BBC Two’s Top of the Lake
China Girl: Episode 6
Directed by Ariel Kleiman
Written by Jane Campion & Gerard Lee
* For a recap & review of Episode 5, click here.
Robin (Elisabeth Moss) and Pyke (Ewen Leslie) have gotten much, much closer. Very intimate. Then Dt. Sgt. Griffin gets a call from Mary’s (Alice Englert) cell. Nobody says anything, voices yelling in the background. This freaks the parents out, not to mention they’ve been drinking so it’s not easy to think. Then Constable Miranda Hilmarson (Gwendoline Christie) calls to tell her about the shooting at Silk 41. It’s all a bit much. They head out as quick as possible to the scene. No information’s available readily. One thing’s for sure: Mary is alive at least.
But the situation’s dire. Brett (Lincoln Vickery) has gone off his fucking rocker. No wonder he kept telling people to watch the news. At Silk 41, Miranda and Robin check the place out. Dang (Ling Cooper Tang) tells the police what happened, or at least bits and pieces. Cops are crawling all over, looking for evidence. Puss (David Dencik) is nowhere to be found, though there’s footage showing him leaving, without Mary like a coward. The footage also shows Dang’s partner shot. Except his body’s missing. They passed it on their way to the brothel, moved to a bench on the street after the fact. Now the hunt for Brett and his hostage begins.
Mother Robin is worried. And still quite drunk. Her medical examiner friend poetically helps to give her hope, that Mary will be okay: “As you‘re my Queen, I am your servant, I tell you, she is not going to die.” Just a touch of hope.
Pyke goes to see Julia (Nicole Kidman) to tell her about the hostage situation. The parents are distraught, each worried for their girl and what could happen next. This springs them into action. Although there’s not much they’re able to do, it’s up to the police at this point. There’s also bit of information Julia doesn’t know, either. She hasn’t discovered the full extent of what Puss has been doing to Mary, pimping her out, shocked to hear the words “sex worker” linked to her daughter on the news.
The police are still trying to track down the room connected to the brothel, the one on the security camera where the Thai girls are being kept. Meanwhile, Julia and Pyke plead to the girls at school that may have information, anything useful at all. One of them tells the parents about Stasi Cafe, a place they used to go, where she met Puss.
The cops head to the beach where they suspect Brett might have gone, possibly hiding in plain sight. Robin and Miranda go out in plain clothes while Adrian (Clayton Jacobson) and the others wait in a surveillance vehicle. So many people on the beach in Sydney, it’s like a fleshy needle in the haystack. They find a case of beer from a photo of the beach spotted. Underneath is Brett, buried in sand. Before Miranda draws her weapon properly, he shoots her. Then Robin puts a gun to his head, demanding to know where he’s hidden her daughter.
Mary wakes up. She’s in her basement. She goes upstairs to the surprise of Julia, saying she isn’t able to stay long. Won’t let her mom call the police, either. Won’t talk. I worry for them, their relationship. No telling what Mary’s going to do from one minute to the next.
Either way – off she goes on her own again. And she took her passport.
At the hospital, Robin goes in to see Miranda, lying in bed unable to speak or do anything, unable to breathe on her own. Such a tragic way for this to have gone. Our detective sergeant blames herself, taking it all on her shoulders. However, she told Constable Hilmarson to draw her gun, Miranda didn’t listen, she hesitated. It’s a tough thing to accept, but true.
In the back of Stasi Cafe, Robin finds Puss hiding out. She slices him across the chest with a knife for pimping her daughter. Then he goes on a rant about Cinnamon, saying he did nothing, that his partners were the ones who put her in the suitcase. Things change with his faux masculinity, chauvinist bullshit when Robin puts a gun to his head. She sets him straight about a few things, like the fact Mary isn’t in love with Puss, she’s afraid. And the look on the man’s face afterwards is worth a million dollars; his ego shattered like fragile glass.
They’ve tracked down the surrogate apartment, stashed away in some building. Inside is left a DVD marked PLAY ME. Simultaneously at the airport, Mary and the Thai girls with their big bellies are heading elsewhere, away from Sydney, away from the brothel. Not away from Puss, though. He’s pulled another greasy trick again, corralling all the girls toward the plane like he’s walking dogs, the misogynistic garbage that he is; nor does he offer Mary any apologies for how he treated her during the shooting. He slaps her across the face, prompting her to anger. She decides not to follow them, staying behind.
The DVD shows Puss talking about “vaginas” and “the West” exploiting Asian women. Exactly what he does. He talks like a cult leader in his thick German accent. This is why he shot the little movie, to put on a little show and tell the surrogate parents he’s flown away to Thailand, to a small village. Sadly the law is not on the side of the parents. The law says so, and the police’s hands are tied.
One good thing? Pyke and Julia have picked Mary up from the airport. She’s safe and sound, though you can still see Robin feels for the Thai girls swept away by that hideous, misogynist pimp under the guise of being their saviour. Sad, in many ways, not least of which is the fact those women, those girls, they believe in Puss.
Robin goes to see Mary. She also makes a bit of peace with Julia, if not tenuous. She also sees more of the fragility of relationships, how they’re messy; Pyke and Julia continue floating around one another despite all their troubles. No room for her, apparently. But the relationship that matters is the one involving her daughter. She takes pride in watching an old birthday of Mary as a little girl, seeing her grow up via video, better late than never. So all else pales in comparison when Robin’s discovered a ray of sunshine in the gloom of the world.
Plus a knock comes on the door for her as she sits alone in the evening. Is it Pyke? Is it Mary? Who knows.
God, I love this series! I’d love to see another run, honestly. Maybe they could do another if Campion and Lee figure out a way to tell a last chapter in Robin Griffin’s story. We’ll see if there’s interest. Personally, I would dig it. Wouldn’t mind seeing her try tracking Puss down in Thailand or wherever they’re actually going.
For now, we have two fascinating seasons. This one went darker, more devious than the first, as well as extended that bit of Al Parker that came out in the final episode of Season 1 and put a cap on that plot very well. Cracking stuff.