‘No Goodbyes Thanks’
So, did you guess correctly? After weeks of waiting we finally have our answers… or do we. The closing 20 minutes of this superb final episode played with our minds in such a way that even after 3 viewings, I couldn’t decide whether we have the answers we wanted. However, the brilliance of Campion’s drama is that it doesn’t really matter about the answers; it’s the characters we have grown to care about and the ones we’ve come to loath that are important, and watching as their individual parts in this story concluded was fascinating to watch.
We opened with Simone, still in the dress her deceased son loved to see her wear, arriving at Robin’s to tell her that, not only will she testify against Matt, but so will the other girls that Robin tried and failed to pursued last week. However, the testimonies may not be needed. Al informs Robin that Matt wishes to confess to her; Johnno doesn’t like it, telling Robin of how awful his childhood at the Mitcham’s was. Robin goes anyway, but doesn’t get the confession she expects, or indeed wants.
Despite the glaring signposts during the previous episodes, the revelation that Matt was Robin’s father was still hard to stomach, mostly thanks to Elisabeth Moss’s spectacular performance. Robin’s move from confusion, to anger, to heartbreak over the course of 5 minutes was agonizing to watch. Matt viciously declaring, “you’re my seed girl” haunting her as she walks home to Johnno. The scene between Robin & Johnno was heartbreaking, the moment Robin tried to pull Johnno on top of her almost unbearable. Campion’s pace may be slow, but her ability to squeeze such emotion from her characters shows exemplary filmmaking talent.
Devastated, Robin turns to drink and eventually ends up at Paradise. Holly Hunter’s GJ has at times become lost amongst the central narrative but here got her real moment to shine. As we should have come to realize, GJ was really nothing more than just words; she showed as much interest in the women she sought to guide as she did in the movement of gold in the stock market. Her decision to leave to “get away from these crazy bitches” certainly brought a laugh though.
As Paradise crumbles, so does Matt; the image of him crying because of a headache, showing just how weak he really is. His anger towards his sons, “you’re nothing” he barks, pushing them to boiling point. Even his loyal sons hate him, convinced that he has raped Tui and is the father of her child. Determined to bring his daughter back, Matt heads to the forest to find her, with Robin & Johnno close behind him. Matt never emerges from the woods though; with Tui following the orders her father gave her in Episode 1 and pulling the trigger.
An unspecified amount of the time later and Al arrives at Paradise with, what we believe to be, the answers. Matt is confirmed as the father of Tui’s baby, but the baby is fine. However, Matt isn’t Johnno’s father, as we believed. It’s a neat, if farfetched, device that allows Robin & Johnno to be together. However, who’s to say what Al has just revealed is true?
Campion’s direction during the final 10 minutes was flawless. As Robin stared at the wall of graduates in the coffee shop, the answers all fell in to place; the clues were there for you to work it out yourself and Campion wastes no time in having Robin explain.
As she arrives at Al’s, she finds him drunk and acting as the psycho we thought he might be but always hoped he wasn’t. Having shot him and then found the Rohypnol on his kitchen counter, Robin turns to find Tui who’s confused and scared. However, it’s what’s downstairs that chills you to the core. Here we find the location of the pictures found on Bob Platt’s hard drive; a pedophile ring run by Al for his wealthy friends. It’s a heart-pounding climax, which subtly questions all the answers Al gave us earlier.
As GJ leaves Paradise, Campion fades to black, leaving the audience to reflect on the story she has told. Refusing to bow to convention, we never discover the fate of Robin & Johnno’s relationship, or whether the Mitcham’s are prosecuted for the drugs operation they run. Like the show itself, these questions will continue to haunt you for days after you’ve seen the ending. Only a few shows have the power to stick so memorably in the mind, and Top Of The Lake is certainly one I won’t forget in a hurry.