What secret is Tony keeping about Hannah in '13 Reasons Why'?
By now, you have probably read about, or watched, Netflix's new series 13 Reasons Why. The emotional, and at times difficult to watch, drama is a powerful exposé of how mean-spirited (or worse) actions can lead to horrible consequences — in this case Hannah Baker's suicide. As such, many, but not all, of the characters in 13 Reasons Why wronged Hannah in some way.
One character who is not a subject of Hannah's tapes, though plays an important role in the narrative, is Tony Padilla. Tony, who is introduced early on as Clay's friend, is the keeper of Hannah's tapes. Prior to committing suicide, Hannah left the tapes, along with instructions on what to do with them, at Tony's house. Unfortunately, Tony did not realize what was going to happen until it was too late.
If you watched the series, you may think Tony kept two secrets in 13 Reasons Why. In reality, however, it was just one. The non-secret, which is hinted at early in the season, and confirmed later on, is that Tony is gay. But this is really not something he is hiding, though he is not telling the world either — a choice he is free to make. We see him in flashbacks hanging out with Ryan, who is openly gay, and getting coffee in the present with another man who audiences likely guessed was his boyfriend.
While viewers may not have been oblivious to Tony's sexual orientation, his apparent best friend, Clay, certainly was. Tony does eventually explicitly tell Clay that he is gay, and was sort of shocked that his friend didn't figure it out on his own. Later, Tony eventually lets Clay in on the real secret: He could have stopped Hannah from killing herself.
Tony admits that when Hannah came to his house with the tapes, he saw that she was outside his door. But at the time he didn't feel like dealing with her drama, so he ignored her, and didn't grab the tapes until after she left. When he finally begins listening to them, he rushes to her house, only to arrive with the police already on the scene and Hannah dead. And the fact that he potentially could have stopped the death of a classmate is something he kept from not only Clay, but Hannah's parents as well.
Throughout the series, Tony is seen helping Hannah's parents through their grief. We come to understand as the series progresses that part of the reason he is doing this is likely from a place of guilt. It isn't until the end of the series that Tony finally brings Hannah's parents a copy of her tapes so they could listen for themselves. And by doing so, he finally gives them the note, and perhaps the closure, they had been tirelessly searching for.