13 Reasons Why (Thirteen Reasons Why): Season 2/ Episode 5 “The Chalk Machine” – Recap/ Review (with Spoilers)

Ryan being stood up for a fake Grindr date.
"I guess I left her even more lonely than she was before."
61.27% (1)

As Ryan takes the stand, we learn more about his relationship with Hannah. Alongside seeing Alex and Jessica try to retain some sense of normalcy.


Network
Netflix
Director(s) Eliza Hittman
Writer(s) Nic Sheff
Air Date 5/18/2018
Actors Introduced
Nora Walker Brenda Strong

A Seed Was Planted: Chloe, Bryce, Jessica

After Mr. Porter’s visit, it seems Mrs. Walker now has her eyes on her son. Not because she wants to believe he could be a rapist, but maybe because she had her suspicions. The kind which aren’t helped by seeing bruises on her son’s girlfriend. Though with her being a cheerleader, a valid excuse perhaps, Mrs. Walker seems to want to believe that is it.

And who knows, maybe Chloe wants to believe Bryce is a good guy too. For despite Jessica’s outburst and the rumors which have swirled, one of the key talking points this episode is loneliness. So, taking note of Bryce’s wealth, Chloe like being chosen, and the head of cheerleaders being with a jock is pretty much a high school cliché which maybe she wanted to come true, could she be in denial as well?

For while she is noted as smart, book smarts and common sense, alongside street smarts and being able to read people, aren’t one and the same.

Commentary

Nora and Chloe making small talk.
“You seem quite happy, the two of you.”

Likely those bruises came from that session Chloe and Bryce had in the last episode. But, at the same time, those are just the bruises we have seen identified. Who knows what bruises may have come in the past and with the way Chloe appears, what Bryce may or may not have done to her. That is, talking her into sex and maybe guilting her, one way or another, when she wasn’t in the mood. Because we know Bryce’s modus operandi at this point. He is just a horny guy and the girls he deals with and like are teases. So, god forbid Chloe says no. With how they make out in the library and more, it’s like she is getting set up to be seen and called a liar.

Leading to all eyes on Bryce’s dad. His talk about Chloe being loyal made me wonder what that was about. She is new so her going on trial isn’t likely to happen. So was it just in terms of loyal to him and not the family money? Could it be Nora may know something about the dad she holds because she is loyal, and the dad wants the same kind of woman for his son? Something just seems sketchy about that family.

A Return To Normalcy: Alex, Jessica, Justin, Tony, Nina

Returning things to how they used to be is of the utmost importance for many characters. Problem is, there doesn’t seem a realistic way to get them there. For Alex, his impotence seemingly isn’t cured with porn, that Jessica kiss, or talking with a cam model. For Justin, piecing together from Tony that Jessica doesn’t necessarily want to see him means they can’t get back to normal. Be it dating or friends, so why stick around?

Then for Jessica? Well, we finally see her go to group therapy and guess who she sees? Nina. Someone who also dealt with being assaulted and a lot of what Jess tries to push down and not deal with. Thus giving her a friend, if she allows her to become one, who does understand what she is going through.

And with that, it seems Jessica feels capable of sleeping in her own bed again instead of the floor of her parent’s room. Though, while stronger than before, she doesn’t deny her dad the opportunity to tuck her in.

Commentary

Jessica telling her dad she might sleep in her own bed instead of in her parent's room.
“I was thinking maybe I’d try to sleep in here tonight”

It’s interesting the way Jessica’s storyline is turning out. Not just in terms of her portrayal as a survivor, but also addressing and giving visibility to Black girls who go through what she does on a platform like this. Because, it just being out there in web series and indie movies is one thing, but this is one of Netflix’s biggest shows. So to not just have it be about Hannah and her being raped, but also these two Black girls who are struggling with dealing with it, who, in terms of Jessica, note the different take the world has because she isn’t white, is bold.

Just as much as, granted it is due to shooting himself, Alex bringing up the topic of impotence. But, like said when it comes to the whole Marcus episode, it’s kind of frustrating how the show can have multiple issues and themes in play but some being for the sake of plot and others giving a real and head on focus.

