Before we begin, I’d just like to say, that Thirteen Reason Why actually hits quite close to home for me. You see way back in school I actually know someone who did commit suicide, and there is also one other major plot twist that I can really relate to because it happened to someone really close to me, but more of that later.
Hey at least I’m writing this with a tinge of my own personal experience, which would probably make it a more unique set of reviews for you.
Now back to Thirteen Reasons Why;
Tape 1, Side B
Understandably Clay has started to feel paranoid with what he has heard. His parents, in the light of what has happened with Hannah’s suicide, have decided to take a much closer interest in their son’s mental wellbeing. They mean well, but their concern seems to slightly add to the tension that their son feels.
In school, Clay decides to search for some understanding with the only other person he knows so far is a subject of the tape (One of the thirteen reasons) which is Justin Foley. Unfortunately for him, Justin seems to be M.I.A. from school. Clay is not the only one looking for Justin. It seems his girlfriend, Jessica Davies, is too. And for some reason she is even more frazzled and disturbed than he is. Their other classmate Sheri, explains to Clay that Jessica may be freaked out because she is meant to be Justin’s cheer-escort at the assembly for the varsity team, and he is nowhere to be found.
It seems like a small thing to be really frazzled about. And as it turns out it may well be because the reason why Jessica is perturbed may have something to do with the fact that she is the subject of Tape 1 Side B. Which means she is one of the thirteen reasons why Hannah killed herself. Being number two in the list means she already listened to all of it before the tapes ended up with Clay. So, Hannah narrates Jessica’s part in her decision to end her life.
It seems the two started out as good friends after they were friend-matched by their guidance counsellor, Mrs. Antilly. They were both new kids in school at their sophomore year. Initially, she was right because Hannah and Jessica did hit it off and bonded over hot chocolate at the local café, Monet’s. Unfortunately, (at least according to Hannah), the wise Mrs. Antilly had to move away and was replaced by Mr. Porter. Why unfortunate? She says she’ll explain later.
Back to Jessica’s past saga, Hannah narrated the time they met the third member of their crew. A guy who they saw at Monet’s who was eyeing them, another new kid named Alex. After going over and talking to him the three become best friends, at least for a while.
They even support Hannah after the time the racy picture taken by Justin Foley started circulating around campus. “Fuck Justin” Jessica says then.
The friendship just wasn’t meant to be forever. Alex was the first to go. He traded up and became friends with the popular jocks. He was still friendly with Hannah, but he no longer stopped by at Monet’s. Jessica eventually stopped coming, too. Hannah assumed that they merely drifted apart. That was until she saw Alex and Jessica being all sweet in the cafeteria. That is when she knew that she was frozen out.
Things take a toll when Hannah dispenses tickets for both Jessica and Alex at the cinema. They were together and she was alone, friendless.
Back in real time, Justin is still a no-show at school, even at the assembly for the basketball varsity team to which he is a part of. Jessica, being his cheer-escort, is visibly upset, but it seems to be more than that. So, Clay tries to talk to her about Justin and the tapes, but she’s not having it. She then storms off.
Later at the end of the school day, Clay gets a weird invite from Justin’s friends, Zach and Marcus, who ask him if he wants to join them for a ride and hang out at the home of Bryce Walker. Clay senses something amiss. Hannah’s narration reveals more. In the end, it seems that Jessica got upset with Hannah over a list that Alex had made, which says which girls in school had the best body parts. "Hannah's got the best ass," which for her is not a compliment, since it had a connection to Justin’s photo. But Jessica believes that somehow it is the reason why Alex broke up with her. Hannah is innocent and she tells Jessica so. Jessica is fixated and she points out that the rumours about Hannah may be true. Hannah tells her “fuck you” and Jessica slaps her.
Meanwhile in present time, Clay finally gets to sit down with Jessica at Monet’s to hear her side. She tells him not to believe everything the tape tells him. She says Hannah is the one that stopped going to Monet’s, she is the one that left, and she is the user. Jessica then leaves. Coincidentally, Tony arrives at Monet’s. Clay confronts him about the tapes since he seems to know more than he lets on. But Tony only urges him to finish it, without divulging any details.
In another part of town, Zach and Marcus arrive at Bryce’s mansion. As it turns out, Justin has been staying at his pool house, which probably means that somehow Zach and Marcus had intended to bring Clay there.
