Thirteen, episode 2 – review

“What if Phoebe is Ivy’s child?”

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© BBC

Written by Michael Lee.

Read episode 1 review here.

And so with a mixture of excitement and trepidation we return to the land of terraced houses full of mansion sized secrets. From baking cakes to detective based sexual chemistry, the first twenty-five minutes has a strange aura that not much is happening, that the story has become static but in truth that’s all down to the subtle machinations at work. The motors are slowly revving into gear. All it takes is a little look here, a seemingly innocuous line there and  subconsciously what we thought to be true is turned on a six pence. The subtlety is at its most powerful with what it leaves to our imagination. All the power lies in what we don’t see. We are not granted any access into Ivy’s last thirteen years. It may be her story but we have only the family and detectives point of view.

The main thread running through this episode is Ivy’s, if not return to youth, but yearning to find the youth she never had. The scenes with Tim show she is just as smitten as her thirteen year-old self was (running around fields, writing lovey-dovey letters). Normally these scenes would be cute rays of light in other shows but we know all is not as she believes and it creates an uneasy edge to the sweetness. The world has moved on and while she is only just catching up with the concept of iPods, culture now thinks they’re old hat. She will always be playing catch-up while also trying to live a past she never had. It’s a notion as conflicted as Ivy herself. Not only that, but Tim is now married and this news shatters her hopes of a second chance of what Mark White stole from her.

Given the nature of the show, such a claustrophobic style echos its dark heart perfectly. It’s most captivating when Ivy agrees to help Carne and Merchant by returning to the house of the red door. It is the hope that any reinvigorated memories may hold some clues in the search for Phoebe.  From the pathway and into the living room she is riddled with fear, yet she looked more at home in the cellar than in her family home.

The revelations come thick and fast in the closing stages. CCTV footage from 2013 arises of Ivy and Mark in a shopping centre where she not only leaves his side for a few minutes but actively seeks him out when she can’t find him, taking his hand when reunited. It is a complete contradiction to previous statements and it blurs the lines between the sympathy viewers want to feel; and suspicion of her motives. There’s a lot of curious motives going around truth be told. Mr Headmaster man is clearly not innocent about something, especially given the constant paranoia of his secretary. Then we have Eloïse who turned up in town with something big to tell Ivy but is scared of doing so and Tim is in on the mystery too.

The pacing may be slow and brooding but once again Thirteen managed to fly by in a haze of suspense and intensity. THAT cliffhanger alone turns the previous sixty minutes on its head and looks set to take proceedings to a very unexpected place. Where are Mark White and Phoebe? Where is Ivy now? Where is a new list of superlatives because we’re fast running out already.

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CASE NOTES:

– Cliche moment alert! – Detectives kissing each other passionately during big argument

– What does Mr Headmaster man (registered trademark) hope to achieve (or hide) from his own one man investigation? Surely he had an affair with Christina? That’s got to be it, right?

– Were the paps tipped off by someone close to the Moxams?

– Who did Ivy want to call IF it wasn’t Tim? Is this significant? Probably not.

– It’s all very well telling her what an iPod does, Tim but at least explain the temperamental circle control bit too.

– Ivy declared “I’m not a child, I’ve had sex” to the horror of her mum. What with new developments are we to assume this was consensual?

– The opening credits are all very Marvel-like and marvellous aren’t they?

THEORIES:

– Towards the end of last week I was of the conclusion that Mark White might have set her free on purpose and now the implication by Merchant that he’s kidnapped a little girl for Ivy’s attention certainly fits in with that. Is it all part of his game?

– Looking at the public response a few days after I watched episode, one I was surprised at how many people seemed to immediately question how genuine Ivy was as the credits rolled. Myself, I was going with the explanation that all the trauma she has experienced, mixed with trying to fit into a new life was responsible for the erratic behaviour. Despite the revelations of this week, I’m still holding aloft my sympathy card. Let’s not forget she would have been subjected to extreme forms of control, manipulation and… God knows what. Add to that fear and confusion and you have a potent mix. Yes, she could have escaped from the shopping centre but it’s likely that he made her reliant on him, made life without him a scarier proposition than her cage. Why would she lie to the police? Denial? Because she doesn’t want him arrested? Possibly both. Does she love him? Almost certainly.

– Let’s put this one out there: What if Phoebe is Ivy’s child? What if she was given a new surname ? There it’s been said.