“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 instructed,” Hannah Baker (Kathrine Langford) explains later, “however there’s at all times one other aspect to each story.”
Variations on these sentiments are expressed again 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 greatest 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 influence 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 buddy Clay Jensen (Dylan Minnette) giving the tapes to her mother and father as they put together to sue the varsity district for indulging the poisonous environment that destroyed their daughter. By the top, it had largely used up the plot of the best-selling YA novel by Jay Asher that impressed it, and there was no actual cause to maintain going.
Nicely, there was one cause: 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 unnecessary.
So Yorkey and his collaborators choose up 5 months after Hannah’s dying, as Olivia Baker (Kate Walsh) is about to place the varsity 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 pals 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 pals. (After audio cassettes final time, this yr’s analog expertise is Polaroid photographs; I sit up for season 5, the place Clay finds extra clues about what actually induced Hannah’s dying written inside a e-book of Mad Libs.)
The repeated thought that individuals could 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 had been most within the elements of season one which labored least, and vice versa.
Or, no less than, Yorkey and firm could have determined that the weakest elements — the mysteries (and, by extension, all of the characters like Christian Navarro’s Tony who converse and act cryptically for the only goal of retaining these mysteries going), the jock bullies working like a junior Mafia — had been the simplest option to hold the story going. With every new revelation, every new flashback that provides further context to one in all 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 previous 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 robust work from so many members of the ensemble. However even that feels tainted by the hoops season two jumps by 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… nicely, Yorkey opts for a tool that regularly 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 varsity’s settlement supply as a result of it included a non-disclosure settlement.
“Hannah’s story must be instructed,” she says.
However Hannah’s story was instructed final season — imperfectly at occasions, stunningly at others. And every further cause, every further season, dilutes the influence of after we first heard it.
Alan Sepinwall could also be reached at email@example.com. He discusses tv weekly on the TV Avalanche podcast. His new e-book, Breaking Unhealthy 101, is on sale now.