One of the bigger (and least tragic) surprises of Netflix’s dark teen drama “13 Reasons Why” Season 2 was all about the past: Specifically, the summer before Hannah (Katherine Langford) died by suicide. While in Season 1, we learned Hannah’s romantic history was a rough one, Season 2 Episode 6, “The Smile at the End of the Dock,” was all about how she lost her virginity… to sensitive jock Zach (Ross Butler).
Like many relationships, Zach and Hannah’s relationship was aided and abetted on a common interest: movies. Specifically, the movies being shown by the local theater where Hannah worked, which emphasized revivals and classic films over new releases.
Zach, we see in this episode, makes his initial attempts to get closer to Hannah by even going to movies he might not like, such as Stanley Kubrick’s seminal “2001: A Space Odyssey.” This led to arguably one of the funniest scenes in the series (not a hard bar to hurdle, to be fair), where we watch Zach squirm through the film’s iconic “Thus Spake Zarathustra” sequences.
In the episode, Hannah had warned him before he went into the theater that “God, it’s so boring, but at least it’s long. You should definitely see it so that when pretentious people talk about it you can yawn really loudly.”
And when he exits the theater, he tells her how right she was: “Why is the movie so long and nobody talks about anything?”
Their connection in that moment leads Zach to ask Hannah if she wants to watch another movie together… and eventually, the two end up losing their virginity together in a genuinely sweet fashion. It was a big moment for both characters, and during a recent press event, IndieWire spoke with Butler as well as his co-star Miles Heizer (who plays Alex) about how it came about, saying that showrunner Brian Yorkey had told him in advance that this would be a part of the new season.
“When I was working on Zach’s character,” Butler said, “I played it like I really cared about Hannah in a deep way, and I didn’t maybe think that we lost our virginity to each other, because the script didn’t support it, but when they came up in the second season it made sense. I think it’s sweet and I think it’s great that it’s showing what a semi-healthy relationship looks like amongst all this crazy other shit that’s happening.”
One element he didn’t struggle to depict: Zach’s bewilderment at “2001” as a film. “I’ve seen parts of 2001 and yeah, I was definitely bringing that in. And then also Zach just isn’t tuned into that world.”
At that point, though, Heizer chimed in. “I kind of like ‘2001,’” he said. “Does that make me really annoying as a person?”
“No, it was an artistic endeavor…” Butler responded.
“Yeah, I guess it’s kind of crazy,” Heizer said.
“But in Zach’s point of view, he’s not going to get it,” Butler said.
It’s an authentic moment for Zach as a character, because sometimes, not every movie is for everybody. Later in the episode, both Hannah and Zach seem to enjoy “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” — a bonafide classic.
“13 Reasons Why” Season 2 is streaming now on Netflix.