Stay With Bryce?

    Beth Dubber/Getty

    When faced with the opportunity to side with her boyfriend or with his victims, Chloe (Anne Winter) chose to lie on the witness stand and say that it was consensual when she had sex with Bryce in the clubhouse. During her tense testimony, it seemed that Bryce exerted a power over his cheerleader girlfriend. But Chloe later revealed the truth to Jessica: She is pregnant with Bryce's baby. Winters said reading about the pregnancy in the script made Chloe's loyalty to Bryce make more sense. "I hope that that’s a bit of a reason too [and] that people can see why she’s doing what she’s doing."

  • Why Did Bryce Escape Harsher Punishment?

    Beth Dubber/Getty

    The biggest burning question heading into the second season was whether or not 13 Reasons Why would find justice for Hannah by making Bryce pay for his crimes. Though Jessica did come forward in the end, Bryce received an all-too-light punishment of three months of probation and a future without football. Even Justin Foley (Brandon Flynn) spent six months in jail for being an accessory since he doesn't share Bryce's privileged upbringing. Moving to a new school but with Chloe still on his arm, Bryce still seemed to be enjoying himself when attending his final Spring Fling dance.

    Viewer dissatisfaction over Bryce's outcome is meant to "mirror dissatisfactions that many of us have with the way sexual assault is and isn't addressed in our own justice system," Yorkey explained, sharing the jarring statistic that only six out of every 1,000 rapists will be incarcerated for their crimes. Prentice, who plays Bryce, has compared the frustrating ending to that of convicted Stanford sex offender Brock Turner, who was sentenced to six months in jail in for sexually assaulting an unconscious woman in 2016. 

  • How Will the Alex-Jessica-Justin Love Triangle Play Out?

    David Moir/Netflix

    After charting Jessica on her steps to recovery, the end of the season saw the sexual assault survivor ready to open her heart and body to a relationship again. She kisses new boyfriend Alex Standall (Miles Heizer) at the Spring Fling dance. Later, however, she also acts on her feelings and finally forgives ex-boyfriend Justin for his complicity in her attack. The two reunite by having sex in the locker room, unbeknowst to Alex.

    Though Alex began the season in recovery from his gun shot would to the head, this season further repaired his home life and relationship with his parents. Meanwhile, Justin is still secretly abusing heroin and his stepdad, who Justin stole from, was seen stalking him outside Hannah's wake. Jessica and Justin are also the two students left standing outside the school with a gun-toting Clay when the police are on their way (more on that below).

  • Will Monty Face Punishment for His Assault?

    Beth Dubber/Getty

    After revealing Monty to be the student who was secretly bullying his classmates into not testifying against Bryce, the baseball sidekick sexually assaults Tyler in the school bathroom as a means of payback for their season being canceled. The rape scene was criticized by some viewers and by critics for its triggering effect and graphic depiction — similar, but not as loud, to the outcry over the graphic season-one depiction of Hannah's suicide. With Monty now in the wind, it's unclear if the show will bring him back to face any level of punishment.

    During the season's Beyond the Reasons aftershow, Yorkey said they included the scene because it was based on research that male-on-male assault is an "epidemic" across the country, citing the statistic that one in six men have been sexually assaulted. "We found that this kind of thing happens in high school across America, particularly with athletes violating other students with mop handles and pool cues," Yorkey said. "It's almost on epidemic levels, it's not something that's reported often — male-on-male sexual assault is ridiculously underreported." 

  • What Will Happen to Tyler After the Thwarted School Schooting?

    Beth Dubber/Getty

    After acting on his social frustrations earlier in the season — he burned the football field and bragged about it on Facebook — Tyler is sent away to a rehabilitation program. But after he is sexually assaulted by Monty, he returns to the violent tendencies he has exhibited ever since the first season's finale exposed his collection of guns and explosives. Tyler, who has already been shooting guns and even killed an animal, arrives to the school dance with a plan to kill the students inside. Clay, however, convinces him out of the potential massacre and helps to orchestrate his escape, while taking hold of the rifle.

    Druid, who plays Tyler, has praised the show for tackling the controversial school shooting storyline, something Yorkey has also defended in the current climate. "We're much more interested in understanding that character's journey than we are in seeing it end in the worst way possible," said Yorkey about the possible evolution of Tyler. "The thing that's interesting for us is trying to understand what goes into the experience of a young man who goes that route." On the day of the season two premiere, the show's launch event was canceled in wake of the Santa Fe shooting.

  • Will Clay Be Punished Instead of Tyler?

    David Moir/Netflix

    In the show's final moment, Clay is left holding the assault rifle outside of the school as police sirens near. Will he be framed for attempted murder? With Tyler gone from the scene thanks to Tony Padilla's (Christian Navarro) getaway ride, will Clay be punished for helping him to escape? During Beyond the Reasons, the show consultants made it clear that in reality, no one should confront a shooter like Clay did. Clay also struggled all seasonlong with the ways his grief from losing Hannah effected his thoughts and actions.

    Still, Minnette, who plays Clay, hints at the ending being a hopeful one for the characters. “Clay was pretty cruel to Tyler in season 1, and Tyler to Clay,” Minnette has said. “But then you see where they end up at the end of this season. Even though these horrible times they’ve had, and these mixed emotions about each other, they can come together and find a sense of community when they need it the most. This is such a dark show, and an honest show, that it’s nice to also have those moments of hope. There is still hope for these characters."

  • Will There Be Another Technology Device?

    Courtesy of Netflix.

    After revolving the first season around cassette tapes, Yorkey introduced another analog technology with season two's Polaroid pictures. Whether or not a similar plot device is used to push the story along for season three, Yorkey made it clear ahead of the second season's launch that this series is, at its heart, about continuing to follow the lives of the people on the tapes. "With the second season, we feel as with the first that we’re following the stories of these characters. I always think there’s more story to tell, but I think that depends on viewers and everyone’s reaction to it and whether it’s important to keep telling the story," he has said. "To me, it’s about these characters, and not necessarily a new set of reasons or a new set of tapes. Someone else might do that, but that’s not my job to do that."