WARNING: contains spoilers. Still catching up? Read Steve’s review of episode 7 here.
From its outset, Hidden sets out its stall with no apology. Girls are going missing in rural northern Wales and turning up dead some time later. And we know who the killer is. The police don’t know, but the audience at home does. It’s the creepy slender man silhouette of a certain Dylan Harris, a loner figure from the woods played with a clever mixture of naivety and evil by Rhodri Meilir. So there’s been no Broadchurch-style guess-the-killer hijinks for the watching public at home. Something that actually comes as a blessed relief.
Consider most whodunits. 75% of the action is, effectively, focused on unimportant characters. These peripheral characters’ plotlines seem vital when you’re watching them but, at the end of proceedings, they’re really not. Given that the person wasn’t the killer. And what do you see of the actual killer? Often just a few shifty glances here and there and a rushed explanation of their motives at the climax. Hidden’s USP is that, while there’s no fun guessing game, there are hours and hours of character background and development for the antagonist – aka the most interesting person in the piece…
Episode 8 saw no grand reveal, as we could assume; it was all about the manhunt. Could DI Cadi John, her partner Owen Vaughan and half of the police in Wales track Harris down? Well, yes. They could. Not that he was an exactly expert at going on the lam. He merely holed up at a known associate’s house and shut the curtains after stabbing him in the stomach with a screwdriver during an abortive 4×4 theft. He eventually took off in the Range Rover but didn’t get far. When faced with police, Dylan took the coward’s way out and threw himself off a bridge, rather than face justice. It was an incident Cadi had no issue telling Harris’ uncooperative and unrepentant mother Iona all about. While obviously rather sombre in tone, there was something glorious about the scene. Harris tips himself over the edge as if relenting somehow, allowing the Snowdonian landscape to gladly gobble him up.
It was a fitting end to the main story and one which summed up many of the series’ major themes: desperation, guilt, anger, hopelessness, alienation and violence.
Meilir is terrific here, as he was across the entire series. As is the brilliant Gillian Elisa as his domineering and vile mother Iona. Honourable mentions also go to Gwyneth Keyworth as the hidden Megan Ruddock and Sian Reese-Williams as Cadi, with the latter putting in a particularly subtle and clever performance throughout. But the star of the show has to be the decrepit old cottage that’s home to the Harris family, a foreboding building which was actually purpose built for the series. It’s chilling and evocative of pure horror, far scarier than the monstrous family it houses.
Hidden seems to have flown under the majority of people’s radars these past few months. Making its debut on Welsh television and then occupying BBC Four’s Saturday night foreign language spot (due to half of the programme being in Welsh with English subtitles) didn’t help attract the audience it perhaps deserved. The creators are to be applauded for their use of Welsh, yet one can’t help feeling that without it, BBC One may well have picked it up and trebled its audience.
Still, for us discerning crime drama fans, we don’t need conversations around the water cooler the next day at work. We’re happy enough with high-quality crime drama and that’s precisely what we got from Hidden/Craith over these eight weeks.
We’ve been treated to a nice healthy slice of Cymru Noir these past few years, with the BBC very much at the forefront of the new wave of slick Welsh crime dramas. Hinterland has probably made the biggest impact on TV, catch-up and streaming services, but there have been plenty of others that have stood out too, like Requiem and Keeping Faith.
Given its scheduling and lack of fanfare there are plenty of people out there that have missed out on the honest and simple storytelling and frill-free approach that made Hidden one of the year’s best TV dramas yet. If you’ve got a friend who appreciates quality television, you’ve almost got a moral duty to alert them to this little gem on iPlayer. So spread the word.
Did you catch Craith/Hidden episode 8? What did you make of it? Let us know in the comments below!