13 Reasons Why season 4, episode 1 recap – initiating change

By Daniel Hart
Published: June 5, 2020 (Last updated: February 6, 2024)
View all
Netflix series 13 Reasons Why season 4, episode 1 - Winter Break


13 Reasons Why season 4, episode 1, “Winter Break” begins with some food for thought, which is quite relevant to today’s climate.

This recap of Netflix series 13 Reasons Why season 4, episode 1, “Winter Break” contains significant spoilers.

Access all the episode recaps

How does 13 Reasons Why season 4, episode 1, “Winter Breamopen?

Episode 1 of the final season begins at the Church with the priest stating how Liberty High has had too many tragedies and that change needs to be initiated — “How are we responsible? How did we get here, again?” 13 Reasons Why season 4, episode 1, “Winter Break” begins with some food for thought, which is quite relevant to today’s climate.

6 months earlier

Justin wakes up Clay and tells him that Monty is still alive. They visit him in prison; Clay apologises saying they thought he was dead. Monty accuses them both for setting him up for murder. Clay reminds Monty that Bryce was a rapist. Anyway, this was a bad dream, predictably. Clay is having bad dreams frequently and his parents are clearly worried and he is not sure if Ani loves him anymore. He is suffering from crippling anxiety.

Clay accompanies Tyler to the police station

Tyler is wondering when “all this” will be over as Clay drives him to the police station. While waiting for Tyler in the car, Clay keeps seeing Monty and panics. Tyler comes back and tells Clay that the police have found the guns in the river — Tyler told the police the guns were stolen from him and that they believe him; they traced back the gun IDs. 13 Reasons Why season 4, episode 1, “Winter Break” feels like the calm before the storm.

Justin’s birthday

Jessica has arranged a surprise party for Justin. After the party, the group of friends discuss the guns and the cops. The main question is, can they trust Tyler? In a surprise moment, Justin tells Jessica he cannot have a relationship as he needs to prioritise his sobriety.

Justin’s first Christmas with the Jensen’s

As Justin lives with Clay now, the family have gone all out with the traditions and Clay does not seem right. His anxiety crushes him again and Justin checks up on him — “It’s like I can’t breathe”.

Bryce’s tape

Jessica takes Ani into the woods with Bryce’s tape (the last copy) and burns it. 13 Reasons Why season 4, episode 1, “Winter Break” sees Jessica trying to put closure on the whole story. As the flames roar, Jessica sees Bryce and she starts panicking — the trauma is evidently still inflicting her badly.

Liberty High

Keeping in theme with America’s problems with guns, Liberty High now has metal detectors for students on the way in. On the way in, Jessica needs screening and she asks if there is a female officer that can do it before walking out. Clay is panicking, thinking the new security is about the guns. Ani tells Clay to stay calm. Headteacher Boland tells Jessica that the metal detectors are only there to keep the students safe.

Future fair

At the fair, Ani sees the new kid Winston and suddenly gets up to follow him. Estella approaches Jessica and tells her that she really admires what she is doing, calling her strong; Estella asks if she can join HO — Jessica accepts her to HO: “It’s a safe space, for everyone”.

Ani asks Winston why he has transferred to Liberty High; he explains he got expelled. Ani tells Clay about Winston. Clay freaks out because Winston was there “that night” and feels Winston may be investigating them, which is why he transferred. Ani and Clay have a brief argument.

Clay sees Estella getting pressured by the football players to put on a “Bryce” shirt. Estella is Monty’s sister. Clay confronts the players and ends up in a fight after they claim Bryce is innocent. Ani asks Clay what happened before the fight — “You went away, where?”. 13 Reasons Why season 4, episode 1, “Winter Break” presents plenty of drama to open up.

Winston keeps talking to Tyler

To be fair, Winston is a highly suspicious character right now. He continues to hang out with Tyler at the Future Fair and asks specific questions.

“Since when do you fight?”

At home, Justin tells Clay’s parents that he got into a fight at school. Clay is angry that Justin told the truth so he leaves the room; when he leaves, he’s at Liberty High and Scott is there even though he’s graduated. Clay then sees Ani who tells him he cannot save everyone. He wakes up and Justin tells him he has been talking and screaming in his sleep all night.

Clay sees a therapist named Ellman; he tells him he wants to be in control and calm. Ellman asks Clay what happens if he doesn’t control himself — “People get hurt”. Meanwhile, Alex and Zach skirt along a rooftop — Alex kisses Zach and then apologizes. Zach explains that he’s into women but that he still cares about him.

How does 13 Reasons Why season 4, episode 1, “Winter Breamend?

Clay talks to his therapist about trust. Ellman asks him if he’s ready to pay attention. Suddenly, Clay hears Bryce’s tape in the lodge outside his house and then starts chasing after someone. His mother shouts after him. Clay admits to the audience that he’s not fine. Episode 1 deals with Clay’s mental health issues, which are evidently impacting him.

Additional points
  • Clay’s grades are not good and his mother is going to speak to the school for some allowances.
  • Jessica asks Ani about Oakland and whether she still loves Clay — she’s moving there after Christmas.
  • Zach turns up at Justin’s party drunk.
  • Jessica asks Ani if she wants to move in. Ani accepts the offer; she won’t need to tell Clay.
  • Tony learns that his family lost the immigration case.

Netflix, TV Recaps
View all