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13 Reasons Why Season 3's Ending Explained

13 Reasons Why Ending Explained

After a tumultuous season revolving around a mysterious death and the never-ending list of suspects, 13 Reasons Why can finally move on from Bryce Walker - but will it? The villain of the first two seasons is killed before season 3 begins, but Bryce's death is uncovered over the course of the next 13 episodes. A number of characters come into focus as possible suspects as each episode reveals who to cross off the list. In the season 3 finale, the loose ends are seemingly tied up - but not for long.

As was the case with Hannah Baker's (Katherine Langford) storyline, Clay (Dylan Minnette) plays a central character in the most recent installment of 13 Reasons Why, but he's not the connecting figure like in the past. This time around, newcomer Ani Achola (Grace Saif), plays the role of the narrator and the common factor within the overall mystery. Nearly every student at Liberty High has secrets, but Jessica (Alisha Boe), Alex (Miles Heizer), and Zach (Ross Butler) have incriminating connections to Bryce's (Justin Prentice) murder. Justin (Brandon Flynn) also has something to hide but he refuses to sabotage his new family situation with the Jensens.

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Related: Every Song In 13 Reasons Why Season 3

Then there's Tyler (Devin Druid), who is forced to deal with being a victim of a brutal sexual assault while still going to school with his attacker, Montgomery de la Cruz (Timothy Granaderos). As time goes on, Tyler comes clean to a number of close friends, including Clay, and Monty finally gets punished. His time in prison takes a dark turn, which opens an opportunity to fill in the blanks surrounding Bryce's death. The season is murky in the way it moves back and forth between the past and present while using a misleading narrator. Here's an explanation of 13 Reasons Why season 3's ending and what it means for the fourth and final season.

What Happens In 13 Reasons Why Season 3’s Ending?

13 Reasons Why

The final episode of 13 Reasons Why season 3 finally answers the central mystery of who killed Bryce Walker. After various suspects are presented with their own personal motives, Alex Standall is the one who technically kills Bryce. Before the flashback provides insight into the incident, the lingering suspects' alibis during the night of homecoming are revealed. Justin is dealing drugs at the docks while Tony (Christian Navarro) is laundering money from the cartel to support his family. Meanwhile, Jessica and Alex arrive at the pier and find Bryce, who was nearly beaten to death by Zach moments before. After a brief exchange, Alex pushes Bryce into the water below where he quickly drowns.

In the present-day timeline, Tyler finds the courage to go to the cops about the sexual assault he suffered from Monty. Ani develops a plan to clear Clay's name and, after she gets consent from all involved, she goes to the police station to confess her side of the story. She speaks with Deputy Standall (Mark Pellegrino), Alex's dad, and reveals the fabricated details surrounding Bryce's death. Deputy Standall is well aware of Alex's involvement, but he uses Ani's story to successfully pin the crime on Monty, who just happens to get killed in jail. The deputy then disposes of the clothes that his son wore that night so there is no evidence linking him to the murder.

The case is officially closed and Clay can finally take a breath - at least for now. He and his friends can get back to their lives without Bryce's drama looming over them. Tony needs to focus on reuniting with his deported family, and Justin finally asks for help from Clay's parents regarding his drug addiction. The relief doesn't last long, however, because Tyler's past is no longer hidden and a figure threatens to reveal Monty's innocence regarding Bryce's death.

Related: 13 Reasons Why: Who Killed Bryce Walker & Their Motive Explained

Why Did Alex Standall Kill Bryce Walker?

Almost everyone who ever met Bryce has had the motive to kill him. He has hurt nearly every character on 13 Reasons Why either physically or emotionally. Throughout season 3, a handful of characters are featured as legitimate suspects in his death. The murderer at first appears to be Zach, since he follows Bryce to the pier after the homecoming game to get revenge. During the brawl at the game, Bryce personally targets Zach and tackles his legs, severely injuring his knee. Zach returns the favor by beating up Bryce until he's near death. In the end, though, it's Alex who finishes the job.

