13 Reasons Why: The Case for Tyler Down

While Katharine Langford won’t return to reprise her role as the tragic teenager Hannah Baker, there are still many other characters in Netflix’s 13 Reasons Why with stories to tell, particularly Tyler Down. Of all the kids at Liberty High School, few have gone through more of a change than the photography student. Initially earning our deep hatred after snapping a pic of Hannah having a teenage moment with Courtney, he has since gone through much more in season 2.

This time around, Tyler is more than just the weird photography kid who gets picked on- early on, he befriends the mischievous punk kid Cyrus, leading to a series of daring things the old Tyler would’ve never signed on for. It ultimately gets to his head when he posts pictures of him and Cyrus during their quest of vandalist vigilante on the baseball field.

We’re brushing through the first 25 episodes of this show, because let’s face it: most of what’s worth talking about with Tyler goes down in the second season’s finale.

In the first part of “Bye”, it seemed to be paving towards a more uplifting ending than last year. Mrs. Baker relocated to New York (inspired by her daughter’s ambitions), Jess got comfortable enough to tell her story, and Clay finally seemed to be moving on from Hannah’s tragic death.

And then there’s Tyler.

After being sent away to a special facility for at-risk teens, Tyler makes his return to Liberty accompanied with a new attitude and haircut. Unfortunately, jock Montgomery resurges as a villain, revealing to be behind that failed attempt to hit Clay with Bryce’s truck. He officially rises to Bryce’s level when he attacks Tyler in the school bathroom and sexually assaults him with a mop. Unbelievably enough, that’s not the the most jaw dropping Tyler moment in the finale.

Since the get-go, 13 Reasons Why has been built upon tackling serious issues, and the writers took yet another risk in the final scene. After the incident in the bathroom, Tyler’s dark side reaches its peak when he loads up his car with firearms and heads to the school dance ready to put Liberty High School in the news once again. As if the show couldn’t get any more unpredictable, Clay confronts him steps from where the dance is happening. Somehow, he talks Tyler out of doing it, then gets Tony to escort him away in a getaway car in a scene that raises eyebrows of the show’s critics (psychologists have said students should not approach would-be school shooters to talk them down). Needless to say, this ending brought in a heap of controversy the show has become more acquainted with than the kids at Liberty and bullying.

First trying to cook up conversation with teen suicide, the writers have built Tyler’s arc this season to introduce the all-too-relevant topic of school shootings. It appears season 3 will certainly continue to focus on him, especially since it’ll be a whole new ballgame now that Hannah is officially out of the picture.

I won’t weigh in too much on the controversy, but will point out that 13 Reasons Why’s second year paled in comparison to its first year, even amongst its supporters who’ve stood by the series’ handling of touchy subjects. Since this year went beyond the events of Jay Asher’s novel, there’s no blueprint for where this show will go in the future, but season 3 will probably not be a grand time for the emotionally tattered Tyler. Then again, maybe there’s a chance he’ll be ok in the end, considering everything Bryce did and all he got was 3 months of probation.

The Netflix series is set to come back in 2019.