Thirteen Recap: Home Alone


Part Three
Season 1 Episode 3
Editor’s Rating *****
Richard Rankin as Carne, Valene Kane as Merchant, Eleanor Wyld as Eloise. Photo: Sophie Mutevelian/BBC

In the aftermath of Tim’s truth bombshell, Ivy quite understandably seeks comfort in the arms of her family. But as she discovers in this episode, the Moxams have been busy keeping secrets of their own.

The previous episode’s cliffhanger — a mysterious hand covering Ivy’s mouth — is resolved quickly. It’s Robert Tarl, the father of the missing girl, Phoebe, who wants Ivy to reveal the whereabouts of his little girl. As he drags Ivy away from her home, her sister, Emma, sees the commotion and rushes to her sister’s rescue. A quick-thinking Em tackles Robert to the ground and throws herself over Ivy, who is lying in the street. “You’re safe,” she whispers. It’s a sweet moment that sets up a larger arc: the sisters’ rediscovering their sibling bond in the wake of Ivy’s unexpected return.

But first, Christina and Angus rightly call out Alia for leaving Ivy vulnerable to Robert’s attack. They refuse to allow her to remain as their family liason officer — and decline to have another one assigned. This means Detectives Carne and Merchant will have to go through Christina and Angus directly to interrogate Ivy. A post-makeout Carne and Merchant, who were called to the house immediately after the attack, assure them that Robert will not go unpunished, but Ivy declines to press charges. (To have Carne and Merchant arrive with disheveled hair and practically tucking their shirts in their pants was too on-the-nose for my taste. Frankly, they both seem too smart to be that obvious.)

Christina sends an almost catatonic Ivy to recover from Robert’s attack in a relaxing bath, while Angus angrily confronts Tim on the phone about lying to Ivy. Of course, the whole Moxam family is one big lie at this point, as her parents have been faking their relationship for Ivy’s sake, but no one seems to pick up on that hypocrisy. Maybe because she notices his alpha, take-charge attitude during that call with Tim, Christina later invites Angus back into her bed. Just for sleep, but still, the gesture’s not an insignificant sign of trust.

“Part Three” has a lot of characters sleeping in unusual places. Tim is on the couch, after Yazz discovers that he’d lied to her about what Ivy knew. Oh, Tim. You sweet, sweet idiot. How could your behavior get you anywhere but the couch? Luckily for him, he’s got a buffer from Yazz’s ire. Tim and Ivy’s school friend, Eloise, is staying with him and sleeping on the ground near the couch. Back at the Moxam house, Ivy asks to sleep in Em’s bed, so her fiancé Craig is off to spend the night on the couch as well. Craig obliges, but his patience is clearly wearing thin at the many disruptions caused by Ivy’s reappearance.

Throughout this episode, the two girls find ways to connect through old memories (favorite candies, old crushes) and cautiously forge new ones (Ivy’s confusion over seeing her baby sister drive a car). Em even accompanies Ivy on a visit to the police psychiatrist, Dr. Young. While waiting for Ivy to finish her session, Em wanders around a mall and spies her dad with his girlfriend. The sight disturbs Em enough that Ivy later presses to find out what’s got her so bothered. Not wanting to lie to Ivy anymore, Em confesses that Angus left the family years ago to be with his girlfriend. With this news, Ivy’s already small and delicate world starts to unravel further.

Meanwhile, the Mark White investigation continues. Merchant and Carne interview a neighbor of White’s mother, Carol. They’re surprised to learn that White had a “slow” half-brother, Dylan. When the detectives go to Ivy for more information, she denies knowledge of Dylan, but an evasive nervousness slips through her body language. Of course, Ivy could still just be recovering from a letter she received from White, begging for his “Alyson” to come home. “That’s what he called me,” she says, quietly. I like how the details of Ivy’s 13 years in captivity drip out in small doses throughout each episode, giving the audience only brief glimpses of her kidnapped past.

With Ivy out as a source, Carne and Merchant focus on other leads, like Dylan’s arrest record. His fingerprints are on file, and the lab checks the “red door” house. Not only are Dylan’s fingerprints found at the scene, but they are everywhere. Carne circles back to Ivy, giving her another chance to admit she knew Dylan had been in the house. He goes without Merchant as a way to gain Ivy’s trust, but she’s obstinate and confrontational anyway. Ivy starts turning the questions on Carne, in an attempt to give him a taste of his own interrogation medicine. The interview is a breaking point for Carne, as he starts to come around to Merchant’s view that Ivy can’t be trusted. But is her behavior really that surprising? She just found out her family was built on a lie — a fact that Carne might have been clued into if Alia had stayed with the Moxam family.

Of course, the Moxams aren’t the only ones keeping secrets. Merchant and Carne both lie to each other about their own plans for the evening, though, neither is wise to the other. Carne breaks into Dr. Young’s office and reads up on Ivy’s confidential sessions. As he flips through Dr. Young’s reports, Ivy calls him, desperate for help. Having confronted her father and learned that Em had doubted her identity, she’s in a very low place. She wants Carne’s company, and when he declines, she lies and says someone is outside her house. It’s a small lie in the grand scheme of the show, but it’s a powerful one, considering that Ivy’s credibility has larger repercussions in the story. Carne responds to Ivy’s home, where she begs him to stay in the room to help her sleep. Carne reluctantly agrees.

Meanwhile, Merchant is visiting White’s creepy bleached cellar to look for more clues. What is it with Merchant and these middle-of-the-night visits? And why does this need to be secretive? She’s the detective assigned to the matter, so I’m pretty sure she could get routine access to the scene during daylight hours. As she putters around the cellar, she gets a hunch that something is hiding behind a brick wall. She calls in a team to break it down. Behind the wall? A body in a trash bag.

Stray Thoughts:

  • So, who’s in the bag? I’m guessing it’s Dylan.
  • I would love to see the headmaster’s subplot moved forward a bit. A few minutes an episode is not enough time for me to feel invested in his arc or care about his character.
  • Jodie Comer’s performance has been so impressive throughout the miniseries. She makes me feel bad for the character and feel scared of her at the same time. From episode to episode, the way she plays Ivy’s quiet breakdown is fascinating to watch.

Thirteen Recap: Home Alone