After last week’s stunning two-part story I wondered where Hinterland/Y Gwyll would go. Where it could go. Those two episodes were of such a high standard (writing, acting, emotional clout) that it was difficult to how this series could be improved. It was no surprise, then, that this, the first of a new two-part story, was not quite up there to last week’s standard. But it still presented us with another intriguing case for Mathias and Rhys to get stuck into.
The opening scene saw a tractor drag a car out from a lake, its passenger dead for two or three days. She had been strangled and the car dumped, submerged in a watery grave. The owner of the car was Greta Pritchard, a young primary school teacher.
One of my favourite parts of Hinterland is at the start of every new story when Mathias casts his beady eye over either a crime scene or the house of a victim. And he quickly got to work this week. He looks (and subsequently we look) at details. In this case Mathias was snooping around Greta Pritchard’s flat. He spots seemingly random things – a bunch of flowers in the bin, a child’s school book on the table, splinters of glass on the floor, a strand of hair caught in a door. These details give Hinterland a macro outlook on the world and give its victims personality. They’ve lived a life, these are their imprints; what they’ve left behind.
In the case of Greta Pritchard what she had left behind had formed a picture from which Mathias was able to work from. He surmised there had been an argument and subsequent follow-ups had formed more of a picture of this young woman – she had fled, perhaps in anger, was spotted in a taxi shouting into a phone… all intriguing behaviour dropped throughout the episode. Things became more intriguing when they found out that the body in the car was not that of Greta Pritchard, but that of another woman. Suddenly they were searching for the identity of two women and the location of one of them. Where was Greta Pritchard?
Unlike previous episodes where the stories have unfolded in the cruel but beautiful rural areas of Ceredigion, this tale was rooted in more urban locations – or at least as urban as Hinterland/Y Gwyll gets. We saw the town of Aberystwyth more than we’ve seen for a while, and Mathias and Rhys’s investigation saw them driving from one place to the next, interviewing a new set of characters, and forming a new list of suspects.
There was her father Gwilym, an ex-headmaster at a local school. There were Rhian and Arwyn Parry, her teaching colleague and school groundsman respectively. There was a Polish woman, who worked at a hotel on the sea front in Aber and kept hiding from Mathias. Finally there was Harry Jenkins, Greta’s surly, snarling ex who, aside from some post-break-up stalking, had revealed that there were more layers to Greta’s sweetness and light personality than previously thought – she liked a drink, she liked rough sex and dirty talk. Her father Gwilym also revealed that Greta had changed – become irritable – since her mother had died.
Everything, at least in my eyes, pointed to the school and its secrets. On another night-time solo investigation mission (we see this a lot in Hinterland), Mathias found a packet of Polish cigarettes in Greta’s flat. Rhian also confirmed that Greta was seen with a Polish woman, who turned out to be the murder victim. What was it about this school, set in the grounds of an abandoned stately home (its owner died from a broken heart after his wife and children died, and he set up the school as a gift to the children of the area)? What was it about this young Polish woman that Greta was drawn to?
After all the emotion of last week’s story, this was much more straight by-the-numbers procedural. The fact we were (mostly) in Aberystwyth seemed to take away some the spellbinding magic the rural settings give it, while the town backdrop gave it much more of a conventional feel. Still, another intriguing story, especially when Mathias rescued Gwilym from a suicide attempt at the end of the episode. The Pritchards are obviously not quite what they seem.
Bubbling up nicely again.
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