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topofthelakeepisode5‘The Dark Creator’

Still unable to find his daughter, Matt is once again by his mother’s grave, apologizing for his disappointments while self-disciplining himself with a belt. And while Matt searches for forgiveness from his mother, Robin is saying goodbye to hers. Unfortunately, Robin’s intimate moments with Johnno are interrupted by a call from the station and Robin is whisked off to Laketop HQ. From here the tension continues to build in a shocking & faultless penultimate episode of Jane Campion’s blistering drama.

At the station, Robin finds Jamie, who has been arrested for shoplifting and caught with Rohypnol. Robin’s stern but gentle questioning yields no answers as to Tui’s whereabouts, nor does Al’s unprofessional humiliation of the kid. Al’s justification for repetitively striking Jamie, that this is “how men relate to each other” highlighting the skewed ideas of masculinity in Laketop (and potentially across New Zealand).

Jamie does know where Tui is though and, having returned home from the station & refused to speak to his mother Simone, clears out the fridge & cupboards before setting off across the lake to be with her. Holed up in a tin hut, Tui looks to have faired well against the harsh New Zealand elements. In a series that can be unforgivably dark at times, the scenes of Tui, Jamie & friends playing together in the streams and fields felt wonderfully, if prematurely, upbeat. Like episode 3, the sure hands of Garth Davis helmed episode 5; his fantastic eye for filmmaking clear to see from the opening shot, to the last. The shot of Tui, appearing through the trees, clad in a white coat with a gun over her shoulder, was breathtaking.

Robin, meanwhile, has become concerned not just for Tui but for all the children of Laketop who have been either directly or indirectly affected by Matt’s substantial drugs network. The revelation that Matt also owned Jude’s house was telling, fuelling ideas that Matt may well be Robin’s father too. Her unsuccessful attempts to convince the girls who work at the Mitcham house (Simone included) to testify against him shows Matt’s power; they may not have a wonderful life, but Matt’s money makes it far more comfortable than it would be otherwise.

It certainly makes Al’s life more comfortable; he has been a suspicious character for weeks, we know he’s in Matt’s pocket and now we know how much he’s willing to help Mitcham. Matt’s reveal from the boat cabin was heart stopping and the first time we really feared for Robin’s life. Elisabeth Moss continues to impress, her incredible eyes capturing the sudden vulnerability and terror of Robin’s character. Thank goodness for Johnno, whose love for Robin far outweighs the respect he has for his father.

All these elements, that have gone in to making Top Of The Lake such compulsive viewing over the last 5 weeks converged together for this week’s finale; a heart breaking final 10 minutes that leaves you exhausted. The silence as Jamie’s body fell from the cliff was agonizing to experience; Robin’s gut wrenching scream to Johnno, Simone’s piercing sobs & Tui’s cries of loss reverberating in your ears long after the credits role. Jamie’s send-off at Paradise couldn’t help but send a shiver down your spine and, like Simone, the anger you feel towards Matt is indescribable. Hats off to Mirrah Foulkes, who stands out in a show bursting with exceptional performances.

★★★★★

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