Over the course of the past series and a bit, ever since Iwan Thomas re-emerged, we knew that the end to the Devil’s Bridge children’s home story would be coming. Even though this series has seen Mathias and Rhys investigate a new batch of crimes, the Devil’s Bridge thread had been bubbling away in the background, coming to the fore in last week’s episode. Now it was time to see how it ended.
NB: Sorry, should have said… spoilers!
The episode started with Mathias paying Robert Owen a visit, laying his cards on the table and receiving the same threats about his career and those around him Powell received from the ex-chief of police last week. Except, instead of Mathias turning around and ditching the case, our anguished, forlorn detective dug his heels in – let’s face it, Owen picked the wrong detective to throw threats at, especially ones that involve notions of career.
Mathias, as we now know, loves this kind of shit. He’s a man who’s pretty much lost everything (including a caravan, for god’s sake) so someone telling him he might lose his career is water off a duck’s back.
So whatever Owen said to Mathias it was bound to make him dig in deeper, and so he did. He and Mared were already onboard (she had gone to speak with Hughes’s mother once more, who revealed that her son had gone to meet with Owen on the night of his death), and, after a talk in the incident room, Sian and Lloyd were also onboard. It’s been great to see more of Sian this series, although her role in the investigation into the death of Iwan Thomas kind of petered out a bit. If there is to be another series, I’d like to see more of both Sian and Lloyd.
Anyway, everything was boiling up into a final confrontation, and it came when Prosser – who had seen that Mathias and the team were close to finding out the truth – went to see Owen himself, where his ex-boss admitted that he was the abuser. Prosser, who had helped bury Hughes and got rid of Iwan Thomas, did not know this. He had been used and exploited, Owen chided him, because he was a weak man – the kind of man that could be manipulated; the kind of man who could do his dirty work for him. With that Prosser snapped and drowned Owen in the lake at the bottom of his garden.
In some ways I was pleased that Prosser was not an abuser. He’s been an interesting character, always skulking away in the shadows. Now we know why. He’s kept a beady eye on Mathias, always trying to do just enough to save his own skin. He’s a coward, and his vulnerability as he strode down to the lake to confront his old boss – all dressed in black, like the reaper himself – gave him dimensions we hadn’t seen before. Add to that the matted grey hair and his broken, forlorn look as he was questioned by Mathias and Rhys, and you almost felt sorry for him. Almost. The fact is that he had killed two men in this sorry story, and the way the detectives reacted was believable – they were full of shock, indignation and sorrow. Sorrow that one of their own had acted so cowardly. Mared was close to tears when he answered Mathias’s question. You met Iwan Thomas at Devil’s Bridge and when he threatened you, you killed him, barked Mathias from one side of the table. Yes, said Prosser, simply and without fuss.
And without fuss is Y Gwyll’s hallmark. Even this final instalment, with all its added tension and cut and thrust (well, as much cut and thrust as Y Gwyll will allow), went about things without fuss or frills. Unlike other shows we’ve seen recently where there have been flashbacks, flash-forwards, and twists and turns galore, Y Gwyll played out its story in a methodical, linear grind. And I mean that in the best possible way. Some may see this repetitious pattern as a negative, but I like the way Y Gwyll permeates and percolates. If there is a criticism it’s to do with character development. Again, there wasn’t much (and there hasn’t been throughout the three series). Yes, it’s good Mathias has a new love in his life but a love in a life does not character development make – I still feel as though the drawbridge is up with him and I don’t know him any better than I did at the start of the series.
As we left Mathias standing on the Aberystwyth shoreline, we too took stock of another series that featured fractured lives of the Ceredigion population centre stage; those forgotten folk of the hills and in the towns that had been ground down by poverty, old grudges and pervading bitterness.
It’s been another good series.
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