“Thirteen”—An Unlucky Life


Thirteen BBC America
Thirteen BBC America

The BBC mini-series Thirteen (available online) follows 26-year-old Ivy Moxam, who was held captive in a cellar for thirteen years. After escaping from her attacker’s prison, she returns to her family home outside of London, but struggles to put her life back together. There is an uncanny resemblance to the story in the American television series, The Family. (See July 3, 2016 review)

Thirteen presents the police investigation as a secondary plot and focuses on the victim’s situation and psychology, touching upon the Stockholm syndrome and the fragility and unreliability of memory. Everyone closely associated with the crime is also, in some way, a victim. With a steady, stark stream of plot twists we see the kidnapped woman (Ivy), try to adjust from being the thirteen year old abductee to a 26-year old woman trying to catch up to a world that has changed radically. It is a sensitive interpretation of an outlier—not unlike an alien from another planet–with memorable impact on the viewer. In some ways, she is a thirteen-year old pubescent girl trapped in a young woman’s body.

What happens once survivors return to their previous homes? Like oreign residents reentering their homeland, Ivy suffers from culture shock. How does a victim begin to return to their previous life? In Thirteen Ivy’s family attempts to turn back the clock with serious consequences. Things remain unsaid, and secrets and lies unravel.

Thirteen is fiction depicting a grisly reality only truly conveyed by dramatic plot twists allowing the viewer into that world. While the ending for this viewer did not have the tension I expected, never the less Thirteen is gripping and unforgettable television at its best!