13 Reasons Why fans call out Bryce Walker's redemption arc in season 3

28 August 2019, 15:15

While some viewers have conflicted feelings over Bryce's storyline in season 3, others aren't happy that the show tried to make us sympathise over a rapist.

Ahead of its third season, fans of 13 Reasons Why were skeptical about how the show would continue without Hannah Baker driving the storyline, and how it would avoid the same level of controversy when it came to the graphic content it's been called out for in the past.

Thankfully, the season survived without Hannah (she was replaced by Ani, who viewers didn't quite warm to) and it also managed to steer clear of any scenes that mirrored the triggering content of seasons 1 and 2. However, controversy wasn't too far away.

READ MORE: [SPOILER] revealed as Bryce Walker's killer

There seems to be a lot of discourse over Bryce Walker's apparent redemption arc and fans are expressing just how disappointing it feels to see it, particularly since he got off with little to no punishment when he was brought to trial in season 2.

Bryce Walker's 'redemption' storyline in 13 Reasons Why season 3 has fans conflicted
Bryce Walker's 'redemption' storyline in 13 Reasons Why season 3 has fans conflicted. Picture: Netflix

In case you need a quick refresher about who Bryce was and what he did, allow us to recap real quick. Bryce was a bully and a rapist. He raped 9 girls, including Jessica, Hannah and his girlfriend Chloe, who doesn't consent to having sex with him. (He confessed all of that on his apology tape to Jessica, which you can read in full here.)

Season 3 picks up 8 months after the events of season 2. Bryce is now at a new private school and has essentially been given a chance to start his life over. Throughout the season, we see flashbacks of his life over the past few months... Of him apologising to Jessica, listening to Hannah's tape, defending Tyler and even starting a romantic relationship with sympathetic newcomer Ani.

The season even includes some light-hearted and emotional moments with his mother Nora and provides some more background on his childhood. It's an interesting insight but it doesn't erase Bryce's awful actions.

To a lot of viewers, it felt like the show was trying to make the audience sympathise with a rapist in order to make his eventual death seem bittersweet - and it appears to have missed the mark with a lot of fans.

Bryce Walker admits to raping 9 girls in 13 Reasons Why season 3
Bryce Walker admits to raping 9 girls in 13 Reasons Why season 3. Picture: Netflix

Some people are happy to see that Bryce seems to be learning from his crimes and is attempting to do what he can to become a better person. Some people felt an odd sense of empathy for him too.

Others are basically just fuming at the show for even giving him a redemption arc in the first place. To see Bryce being given a chance to move on, while the survivors of his attacks are still dealing and healing every day (like Jessica), is incredibly hard to watch.

Fans have been taking to Twitter to express their feelings about his storyline.

While the verdict is varied online, Justin Prentice (who plays Bryce) revealed that he thinks Bryce is beyond redemption. "There’s no redeeming what Bryce has done," he told TV Guide. "He has done atrocious things. I think he’s certainly trying to make amends in his own ways for the actions that he’s done.”

"I think it's an interesting arc for him, in that we get to see him struggle with empathy, what it means to actually take other people's feelings into account. He's always just sort of been the alpha, jock who can do whatever he wants without consequences," he continued.

He then said: "This is the first time he's really had to go, 'Oh, I've done some irreparable damage to people.' He sort of struggles with how to go about doing that. He's learning to be emotional for the first time. It by no means rights the wrongs that he has done, but in his own way he is trying."

Some viewers are not sure whether or not Bryce was truly remorseful about his actions, given that he was ultimately trying to get back into Liberty High and ended up breaking Zach's leg when he took him out on the field as a result of jealously over his ex-girlfriend Chloe.

In the end, the show took an out by killing him off when, instead, they could have finally brought him to justice. In giving Jessica that tape, apologising and admitting to everything, he could have (and perhaps should have) gone to jail and accepted his punishment. It certainly would have sent a better message to viewers and sexual assault survivors.

What do you think of Bryce's storyline in season 3?