Second to the stand is Courtney Crimsen (Michele Selene Ang). In the grand web of how everyone connects to each other – and thus to Hannah – Courtney was in a set of photographs that Tyler, who has already testified, took while stalking Hannah. While that might not sound like much, the pictures showed Courtney and Hannah kissing, and Courtney, unwilling to deal with the fallout of the inevitable rumors, spread her own about Hannah.
It all comes back to haunt her when she’s forced to testify. As Mr. Porter later points out, she’s essentially forced to come out while on the stand. Though she makes a solid case for herself, pointing out that the school did nothing to stem the harassment that Hannah suffered after the photos spread, the defense goes into offensive overdrive. When Sonya (Allison Miller) repeatedly suggests that Hannah herself might have been the bully and pressured Courtney into the kiss, Courtney buckles, confessing that she’d had a crush on Hannah.
It’s painful to watch, as it’s obviously not on Courtney’s own terms. Earlier in the episode, she’s seen still pretending to her dads that she’s into guys, but luckily, they take the revelation well, immediately renting Desert Hearts and Blue Is the Warmest Color for a family movie night. Not the best choices, maybe, but hey, at least they’re trying!
As contrary as it might seem in a show that’s predominantly about teens, the parents are starting to emerge as some of the more interesting figures. They all seem to want what’s best for their children (see: Tyler’s dad trying to bond with him by playing video games), but actually getting to a place where frank discussion is possible isn’t easy. This episode sees Olivia (Kate Walsh) still struggling with guilt and grief, both of which are compounded by the ongoing trial. As she invites Jackie (Kelli O’Hara) to stay with her for the duration of her time in town, they come across the dress Olivia had been wearing on the day Hannah had committed suicide, still covered in Hannah’s blood. Jackie misinterprets their conversation about moving on and washes the dress, prompting Olivia to break down and retreat back to the pharmacy, sharing a mini pity party with Tony. She’s just not ready to move on.
And neither, ugh, is Clay. While I’m happy to see Hannah in more than just flashbacks, this weird Casper the Friendly Ghost routine with Clay is a little flimsy if only because Clay’s whole deal is flimsy. He’s a bad boyfriend to Skye, who deserves so much better. Sure, he’s a teenage boy, but he should still know better than to be in a relationship when he’s so clearly not over his last one. I also can’t help but feel that the show itself is treating Skye a little too flippantly, too: When Clay catches up to Skye only to find her being carted into an ambulance, Ghost Hannah says, “You really do have a thing for complicated girls.” A little reductive, isn’t it?
Jess’s storyline is handled with more care. Adjusting to being back at school isn’t easy, especially as her biggest source of support, Alex, doesn’t seem to understand what she’s going through, and because the threats against her are becoming more frequent. Then there’s Chloe (Anne Winters), Bryce’s new girlfriend, who seems to believe the rumors that Bryce spread that his encounter with Jess was consensual. That said, Jess only repeats back what other people say to her in disbelief; hopefully she’ll be given more agency as she takes it back for herself.
Like Alex, for instance, who is starting to get on everyone’s case about keeping him in the dark. He lashes out at Clay, who feigns ignorance, as well as at Zach, who has been helping him with his physical therapy (and is doing his best, as a jock, to stay out from under Bryce’s thumb, though it seems nigh impossible). The only person he stays on good terms with is Tyler, who shows him the photos taken while he was in a coma after his suicide attempt. The pictures – kept off-screen in a rare instance of subtlety – seem to shake Alex, who asks, “Why did I do this to myself?” Tyler’s answer: “You didn’t do this. Everyone else at this school did.” I’m not sure that Tyler is entirely on the money here, but I’ll reserve any further judgment for now.
At the least, he’s right about the general culture at the ironically named Liberty High. Mr. Porter, who thus far has been utterly ineffectual, seems to be the only adult truly concerned with creating a healthy environment for the kids. The baseball coach just wants his jocks to have their usual free reign, and the principal wants to stay on Bryce’s father’s good side as the school expands. Even the kids are skeptical of Porter, given what’s known about his part in Hannah’s tapes, and he may find himself in even more hot water soon: The logbook page for the last time Hannah visited him seems to have gone missing.
• Besides floating the idea that Tyler could transfer schools, Mr. Down also refers to video games as “vids.” It isn’t much of a joke in and of itself, but seeing Tom Everett Scott in anything is always a joy, and again, the parents on 13 Reasons Why are one of the low-key best parts of the show.
• Tyler IDs the people in Clay’s mystery Polaroid as students who’d been seniors while they’d been freshmen, which suggests that this pattern of abuse has been going on for a few years at the very least.
• Tyler also makes a friend in Mr. Porter’s class – which seems to just consist of team-building exercises – in a very punk rock-looking kid who mercifully doesn’t needle him about the deposition, or anything that came before it.