The mystery deepens when Jessica arrives and confronts her boyfriend for missing out on school. She tells him that the tapes have been passed on to Clay and she worries that he might talk. Justin answers that he knows and that he plans to deal with it.
Meanwhile, Hannah’s parents finds the handwritten list in one of her books that says that she has the "best ass". The very same list that Jessica confronted her with. Mrs. Baker sees this as probable evidence of bullying so she calls someone who can help her figure it out. That person as it turns out is Tony!
He immediately drives to Hannah’s home and is warmly greeted by Mrs. Baker at the front door. Trouble is though, Clay who has gone around to bike near Hannah’s house sees this, and it is obvious that he is wondering: what else could Tony be hiding?
Tape 2, Side A
Hannah narrates how she tried to get back together with her two former friends and how she tried to get them back to Monet’s after the two broke up.
Meanwhile, in the present, Mrs. Baker tries to talk to the school principal about whether her daughter had suffered from bullying, but she is stonewalled in light of her lawsuit against the school for what happened to Hannah. Naturally, she is distraught and goes to the school restroom, where she inadvertently discovers graffiti written in the toilet stall walls. Graffiti that said some seriously terrible things about girls including Hannah. She does the smart thing and takes pictures of this. When she goes out to the hall, she finds a memorial for Hannah filled with flowers. Courtney explains to her that the students keep adding to it and that Hannah had so many friends. Mrs. Baker, after what she saw in the stalls, was not fooled. She takes a bouquet of white roses and says “Anyone who knew Hannah would know that she hated roses- she thought they were cliché." Clay sees Mrs. Baker walk out of the school and remembers a time he asked Hannah out to look at the Moon with him.
Meanwhile the Principal talks with Mr. Porter and seems to be more concerned with the school’s status.
In class, Clay is able to sneak out in the middle of a film showing. This opportunity arose because the teacher in charge would often take naps during class films. Clay walks out the hall to find Alex tearing down Anti-suicide posters hanging in the walls. He asks him why and if he really did what Hannah said on the tape. Alex replied with “What do you think?” They are interrupted by Mr. Porter who takes Alex away to talk about Hannah and try to find clues as to what led to her suicide. He did this beforehand with Justin and Jessica, who were the subjects of the first tape.
We then get a glimpse of the memory when Hannah and Clay looked up at the Moon after their work at The Crestmont (The Cinema). It is pretty sweet and probably one of Hannah’s happier memories. This eventually leads to Hannah calling him “Astronomy boy," which he notes is better than the usual “Helmet” that she calls him, a friendly joke in regards to the weird looking head gear he wears when he is on his bike.
Hannah then narrates the time she first sees Alex’s list where she is listed as “Best Ass," which she throws in the trash. Some other kids fish it out. She notes how it may seem like nothing, just a joke for Alex. The truth is he doesn’t understand because he’s never been a girl. Later that day, Clay joins Hannah for lunch as she is sitting alone. Hannah talks about fast forwarding to the good parts of life: to college where she could start anew. Clay thinks she’s in a good place now, noting that she made it to the hot list as “Best Ass”. He means it as an innocent compliment of course, and Hannah tries to explain to him, but being a typical teenage guy, he truly does not get it. Which is true in real life, at that age there are lot of subtleties that we don’t get.
What happens next is something that any guy would get. Later in the boy’s locker room, Hannah storms in with all the guys changing and tries to confront Alex about the list. Their conversation is cut short when Hannah is thrown out by the Coach. All the guys then surround Alex and assume that he may be getting it on with Hannah. They thought he was with Jessica, but when he says no longer, they make jokes that he left Jessica for Hannah because she puts out. It is locker room talk. Alex does not contradict them because being a lanky non-athletic boy, he is happy to be in among the guys. Clay, on the other side, looks on with contempt.
In present time in the very same locker rooms, Alex asks Clay to see him at Monet’s later.
Jessica finally got Justin out of Bryce’s and they went out shopping to buy matching costumes for what is supposed to be a school fancy dress competition the next day. Jessica is worried that Justin may not turn up again, but he promises that he will. He explains to Jessica that his domestic life is just not alright at the moment since his mom’s boyfriend, Seth, is back at his home.
