13 Reasons Why fans call out Bryce Walker's redemption arc in season 3
28 August 2019, 15:15 | Updated: 29 August 2019, 14:29
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.
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.
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.
𝐬𝐩𝐨𝐢𝐥𝐞𝐫𝐬 idk why they portrayed bryce as a decent guy for the entire season, he drove a girl to death and you wanna make a redemption arc out of him? fuck that, we already have enough sympathizer, normalizing it is not okay! #thirteenreasonswhy— fatwulf is 🌈 (@fatwulf) August 23, 2019
thirteen reasons why is so wild for giving bryce walker a redemption arc what is going ON— ʙʀᴏᴏᴋᴇ (@Brooke_SP4) August 23, 2019
#13ReasonsWhy3 this show is straight up offensive bullshit. Them trying to make us sympathize with bryce and give him a redemption arc is so fucking disgusting. -sincerely, a rape victim— 🌸Paige🌸 (@glambertal) August 24, 2019
13 reasons why season 3 was just a redemption arc for Bryce that no one needed.— sydney (@domisshortfor) August 25, 2019
remember that people do change, but it doesn’t erase who they are and what they did. a rapist is a rapist no matter how many good deeds they do.
13 reasons why is fucking with my head. Why am I all of a sudden feeling sorry for Bryce when I wanted him dead in season 1/2 🤕🤕🤕 help— Ruqeya Ahmed (@ruqeyaahmedxx) August 28, 2019
#13reasonswhys3 I mean how can Bryce Walker made me feel so fuckin sorry for him after he did all that shit?— FAI (@f_mohxs) August 27, 2019
Okay, so I know it was fuck Bryce the first and second season but in the third season we seen a side of him that actually made me feel a bit sorry for him. Made me feel like he deserved a second chance almost.. and then he broke Zach’s knee... #13Reasonswhyseason3— Bx._matt (@YUNG_ROJO) August 25, 2019
Why do I feel bad for Bryce Walker even tho I fucken hated him in the last 2 seasons pic.twitter.com/Cyjh0qqAjv— saraa🦂 (@saraaxo__) August 24, 2019
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.