Top Of The Lake is an Australian television series that debuted in March, 2013. It aired on BBC Two, BBC UKTV, and eventually the Sundance channel.
When the show opens, we are introduced to Sydney Detective Robin Griffin (Elizabeth Moss), who is visiting her mother, Jude (Robyn Nevin), in New Zealand. Jude has cancer and is undergoing chemotherapy treatment, to no avail. Robin is having difficulty readjusting to her old hometown because of a burdening secret.
When a twelve year old, pregnant girl, Tui Mitcham (Jacqueline Joe) attempts suicide, New Zealand’s Detective, Al Parker (David Wenham), offers Robin an opportunity to investigate the case. She readily agrees and technically interviews Tui, which only reveals a piece of torn, notebook paper, with the words, “NO ONE”, written on it. The next day Tui goes missing, her horse and dog were rescued, but the young girl is no where, to be found. Robin puts her skills to work and steps on a few toes, in the process, of searching for Tui and the father of her baby.
Tui’s father, Matt (Peter Mullan, Olive Kitteridge), becomes upset when he finds out that she is pregnant. He threatens taking her to an abortion clinic because she is too young to give birth and care for a baby. Massochist Matt is of a violent nature and murders anyone that gets in his way of his illegal drug dealing.
Meanwhile, Robin is sparking up a love affair, with an old high school flame, Johnno (Thomas M. Wright), who just happens to be Matt’s estranged son.
A group of battered women move into Paradise, trying to escape their bitter past and seek a spiritual healing from their leader, GJ (Holly Hunter, Saving Grace). When Matt finds out they have moved in, he rushes to Paradise and does very well making his presence known.
Al makes his feelings for Robin known but she shows no interest in him. The New Zealand teens are a little strange and have appeared to have taken an oath, to not speak to the adults. Jamie (Luke Buchanan) is arrested for shoplifting food items, so Robin becomes suspicious of him and decides to question him about Tui’s disappearance, but he stands by his solemn oath.
Robin has taken a more personal interest in finding and helping Tui because she is a surviving rape victim. The police department’s corrupted behavior, becomes more apparent to Robin, making her more determined than ever to find Tui. Robin discovers that the sexual predators are using GHB (date rape drug), to sedate the male and female teenagers, but the question is, “who are the predators?”
Matt brings in reinforcement, thugs and motorcycle gangs, to search for Tui. He is promising them a $10,000 reward, if they return her to him, unharmed. They find her hiding in a makeshift shelter, that was constructed by the teens. Jamie diverts them from Tui but falls off a cliff and is fatally injured.
Will Matt find Tui and terminate her pregnancy or will she seek refuge elsewhere? Will Robin overcome her personal rape tragedy and get redemption from her attackers? Will the women live in peace, at the beautiful Paradise refuge camp?
I absolutely loved this series and you will too because it has so much to offer every viewer. It has so many different types of people and things going on, in just one episode. From the battered woman to the rape victim, from the drug dealer to the corrupt cop, it will all keep you guessing in this thriller/drama television series. New Zealand scenes are absolutely beautiful and breathtaking. Although, there is much activity, the writers and producers did an excellent job putting it together, without leaving us with the feeling that something went untouched.
This is definitely a different type of police mystery/drama that builds slowly but finishes strong. Jacqueline Joe did a great job in her role, even though she lacked the experience as an actress, she pulled it off brilliantly. Peter Mullan did a fabulous job in his role, as the psyco, out of control, and sometimes caring father, Matt. Although Luke Buchanan’s role was short, he performed exceptionally well. Can’t wait till the second season releases. This series deserves a 9.5 out of 10.