Was, or rather is, Alex really the ass that Hannah paints him as? Is Justin such a bad guy? It seems just like they didn’t know the effect they had on Hannah’s life, Hannah didn’t know how terrible their lives were either.
Episode Focus: Humanize (Justin & Alex)
Justin’s mom is a bit of a deadbeat who dates meth addicts and Alex? Well, it seems to cure his loneliness, get a sense of belonging, and to obtain some masculine validation, that is part of the reason he hangs out with Zach and Justin. I mean, his dad is happy he has male friends and, so it seems, that matters to Alex.
But what about what both did to Hannah, you may say. Well, from what it seems, like Clay, both were just accomplices to someone else’s actions. Of which, for both, it seems Bryce is the one to really point fingers at. He started the list and surely, based off his boisterous nature, he was the one loud and proud about Justin and Hannah making it. Probably the one who embellished on the details about what she and Justin did.
Though, you gotta remember. It isn’t just what was said that hurt Hannah, but also no one apologizing or saying it wasn’t true. For that is what validated the rumors and led to her being assaulted by Bryce [note]Dude takes a firm grip of her ass to the point you know there had to be a conversation between the actors cause that moment seemed hella uncomfortable[/note]. Also, it is what pushed Hannah more and more into a position of being ostracized and with the loss of each friend, and seemingly Clay not making up for Hannah’s loss, well… you know the end result.
This show is really complicating things. In the books, everyone is just an ass because we are told by both Hannah and Clay they are an ass. In the show, though, we get background stories, see and hear them and it makes it so they are not as easily damnable. Plus, to be honest, as much as you note what effect they have on Hannah, you almost want to take on their opinion of her going overboard.
What I mean by this is, Alex’s list is said to have started the butterfly effect and, in the books, is noted as providing people a reason or excuse. Yet, Bryce would have been the way he is with the list or not. Jessica has shown to be insecure, and perhaps maybe cautious of Hannah, whether the list existed or not. Plus, considering that list has a multitude of people’s handwriting, and was started by Bryce, I find it weird that Alex is getting most of the blame. Much less, as Clay noted, the handwriting was of multiple people so how did Alex get narrowed down? Just because Hannah and Jessica were on opposite ends?
I mean, considering Alex doesn’t look like he is part of the group but just an adopted member, who is to say people weren’t screwing with him? Maybe, on his behalf, pissing off Jessica since she wouldn’t have sex with him. Though I should note, he comes out and says he put the name down but, when Hannah was alive, it doesn’t seem like anyone was really taking credit for the creation, survey, and circulation of the list.
But don’t get me wrong, I see Hannah’s point in the grand scheme of things. It is just, with us seeing the other sides to the various stories, it makes it hard to be absolutely loyal and on her side. Even if she ended up dead because of their actions.
Subplot 1: Either Get Recruited or Beaten Down (Justin)
With Justin trying to protect Bryce, he already is kissing up and trying to make Alex part of the crew so there will be some kind of bro code of no snitching. However, as Jessica noted, Clay has no reason not to snitch. He isn’t friends with anyone on the tapes and, assuming this follows the book, he won’t come off as a strong factor behind Hannah’s suicide. So Justin is pretty much on two lanes of thinking. Either Clay becomes part of the crew or he gets jumped to the point he fears the retribution for speaking out. There are no other options.
With this show being part adaptation and sort of like a spin-off [note]Is there a proper term for a continuation of a story, but which happens in the middle of the original?[/note], so comes some rather polarizing decisions when it comes to fleshing out characters who were talked about and not actually heard. With Justin and Tony, we get that. Justin shows himself as not some guy who just didn’t deny he had sex with a girl, much less let a panty shot photo spread [note]Well, Bryce was the one who did that[/note] but an ass.
And while there is a part of you which wants to justify how he wants to handle Clay because of us seeing his mom and learning about his home life, it is hard. For while Alex, you can tell, if he knew an apology or slap in the face could take everything back, he would do it. As for Justin? There doesn’t seem to be remorse. What weighs on him is the consequences of both his actions and inactions. Making you wonder, depending on whether this show decides to continue to burrow into the book or create its own storylines, what will ultimately happen to Clay as he learns enough to take these people down? Especially Bryce.
Subplot 2: What Is Tony Doing? (Tony)
With Tony holding the 2nd set of tapes, hanging around Olivia, feeding her some information, and also being seen by Clay beating up on someone, needless to say, Tony is the most eyebrow-raising character. For while he isn’t on the tapes, and barely in the book, the show has expanded his character into someone you can’t necessarily put your finger on. Not to the point he is a wildcard but, you gotta wonder, what in the world did they turn him into?
Tony’s character has been massively upgraded and has become a slightly odd, and kind of polarizing figure. As a guardian angel as Clay goes through the tapes, his character makes sense. Especially with Justin’s ill intentions. However, with him talking to Olivia, this whole lawsuit thing, and us watching him beat down somebody like he is part of a gang or something, there is a lot which doesn’t make sense.
In fact, it is sort of weird with it being clear Tony is from “The other side of the tracks,” and him being some form of Latinx or Hispanic, watching him jump someone. For it is hard to tell if the show is trying to establish Tony isn’t a saint or maybe the town has secrets outside of Hannah’s suicide, or what is the point of Clay seeing this side of Tony. I mean, a red flag isn’t necessary yet, but I do feel the need to look for it just in case.