'Top of the Lake: China Girl' Season 2, Episode 5: Who's Your Daddy?

'Top of the Lake: China Girl' Season 2, Episode 5: Who's Your Daddy?

In this episode, the characters find out everything we already knew or strongly suspected:

  • Miranda and Adrian are using a surrogate for their baby. Miranda thought she was a student, but she's Mahlee, the sick girl with the panda bear at Silk 41.
  • Robin tells Miranda that Puss is Mary's boyfriend.
  • Pyke finds out Mary is prostituting herself.
  • The dead girl found in the suitcase is positively identified by Brett as Cinnamon.

Also, Robin and Pyke finally have sex. I'm sure it will result in a pregnancy, despite his claim to not need any "frangers," aka condoms. After all, Robin's dream at the beginning of the episode revealed two tiny babies - one in each hand. During her heart-to-heart with Miranda, we learn that she's had three miscarriages after Mary, presumably while she was in a relationship with Johnno.

It's clear that Robin has steeled herself against the outside world for a long time. Whenever she's opened up to people in the past, she's been hurt and disappointed, taken advantage of emotionally and physically. Despite what she tells Puss, she is damaged. How the fuck could she not be? But in this episode and the last, we see her begin to let her guard down. She feels emotionally connected to Mary, enough to get her name tattooed on her forearm. She tells Miranda about her past and her daughter and when Miranda breaks down over her missing baby, Robin promises to find it. Despite what others accuse her of, Robin has feelings and tries to do what she believes is right.

She feels connected to Pyke, too. He's one of the people who has raised her child for the past eighteen years. Despite his faults, he also tries to be a good person. As Louisa Mellor notes,

Pyke’s not only a symbolic provider of food (note this week’s breakfast goodies and homemade supper), he’s also a calm, loving presence.

In the last episode recap, I railed on Pyke pretty hard and stand by what I said, but this episode definitely made him a softer, more sympathetic character in my eyes. It's less that he's keeping his head in the sand in regards to Mary and more that he just doesn't have a fucking clue what he can do to help her. After all, she's now eighteen and can make her own decisions about what to do with her life. How much power/influence does any parent really have at this point?

Robin's approach, to be available when needed and listen without judgement, is probably the best anyone could offer. She's kept Mary informed, made sure she knows Puss is dangerous, but hasn't demanded that she stop seeing him or gone on a rampage about how he's a garbage person (which is probably what I would have done). Mary's under a spell and the only way to break it is for her to realize, of her own accord, what everyone else already knows: Puss is the scum of the Earth, the type of guy who would push you in front of an armed gunman in order to save his own skin. Maybe getting shot will help her wake the fuck up and tell him to get lost. I kind of doubt it, but we can hope...

For me, this episode was the sloppiest of the season. The ending should have packed a bigger gut punch, but it fell flat. Since the episode didn't focus heavily on Mary, I felt removed from her and not as heavily invested as I did at the end of Episode 4. At this point, I'm wondering if I actually made a mistake by watching these episodes separately. Maybe I should have binged them all or watched in pairs as they aired. If I had seen "Who's Your Daddy?" right after "Birthday," Mary's dire situation might have resonated more deeply.

Aside from my "meh" feelings about the ending, I do think it's fair to say that many plot points felt rushed in this episode. The police case is now moving forward at a fast clip, character secrets have been revealed, and Brett's agenda is clear. All of this would have been more impactful had there been deeper focus on character and plot development over 2 hours instead of 1. I'll be curious to see how things wrap up, but I have a feeling, based on this episode, that I might be underwhelmed. This season has been phenomenal thus far and is 100% worth watching, but the necessity for a seventh episode is acutely felt.

Random observations:

  • Was Pixie's death actually a suicide? It seems weird to me that she'd start to prep food then just decide, "No, you know what... I'd rather just kill myself in a weird, ritualistic fashion."
  • The most outspoken of the little computer weasels refers to himself as "The Fuck Wizard." Insert gif of Jennifer Lawrence rolling her eyes.
  • I felt legitimately sad for the couple that hired Cinnamon as their surrogate. When the woman said, "I want my child to be acknowledged," I immediately thought of Ariel Levy, telling Terry Gross (or as Jessica Williams likes to call her, "Terr Terr") about her miscarriage experience on Fresh Air.
  • Stally's sole purpose in this series is to remind us how gross some men are whenever Puss has been absent for a few scenes.
  • I probably should mention that this episode was directed by Jane Campion.
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