Last week in Y Gwyll (Hinterland) we saw a change in structure and pace, and I felt it did the series good. We’ve been used to Mathias and Rhys trudging across the crags of Ceredigion, meeting the stoic, worn-down folk of the fatigued and wearied rural community. But last week, the latest case introduced us to the killer in the very first scene, which sent the team head-long into a cat-and-a-mouse chase against the clock before he killed again. There was no knowing how this one was going to shake out.
NB: Spoilers spilt
We left unhinged on-the-run killer Llew Morris and his kidnapped son Bryn shacked up in an old farmhouse, a benevolent lady taking them in, unaware who she was aiding. This dynamic provided tension alright – Morris had his sawn-off close by at all times, while the lady was growing ever more suspicious. It was only a matter of time before her suspicions led to a quiet confrontation – she knew there was no car break-down, she told him. After a tearful confession, through gritted teeth he told her to stay quiet if she wanted to live.
Mathias, meanwhile, was going to door-to-door in the area of Morris’s last-known sighting. Eventually he found the farmhouse and was taken prisoner by Morris after a terrifying scene where the killer shot Mathias’s windscreen in.
As soon as Mathias was taken prisoner, the episode turned one, tense hostage situation into a tense double hostage situation. As I was watching things unfold, and with Mathias calmly chatting to Morris and supplying him with textbook platitudes (let Bryn and the lady go, keep me; they know where I am, Llew… give up now), I got this sick feeling in my stomach that this might be the very last we see of Mathias. The two Eds (Halfan and Thomas) had built things up nicely – hotel landlady Manon (Sian Reese-Williams) had called Mathias before he went on his door-to-door search to tell him that she was desperate to see him and implored him to be careful. How many times have we seen a character’s blossoming personal life signify a soon-to-be-met sticky end? With the emergence of Powell as a strong central character, I have wondered whether we were being prepared for Mathias’s exit. A hostage situation would have been the perfect way to see him go.
But… it wasn’t the end for Mathias. After some scenes where the young lad – Bryn – had seen his father for what he really was, the lady and Bryn snuck out of the house. Alone with Mathias now, Llew Morris, tears streaking down his face, told him that he had planned to kill the boy just like he had killed his parents. To release them from the world; to release them from pain. With that, he walked out to greet the now assembled throng of armed police and was mown down by gunfire as soon as he raised his trusty sawn-off. A martyr? He thought so. He was the only one who thought so.
A clever little echo (Y Gwyll is good at these) of male identity and father figures was felt in the Rhys household too – Mared told her daughter Elin that Powell (her father) was back in town and wanted to see her. She breathed a heavy sigh of relief when the daughter told her that she didn’t want to see him – after all, he hadn’t wanted to know her for the first 17 years of her life. Children perceiving fathers; fathers striving to be good people. There was the unifying theme.
So Mathias was safe and continued to fight another day. In fact, he lives to fight another day in order to probably help Powell blow open the cover-up headed by Prosser and retired Chief Superintendent Robert Owen. Indeed, Owen warned Powell to stay away from the past when presented with his evidence so far, because everyone has skeletons in their closet. If this wasn’t enough to pique Powell’s interest I don’t know what was, and he knew he was onto something.
Owen made a call to Prosser. Something had to be done about Powell, and something had to be done now.
With two more episodes left in the series, it’s time for the Iwan Thomas case to be wrapped up. It’s just a case of who will survive the fall-out.
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