Thirteen (TV Mini-Series 2016)

TV Mini-Series   |  TV-MA   |    |  Crime, Drama, Mystery

Episode Guide
Thirteen (2016) Poster

26-year-old Ivy Moxam steps out of an ordinary house, on an ordinary street, on an ordinary day. Ivy hasn't been seen for thirteen years, she was kidnapped in 2003 at the age of thirteen.


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Marnie Dickens (creator)

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1 September 2018 | Jackbv123
| Much worthwhile in this series if you can get past hating the police
Thirteen. That's the point. It was Ivy's age when she was abducted. It was how long she was in captivity. The world stopped for Ivy that day. For thirteen years after that she lived in an alternate universe. And yet, no one, with the possible exception of her sister, is willing to consciously acknowledge that fact. Ivy didn't grow up, at least not in anything that would make her a true 26 year old woman in anything except her physical body. And yet, the police, her family, Tim, and Eloise, seem to expect her to respond as a twenty-something woman. It is clear to the viewer that this person is still a child in many ways, but apparently not to the police. It is also important to remember that Ivy will never completely return to the "normal" universe the rest of us live in.

What was it like for her? We actually learn very little about her life as a captive. It appears she spent a great deal of time in the dungeon, probably in the dark. She said she didn't have any measure of the passage of time. I don't think that was a lie. At least it was true for the first year or more. What is that like? Can we know? Could her family? Could the police? It is interesting that there is a huge elephant in the room - there is almost no allusion to what must have happened to a girl held helpless captive by a man. (She did admit to her mom that she has had sex, but even that is a casual, almost second-hand statement and almost irrelevant.) That puts this physiological thriller in an unusual category. While sex must have been an overwhelming factor, this horror story does not focus on sex. There are a few references to physical abuse, but they are almost obligatory and for most of the series not central to the story.

So many reviewers have slammed the police. At times, I wanted to slam just about every character in the film. (By the way, some reviewers say they want to shake Ivy. Of course, you do. That's the point. She is not a normal woman.)

We learn early on that this case is unprecedented in British police experience. I guess that is supposed to justify the absolute stupidity of everything they do after that. One question that rises to the top in my mind. Why didn't you consult with the American FBI who has tons of experience with this kind of situation? I know the answer. You Brits will accept nothing from us Americans that might admit we know something you don't. But the fact remains that the whole paradigm followed by the police is wrong, and as a result it is cruel to Ivy. It is because they proceed assuming that they are dealing with a 26 year old woman. (It's funny they acknowledge Stockholm Syndrome but then they forget about it. They make absolutely no allowance for it. I guess that's "hanging a lantern on it" which put another way is how the writers dismiss the obvious and move on as if it is irrelevant.)

Yes, the police screwed up, repeatedly, but I don't think it was intentionally cruel or even devoid of compassion. They had a life and death problem, and they were out of their element dealing with it. When I read all the negative reviews, I almost expected to see them use a rubber hose on Ivy. After watching it, I see that each of them, even DS Merchant, was struggling with how to treat Ivy fairly and compassionately.

Elliot was a human being, but also a police officer. He had so many failings. He caused so much harm. But he tried and he did do some good.

Another complaint about the police was the way they kept making her relive her torture. Yet I think that this gave Ivy a chance to prove her courage as a contrast to her uncertainty and insecurity. It made Ivy so much more of a complex character. Yes, the police were still screw-ups, but doing this allowed a deeper look at so many things.

I wanted to hate this series and almost passed on it after reading the negative reviews. I think that most of those missed the point.

All of the previous discussion is one element that makes this series so compelling.

Meanwhile, virtually every other character shafted Ivy in his or her own way. How did that happen? Selfishness. The world also stopped for each of her family and friends on that day when she was thirteen. One difference is that it also restarted for each of them at some point, but in different ways and to different degrees. Ivy's life stopped. The life of each of the others restarted, and as a result, each had to deal with his or her own struggles when life reset thirteen years later when Ivy returned. This also makes this series compelling. The series presents interesting character studies of several different people and none of them are the same. None of them are cardboard characters.

This all requires some good acting on the part of many actors. It is surprising to see so many good performances with such difficult roles.

The story has some good twists and turns. At first I focused on Ivy's struggles with great sympathy, but like the detectives, even I began to see there was something important being held back. It is shocking when it is revealed, but the explanation makes a lot of sense.

The last episode changes completely. Intense is not even close to the word. And many of the things I have said earlier don't apply or apply differently about everything except the fact that the world stopped on that day when she was Thirteen. It will never be the same for anyone involved.

In summary, there was a great deal of excellence in this series and it gave us so much that one looks for in a thriller, if you can get past the role of the police.

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