It’s been over a year since the first season of Jay Asher’s novel-turned-TV-series 13 Reasons Why premiered on Netflix, and if you, like me, binge-watched the entire first season in a matter of days after its initial release, a quick character refresh is probably in order. As Hannah Baker takes you on a journey through a series of audio tapes explaining which classmates she thinks played a role in her eventual suicide, significant people in Clay Jensen’s life tend to overlap with those in Hannah’s. So if you’ve forgotten who Jeff Atkins is in 13 Reasons Why, for example, you might want to take a second to review how he specifically fits into the heavy plot, because the character may make an appearance in Season 2 on Friday, May 18 — and it's going to be good, people.
Personally, I’ve always had a soft spot for the popular kids who didn’t let their high-school-cool-kid status go straight to their heads, and from what I could tell, that’s exactly the kind of stand-up guy Jeff Atkins (Brandon Larracuente) was. Even though Jeff wasn’t exactly a main character — even considering him a supporting role might be a stretch — and his time on the show was brief, I'd argue the few scenes between him and Clay (Dylan Minnette) are significant in their own right.
Jeff and Hannah's characters weren't exactly friends, but it's how their stories connect that is so important to the plot.
See, Clay is Jeff’s peer tutor in school, and in order to thank Clay for all he's done, Jeff tries to help him out with some tips on talking to ~the ladies~, and that’s where Hannah (Katherine Langford) comes in. At a party thrown by Hannah’s best friend, Jessica Davis (Alisha Boe), Jeff encourages Clay to, for lack of a better term, grow a pair, and simply talk to Hannah. Eventually, Clay gives in, but when it’s time to leave and Jeff offers Clay a ride home, Clay declines, eyeballing his star baseball player buddy who he assumes might have had more to drink than he lets on.
Clay thanks Jeff for the offer, but opts to walk home from the party, instead. Hannah is seen leaving the rager as well, hitching a ride from a classmate, Sheri (Ajiona Alexus). En route, both Sheri and Hannah's phones are on the fritz, so Sheri tries to plug her phone into the car's charger. Struggling to keep her eyes on the road and maneuver the steering wheel, Sheri ends up hitting and knocking down a stop sign at an intersection.
Hannah soon ducks into a bodega to report the fallen sign, but by the time the store-owner makes the call, a second crash has already happened at the scene. Because there was no stop sign, a sober Jeff, on a mission to restock the beer supply at Jessica's soirée, continued head-on into traffic, colliding with another car, and he died in the driver's seat. Clay was the first person to find him.
Jeff's death in 13 Reasons Why left fans understandably devastated, so there's hope that the show will bring the character back in Season 2.
There’s a lot of speculation going around about what direction the writers of 13 Reasons Why are going to take for each of the character’s storylines. As of right now, all we know for sure is that Jeff is, heartbreakingly, dead and gone — but, so is Hannah. If Hannah can run the show from the grave, I’m thinking there’s room for Jeff to make a cameo in some flashback scenes, too, don’t you?
Not to stir the pot or anything, but, according to a lineup of the series' new characters published on Thrillist, Designated Survivor's Ben Lawson is joining the cast as none other than Liberty High's baseball coach. This may be just a coincidence, however, the outlet suggests there might be a connection between Coach Rick and our beloved Jeff Atkins' story. As far as I can tell, though, we'll just have to wait and see until the premiere on Frida, May 18, to know for sure whether or not justice will be served for Jeff. Fingers crossed, friends.
If you or someone you know are experiencing suicidal thoughts, call 911, or call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255