Review: Thirteen (S1 E4/5), Sunday 20th March, BBC3

Programme Name: Thirteen - TX: n/a - Episode: n/a (No. 5) - Picture Shows:  Merchant (VALENE KANE), Christina Moxam (NATASHA LITTLE), Ivy Moxam (JODIE COMER) - (C) BBC - Photographer: Sophie Mutevelian

(C) BBC – Photographer: Sophie Mutevelian

In episode three of this excellent identity thriller, all relationships broke down – Ivy Moxam’s relationship with her family broke down, her sister Emma and her fiancé Craig were at loggerheads, her parents’ charade was well and truly smashed into pieces and even the relationship between investigating officers Carne and Merchant was at an all-time low. You got the impression that this was the blow-up that the story needed for it to take the next step. And that surely meant finding out who the person purporting to be Ivy Moxam really was.

NB: Please do not read if you haven’t seen episode four yet. This episode is still available on iPlayer, and will be shown on BBC2 next Sunday at 10pm.

Of course, we finished the last episode with the discovery of a body in Mark White’s basement. I had a hunch that this black sack of bones was once the real Ivy Moxam, and the person now presenting herself as Ivy was, in fact, someone else. I was wrong (not for the first time). It was quickly established that the body in the bag was Dylan, Mark White’s half-brother. He’d been dead for seven years, meaning that Ivy was down there when this man’s death occurred. Why had she not mentioned this before? Why had she been covering for Mark White all this time? These were the questions that Merchant and Carne were rightly asking. And now asking with determination.

As I was watching the events unfold, there was one lingering theme that showed itself more than the others: Ownership, and, in regards to this story, ownership of Ivy.

There was Ivy’s sister, Emma, who was in a huff with Craig because she wanted to hang out with Ivy; Ivy’s mother asked what she could do to fix her; Tim admitted to Eloïse that he was still in love with her. Everyone wanted her, or wanted to change her. Mark White still wants her.

But what about Ivy?

She was still a blank canvas, letting the people around her project their own ideas of what they wanted – needed – her to be onto her. But that blank canvas was beginning to buckle. After the discovery of Dylan’s body, she was arrested and carted off, in almost a mirror image of how she was kidnapped 13 years ago. As Ivy was led to the interview room, those same nervous twitches and scratching of hands flickered back to life again. For Ivy, it was almost as though she had been taken against her will again. The police now owned her. And when they found her DNA on Dylan’s body she went from a potential perverting the course of justice charge to a murder charge.

Something had to give and a tense and affecting 15 minute interview sequence, involving Merchant (Valene Kane was particularly impressive in this scene) and Carne, and her mother, saw her finally speak some truths.

After Ivy finally revealed the truth about Dylan’s death (Mark White killed him), the final act of this episode took a breather and quietly and considerately dealt with some family relationships and widespread reconciliation. Interestingly Christine admitted to Angus that, on the day of Ivy’s disappearance, she was with her school teacher friend  (“I needed someone who was mine. I needed someone who would talk to me.” Again, there was the concept of ownership laid bare).

We were left with Ivy talking to Mark White on the telephone – him calling her Alison – with the police gathered around intently. White told Ivy that she needed to turn up at a shopping centre at a certain time – alone, naturally – or Phoebe would be killed. The police couldn’t make the trace (that always happens), and we’re no doubt going to go through the whole rigmarole of Carne and Merchant losing sight of Ivy, communication being lost and a tense final showdown between Ivy and Mark White.

Paul Hirons

For our episode one review, go here

For our episode two review, go here

For our episode three review, go here




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