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Hinterland series 1 episode 4 review

Final Episode

Two boys walking a horse through a marsh discover a dead woman. The body shows little signs of violence and has been carefully placed in a striking red dress that serves to emphasise the bloodless pallor of her skin. As DCI Tom Mathias investigates he and his team uncover the sad story of a family broken long before this murder.

As the police build the narrative of the victim’s final hours from CCTV footage, the case comes down to several blank hours between her last known sighting on the platform at Borth rail station and her time of death. Suspects include: the girl’s father, who has a history of violence; an attractive older University lecturer who may have be rather too fond of attractive students; a dubious drug dealing on-off boyfriend who works as a cashier in a penny arcade; a helpful station attendant with a model train hobby.

Mathias finds uncomfortable personal parallels with the dead girl’s family. Her father is an alcoholic and former policeman whose life spiralled out of control due to his obsession with a case – is this the same situation that made Mathias’ return to Wales. At the same time he forms a strange, sad bond with the victim’s mother based on common loss and pain. The relationship becomes physical but their connection is never verbalised – it is also beautifully played by the actors.

The true central character of this excellent series has been the landscape of Ceredigion region of Wales. This episode was one of the most visually striking to date, making great use of the Borth marshes and Welsh shoreline as locations. Previous stories have moved from autumn through winter, this fourth episode moved out of the dark into the light of spring, but this only served to cast deeper shadows. In this case the darkness is a killer’s obsession, and dark undercurrents of conspiracy and corruption from the past.

The opening broke with the series tradition of starting with Mathias and his morning run across coastal moors to foreground the crime and set up a battle of wits with a killer. The detectives are running to catch up throughout, but are often two steps behind their quarry, out-manoeuvred by a cunning and callous intelligence. Hinterland signatures were still much in evidence: Mathias’ caravan, Inspector Mard Rhys’ stylish yet practical outerwear, and much more horrible wallpaper.

Played out at a pace as deliberate but also as devastating as the glaciers that once carved out this ancient landscape this was a melancholy conclusion to the series. Fans hoping for grand revelations about Mathias himself will have been disappointed. Throughout the four episodes hints of the detective’s past have been dropped like breadcrumbs baiting a trap. It was a bold move to deny viewers the dramatic revelations they craved, opting instead to serve up a few crumbs of fresh information before closing in a haunting and ambiguous style.

The gamble has paid off, and a second season is to be shot later this year – hopefully picking up the story threads left hanging.

Director: Ed Thomas

Writer: Jeff Murphy

Cast: Richard Harrington, Mali Harries, Hannah Daniel, Alex Harries, Aneirin Hughes

What did you think of Hinterland episode 4? Let us know in the comments below…

Stuart Barr
Stuart Barr
Stuart Barr

Follow Stuart Barr on Twitter.


    Season 1, Episode 4: stunningly beautiful landscape.
    I’ve gone back and watched several episodes again in order to catch the dialogue, even though it’s in English and presumably I speak English, as I’m American.
    (Makes me want to visit Wales.)

    Hinterland is simply one of the best detective shows on TV. Yes, it’s intense, sometimes painful but that’s the beauty of it.
    Flawed characters against a harsh, yet beautiful backdrop. No trifling drivel here. Every look, every word, every silence speaks volumes. Great fit for viewers who are beginning to understand that land and family are inextricably bound & may produce some unhappy endings. But this show has a “soul” – main characters may be flawed but they’re human being making sound choices and and displaying a sense or right and wrong (bent a little now and again which makes it all more real). I hope all of these actors have the opportunity to win acting awards within their genre.
    I hope as the show adds seasons, the primaries will grow deeper attachments to & trust one another. Will Prosser have to bypass this as his “truths” are different from the teams & may threaten to shatter an already shaky bond between them.
    I hope this show evolves into a long running show where even Mathias’ terrible tragedy solidifies & defines the type of officer he grows into. From sadness may he gain strength & thereby strengthen his magnificent team. Give Mari the chance to show superior she is, and that she is.

    A good Police drama that is not the usual glossy stuff we are subjected too. However I can’t help thinking it is trying to emulate Scandinavian Dramas of recent years; unfortunately it is not in the same class as Arne Dahl, The Killing or Borgen. I find myself following the story rather than being drawn in and acting detective myself.

    I am glad that there is a second series and hope that the writers twist the plots a little more.

    ‘Amber’ is on BBC4 tonight, as is full of promise.


    I was a bit taken aback by the policeman allowing himself to have a relationship with the mother of the victim, isn’t that like against the rules, even in Wales? Or have I been watching too much American cop shows….? Anyway I’m sad he never got to get proper happiness out of it. This show’s been great – I can’t wait for the next season. Even though it’s a bit too wallander.. i.e. depressed worn out cop struggling on. Still very watchable, but long term it’s tiring for the viewer… Give him a little fun, please.

    This has been awesome the mood and atmosphere were brilliant almost making you feel slightly desparate for the characters at the end of each episode. Well shot and not too much overwhelming dialogue to cut through, it assumed some some intelligence on the viewers behalf. Finally a TV show that doesn’t show you the way you have to make your own. Can’t wait for season 2 and even though I don’t speak Welsh I will try and watch it first on S4C out of impatience to see what happens next. More please

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