Now that Top of the Lake, the seven episode dramatic series has finished its run on the Sundance Channel – I’m left with more questions in the ‘post resolution aftermath’ than I had before the series ended. Whether or not this was the intent of the series creators Jane Campion and Gerard Lee is a question I can’t answer.
Though the questions of what happened to Tui did get resolved, there’s a whole slew of other head-scratchers for we viewers to ponder. Reader FD and I are going to sit down to discuss the show, and with no specific agenda in mind – we will just see where our talks take us.
***** MAJOR SPOILER WARNINGS GOING FORWARD*****
JMM: In the last three minutes there a number of questions left unanswered. The first one is what actually happened at Al’s house, 2) what was Robin rinsing out in the lake (was it Al’s blood?), and 3) GJ walks off as the show ends. Without specifically tackling those questions, were you happy with the way the show ended?
FD: I was impressed by the cinematography and the cast, particularly Elizabeth Moss (Robin), Holly Hunter (GJ) and Peter Mullan (Matt), but I was unimpressed with the plot and the editing. Even though I guessed who the villain was early on, each episode made less sense to me than the previous one. And like you, I have a shipping container full of unanswered questions.
Here’s a few of them: 1)Were Robin and Johnno really related or was Al also lying about their DNA test? 2) Why did Matt whip himself repeatedly at his mother’s grave site? 3) Why didn’t Matt suspect Al might have been involved with Tui getting pregnant? 4) Why did Matt try to shoot Tui’s baby if it wasn’t his? 5) Why did GJ decide to go to Reykjavik? (to get as far away from this story as possible?) I could list a lot more questions, but, my biggest question is: What was Ms. Campion thinking? Didn’t she notice any of these loopholes?
JMM: To respond about the five questions you just listed: 1) Matt told Robin that he was her father making Johnno her half-brother. Johnno said that was a Matt mind game. Then Al told Johnno that Matt wasn’t his father – making it even more of a puzzle. 2) I have no idea about why Matt whipped himself – guilt I suppose. Because surely he had so much to be guilty about. 3) & 4) Not sure about either of these – need an explanation. 5) GJ was all about money – at least in the closing episode. Seems like that was tossed in as an after-thought. However it all seemed so extraneous. And what was the point of her leaving – especially as the closing image.
Maybe it was all symbolic – NZ: bottom of the world, Iceland: top of the world. Maybe GJ was a stylization of Campion herself – you know, in it for the money. Big emphasis on the maybe. So the key element must be the program Al was running to rehabilitate the kids – because it was clearly something else entirely at least below the surface.
FD: I don’t think there’s a way to perfectly explain this story. Some things were purposely left ambiguous. Other aspects seem to have been inadequately tied up at the climax. But, here’s my quick attempt to summarize. 1) Al was involved in child porn/prostitution, which paid for his two million dollar home. 2) Al also ran a training program for the local kids getting them employment at the cafe/restaurant. April Stephens was a child sex victim who became a murder victim when she knew too much. Al investigated and declared Stephens’ death a suicide. Bob Platt saw the videos made at Al’s house (the terrible thing his wife talked about) and wound up dead (this could have been done by Matt when he dragged him behind his boat but Al’s investigation failed so he may have been involved in the second murder). When Tui disappeared, Al made Wolfie his third victim (scapegoat for Tui’s disappearance/pregnancy).
Tui said “no one” got her pregnant because she was drugged and didn’t remember any sexual encounter (this is supported by Tui later saying she didn’t know how the baby got insider her). This is the basic plot line, but there were many subplots and diversions, most of which undermined the central story’s power. Before we discuss these, do you buy my analysis?