13 Reasons Why defied its initial single-season miniseries order and announced last May that there would be a second season of the Netflix series. Season 2 imagines a future for the characters from Jay Asher's novel on which the series is based, and it explores how Hannah Baker's suicide impacts her community past the initial stages of shock and grief. Among those characters is Bryce Walker, the captain of the football team who we learn in Season 1 is a serial rapist. So fans of the show may be wondering: what happens to Bryce in 13 Reasons Why Season 2? According to showrunner Brian Yorkey, the #MeToo movement heavily impacted next season's storylines.
In an interview with Elle, Yorkey revealed that 13 Reasons Why writers initially worried that it might not be "realistic" for audiences to believe that the type of serial sexual assault Bryce commits could really be kept a secret for so long. "And then over the course of the summer we watched events unfold in our culture that confirmed to all of us that, yes, unfortunately, it is possible for severe sexual abuse at a very high and consistent level to be kept secret by many many people, and for institutions to be complicit in it," Yorkey told the outlet.
And even though Hannah is dead, there's another victim of Bryce's who can still bring him to justice: Jessica Davis. It was exceedingly difficult for Jessica to even acknowledge that she had been raped, since she was unconscious at a party when Bryce assaulted her. Hannah happened to be hiding out in the room where it happened and witnessed the entire event. Jessica denied that anything inappropriate transpired until she started to be able to piece together events of the night. According to Yorkey, the aftermath of this realization comes into focus next season. He shared in an interview with Entertainment Weekly:
When people intimate that Jessica’s story is done, I find that a horrific thought because Jessica is just beginning the process of recovering from her rape, and we have a rapist who has not in any way been brought to justice. To leave those two things hanging out there in the world would be upsetting. I want to see how that at least starts to play out and I want to do Jessica’s story the deserved justice of following her as she goes back to school, as she tries to begin to recover from what happened to her, because it’s something that millions of young women go through. And also [I want to] see somebody punch Bryce in the face.
That certainly does imply some consequences for Bryce are on the horizon, although we don't yet know if the series will take a restorative justice route or aim to punish him to the fullest extent of the law. Each possible outcome has its merits. Pursuing restorative justice — a resolution that focuses on rehabilitation and reconciliation between offenders, victims, and their communities, rather than one which upholds the prison industrial complex — would be a surprising and progressive tack for the show to take.
Watching Bryce meaningfully rehabilitate — not be restored to his former glory as football team captain and freewheeling, alcohol-fueled party host, mind you, but actually heal his relationship to sex and women — could be a really interesting journey. But a more straightforward law-and-order handling of the rape, one in which the wealthy white teen rapist is actually convicted of his crimes, could also be satisfying and cathartic to watch. Fans will find out one way or another once Season 2 hits Netflix on Friday, May 18.
If you or someone you know are experiencing suicidal thoughts, call 911, or call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.