“The Twelve” is one of the most acclaimed Australian TV series and features a scintillating courtroom drama where twelve regular individuals with regular lives not only serve as a jury in a horrifying murder case, but also become emotionally invested . The story is directed collectively by five talented Australian filmmakers and is based on the Belgian TV series “Da Twaalf.” The story unfolds with the murder trial of a 14-year-old teenager, Claire Spaces(Coco Jack Gillies), after a prominent hiatus. Claire’s aunt, Kate Lawson (Kate Mulvany), a renowned fine art photographer, is accused of killing Claire Spares on 14th September, 2019. Although there is disagreement among the public regarding sufficient evidence to establish Kate’s crime, her defense attorneys argued that Kate should not be accused of murder unless there is concrete evidence that Claire actually died, since no dead body has yet been found. So the case that shocked the entire country is about to go on trial again before a fresh jury in the Parramatta Supreme Court.
Kate is brought to court, where she is greeted by her attorney, Mr. Brett Colby (Sam Neill), and his paralegal, Ezekiel Aku. Colby tries to persuade her to show more simplicity in front of the jury, which will determine her destiny based on their interpretation of what they see. The day begins with the jury’s selection of fourteen individuals representing a variety of backgrounds, to hear Kate’s case. The two additional jury members were chosen after the twelve pre-selected members . They are all welcomed into a jury where Corrie (Pallavi Sharda), a young woman from Parramatta, is chosen by the jury members to serve as their foreperson. We now wonder what the situation is ? Who is Kate Lawson? Is she actually to be blamed for her niece’s passing? Will these fourteen individuals—each representing a different personality—come together to render a worthy verdict? Only time will tell.
Who is Kate Lawson? Why Is Her Art Vastly Criticized?
Kate Lawson is a well-acclaimed photographer and artist from Sydney. Her works honor the brutality of death and the realism of life. Her niece, Claire, also found solace in her aunt’s company. Kate was a safe haven for sensitive Claire (a rule-breaking and exploratory adolescent who suffered from her family troubles), due to their similar interest in visual art. In addition to being her adoring niece, Claire was a superb model for her theme photography. Claire’s father, Nathan (Matt Nable), and mother, Diane (Jenni Baird), are divorced, and Nathan married Sonia, a woman Claire does not particularly like. Kate’s artistic expression faces numerous obstacles. In court, Kate’s ruthlessness and creepiness are described to the jury by Madam Crown Solicitor Lucy Bloom (Marta Dusseldorp). She adds that not only did she utilize her niece in her filthy practice of adult grooming and exploitation, but she also killed her by strangling her and dumping her body in Sydney Harbor. Mr. Corby contends that Madam Crown’s concerns are unfounded and that Claire’s body was never discovered. Even though Kate was involved previously in a similar case while she was a teenger, the court discourages jury members from being prejudiced and biased. But when Detective Sam Cheddid (Louisa Mignone) is called to testify, she provides details about Kate Lawson’s images of Claire in various ominous poses, in addition to other evidence. In addition to bondages, wounds, chains, ropes, and plastics, there were strange photos of her showcasing menstrual blood that were repulsive to everyone. The authorities discovered a video from Claire’s phone in which she could be seen imitating the violent sexual absurdities known as “Scarfing,” also known as auto-erotic asphyxiation, by suffocating herself with her school tie, which was later recovered as a piece of evidence from the sea. Amita (Aretha-Mae Collins), a friend of Claire’s, recorded this video.
Additionally, Kate is charged with giving alcohol to kids and forcing them to engage in immoral behavior for the sake of her work. Amita attests that Kate is a devoted aunt who takes them to events, openings of galleries, and beaches. She also informs the court that Kate’s most recent body of work focused entirely on death. She claims that because Kate is so fascinated by death, the many shades of postmortem lividity or death bruises excite her. She claims that after seeing Claire’s internet video of drinking and dancing, her father, Nathan, became enraged, dragged her outside, and started an argument with her until Kate intervened. Additionally, she says that Claire asked her to tape her while scarfing because she was so enraged by everyone. When Kate arrived at the scene, she seized Claire’s phone out of anger and brought Amita to her house. Dr. Kantor, a forensic specialist, informs the court that sodium hypochlorite, a potent industrial bleach, was discovered in some photographs and the wheelbarrow, indicating that she attempted to clean those items, probably in an effort to obliterate evidence. However, psychiatrist Dr. Tahlia testifies that Kate has Borderline Personality Disorder, a psychiatric illness that causes significant mood swings, unstable relationships, difficulty controlling impulsive emotions, and even self-destruction.
