After anonymous call alerts police to a lonely crime scene, DCI Mathias (Harrington) and his team investigate a fresh murder. The victim was killed in a remote mountainside farmhouse where he had lived a solitary life. The investigation will reveal shady land deals stretching back to the obfuscated history of the Ceredigion region during the Second World War.
A keen photographer, the victim’s hobby presents Mathias with his first line of enquiry when it is noted that the cottage is filled with photographs but no cameras. Another line of inquiry involves the ownership of the farm, which had clearly not been worked for some time. This causes Mathias to incur the displeasure of his superior when he aggressively interrogates the leader of an Aberystwyth business guild who owns the property.
The second episode of Hinterland – Y Gwyll – BBC 4’s new multilingual Welsh ‘Celtic noir’ – built on an impressive initial installment. The sense of place that sets the series apart from urban crime dramas became a crucial part of the plot of this episode in which the darkest of deeds seem to be driven by the desire of men to claim ownership for either wealth or blood. Crucial clues are found hidden in landscape photographs and in the shifting property boundaries of maps. The sins of the present are the culmination of events put in motion decades in the past by instigators long dead.
This was a tremendously well paced 90 minutes of television which marshalled nuts and bolts crime story elements into a satisfying whole. Common Hinterland tropes seem to be emerging, again there was a good selection of peeling wallpaper and mouldering locations, Mathias got to pull out his torch, and another on foot chase showed the wisdom of the detective’s cardio regime.
The series takes a less-is-more approach to its characters and tantalising details of their back stories continued to be drip fed to the audience. We now know that Mathias is not the slob he might have first appeared to be, having given his static caravan a serious spring clean. However this may have actually made the detective’s temporary home more depressing as it emphasised how Spartan his quarters are. The only personal touch being a photograph of two girls. Are they his daughters? Are they twins? Who is the Meg Mathias sending back his letters and failing to reply to his phone messages? A wife?
We also found out more about Inspector Mard Rhys (Harries), meeting her parents and what appeared to be a teenage daughter with whom she had a strained relationship. We also found out Rhys has some ex-boyfriends in academia, but are no closer to finding out why she is so frosty with the younger, lower ranking and conspicuously blonde DCI Sian Owens (Hannah Daniel).
Mathias’ capacity for empathy, both with the victims and the perpetrators, was demonstrated in this story. In time-honoured detective fiction fashion it seems that Mathias’ own psychological scar tissue gives him a capacity for understanding that some of his colleagues lack.
Shot on a tight budget, Hinterland is emerging as a visually ambitious crime series, well told, and excellently acted.
Director: Gareth Bryn
Writers: Ed Talfan
Cast: Richard Harrington, Mali Harries, Hannah Daniel, Alex Harries, Aneirin Hughes, Steffan Rhodri
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