Clay’s Fate On ’13 Reasons Why’ Comes Full Circle

Spoilers ahead for 13 Reasons Why Season 4. Clay has not always been what you would call the most optimistic character in YA media. He’s struggled with both anger and despair, and in the final season we see his mental health deteriorate further as the deaths of Hannah, Bryce, and Monty weigh on him. It’s a grim storyline, but Clay’s fate on 13 Reasons Why takes a surprising turn in the finale. In a show about darkness and heartbreak, Clay’s story ends on a surprisingly hopeful note.

Across the season, Clay’s mental health worsened as a result of the guilt he felt over Monty and Bryce’s deaths, as well as the paranoia that law enforcement would finally figure out they covered up Bryce’s murder. Clay became plagued by hallucinations of Bryce and Monty, and began to do what his therapist labeled as dissociating. Clay basically manifested a sort of alter ego, who ran around sowing discord while Clay was in a sort of fugue state. It’s Clay’s other identity that graffitied the school, molotov’ed the principal’s car, and taunted the other teens at the camp. In the final episodes, Clay had a total nervous break during the lockdown, and ended up in the hospital.

On top of all that, in the final episode Clay learned that Justin was terminally ill with AIDS. After a series of tearful goodbyes, Justin died holding Clay’s hand. Later, Clay discovered a college essay in Justin’s locker that described Clay as his brother and the one positive influence he had in his life.

This all seemed irreversibly bleak, but we learn that Clay eventually recovers and looks forward to the future. He gets into Brown University, and speaks at graduation about his anxiety and depression. In the wake of Justin’s death, Clay begins to actually open up to his therapist about how impossible life has seemed, starting with what went down with Hannah Baker. He even briefly sees a vision of Hannah at the graduation, but this is interrupted by Heidi, an implied new love interest who is also attending Brown. The show ends with Clay driving with Tony to college, who’s starting an early summer session. Clay decides he’ll also continue to work with his therapist to get better.

More to come…

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