13 Reasons Why Season 2 is changing up its plot device: instead of tapes from beyond the grave, this next run of episodes will be centered on polaroids. The new storyline for Netflix’s controversial teen series is said to focus on accountability, with the show this time honing in on serial sexual assault. All this adds up to Bryce Walker having to pay for his crimes – and the new retro technology could be the thing that brings him and the other guilty students of Liberty High down.
Hannah Baker certainly attempted to get people talking about the shady goings-on at her school, but in the end, it wasn’t enough: while her cassette tape confessional turned some students against each other and has seemingly set her mother on a mission to uncover the truth, Hannah’s accusations basically boil down to he/she said. Many of her former friends and classmates accused her of lying, and in the case of Zach Dempsey, we learned definitively that Hannah’s version of the truth was not Zach’s truth; he had actually kept the note she thought he had callously thrown away on his person. These misunderstandings may have aided in covering up many of the characters’ questionable actions, but that may all change in season 2.
13 Reasons Why season 2 will center on a series of polaroids that will lead the students of Liberty High to unravel a terrible mystery. This changeup is necessary narrative-wise and opens up some new storytelling aspects. As previously stated, Hannah’s tapes could be easily refuted and written off as hearsay or gossip. While some of the recipients of the tapes took it upon themselves to explore the viability behind Hannah’s accusations, little evidence has actually been uncovered at this point in the story. Even Clay Jensen’s recording of Bryce’s confession is weak; he never actually straight out admitted to anything and could have been talking about a simple flirtation when taken out of context.
With a photo in hand, these teenagers’ misdeeds will be a lot more difficult to deny. Pictures of Bryce assaulting a passed out partygoer are almost certain to lead to a conviction, with or without a confession. We’ve already seen that Tyler Down isn’t above stalking his friends and his clandestine photo of Hannah and Courtney Crimsen led to ridicule and gossip about the girls’ sexual orientation. The ladies may have hoped they weren’t recognizable in the picture, but their classmates easily put the pieces together. Obviously, when the stakes are higher, the results will be more traumatizing and life-changing for a pictured student.
There is one loophole that the kids of Liberty High may be able to exploit: even photos can be deceiving. Take, for example, Hannah’s unfortunate upskirt photo on a playground slide; what began as an innocent night out with a potential boyfriend quickly spiraled out of control when Justin Foley showed his buddies a badly time photo of Hannah lying on the slide with her skirt pushed up. Anyone who knows the truth of that incident, or maybe just a really savvy perpetrator, may be able to talk away their crimes and convince those around them that the photos are just a case of being at the wrong place at the right time.
But given the season’s focus on redemption, this seems very unlikely. For 13 Reasons Why season 2, a picture could be worth 1,000 of Hannah Baker’s tape-recorded words.