Mr. Otto Bell (Toby Schmitz), the proprietor of the art gallery where Kate is set to show, swears in court that Kate’s work was the main attraction of his establishment. Moreover, according to him, she did not finish her photo shoot; the last picture was unfinished, but it was never done due to the upsetting event. Madam Crown emphasizes that the theme is entirely about the abyss or existential terror of facing a young person’s death, which ties into the brutal nature of the murder, but Mr. Bell diverts her attention by praising Kate’s art as beautiful and provocative. He claims that creating art is not always a method to unwind but may also be a challenge. And Kate is not the only artist that comes up with ludicrous techniques to create her art. Above all, he rejects the notion that Kate could truly murder her niece in order to bring her death art to life. According to Nathan’s testimony, he and Kate were friends while attending the same art school. And he got married to Kate’s sister Diane. He also claims that Claire was at first a perfect child but subsequently changed under Kate’s influence, turning unpleasant and disobedient. He despises Kate so much that he called the police and said that she killed her daughter while she was missing. He discovered Kate’s bizarre photography of Claire and, in keeping with his protective nature, he said he would not allow her to do the same with her daughter. But Claire persisted in doing photoshoots and even posting videos while getting drunk. He went to Kate’s house to coerce her, but Kate stopped them. The struggle that took place in front of her house and in Nathan’s car was also caught on neighboring CCTV. Later evidence shows that his claims regarding his argument with Claire were inaccurate.
The owner of the boat, “Wood Duck,” Mr. Harmon (Josh Quong Tart), claims that Kate had access to his boat and keys, but he thinks his boat was unharmed and wasn’t used in any crimes. He says his boat could not make it to Sydney Harbor in the allotted two hours and his fuel tank was full. Later, a fisherman, Issacs (Nicholas Hope), testified that he had seen Kate Lawson rowing a tender out to the motorboat “Wood Duck” on the morning of 15th September. Robbie, Kate’s brother, although essentially testifying against her sister, says she could never kill Claire for her art. He claims that he has not been hostile toward any of her sisters for a very long time, and Claire tried to get in touch with him to learn more about her family and even expressed a desire to see him. He brings up a few old, biased stories that the court ignores. Later, Diane testified that her ex-husband was very controlling towards his own daughter. He kept an eye on her social media, created some fictitious accounts to watch activities in secret, criticized every move or aspect of her lifestyle, and undermined her self-assurance. Diane reiterates that Claire fled and was not killed, at least not by her adoring aunt. The house mistress of Claire’s hostel, Ms. Fiona West (Danielle King), testifies and explains that Claire regularly fled. West acknowledges that she fabricated Claire’s late arrival time on the record to prevent any problems. She also says that Claire became irate once she returned and said that she had discovered her father’s affair with her aunt Kate. The shock was hilarious enough for everyone.
Following this testimony, Kate is heartbroken when Diane, her own sister, quits seeing her. Wickr, a mystery app, is found on Nathan’s phone which he used to get in touch with Kate. Now, Kate feels compelled to speak because she fears that if she stays silent, the jury will never understand her predicament. She enters the box and admits her adultery with Nathan, despite her lawyers being unhappy with her choice. She surmises that on the day he arrived to take Claire with him, it was likely that Claire had learned of Kate and Nathan’s secret, and drew his father’s attention to it by threatening to tell Sonia. Giving teenagers space is another topic Kate brings up, and she adds that doing so is a way to support their mental development. She behaves erratically when the Crown confronts her, intending to kill her niece—the inspiration for her harrowing art—in order to advance her legacy. After three months of court procedures, the jury returns a finding of “Guilty” for Kate, and the trial is at last over.
The Jury Members: Diversity or Unanimity?
Unlike other courtroom dramas, The Twelve is not limited to the verbal scuffles between attorneys or the graphic depictions of criminals and their dangerous actions. The crucial elements of this entire series are the jury members. The decisions made by these fourteen individuals about Kate Lawson’s future are unavoidably influenced by their individual situations, obligations, prior struggles, and current living arrangements. Different jury members are portrayed by the filmmaker in various shades of realism.
