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13 Reasons Why: Tape 1, Side A

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By: Nicole Dintelman

If you could go back and change one comment, one decision, one moment that set a series of events into motion, would you?

Netflix premiered it’s new Drama “13 Reasons Why” on Friday, March 31, 2017, much to the streaming communities delight. All thirteen episodes of the series dropped at once so viewers were able to spend the weekend binging their hearts out, and boy did we ever take advantage! The show, based on a 2007 best selling book by Jay Asher, dives deep into all of the important issues from sexual assault to suicide – at times barely leaving viewers enough time to catch their breath while reaching for tissues.

Hannah Baker (Katherine Langford), a high school Sophomore, tragically commits suicide and much to everyone’s surprise has left behind a cassette tape diary as to why she decided to make this decision. Each episode follows Clay Jensen (Dylan Minnette) as he navigates his way through the tapes and tries to figure out why the girl he was secretly in love with decided to end her own life.

We’re going to break down the episodes for you one by one, so let’s get started with Episode 1, shall we?

This is not just ANY Package.

In the first episode, we find Clay at the school gazing at Hannah’s locker that students have decorated with cards, notes and photos. Seems like a nice and normal thing for high school students to do for a fellow classmate that has just died. Clay’s gazing is interrupted by a puffy eyed boy we later learn to be Justin Foley (Brandon Flynn), school basketball star and resident heartthrob. “You’re not that innocent Jensen. I don’t give a s**t what she says.” Of course, Clay has no idea what Justin is talking about and neither do we…until Clay gets home.

When Clay arrives home he finds a package on his doorstep. When he opens it he’s surprised to find thirteen cassette tapes; who uses cassette tapes anymore? It’s the digital age! You can record a lot more onto a CD, but there is a reason Hannah used cassettes. One person, i.e. one reason, equals one cassette. Clay also finds a map that he initially tosses aside not thinking that it’s important, but he finds out later that it is. Desperate to learn what is on the tapes, he finds his dad (Josh Hamilton) and asks if he can borrow “his radio thing.” This is where if you’re over the age of thirty you might have started giggling because some of us are old enough to remember boom boxes and cassette players! Once he locates the radio he pops in the tape and presses play. Ultimately, he freezes because it’s Hannah’s voice he hears. “Get a snack, settle In.” Did you all get chills because we sure did!

Justin Foley Welcome to your Tape.

Clay soon learns that these tapes are essentially Hannah’s suicide letters. She has left behind thirteen reasons, or thirteen people, that she ultimately blames for what led her to take her own life. Having only listened to the introduction, his mom (Amy Hargreaves) comes in and scares the bejesus out of him and he knocks the radio off of the counter in the garage. Obviously, he has to make up an excuse about a project he’s working on with Tony (Christian Navarro) as to why he’s in the garage listening to tapes. Once Clay is back in his room he realizes the radio is broken so he heads over to Tony’s to borrow (steal) the walkman he saw in his car earlier that day.

After Clay retrieves the walkman he realizes he needed the map that he carelessly discarded when he first opened the box so back home he goes. However, biking and tape listening doesn’t mix and to avoid oncoming traffic he swerves and hits a parked car. Did anyone else see the huge dent he put in the car when he rolled over it? We wonder if he left a note…Anyway, back home he grabs the map and once again in walks helicopter mom and she sees he’s bleeding and wants to give immediate first aid. Clay assures her that he’s fine and rushes out, heading directly back to Eisenhower Park which is where we learn Justin Foley is the subject of Tape 1.

Party at the New Girls House!

Since this show is Clay listening to Hannah tell her story it wouldn’t be complete without flashbacks. Hannah and Clay met working at the Crestmont, a local movie theater in town. It was there that Hannah invited Clay to her “mandatory” party she was having at her house that night. Hannah’s party is also where she first laid eyes on Justin, her best friend Kat’s (Giorgia Whigham) boyfriend. Kat had arranged for Hannah to have a blind date of sorts with Justin’s friend Zach Dempsey (Ross Butler), but Hannah only had eyes for Justin. We guess it was a good thing Kat was moving two thousand miles away and Justin would soon be available. However, maybe if Kat would have stayed around Hannah would still be alive.

“Justin, you were in love with my friend Kat. My only friend.” When Hannah refers to Kat as her only friend we knew that her moving away would have a big impact. Now don’t get us wrong, Justin seems like he could be a really sweet guy, but when Hannah says that “being Kat’s boyfriend was the only remarkable thing about you” she kind of hit the nail on the head. Then again, when a girl decides she wants to date a boy sometimes there’s no talking her out of it. The entire time we’re all wishing she would just look at Clay the way she was looking at Justin.

A Night of Firsts.

Once Hannah and Justin’s flirting led to texting and an intercepted phone call by Hannah’s mom (Kate Walsh), they agree to meet up that night at Eisenhower Park. Of course, Hannah was your typical girl and beside herself because she just scored a date with the hottest guy in school; little did she know that date would be the beginning of the end of things for her. By Hannah’s excitement, we could tell this was her first major meet up with a boy she really liked so it was understandable that she’d dreamed of their first kiss beforehand.

Hannah made a few mistakes that night. It could be argued that her first mistake was going at all, okay we’ll give you that one. However, we think Hannah’s first mistake for a meet up in the park was wearing a skirt. Sure, she wanted to look cute but how about a pair of jeggings girlfriend? Second, never ever ever go down the slide in a skirt! What was she thinking?!?!? Lastly, why go down the slide in a skirt when said crush is taking pictures of you? Obviously, this is going to end badly. Clearly, none of these things were on Hannah’s mind and once she reached the end of that slide she got her first kiss…and only a kiss. “Why, what did  you hear?” Hannah asks on the tape.

Justin the Jerk.

Okay, maybe that’s harsh, but then again it’s not. Justin’s boys were giving him a hard time about what “base” he got to with Hannah the night before so he showed them a picture of her sliding down the slide which was taken totally out of context. However, let’s be honest, wasn’t that exactly what he was trying to accomplish? Bryce Walker (Justin Prentice) grabs Justin’s phone and says he’s going to send it to the entire school. Justin tells him not to, but really doesn’t do much to try to stop him and with the push of a button Hannah’s reputation is ruined along with the memory of her first kiss.

While Clay has been listening to all of this he has has been followed around town to each of his destinations. Finally, once he finishes the tape his stalker reveals themselves and surprise surprise it’s Tony. Clay, still trying to figure out how he fits into this entire thing, is even more confused as to how Tony is involved. Tony also lets Clay know that he’s aware he stole his walkman and he’s fine with it. One thing is clear though, now that Clay knows the truth he has a hard time looking at Justin the same as he did before.

A show with mystery, suspense, flashbacks, drama and social issues; is there anything better?

It’s clear Hannah is telling a story so it’s going to be interesting to find out who is the subject of Tape 1, Side 2. Hopefully, Hannah also goes more into how Tony fits into this, as he told Clay he’s not on the tapes. Well if he’s not on the tapes then why did he listen to them and why is he following Clay around? Right now, Tony is just looking really shady to us and we really want to know his agenda here.

When Clay first started listening to these tapes how many other viewers out there wished they had that option to hear from a loved one for one last time? We think it’s something we’d all jump at if we had that chance. This show really delves into that. Hannah has left behind thirteen tapes that are very detailed. Sure, they’re about individuals whom she thinks did her wrong in some way, but for those that truly loved her it is a gift to hear her voice again.

After watching the premiere it is clear that this is going to get messy.

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