13 Reasons Why tells the story of Hannah Baker, a teenager so crushed by the cruelties of high school that's she's driven to commit suicide. The show, a new original from Netflix, picks up in the aftermath, with Hannah narrating the unsettling events that led up to her death on a series of pre-recorded cassette tapes. They're a cautionary tale of sorts, warning her peers to take greater notice of how their actions affect the world around them. But as shaken as they seem by Hannah's suicide, they don't appear very changed by her posthumous lesson in life. If they were, Tyler's story on 13 Reasons Why may have gone a lot differently. Spoilers ahead.
We meet Tyler in Episode 4. He's a shy, acceptance-starved outcast who clings to the fringes of inclusion by photographing students' lives for yearbook. He develops a crush on Hannah, and begins stalking her in what seems like a desperate attempt to feel close to someone. She eventually catches and confronts him, and when he musters the courage to ask if she'd like to hang out, she scoffs. Bitter from rejection, he leaks a photo of a private moment that only fuels the slut-shaming rumors Hannah has been trying to shake since the show opened.
After her death, Tyler attempts to connect with the other students Hannah lists as reasons for her suicide. Now, at least, he can relate to them, even if it is under such morbid circumstances. But even after reliving Hannah's stifled pleas for help, they refuse to let Tyler in, and he continues to be ridiculed and bullied. Even Clay, the token nice guy, enacts revenge on Tyler by photographing him changing and sending it around school, pushing him further into the depths of social exile.
Toward the end of the series, Tyler is shown rifling through a trunk of guns he's keeping in his room. Moments later, we see him looking through photos of everyone that wronged him. He recalls a moment that Alex stood up for him and told a bully to back off, and removes his photo from the lineup. It's not explicit, but it seems to hint that he could be plotting a shooting, adding yet another horrific tragedy to the school's already too steep total.
And it only hits home Hannah's message harder. Marcus, Courtney, Zach, Ryan, and everyone else involved were all so consumed with protecting their own secrets that they didn't bother to take away anything from their role in Hannah's death. They didn't listen. They didn't learn. They didn't grow. Her suicide should have been a wake up call, but instead they turned around and treated someone else just as terribly without a second thought. And this time, that failure could mean more than a guilty conscience. It could mean their lives. So viewers, take note: Treat people with kindness, treat people with heart. Sometimes, even the simplest gestures can save someone.