The second season of 13 Reasons Why was all about getting justice for Hannah Baker, and that meant most of the new episodes took place inside a courtroom. While Hannah told her story through posthumous cassette tapes in Season 1, her story was retold through other perspectives via testimonies from the tapes’ subjects in the court case at the center of the new season, adding a whole lot more information and context to Hannah’s story. So, how does Hannah’s trial end in 13 Reasons Why Season 2? The verdict may have come as a shock to many viewers.
Spoiler alert: This post is going to discuss details from Season 2 of 13 Reasons Why, so don’t read on if you haven’t finished it yet. At the center of the new season is Mrs. Baker’s lawsuit against the school district. Following her daughter’s death, we learn that Olivia Baker filed a suit against Liberty High School claiming that the school was negligent after her daughter exhibited signs that she may be suicidal. The court case pitted Mrs. Baker against the school district’s attorney, as both sides called the students closest to Hannah to the stand. The resulting testimonies revealed the truth about a culture of bullying and abuse within the high school, but sadly, it was not enough for Mrs. Baker to get the justice she wanted for her daughter.
In the penultimate episode of the season, the jury returns with their decision: The school district is judged not guilty in how it treated Hannah Baker. Obviously, the news is devastating for Mrs. Baker, as well as Clay Jensen and a number of the other kids who testified on Hannah’s behalf. But although the court’s verdict was not what our main characters wanted, they did get justice for Hannah immediately afterwards.
Right after exiting the courtroom following the jury’s not-guilty verdict, Bryce and Justin are both grabbed by police officers and charged with felony sexual assault and accessory to felony sexual assault, respectively. Although she could not bring herself to come forward in court, Jessica eventually was able to finally tell the truth about Bryce raping her to the police, and Justin corroborated the story, knowing that he too would likely be arrested since he witnessed the assault and did nothing.
Both Bryce and Justin serve time in a juvenile detention facility, but even after Jessica pleads to a judge to sentence Bryce to jail time, Bryce winds up getting off with a measly three months of probation, whereas Justin has to sit in juvie for another few months since he doesn’t have a legal guardian to be released to. It is a pretty upsetting end to this whole legal battle, especially since Bryce says that he will transfer schools and get a fresh start where nobody knows about his evil reputation, but at least Jessica finally feels free of the crushing weight that keeping quiet about her rape has been for her, and Clay is finally able to say goodbye to Hannah for good.
The most upsetting part of the whole thing is that the higher ups at Liberty High seem to get off scot-free. Mr. Porter actually seems repentant about his role in Hannah’s suicide, and works towards getting justice for her, but Liberty’s principal and its baseball coach are both shown willfully ignoring the environment of toxicity and assault within their school, and instead exalting the baseball stars even higher. It was great to see Bryce get his comeuppance, however slight they may have been, but hopefully we can see the principal and baseball couch held responsible for their roles in this as well.
If you or someone you know are experiencing suicidal thoughts, call 911, or call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.