This episode focuses on Clay Jensen's mental health.
The premiere opens with a funeral — yet another person, dead. A pastor gives a speech about how dire the situation is today; too many schools are forced to reckon with tragedy and too many children don't make it to graduation. There needs to be a change before more of the youth end up with the same fate. “How did we get here...again?” The pastor asks. The reply is a spool back in time to winter break (approximately one month after the events of the third season).
- 6 Months Earlier
At night, Clay is woken up by Justin who claims Monty is still alive. After he gets dressed, they visit Monty in jail, where it then becomes apparent that it’s just a dream. Monty rages at the fact that they set him up for murder. The dream sequence ends with Monty attacking Clay, and him waking up in a sweaty body. Turns out, this isn’t his first nightmare. Clay has been suffering from PTSD, Monty being the star of his recurring nightmares.
At breakfast the following day, it is revealed that Justin has been at rehab getting help for his drug addiction. He is finally returning home after several weeks. Nevertheless, Mrs. Jensen also reveals some concerns to do with Clay’s academic performance; Clay’s grades are slipping and his parents are worried. Moreover, it’s time he starts thinking about college. His parents believe sessions with Dr. Ellman will help him.
As narrator of the season, Clay reveals that he only feels alive when he’s helping out his friends. As such, when Tyler calls him to ask for a ride to the Sheriff’s station, Clay immediately shows up, leaving Ani and Jessica to plan for Justin’s welcome home party.
While waiting for Tyler at the Sheriff’s station, Clay is taunted by a hallucination of Monty, which puts him in panic mode. Tyler then returns with concerning news; the police have found the bag of guns in the river. But not to worry though; he tells them that, yeah, he bought the guns but they were stolen from him and both Sheriff Diaz and Deputy Standall believe him.
At Justin’s welcome home party, Clay, Jessica, Ani, Zach, Alex, Tyler, Tony, and Charlie gather for the first time since Bryce's murder case. Zach’s now been drinking heavily, showing up to the party drunk. After the party, the mood shifts as they discuss the guns upon Tyler’s leave. Doubt spreads over the group, the question being, can they trust Tyler? To dampen the mood further, Justin breaks up with Jessica his reasoning being that he needs to prioritize his sobriety.
At the Sheriff’s station, Sheriff Diaz goes through the Bryce Walker murder investigation and notices there’s no tape for Ani’s interrogation, which Deputy Standall oversaw. There’s only a written statement. Suspicion arises. Meanwhile, Alex questions his dad about the news of Tyler.
It’s Christmas morning and the Jensens are opening presents. Clay had one of his anxiety attacks but shrugs it off upon Justin’s concern.
Jessica invites Ani to live with her since she and her mother are planning to move to Oakland. Her mother agrees to this, as long as the rules are upheld like strict curfews, which Jessica’s dad agrees to. Afterward, Jessica takes Ani into the woods to burn the last copy of Bryce’s tape. Across the burning flames, Jessica sees a hallucination of Bryce which freaks her out.
At Liberty High, the students are in for a surprise. Metal detectors have been placed at the entrance of the school building accompanied by school resource officers (SROs). Jessica’s far from happy about this, especially when she walks through the metal detector and her bra sets it off making one of the male SROs tell her she needs a pat-down. Jessica refuses and storms off towards the principal’s office, where she lodges a complaint about the lack of consideration for female students. She demands there be female SROs for screenings. Principal Bolan seemingly agrees to this, reassuring her that they should work together to make this school a safer place and that her input as student body president is just as important.
Meanwhile, Ani tells Clay to stay calm as the new security measures have nothing to do with them finding out about Bryce’s murder.
At Future Fair, Liberty students gather to check out the club and institution representatives. Ani sees the newcomer Winston Williams roaming about and immediately gets up to follow him. Meanwhile, Estela de la Cruz approaches Jessica and expresses her admiration for her work in H.O. She is revealed to be Monty’s younger sister. She then asks if she can join, to which Jessica accepts, as it’s a safe space for everyone.
Meanwhile, Winston shows interest in joining the Yearbook Club. He strikes up a conversation with Tyler, which is soon interrupted by Ani. She pulls him to the side and asks him why he’s in Liberty. Apparently, Winston has been expelled from Hillcrest, therefore transferring to Liberty High. Ani informs Clay about this, causing him to freak out as he could pose as a threat for their coverup.
