'13 Reasons Why': All the Details About Season 2

How Netflix's controversial teen suicide drama plans to continue Hannah Baker's story now that the series is beyond the book's material.
Beth Dubber/Netflix
'13 Reasons Why'

[This story contains spoilers from the first season of 13 Reasons Why.]

Now that the 13 cassette tapes have been played, what will the second season of 13 Reasons Why look like?

Hannah Baker (Katherine Langford) narrated the first season of the hit Netflix teen drama from the grave. The 13-episode story orbited around her suicide — which was depicted in graphic detail — and, using the tapes as its guide, spider-webbed out to reveal how 12 classmates and one teacher at Liberty High School each contributed, in their own specific ways, to the tragic decision to end her all-too-short life. 

The impact of Hannah's death and the tapes she left behind brought about consequences for each of the parties involved. According to Hannah's perspective, her friends bullied her, her ex-boyfriend destroyed her reputation, her best friend abandoned her, her guidance counselor dismissed her and the one person who could have made a difference, Clay Jensen (Dylan Minnette), failed her. But it was Bryce Walker (Justin Prentice) who was revealed to have pushed Hannah over the edge: after being unable to stop Bryce from sexually assaulting her best friend, Bryce ended up raping Hannah as well.

In addition to revealing Bryce as both Hannah and Jessica Davis' (Alisha Boe) rapist, the first season ended with many dangling plot threads. Alex Standall's (Miles Heizer) fate is up in the air after his own suicide attempt and outcast Tyler Down (Devin Druid) is exposed as a potential school shooter.

In hopes of beginning to find justice for Hannah's death, Clay delivered the tapes to both guidance counselor Mr. Porter (Derek Luke), number 13 on the tapes, and Hannah's parents (played by Kate Walsh and Brian d'Arcy James) after coming to terms that everyone on the tapes, including himself, is deserving of whatever punishment awaits. Aside from begging the biggest question of whether or not Bryce will be punished for his crimes, Clay's act also forces the adults of 13 Reasons Why to confront their own complicity in Hannah's death. Hannah's parents, in turn, decide to bring a lawsuit against the school district for its role in Hannah's death.

The first season followed the story from Jay Asher's best-selling novel on which the show was based. That Netflix and creator Brian Yorkey opted to continue the story after the drama became a watercooler hit meant that the series would now have to stretch beyond its source material. 

Ahead of 13 Reasons Why's May 18 season two launch, The Hollywood Reporter rounds up all the details about the sophomore season. 

Hannah Baker Will be Back, But Multiple Narrators Will be Guiding the Story

Even before the season-two renewal was official, Yorkey made it clear that Hannah's story is at the center of 13 Reasons Why. Even though she is dead and the show has run out of her tapes, the show's time-jumping will allow Yorkey to not only keep Langford on the series, but also reveal more about Hannah. "One of the things that is a fundamental element of our show is the weaving of past and the present," Yorkey told THR after season one. "Hannah's story is still very much not finished. She's an integral part of whatever the next chapter of the story is, and she's very much still at the center of it."

Hannah, however, will no longer be the show's only narrator — if she is one at all. "There are 12 kids who have another version of those events that we actually haven't heard from yet," Yorkey has said of telling the story from different points of view. Those new and different perspectives on the events, some which have already been shown, will fill in some gaps when the show jumps forward a few months ahead from where it left off. 

There Are No Cassette Tapes; Instead, the Trial Will Be the Focus

Yorkey has said that the question of who is responsible for Hannah's death is still unanswered. Instead of tapes being used as the plot device to answer these questions (Minnette confirmed he will no longer be walking around with a Walkman), a new "analog" technology will be used, but it's the trial of The Bakers vs. the school district of Liberty High that will be taking center stage.

"The driving engine, whereas in season one we had tapes, in season two we have a trial," Yorkey recently told THR. "Over the course of the season, the trial unfolds. The kids are called in to testify, we get to hear their side of the story, secrets are revealed and we learn things we didn’t know before."

James, who plays Hannah's dad Andy Baker, says the trial will also reveal the grieving process for his character and Hannah's mother, Olivia Baker (played by Kate Walsh). "You’ll see the after effect of what such a tragic event such as suicide can have on a family," James tells THR. "In this case, a husband and wife and a mother and father have to deal with their own complicity and their role in the family dynamic and what they have to deal with now as they move forward, trying to heal. There’s a lot of drama to explore within that."

