Last week’s opening episode of Welsh crime drama 35 Awr was an intriguing first instalment, taking the traditional locked-room, jury thriller into new areas. In fact, by the end of it we were heading towards a single-location, almost Christie-esque thriller, with who-knows-what to come next.
Leading up to that moment, we were introduced to the dozen jurors – all with different personalities, all with different prejudices, and all with different problems at home. We saw Meredid and Peredur boff in a toilet cubicle, Haydyn and Lynwen engage in an almighty power struggle (which resulted in foreman Haydyn keeling over of a suspected heart attack), surly Ree snarl and snap at everyone (especially Matt) and Val and Taz bonding. And we haven’t even mentioned Carwyn, Nadine, Moira or Steve yet. Add in a murder mystery case that was being played out on the outside, and 35 Awr set itself as a modern, twisty-turny thriller.
We joined the action this week with the jurors in shock – not only from Haydyn’s collapse (he was shipped off to hospital after coming round) but from the news that they were to be taken to a hotel for the night. Or even longer. Naturally, they were afraid and wanted to know if they were in danger. They were assured they weren’t, but because of the sensitive nature of the case, Stewart the policeman could not divulge the full information.
So the 12 were in the dark. Furthermore, when they arrived at the hotel they were told there weren’t enough rooms for everyone, so Val and Ree ended up sharing. (There was the opportunity for comedy gold here. When Val found out there was a spa on-site, she was particularly taken by the lemongrass for treatment for the lymphatic system. I mean, who wouldn’t be.) Shacking all this lot up into one place was a clever move – it allows you to explore people under pressure, both from the case and from their own backgrounds, which slowly seeped into conversation and mood. Put mismatched people into the same as one another and you have the recipe for some excellent confrontation.
We saw Nadine, a married optician but seemingly estranged, pretend to call her partner so she could give the impression that she was not alone while everyone else was telephoning their partners. Carwyn was distraught because he was missing his wedding rehearsal. Lynwen was want to swim in the pool at night, and hold her (what was intimated) pregnant belly. Peredur was revealing himself to be an utter creep, not taking kindly to Meredid’s rebuttal and instead sidling straight up to Nadine. And Ree was taking photos of Haydyn’s collapse and the hotel, sending them to a mystery outsider and then finding a mask in her room’s bathroom… the same mask we saw in the opening scenes in the first episode.
We know that something bad’s going to happen in this place, but we don’t know what yet – this drives curiosity and is a classic pillar of a suspense set-up.
But what of Kelvin and the case on the outside? We saw more flashbacks, with Kelvin, his brother Leighton and mysterious mate John all in cahoots, and one particular flashback that suggested that Kelvin was set-up. By John? By Leighton?
And there was another wrinkle: while the others were getting sloshed in the bar and, in Val’s case having the time of her life during her rare nights away from her dull husband, OCD Matt was upstairs in his room with his own case file, laying papers and photos and police reports (how did he get hold of these?) on his bed. He was asking the question: who was Heulwen, and why did she let whoever she let into her house, into her house? In a concurrent flashback, we saw the murder victim apply lipstick and a posh dress, and opening the door to a stranger.
The intrigue deepens.
FOR OUR EPISODE ONE REVIEW CLICK HERE