Clay sees that the football team are forcing Estela to wear “De la Cruz” jersey to honor her brother Monty and confronts them. After Diego Torres claims he’s innocent in Bryce’s death, the two engage in a fistfight. It ends up with only Diego getting detention as SROs think he started it.
At Jensen residence, Justin tells Clay’s parents that he got into a fight. This angers Clay and he gets up and storms off. He’s at Liberty High, moving through the corridors and football pitch, when Scott Reed appears showing concern. However, he’s already graduated so this means Clay is clearly dreaming. He then encounters Ani who tells him he can’t save everyone before waking up. He sees Justin who tells him he’s been talking and screaming in his sleep all night.
At therapy, Clay speaks to Dr. Ellman about being in control. He says if he loses control things get ugly. His panic attacks lately are one manifestation of this. Meanwhile, Zach and Alex are on the rooftop hanging together. When Alex loses balance and almost falls, Zach catches him. Then Alex goes in for a kiss, to Zach's surprise. Zach tells him he's not into guys but he still cares for him.
Upon returning home at night, Clay experiences another hallucination. He hears Bryce’s confession tape in the lodge outside his house and thinks he sees a shadowy figure inside the room so he chases after them only to find out there’s no one there. Mrs. Jensen calls out to him from the porch and Clay admits he’s not okay in the voiceover.
|“||People have been relying on me, so I gotta, like, be strong and stuff. And the dreams, and anxiety and stuff, makes me not strong.||”|
|— Clay narrating|
- Tyler: "Hey."
- Clay: "Hey. Hey, are you okay?"
- Tyler: "Yeah, fine."
- Clay: "What happened?"
- Tyler: "They found the guns... in the river."
- Clay: "Fuck."
- Tyler: "And they couldn't trace it to anyone at first, you know there's no serial number, no prints. But the bag, they traced the bag back to the store I bought it from. But-but I told them that I bought it, but that someone else stole it from me."
- Clay: "And-and they believed you?"
- Tyler: "Well Alex's Dad was there, he helped me out, I think we're okay."
- Clay: "Let's keep this between you and me, for now."
- ― Tyler tells Clay what happened after leaving the Sherrif's Department after being asked to come down.
- Jessica: "So you haven't told him about Oakland."
- Ani: "Umm...not yet. I was meant to tell him today, but we don't move till after Christmas, so—"
- Jessica: "You've known for a week, and you knew once you told him he'd go all Clay cray. Clay-z. No, I like Cray cray."
- Ani: "Ok, no. Look. Honestly, I was gonna tell him just now, but..."
- ― Ani and Jessica
- Jessica: "I'm not gonna apologize. If you're gonna turn Liberty into a full-on police state, then at least show your female students—"
- Mr. Bolan: "Police state's a strong word."
- Jessica: "Then at least show your female students some respect by hiring actual female officers to the so-called screenings."
- Mr. Bolan: "You're absolutely right, Ms. Davis. Uh...you have my sincere apology."
- Jessica: "I do?"
- Mr. Bolan: "Moving forward, I'd love to get your input as we implement these new measures."
- Jessica: "You're trying to keep my quiet."
- Mr. Bolan: "Oh, when have I ever been able to keep you quiet? Look we want the same thing. To make kids feel safe, to protect them. You believe me, don't you?"
- Jessica: "I guess"
- Mr. Bolan: "Then will you help me?"
- ― Principal Bolan and Jessica
|Theme Song: "Oh In This World Of Dread, Carry On" by Eskmo|
|"Heatwave"||Lean||Years||The group throws Justin a welcome home party after he comes back from rehab.|
|"For a While"||Fenne Lily||For a While||Justin breaks up with Jessica after the others leave the Outhouse.|
|"XYZ"||Flasher||Constant Image||The beginning of Liberty High's Future Fair.|
|"Bottom of the Deep Blue Sea"||Missio||Londer||Alex starts kissing Zach after he prevented him from falling off a roof; Sheriff Diaz watches the footage of Clay pointing a gun at Bryce and talks to Deputy Standall before Standall leaves.|
|"Harm"||IO Echo||Harm||Clay comes home from therapy and hallucinates hearing Bryce's tape playing.|
|"Fear the Future"||St. Vincent||MASSEDUCTION||End credits.|