Matt decides that it’s time to tell Robin that he’s her biological father, a would-be shocking twist which was telegraphed a couple of episodes ago when Robin’s mother implored her to stop seeing Johnno. But without telling her why, of course, because that would be too straightforward. This has two immediate consequences: it spikes her investigation into Matt, because even in Al’s police station daughters can’t investigate fathers. It also puts the brakes on her relationship with Johnno, now revealed to be her half-brother. Fair play to Robin: she’s not above a little incestuous fumbling with Johnno, although it does put him off his stroke a bit.
So with love life in turmoil, career going down the tubes, and teenage gang-rape trauma replaying itself in her mind, where does Robin go for advice? Of course. The Sisterhood of the Shipping Containers, and specifically to GJ. “Be like a cat”, counsels the wise one. “Heal yourself”. Oh piss off. GJ herself seems to be planning her next scam: checking up on her investments and booking a flight to Reykjavík. “Just get me”, she demands, “away from these crazy bitches”. Well, GJ, you’re either part of the problem or part of the solution, and thus far you’ve been the former.
Anyway, Tui? The pregnant 12-year-old alone in the wilderness? Anyone interested? Anyone? Her existence is remembered around halfway through the episode, but the only person anywhere near when she gives birth is crazy old derelict Putty, precisely the man you’d want to be on the towels and hot water detail. Despite that it all seems to go OK, although there are clear signs as the episode winds to a close that no-one’s too interested in Noah, the baby; certainly not the mother.
As for the father? Well, Al says that a DNA test reveals it to be Matt; by then, conveniently dead. But Robin has a moment of revelation when contemplating photos of the kids involved in that creepy accredited barista training scheme thingy, and heads off to Al’s lakeside pad, where she finds proof – including the bottle with the handwritten “ROOFIES” label, perhaps the most risibly clunky thing I’ve ever seen in a TV drama with pretensions to be more than a procedural – that he’s been running a child sex ring out of his basement. And there we pretty much are: one of the abusers was the father of Tui’s baby; Robin and Johnno probably aren’t related after all, although you’d think they probably don’t want to catch each others’ eye during intimate moments; and barista training can have its drawbacks.
What Top of the Lake all added up to was a show unlike anything else on TV, which I mean in a good and bad way. I’m speculating here, but I’d guess that Jane Campion was allowed to pretty much go her own way when making Top of the Lake, and what we got was more or less the realisation of a singular vision. It seems to have worked for a lot of people, but I’d have enjoyed it more, I think, in a trimmed-down form; there was a tightly-drawn three- or four-part drama trying to get out, but that clearly wasn’t the show that Campion wanted to make. Big wins, though, for Elisabeth Moss and the scenery.