THIRTEEN Review: “Episode 5”

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Ivy waits for White at a crowded mall, under the watchful eyes of Carne, Merchant, CCTV and a dozen plainclothes officers. All seems to be kosher, until Ivy spots White in a photo booth, holding a drugged Phoebe in his arms. At White’s instructions, Ivy meets him outside the mall as Phoebe is released back to her family. White speeds off with Ivy in a moving van, and the chase is on.

Though the writing  on has been strong all (short) season, there hasn’t really been much action. This episode abandons the subtle drama of the previous four, but still feels consistent with the series tone overall. We kick off with a high speed chase, as Carne and Merchant’s police cruiser is flipped over during the pursuit. It’s a heightened moment, but the old married couple can’t resist a few jabs at each other as they lie trapped in the wrecked car.

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White flees into the countryside with Ivy, leaving behind her devastated family and friends. As we see the series’ villain in the flesh for the first time, White seems either understated or underwhelming, maybe both. And that’s not a bad thing. A small-framed, clean shaven man in a plain sweater, White is shown as calculated and cold-blooded, but not violent. Every action is methodical and structured, from his reminder that Ivy’s escape attempt has “consequences” to his insistence that she say “thank you.”

Determined not to lose their daughter and sister a second time, Angus, Christine, Emma and Craig reunite to find her, joined also by Tim and Eloise. Meanwhile at a local hospital, Merchant and Carne recover from their injuries. Both of the women Carne cares about are in jeopardy right now, and he’s not about to take this lying down in a hospital bed. Carne struggles back to work, but Merchant is grounded with a severe head injury.

White holds Ivy captive at a dingy house in the country. Finally allowed to speak, Ivy tries to convince White that she never meant to leave him. He’s suspicious, but finally agrees to untie her. “I looked after you, I kept you safe. All the ones out there, they’re the ones that let you down.” It’s twisted, but it’s almost true. Though thankfully we’re spared any R-rated scenes of Mark’s depravity, he still manages to make the most common daily activities intensely disturbing, from eating dinner with Ivy to taking a bath, to changing clothes. But the farce comes crashing down around their ears when Ivy turns a gun on White, and then realizes it’s not loaded.

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Time is running out now that White knows the truth. Luckily, a limping but determined Elliot Carne convinces his superior to let him interview Phoebe, in order to find more clues about Ivy’s location. Using Phoebe’s drawings and memories, he figures out where White has taken Ivy and alerts the troops. But instead of joining them, Carne heads back to the hospital to be with Merchant, his one true love.

Meanwhile, Ivy makes a desperate escape as White tries to burn them alive inside the house. She knocks him out and breaks out just in time, mirroring the first scene of the series, as the house explodes behind her. Though the ending feels a bit truncated after the long, slow buildup of the series, there is still a sense of catharsis as Ivy is reunited with her family outside, for good.

Thirteen wasn’t picked up for a season 2 in the UK, but that shouldn’t be a measure of its success. Sometimes it’s not about how many times a show comes back to our screens, but about how strongly it impacts us in it’s short existence. By those standards Thirteen was a fantastic way to spend a Thursday evening, and will be remembered as a intriguing, unique take on a genre that continues to captivate audiences worldwide.

TB-TV-Grade-B+
Season 1, Episode 5 (S01E05)
Thirteen airs Thursdays at 10PM on BBC America

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Heather makes things for TV by day and writes by night (also sometimes by day). She is a fan of all stories that reflect life, but it doesn’t hurt if they’re set on another planet or in another time.
Twitter: @Elianarra

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