After the widespread critical acclaim for BBC2/Sundance Channel’s Top of the Lake, there was much debate about whether creator, writer and director Jane Campion’s seven-episode New Zealand saga was intended as a one-off mini-series. At the end of the show, the disappearance of Tui (Jacqueline Joe) into the imposing mountain forests of New Zealand was solved, case-closed, by Detective Griffin (Elisabeth Moss), and reasonably, Campion’s project could have ended there.
But the season finale left some questions unsolved — for one, who exactly was Holly Hunter’s inimitable GJ? — and overall, fans wanted more of Campion’s universe and unusual touch. And when a TV network has fans asking for something these days, execs generally give it to them. So it came as no surprise when it was announced that there will indeed be a second season of Top of the Lake.
Whether a second go-round actually means we’ll get answers to any of those questions, though, remains to be seen. Last summer, it was revealed that Moss’s character, Detective Robin Griffin, would be investigating a case in Harbor City, Hong Kong in the show’s second season, though filming was slated for Sydney, Australia.
According to Variety, the new series will be set four years after the first season, and Gwendolyn Christie (best known for her role as Brienne of Tarth in Game of Thrones) will come on board as a new co-star, along with Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy’s David Dencik and Beautiful Creatures actress Alice Englert. This time, it seems Moss’s Griffin will be investigating a murder, not a suspected one. TV.com reports:
”Season 2 of Top of the Lake will find Griffin investigating the case of a body of an Asian girl that washes up on Sydney’s Bondi Beach. Dubbed the case of the ‘China Girl,’ Griffin will soon realize that she didn’t die alone.”
Sordid conspiracies (and the heart of darkness in close-knit societies) is Jane Campion’s subject matter du jour. With her directing all of the episodes, and co-writing with Season 1 co-writer and showrunner Gerard Lee once again, it seems like Griffin’s new case will be a direct sequel to her last. The similarity between the two plots doesn’t seem like a bad thing; provided that a style and concept that was only conceived initially as a intricate, one-off narrative doesn’t seem stale in this new iteration.
What’s most unclear is whether there will be any hold-over, narratively, from Season 1. We’ll still be anchored to Griffin’s backstory, but the season will be taken place in Sydney and Hong Kong, largely, instead of the remote New Zealand, where Moss’ character has her roots. Also unclear is whether the narrative can be as compelling without Griffin’s character having as much personal stake in the case; in Season 1, questions about her fundamental identity were wrapped up in the mystery. Without those deep-seated connections, will the new Top of the Lake feel as singular, or more like a standard BBC-esque procedural?
Well, worrying too much about “standard” would doubtless be putting far too little faith in Campion. In any case, we’re still well over a year out for getting the answers to our questions. Top of the Lake season 2 will premiere in the United States in late 2017 on the Sundance Channel and, shortly afterwards, on Hulu.