The fourth and final season of Netflix‘s Thirteen Reasons Why sees Liberty High School’s Senior Class prepares for graduation. But before Clay (Dylan Minnette), Jessica (Alisha Boe), Justin (Brandon Flynn), Alex (Miles Heizer), Zach (Ross Butler), Tony (Christian Navarro), Tyler (Devin Druid), Ani (Grace Saif), and Charlie (Tyler Barnhardt) can say goodbye, they’ll have to keep a dangerous secret buried and face heartbreaking choices that might alter their lives forever.
Thirteen Reasons Why has been a young adult series known for tackling tough subjects with brutal honesty, and it’s done a great job – for the most part – of discussing issues such as mental illness, sexual assault, drug use and bullying in a way that helps its younger audience and encourages them to speak out. But by this fourth season, the characters have become defined by their issues. Clay is aggressive, Jessica can’t say anything without it being a feminist speech, and Tyler is treated like a child, and it’s getting pretty tiresome now.
After the last season, I didn’t particularly look forward to another one but I knew that the characters needed to feel guilty for their actions. But while the start of this new series’ main purpose is to do just that, it neglects to resolve anything by the end, getting lost in its plot and forgetting its roots.
Instead, this fourth season is angry and filled with elements of horror. But who is it trying to scare? Guilt may manifester itself in different ways to different people, but for a series that is already quite heavy, it all feels a little unnecessary. If it were toned down a bit, some of it could have had the desired effect but it’s just not what we needed from the final season.
With ten episodes at an hour long – and the final one running at 1 hour 38 minutes! – it was too much and too dark. Not dark in the way that the previous series have hit hard, but in a more depressing and downbeat way. It has its emotional moments and in some ways I will miss these characters, but it still felt like a betrayal to them at the same time.
There were a few things I enjoyed – the exploration of Alex’s sexuality and the prom scene at the end as everyone came together were really nice touches. But then there’s one final twist of the knife. Just like everything else that the series has looked into, it opens up another important topic and it is something else worth discussing. But for the purpose of one episode? I would have preferred it to end with more optimism. I think a young audience that has already gone through a lot with this series – and during a time of a global lockdown – needed something more positive to end with. Instead, I feel like it just wanted to end with a statement, one that I don’t think will leave any of its viewers with hope.