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Who killed Bryce Walker?
13 Reasons Why is posing that question going into the third season of the young adult Netflix series. Marketing around the new season — which returns Aug. 23 — has revealed that the murder of the show’s antagonist (played by Justin Prentice) will be the mystery of the high school drama’s latest season and the official season three trailer, which dropped Wednesday (watch below), sheds more light about that central hook of the new 13 episodes.
The first season of Brian Yorkey’s Paramount Television series, which was adapted from Jay Asher’s best-selling novel of the same name, revealed Bryce as the high school student who raped protagonist Hannah Baker (Katherine Langford), whose suicide (which has since been edited out of the series) served as the central story. Bryce also sexually assaulted fellow student Jessica Davis (Alisha Boe) and even though she came forward to accuse him of rape during the trial of season two, the privileged teen only received three months probation despite his leading role in the serial sexual assault that was uncovered among the Liberty High athletic department.
The second season ended with a cliff-hanger school shooting that was thwarted by Clay Jensen (Dylan Minnette), but it also revealed that Chloe (Anne Winter), who lied for boyfriend Bryce on the witness stand, is also pregnant with his baby. 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, and when the second season ended, the vision of Bryce enjoying himself at the Spring Fling dance as if nothing had happened was a realistic outcome meant to enrage the audience and — as the trailer shows — the characters of Liberty High who seem to have taken justice into their own hands in season three.
When speaking to The Hollywood Reporter about Bryce’s light punishment after season two, showrunner Yorkey said 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 shared the statistic that only six out of every 1,000 rapists will be incarcerated for their crimes and Prentice, at the time, compared the frustrating ending with 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.
The second season stretched the series well beyond Asher’s book and the third season seems poised to do the same. In the season summary released by Netflix, the streaming giant revealed that the third season opens up eight months after Tyler’s (Devin Druid) thwarted school shooting. Clay, Tony (Christian Navarro), Jessica, Alex (Miles Heizer), Justin (Brandon Flynn) and Zach (Ross Butler) find ways to shoulder the burden of the cover-up together while helping Tyler move toward recovery after his brutal sexual assault. But when the aftermath of a tumultuous homecoming game culminates in the disappearance of a football player and Clay finds himself under police scrutiny, it’s up to a shrewd outsider to steer the group through an investigation that threatens to lay bare everyone’s deepest secrets. The stakes are raised as the consequences of even the most well-intended actions can alter a life forever.
The trailer reveals that Bryce was indeed the player who went missing — and he was found dead from a gun shot wound. While many now know that Tyler has an arsenal of weapons, he is far from the only suspect. “Bryce Walker did hurt a lot of people. The one he hurt the most is Jessica Davis,” new character Ani (Grace Sai) points out. But Justin and Zach also suspect each other and Clay and Tony are shown being questioned by police. “This whole fucking world is better without him in it,” says Clay. Who is then asked: “What did you do?”
When it comes to who killed Bryce, a new summary from Netflix says everyone has their reasons. The secrets at Liberty High run deep and in the aftermath of the Homecoming game all of the friends have something to hide. As the mystery of his death engulfs the town, there are numerous suspects in focus. But were any of them truly capable of murder? And who is the new girl? Police are determined to get to the truth, but with a web of secrets and lies this tangled, will anyone be found guilty?
The season three cast also includes Timothy Granaderos (Montgomery de la Cruz), Steven Weber (Principle Bowen), Brenda Strong (Mrs. Walker), Amy Hargreaves (Mrs. Jensen) and newcomers Bex Taylor Klaus (Casey) and Tyler Barnhardt (Charlie).
Ahead of the third season, Netflix renewed 13 Reasons Why for a fourth and final season. Watch the trailer for season three below.
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