Before the football game, Bryce asks Jessica to meet him at the pier because he has something to give her. She arrives, but brings Alex as a backup, which is understandable since Bryce previously raped her. Bryce asks for help but Jessica and Alex worry about Zach getting in trouble. Alex decides to help, but Bryce starts berating Jessica and screaming about what he's going to do to Zach. Alex realizes that Bryce has hurt everyone he loves. The rage boils over and Alex pushes Bryce off of the pier, putting an end to someone who has caused so much pain for him and other students at Liberty High School.

Will The Truth Come Out About Monty?

Jessica and Alex might be resting easy knowing that Bryce's murder case is closed, but nothing is ever that simple on 13 Reasons Why. The group vows to keep the truth a secret, but there's an outsider that knows that Monty isn't the murderer. Monty is in prison for his assault on Tyler when he is presumably killed for being gay, and he's an easy target for Deputy Standall to pin for Bryce's murder. The last piece of the puzzle is planting evidence in Monty's locker to link him to the murder, and Charlie does that flawlessly. But Monty does have an alibi, and that will surely create drama in season 4.

Monty claims that he stayed at Charlie's the night of the homecoming game. In reality, Monty spends the night hooking up with Hillcrest student, Winston (Deaken Bluma). Monty comes up with the Charlie alibi since he wants to hide the truth of being gay. Now that he's dead, Winston wants Monty's name cleared for Bryce's murder since he knows where he was that night. Winston confronts Ani in the finale insinuating that he's ready to reveal Monty's true alibi. If he does so, the case will reopen and the cops, including Deputy Standall, will have to go back to the start of the investigation. Clay and his friends will have a hard time keeping their fake story straight for a second time.

Related: 13 Reasons Why: 10 Hidden Details Fans Missed

Tyler’s Guns Will Come Into Play In Season 4

Considering the cliffhanger ending for 13 Reasons Why season 2, it seemed like Tyler's school shooting attempt would have been more of a focus in season 3. They focus on Tyler being a victim of sexual assault, and rightfully so, but the series glances over the repercussions of the possible school shooting. Tony and Clay get rid of the guns, but even when Deputy Standall learns that the threat at the school dance was real, he shows no urge to follow up on the matter. That may change now that the guns have been recovered by fishermen in the season 3 finale.

The serial numbers on the guns will undoubtedly link back to Tyler. The question of why he has a cache of weapons that were thrown into the river will most likely be a focus of season 4. The cops could instantly connect Tyler's guns to the school shooting threat. The fact that Tyler has a history of anger issues and involvement in a sexual assault case will also make matters more complicated. The characters are gearing up for graduation at Liberty High next season but there seems to be another mess coming their way.

The Real Meaning Of 13 Reasons Why Season 3’s Ending

13 Reasons Why season 3's ending primarily focuses on unearthing the truth about Bryce's murder, but there's a deeper meaning behind the ending. The final events revolve around the theme of family and friendship. Despite their difference, the group stands as a united front in their proposed story regarding Bryce's death. They all promise to stick to the story in order to protect those who are responsible. They stand up for each other, something they all failed to do for Hannah before she took her own life. Even Ani, who has no real connection to the events that started it all, leads the protection cover-up efforts.

Unfortunately, a lot of that message is lost with the attempt to humanize Bryce, a serial rapist. Much of the season stands as a Bryce Walker redemption tour. He constantly tries to right his wrongs, but he never truly realizes the pain he caused. It's not until he identifies as a victim that he even tries to learn from his mistakes. The fact that season 3 spends so much time trying to make Bryce a redeemable figure distracts from the rest of the narrative. The series could have spent time touching on important social commentary but instead, 13 Reasons Why has simply added to its ever-growing list of controversies.

Next: 13 Reasons Why's Biggest Controversies (So Far)

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