The fourth and final season of Netflix's 13 Reasons Why premieres this Friday, June 5th. The series that became so popular with teen viewers was just as often controversial for its depiction of hot-button issues like teen suicide, gun violence, rape, assault, immigration policy, and more. And given the way things left off at the end of Season 3, it looks like we can expect more envelope-pushing in the final season. Last we saw the teens of Liberty High, Clay (Dylan Minnette), Justin (Brandon Flynn), Jessica (Alisha Boe) and their friends had successfully covered up the murder of classmate/rapist Bryce Walker (Justin Prentice), placing the blame on … yes, another classmate/rapist. It's a wild scene at Liberty. With one more season to go, it appears an "I Know What You Did Last Summer"-style reckoning awaits them. But with so many loose ends and secrets to cover, here are a few key questions we hope to see adressed in the final season:
When we left off last season, the murder of Bryce Walker was ostensibly "solved," with Deputy Standall (Mark Pellegrino) pinning it on Monty de la Cruz (Timothy Granaderos), who had been put in jail for raping Tyler Down (Devin Druid) and was subsequently killed in lockup. Standall placed the blame for one murder on another dead kid because the real killer was his son Alex (Miles Heizer), who shoved a beaten and bloodied Bryce into the harbor. Jessica was there as an accomplice, and it was Zach (Ross Butler) who beat Bryce to begin with, so the three of them would have faced serious charges without the cover-up. If Season 4 is about those secrets coming to light, these three have the most to lose.
It pretty much got forgotten once Season 3 became about Bryce's murder, but things kicked off with the gang (Clay, Tony, Justin, Jessica, Alex, and a reluctant Zach) trying to cover up for Tyler's planned mass shooting at the end of Season 2. This included throwing his automatic rifles and other weaponry into a bag and dumping them into the river. In the meantime, Tyler turned his life around and ended the season in a really good place. Which is why the revelation that some fishermen recovered the bag of guns is such a dark omen. Will Tyler (and his friends) end up having to answer for his darkest moment?
If you watch the trailer for the final season, this seems to be the $64,000 question. Winston was the boy at the Hillcrest school that Monty illicitly hooked up with, then beat up, then later had sex with in a relatively more well-adjusted manner. That night with Winston turned out to be Monty's alibi for the night Bryce was killed, but now Monty is dead, and Winston knows for sure that Monty didn't kill Bryce and he got framed for it. Now Winston looks to be on a crusade to clear Monty's name, but does that mean he's behind the "I Know What You Did Last Summer" messages being sent to Clay and the gang?
Season 3 delved into some more of the show's complicated and often difficult storytelling, but the upshot was that it definitely worked overtime to try to redeem the Bryce Walker character, even as it refused to downplay all the rapes he'd committed. If you weren't super jazzed about that, then you have to be worried about Season 4 perhaps doing the exact same thing with Monty, another now-deceased rapist whose story could get told in further depth via Winston's quest to clear his name.
Season 1 was famously narrated by the audio cassettes left behind by Hannah Baker (Katherine Langford). Season 2 was alternately narrated by Hannah's various high-school classmates as they testified at the trial against the school district. In Season 3, the show introduced a whole new character in Ani (Grace Saif) just so they could have a brand new all-knowing narrator. That didn't turn out to be a super popular decision with viewers, so it'll be interesting to see how the narration duties are distributed this season. The fact that Clay will be spending time speaking to a counselor makes him a likely candidate.
The complicated love life that we've seen Jessica navigate across the first three seasons will likely be the focus again this season. She's been involved with both Alex and Justin, though by the close of last season she seemed to declare that she and Alex were Just Friends and ended the season getting cozy with Justin. But who knows what another season will bring, and whether the stress of keeping a murder and cover-up secret will push them past the breaking point.
Meanwhile, Justin has his whole drug addiction to deal with. Last season saw the reformed jock struggle with but ultimately get a decent handle on his substance abuse, but nothing ever seems to come easily to Justin, so expect Season 4 to test his resolve.
Last season's newest cast member was part of a very irritating plot device where she was made to be the all-knowing narrator of the season, which, given how new she was in everybody's lives, struck an off-putting tone. She's back for the final season, though, so here's hoping the show's writers and producers figure out a way to operate within the storylines without serving as the show's judgy outsider.
If you've been watching 13 Reasons Why long enough, you know not to trust new characters and definitely not to trust adult authority figures, who almost uniformly make terrible decisions and get awful haircuts (nope, still not over Kate Walsh's Season 2 hair). So with Academy Award-nominated actor Gary Sinise showing up to play Clay's therapist, asking Clay probing questions while Clay tries to keep secrets that could send his friends to prison, you should probably keep a wary eye on him.
Each season has employed a flashback scenario, lending the show a dual-timeline structure as it unfolds. With the first season, we saw Hannah's experience as laid out in the tapes as well as the present timeline with Clay trying to piece together the mystery over why she killed herself. Season two was the trial augmented by further flashbacks to the Liberty kids' experiences with Hannah. Season 3 was before and after Bryce's murder. What events will end up as the flashbacks for this home stretch of episodes?
Bryce's death seemed pretty final, and there certainly can't be much more to say about the guy after Season 3 probed every corner of his life. But the show really seems attached to actor Justin Prentice, so don't be surprised if Bryce finds a way to assert himself into either flashbacks or perhaps as a manifestation of a guilty conscience, like Hannah did to Clay in Season 2. Speaking of which…
No shade intended towards Christian Navarro who plays Tony, but the actor is 28 years old in real life, and he's emblematic of just how visibly not-teenagers a lot of the cast members are. Ross Butler is 30; Brandon Flynn, Justin Prentice, and Miles Heizer are 26. Dylan Minnette and Alisha Boe are the babies of the cast at 23.
Katherine Langford's performance as Hannah was such an integral part to 13 Reasons Why becoming the hit that it did. Hannah leaving after Season 2 made sense, considering they'd already gone a full season past her death, but with this being the final season, you would expect Hannah to show up in some form before it's all over, if only to tie up the show's themes in the home stretch.
The fourth and final season of 13 Reasons Why drops on Netflix this Friday, June 5th.
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Joe Reid is the Managing Editor at Primetimer and co-host of the This Had Oscar Buzz podcast. His work has appeared in Decider, NPR, HuffPost, The Atlantic, Slate, Polygon, Vanity Fair, The Herald Sun, Vulture, The A.V. Club and more.