Take the whole three strike thing Tony is dealing with. Granted, he and his family seem to be into some s***, for a lack of a better way to put it. However, what led to that and addressing his circumstances isn’t really dived into. Sort of like when Justin talked to Sheri about getting him drugs. There is this subtle note about how clueless, maybe even self-centered, a lot of these white kids are when it comes to people of color, but while the show likes having a sense of realness, it isn’t trying to confront multiple fronts all at tone time.

Something that you get because with the #MeToo movement and the appalling levels of assault and even shootings over women and girls having agency, consent makes an excellent central focus. Yet, with this being an hour show, it makes you wish it would deep dive a bit more into some other topics, even if just for an episode. Jessica’s arc and Hannah’s trial aren’t going anywhere and honestly, it would be nice if every character had a life and something going on outside of their part in the trial.

I mean, look at Courtney. She has all but disappeared after her part.

In The Lonely Hours: Ryan, Hannah, Justin, Sonya

During Ryan’s time with Hannah, in a way, he found a kindred spirit. Both were lonely, on the outskirts social life at Liberty and dealing with it the best they could. Ryan through his writing, being snarky, and a bit of sass, and Hannah through writing and seeking Ryan’s validation. Well, and enjoying Justin’s attention.

Which, of course, Sonya pounces on. As soon as she gets out of Ryan who some of Hannah’s poems were for, she continues painting her as a lonely, perhaps desperate for attention, girl. Really pushing you to wonder how Sonya really feels? Is this all a job for her or does she believe what she says?

Because, the more we see of Hannah being done wrong when she just wanted a connection, much less what these kids are going through, you have to wonder how Sonya feels. For while she, as noted when she spoke to Mr. Porter last, feels like these kids know what they were doing, surely she can see she is breaking them down in ways not all can easily recover from. Case in point Ryan who, unlike Tyler, unlike Courtney, unlike Jessica, doesn’t really seem to have anyone. Tony may have some sympathy for him but who really wants sympathy when what you really want is comradery, friendship, and love.

Commentary

Ryan recollecting his time with Hannah and the companionship he no longer has.
“A soul in need needs a way to express it.”

You gotta feel for Ryan in a way. With us getting his side of the story, it seems all he wanted was Hannah to lose her dependency on some guy, Justin or otherwise, validating her. Trying to make it seem her writing could be the validating factor but, good intentions don’t always lead to good results. And considering Ryan lost a friend when Hannah took her life and seeing as how he doesn’t really have friends, it’s kind of depressing.

For while he can sleuth in and out of conversation with people, and Tony may check on him, partly because he did him a favor with getting whatever Tony burned, who does he have? The gay scene seems limited and as Cyrus’ friend noted, Ryan isn’t the kind of gay guy who is quickly and easily accepted. Which, considering how snarky Ryan can be, personal responsibility, the theme which Sonya pushes, has to be considered. But if Tyler can find his people despite his past, Courtney can provide us some kind of hint she may get a girlfriend, why can’t Ryan find his happy ending at the end of the rainbow?

Question(s) Left Unanswered

  1. Are witnesses and people who take the stand allowed to talk this much to the plaintiff?
  2. At this point, can we all agree it was likely the coach? I’m getting a sort of Rise vibe off him. That he needs his team cohesive and to win to keep his job.

Collected Quote(s) & .Gifs

A soul in need needs a way to express it. Silence is never the answer. But when there’s so much going on inside you, society expects us to stay silent.

Highlights

  1. The loneliness which is being Ryan and an openly queer person.
  2. Andy trying to be there for Olivia and the cause, even if he doesn’t fully agree with it.
  3. Jessica going to group therapy and seemingly beginning the healing process. Mentally anyway.
  4. Alex dealing with impotence.

Low Points

  1. It feeling like they don’t know what to really do with Sheri so she just exists.

On The Fence

  1. Wanting to think Bryce and Chloe are kind of cute, but also taking note Bryce is a rapist and the bruises on Chloe’s arm might not be from practice.
  2. This desire to be on Clay’s side but also realizing, like Tyler in a way, he has this weird possession over this idea of Hannah he can’t let go. But, unlike Tyler, in order to preserve the idea in other people’s minds and get vengeance, he is willing to do whatever it takes even if it puts a lot of people out of their comfort zone.

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