At Monet’s, Clay encounters an old friend at the counter. She is a goth girl named Skye, who now works there. It seems that they used to be close, but somehow have drifted apart, just like Alex and Hannah. Skye still seems fond of him since she won’t let him pay for his coffee.
Alex then arrives and he and Clay talk. Clay asks him about the tapes and that Alex putting Hannah as "Best Ass" on the list may have led to her demise. But Alex says things may have gone downhill at the time of Jessica’s party. There is a flash of memory from Clay, of him and Hannah in bed, him taking off his shirt and the two of them kissing passionately. Clay panics and he asks Alex what she said about Jessica’s party, and if he was mentioned. Alex is perplexed and ask Clay at what point of the tape he is on. “Yours,” Clay replies. Alex is shocked at how slow Clay is. He said he listened to all of it at one night.
As to why he put Hannah on the list. Alex says it was a stupid thing that Bryce Walker started, and that he placed Hannah as "Best Ass" because he knew it would piss Jessica off. Why would he want to piss his girlfriend then? Because she won’t put out and have sex with him. The plan worked out too well, and as we all know it led to Jessica slapping Hannah in Monet’s. Alex feels guilty about the whole thing, and so far, he seems to be the only one among those who have listened to the tapes to feel so. Their talk is interrupted by Mrs. Baker and Tony walking in. This disturbs Alex, and he tells Clay not to keep on telling Tony anything because he is in it for himself and that he is not even one of the subjects of the tapes. He then storms out.
Clay then leaves and continues listening to the tapes, he goes into another location directed by Hannah’s voice, at the Blue Store liquor store.
Hannah narrates how she used to go there to buy chocolates. One time, she encounters Bryce Walker there. He pays for her sweets, but he then grabs her ass, whispering that it’s tight and he says that the list seems to be right. Hannah goes out crying, and she narrates that list may have painted a target on her, it made it open season.
Meanwhile, in present time at the same place, Clay decides to buy chocolates on his own, or some soda. Coincidentally, he encounters Bryce, who urges him to buy some liquor instead, and pays for it. When Clay goes out, he walks by Bryce, Zach, Justin, and Alex.
Justin grabs him and tells him that he should drink with them. Tony then arrives in his car, he sees Clay but does not approach. The jocks take note of this, but ignore it and force Alex and Clay to have a drinking contest. The two chug down their drinks, much to the delight of the boys. They then leave in glee. Clay is not amused and he confronts Tony for not stepping in. Tony says he seems to be having fun on his own with his “friends”. Clay rebuts that those boys are not his friends, and he tells Tony that he saw him with Mrs. Baker and he wonders what is up with that. Tony then angrily replies that he can’t do anything if Clay does not trust him. He then drives off. Clay follows him on his bike to the pier. Where from a distance he sees Tony and his brother beating up on a kid.
At Bryce’s pool house. Alex’s guilt is getting the best of him as, unbeknownst to the others, he decides to jump into the pool. At first he seemed to want to drown himself, but his mind shifts, and he then just decides to float up.
Clay returns home. Understandably, his parents are upset to see him drunk and they decide to maybe ground him. This does not stop Clay from leaving later by his window, still listening to Hannah’s voice instructing him to go somewhere.
Tape 2, Side B
Hannah's voice directs Clay to a house, which belongs to her stalker. He moves to the window of her stalker’s bedroom. Where she also sat in front of, when she recorded this part of her tape.
In present time, Clay stands in front of it. When he is shocked by a hand on his shoulder. It is Marcus, another kid from school. Clay wonders what he is doing there. But Marcus explains that he lives nearby, and that he, too, is on the tapes, so he had ventured to this window on Hannah’s instructions, as well. He saw Clay and decided to talk. All of a sudden a lights are turned in the room in the window. Clay sees that it is the bedroom of Tyler Down, a kid from school who acts as their class photographer.
So, this kid is the stalker. Marcus gives Clay a rock and tells him to take his shot like others before him did, on Hannah’s instructions, he then leaves.
Inside, Tyler’s dad is perplexed by his son’s broken window. But Tyler feigns innocence and that he does not know who does this and that his dad should just leave it alone. Of course that is not true, he is one of the subjects of the tapes, so he has listened to all of it, including that of his own.
