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Recap / Thirteen Reasons Why S 01 E 01 Tape 1 Side A

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Tape 1, Side A

Clay Jensen receives a box of tapes with messages recorded by Hannah Baker, his high school friend who recently committed suicide.
"See, I've heard so many stories about me now, that I don't know which one is the most popular. But I do know which is the least popular: The Truth."

Hannah Baker (Katherine Langford) is a teenage girl; seemingly normal, sweet and highly depressed. Her voice opens the episode, calm and collected. She tells us that she is about to take us on a journey. A story that leads to a tragic end. The end of her own life. Her story is told on a series of tapes, each explaining the reasoning or the person involved in making her choose the decision to take her own life. Listeners are given a set of rules: They must listen to each and every tape, then pass it along to the next person addressed on the tapes. If they don't, a trusted person who is not on the tapes will release them and implicate everyone else.

Her high school, Liberty High are all tense and uneasy about the news of Hannah's death. Everyone is either shocked, sad or indifferent.

We meet Clay Jensen (Dylan Minette), another student at Liberty High. He's a typical nice guy; someone who's not considered to be enough of a loser to get bullied but not a jock athlete. He's shown interacting with Hannah, complimenting her short hairstyle and saying that change can be a good thing. Through other flashbacks, we learn that Clay and Hannah worked together at the Claremont cinema. They laugh together with Hannah lightly teasing Clay often for being a nerd.

Clay tries to use his dad's boombox, something he has immense trouble trying to work out. He accidentally breaks it as his mum walks in on him trying to listen to Hannah's first tape. He remembers his friend, Tony Padilla (Christian Navarro) has a Walkman. He takes his push bike to Tony's house on the other side of town to steal his Walkman and continue to obsessively listen to the tapes. As he rides his bike, Clay is consumed with their contents and is distracted enough to crash, causing a massive cut on his forehead.

Next, we meet Justin Foley (Brandon Flynn). Justin is a popular jock, a high ranking athlete and typically charming. Hannah notes his irresistible smile and describes him as someone who made her happy until he didn't. He became her kryptonite. At a house party, Hannah is introduced to Justin through her only friend, Kat. Justin and Kat are currently dating.

Throughout the episode, we learn more of Hannah's connections. Bryce Walker (Justin Prentice), the school's top athlete and jock, is shown to be an all-round asshole and hits on Hannah immediately before his attention is drawn away. Clay has also made an appearance; something completely out of character but obviously a sign he's into Hannah. Hannah, however, is more interested in Justin and fellow jock, Zach Dempsey's (Ross Butler) play fight on the grass outside. Kat recommends Hannah try things with Zach. It seems Hannah's attention is drawn more towards her friend's other half instead.

Kat is moving away to a different state before the start of school, leaving Hannah to make new friends on her own. Hannah knows she has a crush on Justin but asks Kat her permission before pursuing her ex-boyfriend. Kat agrees, even though she thinks Zach would be a much better match. Hannah and Justin begin dating; him being a practically perfect boyfriend and Hannah being more and more into him. They meet up in a park and after much flirting, Hannah and Justin kiss after she slides down a slide in her dress.

In the present day, Clay stares at the empty playground. At the slide Hannah came down. He's followed her specific instructions on the tape and a map. Significant locations to her story.

Hannah finds out that Justin has bragged about his evening with her to all his jock friends. He's shown to have taken a photograph up her skirt as she came down the slide without her knowing. Bryce grabs his phone and sends the photo to all the contacts he can and the photo spreads through the school.

Clay begins having trouble listening to the tape. Tony arrives to confront him about his stolen Walkman but he decides to let him keep it so Clay can continue listening. Tony reveals that the tapes only get worse but won't tell him why. Clay begins to worry as he feels he was nothing but kind and genuine to Hannah. He thinks back to the first time he may have failed Hannah. After the photo spread through the school, Hannah is teased and slut-shamed. She tries to start a conversation with Clay in the cafeteria but is cruelly shunned by a jealous Clay.

Meanwhile at school, Justin appears to be buckling. He is summoned by a guidance counsellor and taken away from class. A girl named Courtney (Michele Selene Ang) watches Clay standing in the school hall, looking unsure of where to go. He can see Hannah, smiling at him in a white dress then disappear as students flood in.

This episode shows examples of:

  • Adaptation Deviation: Hannah's Urban Legend Love Life has its context changed in the series. In the book, Justin simply brags about his evening with Hannah however in the show, he brags about it but also shows Bryce and the jocks a photograph he took of Hannah coming down the slide in the park. This results in her untrue reputation of being easy.
  • Alone in a Crowd: Clay imagines seeing Hannah at the end of the empty school hallway when it suddenly fills up with people, indicating Clay feels lonelier than ever.
  • Dead to Begin With: Hannah Baker.
  • Everyone Loves Blondes: Hannah's best friend, Kat is a popular blonde student at Liberty High who ends up moving away at the end of the episode.
  • For Want of a Nail: If Hannah just followed Kat's advice and gone for Zach rather than Justin, there's a pretty good chance none of the events that happened would have come to pass. The same goes for Justin - if he hadn't have taken the photo of Hannah at the park, her inaccurate 'school slut' reputation would never have happened.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: When the photo of Hannah coming down the slide gets around the school, Justin appears to be very regretful about the situation.
  • Pragmatic Adaptation: Clay receives a large cut on his forehead in the episode which makes it easier to tell when a flashback is happening or if the scene is taking place in present day.
  • The Reveal: Justin is the subject of this tape because he sent a photo of Hannah around the school which resulted in a rumour of her being a slut.
  • Two Decades Behind: Hannah's use of cassette tapes to record on. However, she does this due to the social media overload and not wanting the content of these tapes to end up online.