We see Corrie D’souza, an employee of a charity shop and the jury’s foreperson, as she tries to flee from the painful memories of discovering her parents’ homicide. Since her drug dealer was responsible for her parents’ killing, she punished herself. She develops a friendship with Alexi (Damien Strouthos), a divorced construction manager and father of two young kids, who is a fellow juror. His failure to act appropriately to save the life of a worker at his construction site makes him feel bad. Young queer with severe anger management issues, Vannessa Young (Catherine Van-Davies), wants to get pregnant with her girlfriend, Zoe. Throughout the trial, she struggles with her needlessly unpleasant and erratic behavior toward her fellow jurors and her family. Eventually, she realizes that she has a horrible psychological disorder that has gone untreated and is ruining her life. A young black English literature undergraduate, Jarrod (Ngali Shaw), finds living in this racist nation repugnant. He was utterly disturbed by his unjust imprisonment, and for that, he lost a prestigious scholarship because he could not submit his assignment on time. In his new nation, Farrad (Hazem Shammas), an Iraqi immigrant and former lawyer who drives a cab for a living, eagerly awaits the arrival of his family. An alcoholic and a gambler, Garry Thorne (Brendan Cowell) lives alone with his two dogs. Otto, the gallery owner, bribes him first and then blackmails him to get information from the jury board because he wants Kate to be free of all charges. Garry assists Georgina Merrick (Brooke Satchwell), a fellow juror and mother of three, in leaving her mentally abusive and overbearing husband. Businessman Simon (Nicholas Cassim), the strict father who always attempted to regulate his daughter Ava’s behavior, finally learns to trust his child. Margarete Brown (Gennie Nevinson) is an elderly woman who finds companionship in Peter (Daniel Mitchell), a widower. One juror, Lily (Bishanyia Vincent), has an obsession with astrology and horoscopes. Mel is another elderly person free of any absurd stereotypes. She is with the team as an additional juror until one day she is hospitalized. Trevor is a middle-aged man without a strong personal opinion who frequently sides with the majority. The young boy with the headphones, who eventually identified himself as Ethan, never speaks during any of the sessions but instead holds up a mirror in front of everyone to show them how miserable they are while pretending to be objective and ideal.
They are twelve distinct individuals with disparate thoughts who juggle their varied issues, contributing their struggles to the judgment and crafting a new scene inside their heads. The sequestered jury is continuously being educated by the false media reports that claim that Kate has committed murder in the past. After all the ifs and buts, only Corrie votes “Not Guilty,” leaving a majority of 11 jurors to render the judgment of “Guilty”. Some may lose, while others may gain, but this decision and the steps that led to it, undoubtedly left a powerful impact on the lives of them.
‘The Twelve’ Ending Explained: What is the prejudice Kate wishes to expose? Was She Really a Killer in her Past?
Throughout “The Twelve,” Kate’s teenage years are frequently brought to our attention. Indicating there is some secret though inadmissible in court for this case, surely can help to understand Kate better. Kate also asks her attorney to reveal them. We witness Steve Dokic (Shane Connor), the darkroom rapist, enter the courtroom and yell at Robbie to be honest. This Dokic was found guilty of raping and killing Kate’s close friend Belinda Bain (Charlotte Lucas), a 14-year-old girl, in 1992. He was a photographer and Kate’s mentor. One day, Kate introduced Belinda to Dokic. He had weird sexual fantasies about choking Belinda with her school tie, which she found to be offensive. She threatened to contact the police because she was disgusted with Kate for bringing her there. Kate pushed her down the stairs because she was anxious and couldn’t control her erratic feelings. Kate went back home and told her family everything after Belinda passed away from a head injury. Her violent father cooked up a scenario in which Kate went home and saw them in a conjugal position. He then called the police to handle this case of child abuse. He beat his son for wanting to speak the truth and forced everyone to spread this falsehood about Kate’s early arrival. When the police arrived at Dokic’s house, they discovered that he was driving Belinda to the hospital. Although Dokic repeatedly insisted that the girl was not raped, the evidence was against him. For this fraudulent accusation, he was sentenced to more than 30 years in prison.
After this incident, Robbie left the house and never saw his siblings again. Diane was quite close to her sister, but she gave up when she learned that Kate and Nathan were having an affair. We learn that the automated flashlight was captured on camera when Kate was gone that night, and Kate finally admits to her lawyer that she was angry when Claire tried to shoot the final piece by herself but inadvertently died. She got choked on her school tie that she tied with the staircases during the photo shoot. These photographic flashes at a particular time interval are captured on CCTV. After Kate returned home, she found her body, which she had actually dumped using a boat. Diane, her sister, must have known this but chose to be her supporter because it was an accident. She didn’t want Kate’s true culpability in their past to come to light. The only evidence that may have shown Claire had choked to death in the final scene—the negatives of those photographs—were destroyed by Diane, thus handing her a verdict for her wrongdoing. Despite the fact that Kate loved her niece dearly, Diane determines that her sister deserves this outcome only.
Final Words: Is Justice Well Served?
“The Twelve” wonderfully illustrates the underlying torment and escape routes of the jury members. Additionally, it demonstrates how difficult it is to manage the various human emotions created for a variety of unexplained reasons. The way that Kate’s theme of death is portrayed is a lovely example of self-surrender. It is the apology she never made to Belinda for her true wrongdoing. She is so enamored with death and its images that she uses her niece, Belinda, as a subject. At the conclusion of “The Twelve,” her art of facing death makes sense since it is her admission of both her guilt—for which she was never found guilty—and a lethal conspiracy against an innocent Dokic. The damnation returns to Kate in this way. She never thought she would be estranged from her sister, who was her only source of support. So, like Kate’s art, the reason for her punishment is also open to interpretation; if it is for killing Belinda, or Claire, or the trust of a sister, or anything else.
“The Twelve” is a 2022 Courtroom Drama series streaming on Foxtel with subtitles.