BBC Two’s Top of the Lake
China Girl: Episode 5
Directed by Jane Campion
Written by Campion & Gerard Lee
* For a recap & review of Episode 4, click here.
* For a recap & review of Episode 6, click here.
Puss (David Dencik) comes to take Mary (Alice Englert) from Robin’s (Elisabeth Moss) place in the night. At the same time we see a surreal dream Robin has, of holding two tiny babies in her palms as she puts on a shirt, answering the door. She wakes, but the image sticks in her mind, as it does in ours. She has to break the news about their daughter leaving when Pyke (Ewen Leslie) gets there with food for breakfast. Poor dad is gonna snap soon enough. I’m surprised he hasn’t yet, he’s a good man; better than I.
Now they’ve figured out what’s going on, that Puss is prostituting Mary. Or trying to, anyways. Nearly too much for Pyke to bear. He and Robin have one another in the whole ordeal, even if Julia (Nicole Kidman) isn’t aware or into their closeness. Meanwhile, Robin’s trying her best as detective sergeant to properly put a case on the pimp, for Mary’s sake, for Cinnamon’s sake, for the sake of all the girls under his ’employ’ and those who might/will be in the future.
At least they’ve got Brett (Lincoln Vickery), he’s the only man who genuinely seems to care about the deceased China girl. He’s identifying specific marks for the police on the girl’s body, to prove it’s her, as well as to prove how well he knew her. He describes “a small gold cross” she wore constantly and some specific moles, among other specific details. Afterwards, Robin comes up against the creepy cop who wants to bed her, he’s insistent. We also see the casual misogyny of some men, as another detective says there’s “yes nos” when it comes to women; an example of the male gender not understanding that no means fucking no, full stop. Such good writing because it brings out that misogyny so many men don’t even understand is hateful towards women, erasing a woman’s right to make decisions for herself.
Brett is going absolutely crazy. He’s hallucinating Cinnamon, so much so he introduces his mother to her while clearly there’s not a soul there with him. That’s shocking, in such a sad way.
Constable Miranda Hilmarson (Gwendoline Christie) is having troubles, worrying about her baby. Not getting much sympathy from her supposed mentor. This puts the big lady on a warpath, no time for anyone’s bullshit. She questions a woman about Cinnamon, revealing that she was a “sex worker” who’s wound up dead. Then the constable trips out, scared for her baby and making a scene. This puts the two women at odds once more, Robin and Miranda both butting heads.
Nobody ever seems to ask about Robin’s story. So she reveals a bit of herself to the constable: she’s been pregnant 4 times, 3 of those miscarriages. Through it all they become honest with one another. Miranda reveals she isn’t having the baby, right now she’s wearing a fake stomach. Shit, I didn’t expect that. We see that the whole emotional bit for the constable involves the fact she had problems getting pregnant. She went through IVF, and worried the baby in Cinnamon’s belly was her surrogate daughter until it was revealed the fetus was a boy.
Robin: “I will haunt you”
The psyche of Brett is further crumbling, worse by the hour. He’s back with his friends around the table again at the coffee shop. He’s still acting like Cinnamon is alive. Not just that, he’s filming everything. Telling people it’ll be “on the news.” This sort of freaks me out. Could Brett have done something to Cinnamon? Or is he merely having a psychological break after her death?
Miranda: “Fuck love, it‘s a disease. People die from it.”
Despite all the shit, Mary is still in love with Puss. She seems intent on being a part of that whole lifestyle at the brothel, like she actually believes it’ll be good to be a prostitute. At the same time she’s noticing things around Silk 41, how they operate. I wonder what happens when Dang (Ling Cooper Tang) feels she’s too much a liability.
One of the girls is leaving, going to Thailand. Puss and Dang’s partner take her to go. I wonder if she’s really going, or if it’s the same way Cinnamon was leaving with a suitcase. Mary wonders, too. The rift beginning to wedge between her and the pimp, finally. I hope it’s soon enough.
Pixie, the woman from the doctor’s office where Miranda had her freak out, isn’t answering her door. Everyone is outside waiting. So they bust inside, only to find her lying in bed, stone dead. Apparent suicide. A letter left to Miranda, involving people who’ve lost touch with surrogates. Devastating, yet this will hopefully help with the police investigation, and surely very worried couples.
Coming home, Robin finds Puss waiting for her. To apologise, he says. She’s of course got her back up immediately. Then he asks about Cinnamon, the case. He tries deflecting onto someone else, to make himself seem innocent. Except he reeks of guilt. “You should do your job,” he says. Also the girl is Thai, which I suspected but did’t know for sure. Goes to show you the label of China girl is a slight racism, in how white people just assume Asian is Chinese, or sometimes Japanese.
Julia (Nicole Kidman) isn’t overly happy to know Pyke (Ewen Leslie) is having Robin over for dinner. Nor that the birth mother’s been seeing the daughter a bit as of late. The adoptive mother gets her back up. The so-called feminist doesn’t care to know anything about Robin’s story, about what happened to make her give up her child. Luckily, the detective sergeant can laugh things off. She and Pyke have a nice little bit of wine, cheese, grapes, they talk about his past. She even gets a look at Mary’s room, the place she grew up. A touching, heavy moment. Giving her a window into her daughter’s mind, her identity. And also a pregnancy test lying on the dresser: negative. Dad worries her daughter isn’t being safe, Robin worries she’s invading her daughter’s privacy.
Looks like Puss is trying to make himself a movie, making a set look like the jungles in Thailand. He directs women and a bunch of screeching babies, shooting with the camera himself and not letting Mary or her friend help, bossing them around. Everything he does, he’s a woman hater; misogynistic, through and through.
Meanwhile, Robin and Pyke are trying to get talking with Mary. They see the pimp waiting for her outside school like a creep. Finally, dad loses his cool, confronting the man, who pumps out his idiotic rhetoric while Pyke professes the fatherly love he has for his girl. Honestly? Broke me a bit. Ewen Leslie is a damn fine actor, man!
Together later, Pyke and Robin fall into bed. Finally. He treats her with tenderness, as opposed to so many other men in her life, almost every one of them. Across the city, Brett continues hallucinating Cinnamon. Then he heads out on the bus, telling more people to watch the news tonight. I’m starting to really worry about this dude.
At Silk 41, Brett walks in with his gun drawn. Heading for Puss. The cowardly pimp pushes Mary in front of him, heading into an elevator. Just as the young man shoots at him.
Holy fuck. Will Mary take the bullet? If so, will she die? Oh. My. Laaawd. I’ve not been this twisted up by a cliffhanger in ages. What a powerful moment, a scary one that nearly stopped my heart.