Hannah narrates how she had been frightened by the sound of camera clicking in the darkness one night before. But she makes it clear that the pictures that were taken that night were not the reason why Tyler is in this tapes. It was because of one particular picture, which showed two girls kissing. The faces are not seen, it is obscured. But Hannah infers that it is her and another girl who is topless with only a bra on.
Somehow, Clay has a copy and looks presently at this particular picture in his laptop. He is interrupted by his Dad, who enters the room and gives him a cure for the hangover he incurred from the drinking he did the night before. His Dad also has good news for him. His grounding is delayed for now, but on the condition that he keeps the line of communication open with his parents, urging him to talk to them if he is having any problems. You know, like getting disturbing messages from a girl who killed herself.
And there is also one thing. He should keep his bedroom doors open from now on. (Seriously dad, he is a teenage boy, what if he needs special “alone time”.)
Anyway, it seems that Clay’s mom did not tell him about the delay of sentence because she had to attend a suicide prevention meeting for parents at school presided by the Principal and Mr. Porter.
One parent asked the principal about the lawsuit filed by the Bakers against the school concerning Hannah’s suicide, which they say was caused by bullying. Another parent asks if they should be worried about their children facing the same type of bullying. The principal assures the parents that relative to other schools they have no problem with bullying. One parent asked the Principal if there is no bullying, then why did that girl killed herself?”
Then a voice was heard through the room, “That girl’s name is Hannah.” People’s heads turn to the back and there standing is Mrs. Baker.
Mrs. Baker says that if you want to know why her daughter killed herself then maybe they should ask their own kids. She then reads off her phone, the graffiti she took pictures of the schools bathroom stalls.
“Bitch, slut, whore… die, these are the words carved on the bathroom they used and your kids did the carving,” she pointed out.
As a response, the school administration decided to clean the stalls…how responsible. Meanwhile, the kids at the high school are gearing up for a costume competition as all of them have gone in fancy dress to their classes. Except for Clay, who is now roaming the halls looking for Tyler. He does not succeed in finding the elusive photographer but he did get an invite from Bryce Walker to his Halloween party at his house. Tony though steps in and gives an excuse for Clay.
Later, Tony would tell Clay that Bryce and his friends just want him to shut up. Clay is not having it. He says he saw Tony and his brothers beating up a random kid, he makes it clear he does not trust someone like that.
In Hannah’s narration, a flashback reveals the time that Hannah befriended Courtney. Remember her? The two bonded when Hannah randomly confided to Courtney about her lack of sleep because she has a stalker. Courtney is interested and offers to help, saying they should set a trap.
In the present time, Clay decides to go for a different tactic. He tells Tyler to erase all of Hannah’s pictures or he’s turning him in.
Tyler says “Throwing a rock through my window is not enough?”
Clay says he did not do that, and he urges Tyler to just delete all the pictures. But Tyler shoots back and wonders if Clay has plans to turn in everyone who is in the tapes. He also reveals that he took the picture because he was in love with Hannah, and he also says that he knows Clay did as well, but he also only watched from afar, which makes the two of them not all that different.
Later that night, when taking a bike ride, Clay finds a group of kids toilet papering Hannah’s house. He stops it, but when Mrs. Baker goes outside, she assumes that he is the one who did it. She threatens to call the cops, but Clay was able to dissuade her by telling her that he knew Hannah. Mrs. Baker is caught off guard, she then decides to invite him in. Mrs. Baker tries to ask Clay if he wants to help her piece together what happened to Hannah. He freaks out, with a secret of his own, he fears how she might react, so he flees the house.
In Hannah’s narration, she tells of the trap she and Courtney had set. Which is to use a high powered flash light to blind the stalker when he takes pictures. The two girls go to Hannah’s house to spring the trap. Things escalate though as the two got rip roaring drunk, and they end up kissing each other in Hannah’s bedroom, with Courtney having her top off and just bra. She also seems to be more into it. She did not notice when the sound of a camera clicking pervaded the room. But Hannah did, she sprung the trap, and held pointed the flash light out her bedroom window. Blinding and illuminating Tyler Downs who immediately flees. Finding out that a classmate was Hannah’s stalker and that he has a picture of them scares Courtney and she also leaves.
The next day, at school. Hannah tries to assure Courtney that she will get the picture from Tyler which she did.
