By Paul Berrington
While this second series of Jane Campion’s crime drama Top of the Lake doesn’t quite match the exceptional first series, it’s still a compellingly original mystery that’s miles away from the predictability of most shows within this genre.
Set four years after the events in Season 1, Detective Robin Griffin (Elizabeth Moss) suffering from PTSD, and slowly recovering from her experiences in New Zealand, takes on the case of a dead prostitute named Cinnamon, whose body has washed up in a suitcase on Bondi Beach in Sydney. Desperate to get back to work, Robin alongside Constable Miranda Hilmarson (Game of Thrones’ Gwendoline Christie), delves into an increasingly bizarre case. Adding to this her daughter, now 17, who she’s never known, has written to her, unhappy at home and engaged to a 41-year-old man. As the two plot lines become entangled, Robin’s past starts to interfere with her life, bringing her closer to her daughter, but also deeper into the mystery surrounding Cinnamon’s disappearance. This all leads to a frightening final act, in which Robin must not only solve the murder, but also save her daughter’s life.
Much like the first series, Campion seems more interested in the way human emotions and relationships function within this setting, the logic of the investigation giving way to and exploration of her eccentric characters.
While China Girl never matches the creepy atmosphere of the first series, mostly due to the change in setting, this is still outstanding television. Eschewing formula for something far more interesting, Campion has created a mystery that holds its secrets until the final moments.