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13 Reasons Why Season 4 Ending, Explained

June 5, 2020
6 min read

After three seasons of twists and turns, ‘13 Reasons Why’ comes to an end with the fourth and final run. The season focuses on Clay and his friends as they deal with the aftermath of Monty’s death and the subsequent investigations into it. Its prime focus is on Clay, whose mental health progressively deteriorates and reaches its breaking point in the final episode. A shocking death also gives emotional weight to the finale. If you haven’t caught up with the show yet, head over to Netflix. SPOILERS AHEAD

Plot Summary

Clay struggles with Monty’s death, finding himself responsible for it. As his health worsens, he decides to not share it with his friends, lest they think he is weak. He wants to be there for them, but doesn’t understand that before helping them, he has to help himself. Winston transfers from Hillcrest to Liberty High to find out the real killer of Bryce Walker and clear Monty’s name. Meanwhile, Clay picks up a fight with the jocks, who decide to retaliate with full force. Tensions arise between Jessica and Justin, and Alex discovers a different side of himself.

The Ending

After getting back prom, the students of Liberty High are in the mood of celebration. However, the high spirits are ruined when Justin falls sick. It turns out that he is dying and there is no helping him. Clay, who had been getting better after he discovered his problem of dissociation, once again, falls into the pit of grief and trauma and almost gets himself killed. Winston finds out what he was looking for, but exposing the truth turns out to be trickier than he had imagined.

What It Means for Clay and His Friends

In the previous seasons, every finale had led to the revelation of some overarching mystery that created more questions for a follow-up season. This meant that every time, a twist waited for the audience. This time, however, the show wraps up everything, answering the fate of every character with an optimistic certainty.

The season began with the threat of Winston looming over Clay and his friends. He was adamant to find out about what really happened to Bryce Walker, so that he could clear Monty’s name, who he knows was framed simply because he happened to be the most obvious option. He was joined in this quest by the football team who decided to make Clay suffer after an altercation with him in the canteen.

No matter what Monty did to Tyler or anyone else, to his friends, he was a good person who didn’t deserve to take the fall for a murder he had nothing to do with, and then die because of it. They were all focused on Clay, who had also been a prime suspect for the cops before the investigation was directed towards Monty. Even if he didn’t kill Bryce, they figured that he knew the person who had and this made him complicit in it.

In the end, however, this problem is resolved because the people who were the most curious about finding out the truth fall in love with the people they were looking for. To get inside the group, Winston sparks a friendship with Tyler, which extends to Alex. At the time, he didn’t know that Alex was the one to push Bryce to his death, and falls in love with him. Meanwhile, Diego expresses his attraction for Jess, who decides to be with him to find out what he knows and to stray him away from the truth.

Diego comes to know about Jessica’s involvement during the school protest. She is on the frontlines, but Justin pulls her back, telling her that she can’t get arrested. Diego deciphers the meaning of this, and because he is in love with Jess, he finds it difficult to accept that she is the one responsible for what happened to Monty. Winston, too, deduces, though mistakenly, that Jessica killed Bryce. She had the motive and her rage was not a secret to anyone. However, before he could share this theory with the cops, Alex comes forward and throws him in another dilemma. Winston wanted revenge for Monty because he loved him, but by the time he finds out what happened, he also falls in love with Alex, whom he doesn’t want to hurt anymore.

Another person to be unsure of the truth about Bryce’s death was Officer Diaz. He couldn’t buy the situation with Monty and the fact that Officer Standall didn’t record the interrogations also bugs him. At one point, he even thinks about reopening the investigation, but eventually, decides against it. This means that there is no one investigating Bryce’s death anymore. The secret is safe, and there is barely any chance for it to come back and bite Alex or Jessica.

This also gives a fresh start to the characters, coupled with the timing of college. They will be going away to different places, leaving behind all the baggage in their hometown and making new friends and relationships in new places. Clay will continue to work on his issues. He has gotten better over time, but the fact that he still sees dead people means that he still hasn’t completely let go of all the trauma that he had to witness since Hannah’s death. He has a lot of work to do, but there is hope.

Another person to be haunted by ghosts of the past was Jessica. She started seeing Bryce ever since she burned the tape that he had left for her. He would appear to her in the most inopportune of situations and worsen the brunt of whatever tragedy she would be going through at the time. What really bothers her is the feeling that he can still, somehow, control her life, which means he won.

In the end, however, she decides that she has had enough of him. She bids him goodbye, telling him that he can never win. She has overcome the things that had been holding her back and is ready to get out into the world. The same goes for Tyler and Alex, as both of them have come to terms with some important things in their lives, and more importantly, have forgiven themselves for their past transgressions. It is a brave new beginning for all of them.

Read More: Where is 13 Reasons Why Filmed?

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