Tyler then asks her out, she flatly refuses him.
Unfortunately though, hell hath no fury as a photographer scorned. The picture circulates around campus, and Courtney confronts Hannah in tears. Courtney tells Hannah to stay away from her. And once again she is left with no friends. The irony was no one really found out it was them, since their faces were not shown. We also get a flashback of a time when Clay pleasured himself looking at the picture. Something he contemplates and remembers at present time.He then decides to leave for Bryce’s Halloween party. He was about to depart when he finds Tony in his house. As it turns out, his mom invited him. He had no choice but to stay, and the two in stealth, and using euphemisms, started arguing about the tapes.
After dinner, the two carry on arguing outside to Tony’s car. Tony explains to Clay that the guy he and his brothers beat up messed up with his sisters. He says from his part of town, he has to get his own justice. He then urges Clay to trust him and just listen to the tapes, because it is what Hannah would have wanted. Clay wonders how he could know this.
Tony does not answer, he merely starts the engine of his car and plays the cassette deck and Hannah’s narration started speaking as he drove off.
This prompts Clay to act and get Hannah’s justice in his own way. He goes outside Tyler’s window. He tries to decide on whether he should throw a rock through it like what Hannah would have wanted. Instead, he uses Tyler’s own tactic against him. He takes a picture of him, turned to his back, butt naked.
He then circulates the picture, ironic isn’t it?
Tape 3, Side A
“Boys are assholes” Hannah narrates in the next tape, as she remembers the time of the school dance.
“Some are assholes all of the time, all are assholes some of the time, it’s just the way boys are,“ she says. Then, as the camera pans to Clay’s face, she makes an exception. “Well maybe not all boys”. And from across the dance she smiles at him. But Clay only looks on. Until his friend Jeff sits beside him and tells him “You can go get her. If you want.”
He follows, and stands up. Hannah also stands and they meet in the middle of the dancefloor. They have a beautiful moment dancing together. Until Clay sees her bleeding, she asks for his help.
He is perplexed has no idea what to do. “Help,” Hannah cries out.
She narrates. “Boys are assholes,” she says.
Then Courtney comes running in, “I can help,” she says. Then she brandishes a knife. “But girls can be evil,” Hannah narrates as Courtney stabs her in the back.
Clay shouts, “No!” Then wakes up. It was just a dream. A dream, but still tied to what Hannah said in her latest tape, which Clay was listening to before he fell asleep. A tape which is about “nice girl” Courtney. “I hope we could be friends Courtney, I needed a friend,” Hannah said in the tape.
She then narrates the aftermath of what happened after her picture with Courtney circulated, which no one really got to figure out was them. But Courtney of course is struggling with her sexuality, which is hard for her, as she has two gay dads.
In present time, Tyler is also dealing with the aftermath of his own picture of his naked behind, circulating around campus. Naturally, he is bullied about it. He is called by Mr. Porter for counselling and he seems troubled by the “the victim blaming” and the fact that the kids who drove people to suicide are allowed to walk freely.
“Are you talking about Hannah Baker?” he asks.Tyler, though he senses the detachment and walks out.
Hannah then narrates how she tried to reach out to Courtney after the mishap, but she is ignored. Having had enough she decides to talk to Courtney and tells her that, yes she knows what she is going through and she knows how it feels like to be judged. In the end, she points out that it helps to have a friend who doesn’t judge you. It worked, because Courtney responds to Hannah, and even asks her to drive her and some other friends to the upcoming high school dance. Hannah is thrilled to have friends again and even asks her parents if she could have some money for a limo service. She is turned down though, but they did say she could use the family car. On the day of the dance, they did give her a surprise. Her dad traded in their old car for a brand new one, so Hannah would have something great to drive her new friends with. She walked into the dance with a brand new set of gal pals. If only it lasted, she might have been still alive. Things take a downhill turn when Bryce Walker talked to Hannah and Courtney and reveals that he suspects that the two of them are the girls kissing in the picture.
Later, the part based in the dream happens. Hannah and Clay end up in the dance floor at Jeff’s urging. And they had a probably cliché, but still beautiful, moment. It was another fleeting bright spot in Hannah’s life. On the other side of the auditorium, Courtney had a moment of weakness when another boy, Montgomery, talks to her about the picture. In a desperate bid to hide her sexuality, she whispers a lie in his ears about Hannah Baker.
