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Review: 13 Reasons Why Season 4 is Mediocre Despite its Emotional Finale

June 5, 2020
5 min read
13 Reasons Why Season 5

‘13 Reasons Why’ is one of the most popular as well as the most controversial teen dramas to come out in recent times. Based on the book of the same name by Jay Asher, it begins with the tragic death of Hannah, a teenage girl who leaves behind thirteen tapes to explain why she decided to take her own life. The first season focused on Hannah’s story and with a clear-cut direction for the story, it succeeded in capturing the seemingly latent struggles of teenagers. It received criticism for possibly glorifying suicide, but that didn’t stop peoople from liking it.

From the next season, however, the show lost its focus and spread itself too thin with all the characters that it now felt responsible for. The second and the third season seemed disoriented in their approach and it seemed like, after Hannah, the storytellers didn’t know who to put at the centre of the story. In the fourth and final season of the series, they do manage to find some semblance of that balance, but it is too little and too late.

13 Reasons Why Season 4 Recap

Winston transfers to Liberty High with the intent of finding out what really happened to Bryce Walker. He has his eyes set on Clay, whose condition worsens as he struggles with hallucinations and time loss. Justin comes back from rehab, but breaks-up with Jessica to give himself some more time to recuperate. At the school, the jocks are angry over Monty’s death and under the leadership of Diego, they decide to conduct an investigation of their own. Meanwhile, the school authorities decide to impose some strict measures to ensure the safety of the students, but their methods don’t sit well with the kids.

13 Reasons Why Season 4 Review

If you have been an ardent fan of ‘13 Reasons Why’ since the beginning, sticking with it no matter what the critics or others had to say about it falling from grace after the first season, then the series finale will most certainly make you cry. It is an emotional sendoff that wraps up the school years of its characters, sending them out into the world on their own paths. It doesn’t exactly resolve their storylines in a conventional way, rather opens them up to more possibilities, giving them as much hope as it gives to the audience. It is a tear-jerker of a finale and does justice to the arcs that the characters have traced over the course of four seasons.

This season could be called a return to form, as the show does not indulge in any more mysteries. It handles the aftermath of all those that have already happened, and dedicates most of its time to focus on the characters. Of course, it also tries to keep some intrigue in it with a threat on the horizon for Clay and his friends. The season opens with a funeral, so there is yet another death to bring the characters back into the fray of the things that led to it and how it affects their lives. While in the previous season, it seemed too invested in sticking with the whodunit aspect and taking some very unexpected and rather unnecessary turns sometimes; this time around, everything is focused on the mental highs and lows of its subjects.

One of the reasons why it gets back on track is because it focuses on something that should have been explored a long time ago. The story had started with Clay listening to the tapes left by Hannah. From that point onwards, he became the string that ties everything together, and yet, somehow, his story seemed to take a backseat, with someone else’s issue steering the course of the show. In its final season, the show does right by him and puts him in the position where he has to confront his problems and seek help from others, rather than the other way around.

While ‘13 Reasons Why’ gets an extra point for the effort, it doesn’t entirely break away from the flaws that its previous seasons had suffered from. Despite its increased focus on Clay, it doesn’t quite understand how to handle the topic and, once again, tries to tackle it with the help of another mystery that is rather predictable and not so engaging. It tries something new by shifting genres; at one point, it almost turns into a slasher horror, and another time, it uses a dystopian sci-fi sequence to hint at the psyche of a character. But these things only feel like distractions, never really succeeding in being as deep and meaningful as they were intended to be.

Considering everything, the fourth season tries to tie up all loose ends giving a proper send-off to the show. It doesn’t make up for the disappointments, but, at least, it doesn’t promise another unnecessary season. It finally accepts that it has run its course, and that, in itself, means a lot.

Rating: 2/5

Read More: Is 13 Reasons Why a True Story?

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