BBC Two’s Top of the Lake
China Girl: Episode 3
Directed by Ariel Kleiman
Written by Jane Campion & Gerard Lee
* For a recap & review of Episode 2, click here.
* For a recap & review of Episode 4, click here.
At the station, Robin (Elisabeth Moss) gets called in about a supposed confession concerning China girl. A man named Toni (Damon Herriman) has turned himself in, telling the cops about being in a brothel encountering some trouble with one of the girls. Wound up in the backseat of his car with her. Says she stabbed him, so he started choking her. Then she’s dead. Only issue is his story, he doesn’t mention putting her in a suitcase. His confession’s bullshit, a waste of time.
Not the only waste. She’s got male colleagues wanting to bang, even though she barely has time for some of them on a working level. At home in her building, she hears Constable Miranda Hilmarson (Gwendoline Christie) across the hall getting it on. Everywhere around her it’s all about sexuality, one way or another. While Robin just wants to do her job. Seems like the one over at Miranda’s place was actually Adrian (Clayton Jacobson). Good lord! They’re “an item.”
So now Robin is trying to figure out the whole surrogate angle of Cinnamon’s death. Too young to be a legal surrogate, which means this is something darker, more devious. Robin wants to find people “neurotically fixated” on having a child or their own, who’ve failed at IVF (in vitro fertilisation). One doctor mentions the risk with illegal surrogacy, in Sydney, Australia is dangerous; the law lays down that if a surrogate changes her mind, she can then keep the child. That could drive someone to murder, no? I wonder if somehow Julia (Nicole Kidman) and Pyke Edwards (Ewen Leslie) play into this? Or is that too dark and devious?
Speaking of the Ewards’, sans-Mary (Alice Englert) and along with Julia’s new girlfriend, they’re out at dinner to eat with Puss (David Dencik). They want to figure him out. Dad says if he finds out anything untoward, they’ll expose him. The pimp is a weird man. The entire dinner’s confrontational, especially once Pyke and Julia fully realise this guy is full of shit. They’ve found out bits of his past, that he’s “a bigamist” and he has a wife from long ago, still married.
When Mary turns up afterwards she isn’t happy with her parents, choosing to ignore the truth of her soon-to-be husband. She doesn’t take much stock in what any of them say, as they’re all married while moving on, too. Christ. Poor Mar’s hypnotised, like a worshipper under the leader of a cult. Willing to die if rejected by the pimp. Casting off her adoptive family.
Puss is in a dark mood. All the women at Silk 41 try soothing him, as does Mary. He won’t eat, he won’t talk or come out of his room. Then Mary gets a call from her birth mother. Robin wants to meet up, having heard from Pyke. Wanting to help the girl. They go out for a bit of food together, eating burgers on the floor of Robin’s apartment and slowly getting to know one another. It’s tragic to watch Mary slip into a dangerous life with Puss, it’s even harder to see the mom who had to give her away watch her daughter feel torn in so many directions by life.
In a dark set of hallways a woman wanders toward a crying baby. She finds it on the floor, tiny, frail. It collapses in her hands like a balloon. Then in the streets, a woman stumbles around in a nightgown, crying about her missing child and unable to remember anything. Terrifying, chilling moment. Turns out, she doesn’t have a baby, she wasn’t pregnant. She wandered off from a psych ward.
Robin goes to see the woman, Felicity. The woman’s domineered by her husband Mike, answering personal questions for her instead of letting her answer them herself. She keeps saying “it‘s lost” and that someone won’t return her calls, so on. The husband reveals they’ve got a “guest mother,” and she’s nowhere to be found: our poor China girl, Cinnamon.
The husband’s no angel. He’s got a bit of a record. Now they’ve all got to provide DNA, Felicity and Mike, as well. It’s clear their marriage has been torn to bits over her inability to conceive. But enough to murder if Cinnamon wanted to keep the child? Perhaps, though can’t be sure. Yet.
A familiar face returns – Al Parker (David Wenham). He’s now in a wheelchair permanently. He deserves worse. His civil suit is making Robin’s life hell, particularly in a profession where the misogyny runs rampant, and any shred of doubt on the part of male cops towards her is like a goddamn crucifixion.
Today, Robin comes face to face with Al. Before their official meeting, the man finds her alone. They talk, he acts like a nosy weirdo. Then he whips off his belt, as if to try assaulting her again. But it’s to try strangling her to death. The only thing she can do is start a fire with her lighter. People come to the rescue, though she nearly kills Al before they do. What a fucking mess.
Wow! This was a wild ride of an episode. Fits right in, even if some may find it out of place. I wish she’d have killed the man, the nasty pervert. Excited for whatever comes next, it’s sure to be exciting.