Meanwhile Hannah is still in a great place as she dances with Clay. She cuts it short, though, when she sees Jessica drunk on the other side. After all that has happened between them, she still cares. She decided to help her former BFF, but she is blocked by Montgomery who asks her “Where is your girlfriend?”
“Sorry which Girlfriend, exactly?” she asks.
“Your girlfriend from the picture,” he says, “I hear you two like a guy between you now and then.” She asks where he heard that from, and he says Courtney and that Hannah even asked for a three way, and thus the lie took root. Hannah rebuts, but Montgomery says he think it’s true because Courtney also confirmed the rumors that Justin fingered Hannah and that she went down on him. So, one lie supports another. Hannah looks to Clay, who just stands quietly. Hannah confronts Courtney and tells her, “You don’t get to fuck with my life, because you don’t like who you are.” She then goes back to Jessica. She brings her to her car, and Jessica finally apologizes to her for slapping her at Monet’s.
Back in real time, Clay decides to do his own brand of justice again and tricks Courtney into bringing him to Hannah’s grave, and there she confronts her on what she did. She tries to explain that Clay does not know how it feels like, even when she has two gay dads. She says people might say that they turned her gay, and she couldn’t do that to them. Clay is not having it though, and she drives away in tears leaving him. Stranded in the cemetery, Clay calls on Tony to bring his bike to him. He does, but he then stupidly leaves him alone. When Clay bikes to his home alone, he is accosted on the road by Justin, Zach and Alex, who knows what he did to Courtney. They threaten him to stop this quest of getting back for all the wrongs done to Hannah. To hone the point, they put him in front of their car, while Alex speeds crazily on the highway.
They do scare Clay and he begs them to stop, but Alex continues with his speeding. It is cut short though by a cop, and as it turns out, is Alex’s dad, who lets him off. The other boys laugh, “Heard that Clay?” they chide him, “You can’t touch us, we’re bulletproof.”
Later at home Clay let what happened sink in. As he is sitting in the dark, his mom comes in and tells him that she has taken the job of defending the school against the Baker’s lawsuit. She asks him if he knows of any bullying that has happened. He has nothing to say and he sticks to the story that he really didn’t know Hannah that well. He then goes up to his room and cries in the shower, knowing that he has stood silently again.
Tape 3, Side B
Things are taking a toll on the people who have listened to the tapes. Alex in particular seems to be acting out. Last time, he went "speed demon" in the car with Clay, Justin, and Zach. Before that, he almost drowned himself in Bryce’s pool. Now, after Montgomery almost hit him with his car outside of school, he got totally aggressive and actually challenged the bigger jock to a fight. Granted, that almost getting run over would anger anyone, Alex’s behavior is getting more erratic, a direct contrast to the gentle guy we saw back then when he, Hannah, and Jessica were a trio.
Alex and Montgomery were taken to the High school Vice Principal’s office by Mr. Porter. As usual, school administration seemed more concerned about the appearance of bullying. When the Vice Principal discovers that the brawl happened out of school grounds (even if they were on their way in to class), she states that they have no jurisdiction over it. Mr. Porter suggests that maybe the student honor board should mete out the judgement, essentially pawning off the situation to their classmates.
Meanwhile, Clay is still getting flack from Justin, who is still spouting threats. Clay, though, seems to be unfazed and tells Justin that he knows where to find him. Later, as he sits dejected outside the library, another girl, Sheri asks him if he is all right. They end up talking about the brawl. The conversation then swerves towards a paper they are due to submit and that Sheri has not finished yet. Clay, who has done it, decides to help her out. They go to the library and Clay remembers a time when he was helping to tutor Jeff, the kid who urged him to go to Hannah at the dance. By chance, Jeff spots his Dollar Valentine form, a sheet of paper that you fill out and then upload to a student sponsored program that matches you with several kids in school. It is up to you if you wish to go out with the people on your list, but then you are encouraged to do so in the spirit of the upcoming Valentines Day. Because of Clay helping out with his grades, Jeff decides to do him a solid and he tried to improve his Dollar Valentine form in the hopes of getting him a good match. Clay says he is disinterested but Jeff pushes him.