Another Suicide Won't Be Depicted

Despite receiving global backlash over how Hannah's suicide was handled during the first season, Yorkey, with the support of Netflix, announced that the series has no plans to censor itself in the second season. However, one thing viewers won't see is another suicide.

"Hannah’s suicide is sort of the central, inciting incident of the story, but the story is about so many things and tough topics around that," Yorkey told THR of the creative decision. "Obviously, Hannah’s suicide continues to be very much a part of the story. Alex Standall [played by Miles Heizer] attempted suicide at the end of season one and that continues to be very much a part of the story, but there’s no new scene of suicide. That’s not the story we’re telling. And that’s a tiny bit of a spoiler, but not really. There’s no suicide onscreen or off. And there’s no flashbacks to it."

Sexual Assault and Gun Violence Will Be Timely Storylines

While Yorkey says "justice" will be a key theme of the season, Bryce is not the one on trial. One of the mysteries that will be revealed through the trail is the serial sexual abuse at Liberty High School that has been kept quiet. Yorkey began writing the season in February 2017 and, months later, said he saw the plotline coming to life amid the #MeToo era. 

"That’s a mystery that Clay, with the help of Tony [Padilla] and some of the other friends, will unfold over the course of the season that ends up being very instrumental in the trial," Yorkey revealed during a recent panel. "We explore a storyline that has to do with an ongoing case of numerous sexual assaults that is connected to one of the athletic teams at Liberty High School," he revealed. "We look at the ways that sexual assault has been perpetrated over a number of years and has been in fact documented, and also the ways in which the institutions — the athletic department, the high school itself — are in some ways complicit in letting that happen." 

Another prescient plotline is the potential that Tyler Down (Devin Druid) is a possible school shooter. The real-world events since surrounding gun violence "reaffirm[ed] for us that these were really important stories to be telling," Yorkey added.

There Are Many New Faces

Liberty High will be getting a handful of new students and adults. On the classmates side is Chloe (Anne Winters), the new "It girl" and head cheerleader; Cyrus (Bryce Cass), a "cynical mischief-maker who serves as an unexpected champion of the downtrodden"; Mackenzie (Chelsea Alden), Cyrus' witty and artsy sister; and Nina (Samantha Logan), a track star with a secret.

Joining the show's adult roster are two characters likely connected to the Bakers' plight: Jackie (Kelli O’Hara), an anti-bullying advocate; and Sonya (Allison Miller), a young litigator. The season will also introduce Liberty's beloved baseball coach Rick (Ben Lawson) — a possible avenue to revisiting the story of the late Jeff Atkins (Brandon Larracuente), the baseball player and friend to Clay who was killed in a car crash after Hannah and Sheri (Ajiona Alexus), the driver, ran over a Stop sign and didn't file a report.

Bryce's parents have also been cast — Jake Weber and Brenda Strong as Barry and Nora Walker, respectively, "pillars" of the community — along with Alex's devoted mother, Carolyn Standall (played Meredith Monroe). Tony will also be getting a boxing coach, Caleb (R.J. Brown).

"Redemption" and "Recovery" Are Central Themes

Guidance counselor Mr. Porter was the 13th and final person on Hannah's tapes, marking him as the only adult that Hannah fingered as a guilty party in her decision. With Hannah's story fully revealed to him, Mr. Porter will be setting on a journey of redemption, one that Yorkey finds to be the most "compelling" of the entire season.

"Mr. Porter in particular will be coming to terms with the way that he let Hannah down and will be very determined not to let any kids down in the future," Yorkey added recently. "In fact, his story is one of the most compelling to me. We’ll see a man who is determined to reach every kid who needs to be reached and help every kid who needs to be helped, whatever it takes. I think he will probably go out of bounds a bit, in the other direction, trying to be helpful in the best way that he knows."

The Finale Might Not Be the End

Just like the first season inspired Yorkey and the writers to continue the story for the 13 Reasons Why characters, the showrunner once again sounds open to a potential third season.

"With the second season, we feel as with the first that we’re following the stories of these characters," he explained to THR. "I always think there’s more story to tell, but I think that sort of depends on viewers and everyone’s reaction to it and whether it’s important to keep telling the story. I do think that our interest certainly in a season two was because we wanted to continue to follow these people, so I think If there is a future for the show, 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."

The second season of 13 Reasons Why bows on Netflix May 18. Head here to keep up with THR's show coverage.