Thirteen’s premise is dark and suspenseful. The opening scene shows us a street filled with row homes in an England town. The camera stops at one of the houses with a red door. Creepy music starts to play and gets louder as the camera zooms in to the door. Amazing that one single door could give you the creeps.
Thirteen’s title is significant. It starts off 13 years after Ivy Moxam got kidnapped at the age of 13. It is about her escape from her kidnapper and so much more. However, it is very much about the high anxiety and fear in the smallest things, like a touch on the shoulder, a closed door, and a screaming baby. How do you assimilate into life again after being gone so long, especially as a 26 year old?
That creepy red door opens, and a grown, skinny, disheveled Ivy Moxam walks outside for the first time. She has bare feet and she steps on pavement and leaves. She moves slow and cautious, but in no time, adrenaline kicks in and she is running down the street. She turns and darts down an alleyway and finds a pay phone. She calls the police and tells them who she is. After a ride in the police car, she is brought into the station. However, we see from some detectives talking, that there seems to have been some fake Ivy’s that have “appeared” over the years. The police end up being more of a huge nuisance and of little help with Ivy as they try to prove who she is. They strip, poke, prod and swab her and they put her in the ugliest white jumpsuit. She looks like she is about to go to an insane asylum. Ivy is introduced to two detectives, Carne and Merchant. They mean well, but must establish her true identity, so they ask all types of personal questions which make Ivy uneasy and nervous.
Ivy Moxam is like a deer in headlights. We never see her have a true outburst and let anger reign. She remains still in shock from her escape. Even when she is reunited with her family, she just stares off into space and says little.
When the DNA comes in and confirms that Ivy is the real deal, the focus shifts a little on her captor and where he is. Ivy doesn’t give them much to go on. She claims his name is Leonard and he kept her in the cellar and there were no windows, so she didn’t know whether it was night or day. She was never allowed to use a fork, so she could not use it for anything besides eating. Fish was her favorite as it was something that didn’t come from or taste like a tin can. When asked about the house, she didn’t have much at first and with proding, it was determined it was in Bristol and a row home with a red door. Using something that looked like Google Street View, the house was identified and therefore a name comes forth of the captor’s real name. The police storm the house and find no one there and the basement had been bleached. The man must have discovered Ivy gone and took precautions before he left. While there, Carne and Merchant discover that there is a long brown hair on a bed upstairs and a passport photo. Ivy had told them she never left the basement, but there are clues that she in fact did come upstairs at some time and even had left the house. When confronted with this, Ivy admits that Leonard did leave her upstairs sometimes and took her out to get the photo. The question is when outside with a lot of people, why did Ivy not say anything to anyone about her situation. It is starting to look as Ivy is hiding quite a bit and might even be exhibiting signs of Stockholm Syndrome.
Back at the Moxam household, Mr. and Mrs. Moxam are trying their best to not let Ivy see that they are separated. The tension is enough to choke on. Emma, Ivy’s younger sister is busy planning her wedding with the fiancé that lives in the house too. However, when Ivy comes home, all of that is put on hold. Emma is not convinced that Ivy is real at first and tells her parents that Ivy is not the real one. The DNA comes in and shows her otherwise, but it is still not the sister she remembers. Thankfully, the “is this the real Ivy” subplot is cut off quickly instead of being pulled out for a few episodes.
Ivy demands that she be allowed to go home. She needs her family and to be in her house. Christina Moxam goes to great lengths to make sure the home feels the same to Ivy as it used to. She even gets out old photos and puts them on the fridge and keeps the movie Robin Hood Prince of Thieves cued up for her to watch. She even manages to convince her estranged husband, Angus to leave his “bit” (too young girlfriend) and move back to make it seem they are still together and happy for Ivy. They attempt to have a real sit-down dinner with Ivy picking at her food and staring at a fork like it is some foreign object.
Ivy is developmentally frozen in time. She still thinks and acts like a 13 year old girl. Christine mistakenly leaves Ivy’s bedroom door open when she has a boy visiting and Ivy huffs and gives attitude like a typical 13 year old would. The boy is Tim, who was her sweetheart when they were 13 and she is eager to reconnect with him. She invites him over without informing her parents and takes him to her room to talk. She even asks her sister to help her put makeup on to make her look pretty. There is a depressing innocence in her request for makeup lesson and how she interacts with Tim. We can see a glimpse of the girl that might have been. What Ivy doesn’t know is that Tim is now married. He is obviously thrown when the news of Ivy being found comes out. He hears from her and rushes over and even brings flowers. He removes his wedding ring when talking with her to which we are not sure if that is to save Ivy the agony of the truth or he may want to reconnect with Ivy himself.
It is painful to watch Ivy talking to Tim. She smiles and asks if he still skates and how the “gang” is. She is relying on data from 13 years ago, but Tim is gentle and answers her questions in a round-a-bout way. He gently touches her shoulder which freaks her out and she runs to the bathroom and escapes the confines of the small room through the window and runs down the street. She comes into a busy square and covers her ears with a baby screaming and gets anxious with all the people. Back at the house, Carne and Merchant had arrived to talk to Ivy and had come into the bedroom earlier, only to be rudely turned away by Ivy who told them that she would talk to them when she wanted and was ready. When she escapes the house, everyone starts to panic. Mark White, the actual name of “Leonard”, Ivy’s kidnapper is still at large and therefore, Ivy is not safe. They need to find her ASAP. It is Tim who finds Ivy at a familiar hangout spot from when they were young. He calls and lets everyone know she is safe and he takes her home.
Carne and Merchant have pieced together that Mark White had previously worked at Ivy’s school and the principal is brought in for questioning. He claims that he did not know the man since there are hundreds of employees for the school. He even calls Christina and tells her himself that he was questioned because the kidnapper had worked at the school, to which she breaks down and cries at the sink. I tend to think, that like Ivy, there is much more the man is hiding.
I believe I am with others who have watched this episode for the first time, that the most intriguing things so far are the little things when it comes to watching Ivy try to assimilate herself back into her life, but having the mindset of a 13 year old. How she interacts with her family and to Tim and simple things around her are more interesting to me than the two detectives trying to find Mark White. Why? There is some urgency, suspense and excitement missing when it comes to that. There seems to be quite a bit of “blah blah, blah” but not the intense kind (mixed with some great comedic one liner) as you might hear on Criminal Minds.
The last scene of the episode is the family dinner. The police had been sent away and Christina made a wonderful casserole. Ivy can’t seem to bring herself to eat yet, but not like she had the time anyway. The police come back to bring Ivy back to the station, it seems Mark White has taken another girl. The man wastes no time.
Overall, the cinematography was beautifully done and it had that ever feeling of dread theme going on throughout. I love a good Scottish accent, but I may have to watch with the subtitles on. Richard Rankin has one thick accent (but oh, so sexy…sorry…had to go there).
My question is this, where is this show going. What is Ivy hiding and why? Who else may have been involved? Will the urgency and suspense when it comes to the detectives pick up? We will have to wait and see.