Hannah also narrates the time he made her own Dollar Valentine submission and the girl behind the computer is Sheri. She is friendly and is happy to get the chance to match Hannah with someone. Weirdly, the one that comes on top is Bryce Walker, which both she and Sheri agree on won’t be a good idea to date. So instead, Sheri suggests that number two on the list, Alex, would be a great idea since he is nice. “Trust me, he isn’t,” Hannah states.
The two then go out on the hallway when Hannah receives a call from another guy from school, Marcus. Sheri is delighted and tells Hannah that she appeared on Marcus’ list, and urges her to answer it. Hannah does so, and as it turns out Sheri was right. It was a Dollar Valentine match. Marcus asks her out, and she says she’ll think about it. There is a dark foreboding though, as Hannah narrates that this is Marcus’ tape, which means we already know that this won’t end well.
In present time, we get a sense of who Marcus is since he sits as the head of the honor board, which consists of some of the top students of the school. Other members include Courtney, Clay, Sheri, and other kids. Right now, they are sitting in judgement about what to do with Montgomery and Alex. Alex wants to take responsibility and he says it is his fault. Marcus overrules him though and says that it is not his decision. The honor board suspends Montgomery from school for three days, while Alex was left off with a warning. Alex takes the judgement harder than Montgomery and acts out even more, as he angrily leaves the room, calling everyone hypocrites.
In a memory, Clay remembers the time when she and Hannah talked about the Dollar Valentines while they were at work at the Crestmont. In Hannah’s narration, she infers about maybe matching with a great guy, which is implied to be Clay. Of course, Clay is clueless about this development and he lies to Hannah about filling out the form. Unfortunately for him, Jeff stops by to watch a movie with a date at the Crestmont and he got to talking about Dollar Valentines.Hannah says that she thought Clay had not completed the form. He makes a half-baked excuse, which later prompts Hannah to text Marcus to say yes to their date.
Later, Clay meets with Sheri to help her out with her paper. Things start to escalate and they wind up in Clay’s house in his bedroom. The two end up kissing and being even more intimate, but Clay with his thoughts still on Hannah’s tape, stops it. Sheri is confused but let on that she knows more. She reveals that she knows about the tapes and that she is on them, confessing that she has done something bad, and that she hoped that even with that knowledge Clay would still like her. Clay is perplexed. He had not yet reached the point of Sheri’s tape and he thinks that she was only nice to him because of the tapes.
In the past year on Valentine’s day, Hannah narrates that Marcus made her wait for a very long time for their date at the diner. When he finally arrives, he is with his jock friends including Zach. He leaves his friends at another table and tries to make it up to Hannah. She still gives him a chance, but things take a dark turn when he tries to grope her, with the other boys watching from a distance. She pushes him away, and he mockingly replies, “No Sweat, I thought you were easy.” He then leaves with his friends. One of them stays though: Zach. He decides to sit on the booth as Hannah cries and looks at her with care.
Meanwhile at present, other people who have been listed on the tapes are getting even more messed up. Clay’s mom confronts him saying that she feels that something is wrong with him,. Clay though is evasive. Justin is having a hard time being intimate with his girlfriend Jessica, while Jessica, for her part, is slowly becoming an alcoholic. Alex is being praised by his father for “standing up for himself” and seems to be happy that his gentle son is manning up. But Alex, while lapping it up, still seems to be very disturbed.
Well, with what they have heard who could blame them?
Tape 4, Side A
The tapes are really getting to Clay. His paranoia is increasing as he continues listening and getting closer to the inevitable point wherein Hannah talks about him. What exactly did sweet Clay do? He seems like such a nice guy who actually genuinely cared about Hannah.
In the tapes, Hannah narrates about loneliness and the need to communicate. She reminisces about communication class where they have anonymous compliment bags wherein anyone of their classmates can drop a piece of paper with something nice written or drawn in it. Everyday, Hannah would receive the drawing of a familiar bunny, and with what she has gone through, she states that although it is a small gesture, it really meant the world to her. She then says that the subject of this tape is to the one who cut that vital life line, someone known to be sweet.
