Now that LA is basically in shutdown mode, I've finally had to focus to watch Season 3.
I was really, really bothered by the quasi-redemption arc for Bryce. He's been shown until now to be gleeful in his psychopathy, and I was not interested in seeing him "humanized"; some humans are just bad. Also, though, it seemed like the show wasn't sure what they were trying to do with this storyline. Like, he would be seem to be sincere in, say, wanting to help Tyler but happily torment Clay some more. I mean, Clay is easily tormentable, but still. It also seemed like most of his interactions with the other characters were really unbelievable (that whole Alex-Bryce part was just laughably unbelievable). It seemed like the show was trying to make Bryce complex since they were building the whole season around his murder, but I was just happy he was dead. He was a serial rapist and a bully, and the (fictional) world is better off without him. Frankly, I cheered Zach on when he beat the shit out of him because it was long overdue and I think Zach is great. It's not believable that the police would've just let him go (especially after Sheri went to juvie for something much more accidental, in my opinion, that led to a person's death #justiceforsheri), but I can hand-wave it because I love Zach.
I will say that the one part of the Bryce storyline I liked was the focus on Nora, and that's because Brenda Strong was so terrific. Her character seemed complex in ways that felt organic, and I thought Strong was just excellent throughout. Her scene with Kate Walsh (who was also reliably fabulous) was one of the best scenes of the season.
The Monty storyline...I don't know. On the one hand, see, Monty, it just feels so much better for everyone concerned when you use your own dick to fuck a willing participant. On the other hand, you are also a rapist and a bully, and I'm not going to cry that you're dead either. I think the attempt to humanize Monty was a smidge more effective than the attempt with Bryce because the closet really does kill, but I still had no sympathy for him because he was ultimately such a shit human being; regardless of what he was struggling with, you can do that without bullying and raping people. And Winston, hon, all of us gay teenagers have had the fantasy about getting fucked by the hot jock (and Monty is very hot), but come on. He beat the shit out of you right after you blew him; I don't care how hot his body is, you do not go back there. I'm not interested in seeing you try to get justice for this guy: he was in jail for a sexual assault (that realistically should've been a murder) that was probably not his first, his being a closet case doesn't excuse the torment he wreaked on multiple people, and why do you care so much? Because he fucked you for a night? I'm sure it was great sex, but this is Stockholm Syndrome. Yeah, I was really bothered by all of that. I also thought Monty was fucking Charlie, but I guess not.
And yeah, like most, I hated Ani. Frankly, Sheri would've been a much more interesting and welcome narrator (although she'd no sooner fuck Bryce than jump off the Golden Gate Bridge), and I'm only partially saying that because I LOVE Sheri, but the choice of this random new person was just off from the get-go. It wasn't believable that she would've become insinuated with this group and everyone's secrets so quickly; seriously, why would any of them be so open with her? I get why Alex's dad would go along with her story in that he just wanted any excuse to protect his son, but her story was bullshit. Really, though, the writers just seemed like they couldn't decide what to do with her, or they didn't consider the optics of some of their choices regarding her. I mean, she deliberately befriends Jessica, knows that Bryce raped her, and still fucks him multiple times? What. the fuck. They never sold me on why she would do that (because people are not one thing? Or something? No, girl, fuck no, and fuck you), and it made me hate her irrevocably. She also completely led Clay on throughout the season, kissed him, blamed him for becoming semi-obsessed with her, and then decided to settle for him or whatever. Ugh. I loved how she cowered in fear of Clay after willingly fucking an actual serial rapist; this girl's priorities are fucked up. Really, though, the most horrible thing she did was the exchange with Jessica at the end of the season when she told her that the worst thing she'd ever done was sleep with Bryce multiple times and immediately asked her what the worst thing she'd ever done was. Had I been Jessica, I'd have been like, "One sec."
"That is the worst thing I've done. Fuck off forever." I hated that because Ani didn't really care about confessing something really terrible to Jessica; she was just trying to manipulate Jessica. Seriously, fuck her, and I'm not looking forward to seeing more of her next season.
I didn't really care that Alex killed Bryce; I was just glad someone did. Frankly, though, Alex's trajectory was kind of silly this season with the roid rage and the drugs and the ridiculous Bryce thing. Whatever, he's not the most compelling character, so I'm fine with his being the murderer (and I'm not even sure he meant in the moment to kill Bryce, so it's really more like manslaughter). Jessica just better not be punished for what he did; she's been through fucking enough.
What I loved, though, was how Tyler's storyline was handled. While I don't think it's at all realistic that he could improve the way he did with the buddy system (and not need at least surgery after the rape), I really liked how much everyone rallied around him. The scenes where he told Clay and Jessica what had happened to him were so powerful and so tremendously acted (especially by Druid and Boe). And I love that his courage in publicly owning his survivor status allowed Justin to do the same, leading to another incredibly acted scene between Boe and Flynn (seriously, Boe is such an incredible listener, and Flynn is so honest). That was really, really good stuff.
I also have loved watching the bond between Clay and Justin cement so unbreakably. Their relationship is possibly my favorite on this show because I believe so strongly that each would do anything to protect the other; I think my jaw dropped when Clay gave Justin the oxy – that's hardcore trust and love, although very dangerous and inadvisable, but it probably ultimately allowed Justin to admit that he needed help at Thanksgiving. There's a kind of purity to the love and loyalty they have for each other, and it's been so wonderfully and honestly developed. It's similar to the Zach/Alex friendship, which I also love, but it's been given more focus and has been more interesting for me to watch. It really did feel like it was those two boys against the world and like those two boys would survive because they had each other.
I think I liked this season more than last because there was more levity and because the trial was just too depressing, but there were many problems. Thankfully, most of the cast (including Prentice and Granaderos, even though I didn't like what the writers were trying to do with their characters) made the experience of watching it more than worth it.