The fourth and final season of 13 Reasons Why continued to tackle topical and oftentimes controversial subjects facing high schoolers today. In one such episode, "Thursday," a scene played out that many American high schoolers are all too familiar with in an era plagued with gun violence and school shootings. Liberty High School is placed on a "Code Red" lockdown for a hyper-realistic active shooter drill. Warning: This post contains spoilers for 13 Reasons Why Season 4, Episode 6, "Thursday."
After seasons-worth of the looming threat of a school shooting, the plan finally seemed to be put into action as a voice over the intercom at the start of the episode announced a "Code Red," or active shooter, and all students were asked to take immediate shelter. Winston and Zach lock themselves in one room, Estella and Tyler find themselves together in a bathroom, Jessica is alone in the Hands Off room, and Clay finds himself barricaded in a room with the ghosts of Bryce and Monty. What none of them know, however, is that the Code Red is just a drill and not the real thing.
In the almost hour-long episode that follows, both the characters and viewers are left with the belief that an active shooting is occurring. Shots are heard being fired; doorknobs are jostled in an attempt to get into locked and barricaded rooms, and in heartbreaking scene after heartbreaking scene, each of the students is faced with the reality that they could be a victim. That realization prompts both Jessica and Estella to call their families for what they believe could be the final time. It also forces students to decide whether to sit in a room and wait or risk their lives and fight, a decision that Clay chooses the latter of.
Although it is learned towards the end of the episode that the lockdown was just a drill and the gunshots were blanks, the episode forces viewers to acknowledge the intense mental and emotional toll that such exercises can have. In one scene, Alex has a panic attack, and in one of the final moments, Clay has a breakdown after he sees the SWAT team the principal invited into the school. Going into a rage, he grabs one of the cops' guns, asking, "Are we safe now," before he is tackled to the floor and knocked out. The incident results in Clay being admitted to the hospital's mental ward.