There are plenty of characters to despise on 13 Reasons Why. Bryce (Justin Prentice) is an unapologetic rapist. Montgomery (Timothy Granaderos) is a cruel, explosive bully. Even school president Marcus (Steven Silver) is so worried about his own reputation that he constantly makes morally reprehensible choices. However, while there are plenty of villains across both seasons of 13 Reasons Why, perhaps the most disappointing character of all was none other than Zach (Ross Butler), who could have saved everyone a lot of trouble if only he wasn't such a coward.
I spent most of 13 Reasons Why believing that Zach was undeniably bae: He's the sweetest of all the jocks, and his brief summer romance with Hannah (Katherine Langford) made me yearn for a Butler-starring rom-com. But it's Zach's Polaroid plan that makes me so frustrated with this otherwise extra-lovable character.
Beginning in episode 1 of 13 Reasons Why's sophomore season, Clay (Dylan Minnette) begins receiving cryptic Polaroids. The photos, we learn later, are from "The Clubhouse," a jock hangout where people like Bryce got girls drunk, high, and sometimes, even sexually assaulted them. The Polaroids are tangible proof that Bryce is a rapist (he is seen on top of his unconscious girlfriend, Chloe, in one photo) but whoever is sending them is too afraid to speak up about what happens in the Clubhouse himself.
That person is "nice guy" Zach, who eventually admits, flat-out, that he never said anything about the Clubhouse to anyone because he's a "fucking coward." And yeah, actually, he is.
Instead of taking the initiative to stand up for the girls abused in these pictures, Zach decided to roll the dice and hope that someone else would do the right thing — all while continuing to take advantage of his friendship with Bryce and the opportunities for success that it gave him.
Zach does eventually see the error of his ways, and the guilt over protecting Bryce eats away at him for much of season 2. But given that Zach already knows Hannah and Jessica (Alisha Boe) were victimised by Bryce, and that Bryce has no intentions of stopping his predatory behaviour (as one of the Polaroids specifically read), it's pretty terrible that Zach let this go on for as long as it did.
Zach may not be the worst person on 13 Reasons Why by a long shot, but he is another example of someone who put their own interests above protecting others from harm. At least, in this case, Zach really learned his lesson.