“One image by no means tells the entire story,” one character insists early in 13 Causes Why season two, which debuts Friday on Netflix.
“You heard my story the way in which I wished it to be informed,” Hannah Baker (Kathrine Langford) explains later, “however there’s at all times one other aspect to each story.”
Variations on these sentiments are expressed time and again all through the early episodes of the drama’s new season, as if creator Bryan Yorkey and everybody else concerned feels pressured to elucidate the collection’ continued existence.
They need to. The primary season had its flaws — not sufficient story to fill 13 hours (an issue most Netflix dramas share, however extra pronounced right here), a penchant for ominous melodramatic warnings with no actual payoff, and a graphic scene depicting Hannah’s suicide that many viewers felt glamorized the act — however its finest moments approached the thoughtfulness and emotional energy of traditional dramas about teenagers like My So-Referred to as Life and Friday Evening Lights. However the season was additionally telling a really particular, finite story: the numerous emotionally merciless moments that drove Hannah to take her life, and the affect of her abandoning a collection of audio cassettes telling her unhappy story to the individuals she holds accountable. The primary season “solves” the thriller of why Hannah did it (as a lot as a factor like that may be), and why every member of the Baker’s dozen obtained the tapes, and it even ends together with her pal Clay Jensen (Dylan Minnette) giving the tapes to her dad and mom as they put together to sue the college district for indulging the poisonous environment that destroyed their daughter. By the tip, it had largely used up the plot of the best-selling YA novel by Jay Asher that impressed it, and there was no actual motive to maintain going.
Nicely, there was one motive: the present was a word-of-mouth phenomenon for Netflix (so far as we all know, given the secrecy about how many individuals are watching any of their content material), and an algorithm-driven firm isn’t going to surrender on a profitable product simply because it creatively is senseless.
So Yorkey and his collaborators choose up 5 months after Hannah’s dying, as Olivia Baker (Kate Walsh) is about to place the college on trial, Clay is immersing himself in a brand new relationship to attempt to stifle his grief, and two new conspiracies are afoot: one to encourage Clay and his buddies to maintain digging into the numerous crimes of king jock Bryce (Justin Prentice), the opposite to intimidate trial witnesses from naming Bryce (who raped Hannah shortly earlier than her dying) or his buddies. (After audio cassettes final time, this yr’s analog know-how is Polaroid photographs; I stay up for season 5, the place Clay finds extra clues about what actually prompted Hannah’s dying written inside a guide of Mad Libs.)
The repeated thought that folks might not have been taking a look at Hannah’s story correctly is there to justify these new episodes, however these strains inadvertently sum up the opposite huge flaw of from the beginning of the brand new season past its mere existence, by suggesting that the individuals making the present have been most within the components of season one which labored least, and vice versa.
Or, no less than, Yorkey and firm might have determined that the weakest components — the mysteries (and, by extension, all of the characters like Christian Navarro’s Tony who converse and act cryptically for the only real objective of retaining these mysteries going), the jock bullies working like a junior Mafia — have been the simplest approach to maintain the story going. With every new revelation, every new flashback that provides extra context to one among final season’s flashbacks, it begins to really feel much less like a delicate teen drama than like a kind of forgettable Misplaced rip-offs that thought the important thing to success was introducing 5 new questions for each outdated one which will get answered.
It’s actually disheartening (and led me to faucet out after solely 4 of the 13 episodes), regardless of continued sturdy work from so many members of the ensemble. However even that feels tainted by the hoops season two jumps via to maintain Katherine Langford distinguished all through. Langford was the deserved breakout star of the primary season, achingly tying the numerous totally different Hannah Bakers that her classmates noticed to the one which solely she really knew, and season one was so flashback-heavy that it was straightforward to function her rather a lot. Season two? Nicely, it options some flashbacks, albeit not as many, and for the remainder of her screentime… effectively, Yorkey opts for a tool that often performs as humorous when it’s not meant to, and that causes extreme tonal whiplash on the uncommon events when the laughs are intentional.
On the eve of the trial, Mrs. Baker tells her lawyer Dennis (Wilson Cruz) that she rejected the college’s settlement provide as a result of it included a non-disclosure settlement.
“Hannah’s story must be informed,” she says.
However Hannah’s story was informed final season — imperfectly at occasions, stunningly at others. And every extra motive, every extra season, dilutes the affect of after we first heard it.
Alan Sepinwall could also be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. He discusses tv weekly on the TV Avalanche podcast. His new guide, Breaking Unhealthy 101, is on sale now.
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