Since the new season of 13 Reasons Why premiered last Friday I have spent much of my free time watching all thirteen episodes. Season 2 picks up five months after Season 1 and follows the trial. The events surrounding Hannah Baker’s suicide are retold from the perspective of each character as they take the witness stand.
Bad things come to light about characters that seemed good. Good things come to light about characters that seemed bad. Some of the thirteen were vilified on the tapes while others were hardly mentioned. I decided to call them out in this list of the 13 real villains of 13 Reasons Why.
- Principal Bolan – Mr. Porter’s teary testimony is shown in stark contrast to Mr. Bolan’s icy attitude about Hannah’s death. Mr. Bolan tells Clay, “…the most dangerous thing would be to believe somehow that Hannah’s suicide is more than a tragic death. She’s not a hero. She does not have lessons to teach us. And we need to recognize the sad and simple truth that she is dead and gone forever.” Now that’s harsh.
- Tony – Tony was the Yoda to Clay’s Luke in the first season. Clay struggled to hold it together as he oh-so-slowly made his way through the tapes. Tony had a way of showing up whenever Clay needed him the most. Tony was a calming force ready to offer words of wisdom and a lift in his classic Mustang. By the time we caught a glimpse of his violent side in Season 1, we liked him so much that we were willing to assume that there was a good explanation. There was. Sort of. Still, the revelation that Tony was capable of such violence was like learning that there is no Santa.
- Andy Baker – Her family was the one part of Hannah’s life that seemed to be pretty good. Turns out that her father had an affair six months before her suicide. Oh, she knew. He was careless enough to do it somewhere that Hannah spotted him and his girlfriend. This Season 2 revelation gets sadder the more you think about it. Andy’s affair shocked the audience because there was no hint of it in Season 1. Why not? Season 1 was told from Hannah’s perspective and it was through her eyes that we saw the Bakers’ marriage as happy. She must have forgiven him because both parents appeared on the ‘Why Not’ list. Still, it must have been devastating. Good going, Dad.
- Mr. & Mrs. Down – They care about Tyler and they know that he is having trouble at school. How could they not after the broken windows, the angry music, the “Assholes” shirts, and the “BB” guns? Yet they are oblivious to the seriousness of the problem. They don’t notice that Tyler has amassed an arsenal of weapons in their own house. Nor do they ever discover his stalker-like photographs. Ever think about doing a little digging around in his room guys? They want to help, but they’re clueless. Mr. Down floats the idea of sending Tyler to a different school but lets it go when Tyler protests. Bad move, Dad. Really. Bad. Move.
- Deputy Standall – His failure to keep his gun secure allowed Alex to use it in a failed suicide attempt in Season 1. In Season 2 Deputy Standall teaches gun safety to Tyler and Cyrus after the boys are caught shooting guns in the woods. This begs so many questions… How did the Deputy not see through the flimsy BB gun story? Why does it not seem like a terrible idea to teach two angry outcast teens how to handle guns? How does this guy still have a job?
- Mrs. Dempsey – There are students at Liberty High who drink and do drugs. They have tattoos and hook up with an alarming number of people. But not Dempsey’s son. He wouldn’t such things. Zach is actually a good guy though not as squeaky clean as his mother thought. I couldn’t help but wonder: If Zach hadn’t been cowed by his super-strict upbringing, would he have had the courage to stand up to his friends?
- Coach Rick – Coach Rick cultivated the toxic culture on the baseball team. We don’t ever see him doing something positive. He rigs drug tests for his players, covers for Bryce, and extorts Mr. Porter. This is all done under the guise of the team being a family. He gave the boys access to the infamous Clubhouse, but remained willfully ignorant of what went on there.
- Amber Foley – We can all agree that she is the worst parent on the show. You can’t even say that she had good intentions or that her mistakes were made out of love. Oh, she loves Justin, but her addiction takes precedence over everything. What makes this story line heartbreaking is that Justin has good in him despite the crappy things that he did. Maybe if he had different parents…
- Seth – Amber Foley’s drug dealing boyfriend is awful in every way. He is physically and verbally abusive to Justin and Amber. If Justin had a better male role model than Seth, would he have done what he did to Hannah? Would he have been friends with Bryce?
- Mr. & Mrs. Walker – There is one true villain in this show and these two raised him. Their wealth and absentee parenting turn out to be a recipe for disaster when it comes to Bryce. How hands-off are they? Neither appears on the show until the second season.
- Chloe – She doesn’t see Bryce for what he was in the beginning so we can kind of forgive her bitchiness toward Jessica. Chloe’s persistent stupidity is pitiable until we see that she can be bought with a free vacation. In the end, we know that she knows that Bryce is a rapist. She had an opportunity to try to stop him and bailed at the last minute.
- Olivia Baker – Hannah’s mother isn’t a villain, but then neither were many of the teens that she put through the wringer for a second time with the trial. There are two things that bothered me about her character and that is one of them. The second is that she does a lot of finger-pointing at the school, but most of the incidents that led to Hannah’s suicide took place on the Bakers’ watch.
- Hannah – Hannah doesn’t belong on this list any more than Tony or her mother, but lets play devil’s advocate. There is a scene is Season 2 in which Clay freaks out at ghost Hannah, saying that what she did with the tapes was evil. He had a point. Not everyone on those tapes deserved the weight of Hannah’s death on their conscience. What bothers me most about Hannah is that she watched from the closet while Bryce raped Jessica and didn’t help. She may not have fallen victim to Bryce herself if she handled things differently then. And why (WHY?) would she go and hang out at the house of a person who she knew raped her unconscious friend?