Clay’s Tape In '13 Reasons Why' Is Crucial To the Story

Beth Dubber/Netflix

Netflix's 13 Reasons Why tells a slow and winding story. It starts amidst the aftermath of Hannah Baker's suicide, gradually backtracking as she narrates the reasons for her death from a collection of confessional cassettes she left behind. When the show opens, they've made their way to nice guy Clay Jensen (Dylan Minnette), but his name is not the first on Hannah's checklist. So, which tape is Clay's in 13 Reasons Why? SPOILERS AHEAD.

In the book the series is based on, Clay is number 10, but Netflix's version bumps him to 11 for an important reason. The 12th person on the tapes is Bryce Walker (Justin Prentice), an arrogant, obnoxious jock who rapes both Jessica (Alisha Boe) and Hannah (Katherine Langford). In the novel, Clay dutifully mails the tapes to Jenny — named Sheri in the show — per Hannah's instructions, and it's never revealed what happens afterward. But in the TV iteration, Clay's upped placement causes him to confront Bryce, who probably wouldn't have bothered to pass on the cassettes or even listen in the first place. He manages to coax out a confession from Bryce and secretly records it, adding it as the 14th tape before passing on the full assemblage to number 13, school guidance counselor Mr. Porter.

Beth Dubber/Netflix

This move drastically changes the ending of Hannah's story — or at least, it has the potential to. While Hannah was alive, she went to Mr. Porter to report her rape, but wasn't ready to turn in Bryce. He told her that if she refused to give him Bryce's name, there wasn't much more he could do, insisting she should simply try to "move on." His mishandling of her assault served as the final crack in her already broken spirit, and it was after their meeting that she made the decision to move forward with her suicide.

While Clay's actions would never save Hannah from her tragic fate, it could help get her justice, even if she's not around to see it. Now that Bryce is on tape admitting to his crimes, Mr. Porter could turn it in to the police as some pretty damning evidence. If Hannah's parents — or Jessica, who had seemingly come to terms with her assault and told her dad — were to press charges, they would have a solid legal case against Bryce.

So even though the switch in order was small, it packed a purposeful punch. Not only did it prolong the emotional build-up that underscored Hannah and Clay's almost love story, but it also gave Hannah a chance to finally have her voice heard.