Clay was walking in the high school hallway when he hears Hannah say this. Coincidentally, Tony was walking towards him. Clay takes off his earphones and tells Tony that he thinks he may be listening to his tape. Tony answers with, “Let me know if you need to talk," but since paranoia is settling in, Clay thought he heard, “You’ll finally get what you deserve." Tony had to repeat what he actually said, for his part though, Clay is still disturbed and he goes back listening. He could breathe a sigh of relief though, at least for now. As it turns out, he is not the subject of the tape. The one Hannah is talking about is Zach, who showed her a great act of kindness after the disastrous date with Marcus.
It seems he sat with her when she was falling apart. Although she cried and mostly chose to ignore him, he still sat there with care. The next day he even went to talk with Hannah in the cafeteria, and he finally revealed that he was hoping that she would have been his Valentine. With what she has experienced so far, she is suspicious of Zach. “Why? Because you think I’m easy," she said echoing all the rumors said about her. Zach tries to convince her that he genuinely likes her for her, not because she’s easy or has been voted "Best Ass". She is scared to get hurt again, and she rebukes him, shouting at him as everyone at the cafeteria looks on, and his friends sees it.
He walks away hurt. It does not help that his friends even jeer at him for being a “virgin” and being desperate to lose it. Hannah watches from afar and she seems to get an idea of what she has done, but she still thinks that Zach should have had let it go.
She then talks about how her compliment bag stood empty after that. She figured that the drawings of the bunny may have been taken away by Zach. So, in what seems to an apology, she decides to write him a letter, pouring out her problems, about how lonely she felt, and that those bunny pictures were important to her because it gave her something to hang onto. She then drops the letter in her own compliment bag where she knew Zach would take a look. He got the letter, but as Hannah watched from afar, he reads it and throws it away. She confronts him, “Why me, Zach?" she shouts at him, but he merely turns his back and runs away.
Back at the present, Clay’s paranoia has gone near breaking point. During a basketball game where Zach was being the star, he acts out in front of the whole school. He ends up walking out after making a scene. Clay then spots Zach’s car and proceeds to key it. His old friend Skye catches him in the middle of it. They talk, and Clay wonders why they are no longer friends. Skye is evasive, but she says she likes this angry Clay. She then promises that she won’t tell and that he should add a question mark to the words he keyed on Zach’s car, which he does.
Hannah then narrates that time she felt so lonely that she wrote anonymous words into their class discussion bag. “What if the only way not to feel bad, is not to feel anything forever,” their teacher Miss Bradley read her words. It was a cry for help, and Skye, who understood what she felt, spoke out the truth of what it meant and that the person who wrote it was in pain. So, everyone ended up thinking it was her especially since it was written in a Monet’s napkin where she works. Hannah believed that Zach knew that it was her words not Skye’s, and wonders why he stayed silent.
Presently, in the morning following the basketball game, Zach and his angry mother go to Clay’s house. Zach’s mom correctly suspects that it was Clay who keyed Zach’s car since he was the one who made a scene at last night’s basketball game. We then see that he wrote, “Why me?” on the side of Zach’s car. Clay admits that he did it, so Zach’s mom decides to speak with Clay’s parents. Clay hangs back to speak alone with Zach. The two boys talk and that is when Zach tells Clay that Hannah is too much and that she does not always tell most of the truth. He tells Clay that he never did throw out the letter, contrary to what Hannah says in the tape. He even pulls out the letter, and shows it to Clay.
It makes one wonder how much of the things Hannah said on the tapes was real. Clay had had enough. He has his dad take him to Tony’s and he drops the box of tapes to his friends and says that he does not want to listen to it anymore. He seemed happier for a while, but his paranoia is still there. At communications class, he asks Miss Bradley about the words Hannah wrote back then, and whether if she knew, she would have helped.
Later when conducting a tour for a group of foreign exchange students with Courtney, he ends up showing Hannah’s locker and talking about her suicide.
“You see all these 'don’t kill yourself' posters up in the wall? They weren’t here before. They put them up because she killed herself. And you know why she did it? Because the kids here treated her like shit,” he rants.
“That is enough,” Justin tries to assuage him, but he’s not having it. “But no one admits it, so they paint over the bathroom, and put up a memorial because that’s the kind of school this is. Everyone is so nice until they drive you to kill yourself,” he continues.
Mr. Porter then takes him away, but not before he says to the exchange students a cheeky, “Welcome to Liberty High."
“Okay,” Justin says, “new game."
Oh Clay, you really need to take a chill pill.