The Netflix series should never have gone beyond season one, but at least season three has the bones of a semi-descent thriller.
13 Reasons Why was the tale of Hannah Baker’s tragic suicide and it should never have been about anything else. Season two was terrible, thanks to a desire to squeeze the last drop from characters who had no more to give, their contrived educational self-awareness (the controversies transformed the show, lumping on it an instructional spirit causing it to abandon all subtlety), and a feeling that they had no idea where to go from there. Was it really a series about the emotional fallout from the loss of Hanna? Was it a plea, a call not to arms, but rather against possessing weapons? Not even the show’s creators seemed to know. With this precedent, it was reasonable to expect the worst from a third season, the first without Hannah and with a premise heralded from the very first scene of the trailer: Bryce, the rapist and high school bully is dead, and the plot revolves around discovering who killed him. Against all odds, and without getting too carried away, it’s no marvel, it turns out the show has some redeeming features and you get the impression that it’s asking for forgiveness for previous creative choices. So, if we accept that indeed 13 Reasons Why should never have gone beyond season one, if you ignore the fact that they the desperate efforts to drag out a story full of narrative pitfalls and random plot-twists, season three is at least entertaining and has the bones of a semi-descent thriller.
The first thing that jumps put at you in season three of 13 Reasons Why is how it reboots itself to correct course and return to its original structure; there’s a dead body, plenty of motives and an in depth episode-by-episode look into the lives of those who might have had something to do with the murder. In this case, as we’re dealing with a murder, creators hit the mark by giving it an Agatha Christie vibe with the perfect thriller setting in which it could have been anyone of them, as they all had a pretext of sorts and the opportunity to carry it out. That said, the series cuts corners by being unnecessarily overwrought, it’s plagued with underwritten character development and because, once again, its self-proclaimed vocation as an essential show that takes teenage pain seriously doesn’t quite gel well with the nuances of the plot. But to be fair, it’s not all bad news. To start with, Bryce’s character and a praiseworthy effort to depict him from a different perspective in a world where everything has to be black or white, but also the very bona fide timeline leaps, playing with formats and transitioning of characters from scene to scene and remarkably and dramatically intense climaxes, in particular when it comes to offering different perspectives of the same event. But, does this redeem the show for all the mistakes of continuing a story that should have ended? No, because 13 Reasons Why seems more concerned with generating a debate than finding a soul and is the victim of Netflix’s policy of shooting thirteen hour-long episodes. But the third season at least doesn’t horse around and ends up paying more the penalty than expected for the great work of all the performers, who are often more convincing than the screenwriting itself.