Welsh TV crime drama has Scandinavian noir feel
Hinterland, Series Three
Release Date, November
4 CD set Running Time 363 min
The crime drama Hinterland, set in rural Wales inland from the Welsh seaside town of Aberystwyth, features Detective Tom Mathias (Richard Harrington) and his deputy Mared Rhys (Mali Harries). The show is now in its third series and at its core is allegations of child abuse at a children’s home at Devils Bridge.
Mathias is still on the track of Iwan Thomas, a former police officer who has been investigating the cover-up involving the children’s home for several years. He has even been fired by his boss Chief Superintendent Prosser (Aneirin Hughes), who himself seems to be implicated in the historic abuses.
At the end of Series 2, Thomas assaulted Mathias and torched the caravan where he has been temporarily living. When Thomas is found dead by the river under Devils Bridge suspicion falls on Mathias. DS Sian Owen (Hannah Daniel) investigates Mathias for the murder of Thomas. The investigation becomes further complicated by the arrival of a special investigator from outside. Superintendant John Powell (Richard Lynch) is called in, making life more complicated for Prosser. He also happens to have been a former partner of Rhys and wants to meet their now-teenage daughter.
In another plotline, the now-homeless Mathias moves into a boarding house in town where he develops a relationship with the owner, Manon (Sian Reese-Williams).
While much of the programme is concerned with the slow investigations of Mathias and Rhys, which involves driving backward and forward through the deserted badlands of Wales, each episode also develops ideas around personal and social themes. In the first programme of the series there is a lot of discussion around concepts of faith and hope, the transformative as well as the destructive aspects of religion. While they investigate a new murder in each programme there is always the parallel narrative of the children’s home and the complicated ramifications of the early investigations.
The bleak landscape and run-down farms, houses and tenements seem to be metaphors for many of the people living in this UK version of Scandinavian noir. It’s an intense drama, filled with a brilliant cast of flawed characters. Mathias himself seems on the edge of a physical and moral collapse as the slow-moving drama reveals the inner demons and needs of the man.