REVIEW: 35 Awr (S1 E8/8)

Where to start with this series finale of 35 Awr?

As ever, it’s always wise to go right back to the very beginning, and, in this case, that very first scene where we saw someone barricade themselves into their hotel room, a couple having sex in the shower, and a person on fire being filmed on her camera phone by who we now know was Ree.

It all came around in this series finale, with each of those character’s identities revealed. And that wasn’t the only thing that was revealed. Oh no. We found out who murdered Heulwen, and why; we found out the real story behind Haydn and Lynwen’s child; and we also found out a bit more about Nadine’s character.

Oh yes. It was all happening.

So where to start? We didn’t ever go back to the jury room, and all the action took place in that hotel – as I’ve mentioned before, it feels like an alternative world, a world of purgatory for all our flawed jurors, by this stage all going insane: their flaws and personality traits magnified, amplified and at their most acute. There was a sense that they had all gone insane, trapped inside this hotel until something gave.

We saw Peredur The Predator embark on a bit of, presumably, revenge on Taz. In episode seven, he had spiked his drink and now found him spark out on the bed in their shared hotel room. He pulled down his trousers, set up his phone and pressed record. Peredur then began to take off his own trousers… he was going to have sex with him on camera, neigh rape him. All in the name of revenge, and all in the name of being spurned by Taz in a previous episode. Nasty piece of work is Peredur. Taz was saved by a knock on the door, and the fact that Peredur subsequently found himself locked out. He found refuge in Nadine’s room.

Now then. Nadine. She’s been setting her stall out as a timid, shy and grief-stricken optician throughout the series until she came onto Carwyn so hard it was almost difficult to watch. There was always the suggestion that something had happened to her late husband, the ashes of whom she now wore in a signet ring on her wedding finger – ie. something that she was culpable for – and now, with Peredur in her hotel room, her real personality unfurled like a spider luring her prey into her web. She stripped off in front of Peredur and invited him into the shower. She was a creature of the night, she had said, and she really wasn’t kidding. Peredur, of course, followed, licking his lips. With Peredur it’s all about control – whether it be seducing and using Merired, or trying to seduce Taz – so he was out of his comfort zone as Nadine took the lead. She took the lead to the extent that she began to choke him during their shower boff, and choke him to the extent that he was near to passing out. She chided him for his insatiable need for control and the way he viewed his fellow human beings as nothing more than pieces of meat. She knew another person like that, she said, which once again inferred that she had killed her husband.

(Nadine, I think, was my favourite character out of the whole lot – an arch femme fetale, in the end, expertly played by Lisa Marged.)

Elsewhere in this ferment, we finally found out what the real story behind Lynwen an Haydn’s child. We had been led to believe that the teenage boy Lynwen had been chatting to on Skype was her son, and indeed Haydn’s son. Haydn had believed it, too. But during an argument, she told him that she had had an abortion – yes, she had been pregnant with his child when they broke up, but she had decided on a termination. So who was the teenage boy on Skype? He turned out to be Lynwen’s underage lover, a pupil at the school she teaches at. Oh my, that was a twist. And of course, she was pregnant… and this lad was the father. Another dark twist! As Haydn went understandably nuts at hearing this news, he attacked her… and Lynwyn sprayed some sort of deodorant in his face. What either of them had failed to realise was that Haydn was holding a lit lighter at that moment, and he went up in flames.

Haydn turned out to be the burning person.

It was breathless stuff, with one jaw-dropping twist after another. And that’s what I really enjoyed about this series – while there were plenty of familiar elements, it felt fresh and felt joyous in the way that it attacked and went for the jugular. In an age of sombre, formulaic mainstream crime drama, 35 Awr said to hell with it all and presented us with something that, out of context, would have been too much and too far-fetched, but instead felt fresh, addictive and great fun (or as much fun as a crime drama can possibly be).

But, of course, there was more. We found out that Rachel’s husband, Dorien, had been at Heulwen’s house on that fateful night. We also found out that, overcome by jealousy, it was he who had smashed what looked like a soup terrine over her head. He was the killer. It felt right, and it felt like a good enough reason, and, as a twist, was very well disguised. But I couldn’t help thinking there had been an over-reliance on flashbacks as an explainer. As Dorien explained what had happened, we saw another flashback, this time showing him appearing in the hedges at Heulwen’s house. Thanks to these flashbacks it seemed like pretty much everyone in the cast had been at Heulwen’s that night – there was  poor old Kelvin upstairs, wrestling with his demons, including the mysterious John; there was Leighton; there was Susie; there was Rachel; there was Stewart (seriously, how and why was Stewart at the scene of the crime? And so quickly); and there was Dorien. I felt it was a bit too much, and a few too many twists at the crime scene.

With Rachel off to tell the police what had happened, it was back to the hotel for the denouement. Getting endings right, especially when there’s a big ensemble cast, is a tricky business, but it was all going swimmingly here – all the characters had been manoeuvred into position nicely (as they had been all throughout the series). Matt had regained consciousness and had found his way back to the hotel, Carwyn was drowning his sorrows in the bar and was still in his pants, Taz had found Moira and they were now down in the bar as well, and so were Steve and Ree. Val was there, obviously. Steve had been busying himself with setting fire to the whole place but Ree managed to talk him out of it, while Mererid had barricaded herself into her room, terrified that Leighton would come back. Leighton did come back and now he had joined the crew in the bar for a tense stand-off. He had killed Stewart, but there were no other police around. (Why no police?)

So it was all bubbling up into a final showdown. And then it all ended suddenly. Haydn came running down the stairs in flames and collapsed outside with the whole ensemble gathered around him. He pointed to Lynwen, collapsed and then the credits rolled.

We didn’t get to see what happened to Rachel, whether Dorien would get his comeuppance, whether Leighton got his comeuppance for murdering Stewart, whether Nadine would continue her unstable ways, whether Kelvin would get off or, indeed, whether Lynwen would be getting her comeuppance.

It just ended.

Whether it was being set-up for another series, we don’t know. I’m all for challenging endings where a series makes you think and allows you to make your own decisions (hello Sopranos), but I did feel 35 Awr ended a bit too abruptly. Me? I’d like to think all the characters made their way back into the real world, facing the consequences of what they had done. Perhaps some would escape justice and carry their crimes with them for life. For those who had nothing (much) to hide – Val, Taz, Matt, Mererid and Moira – their experiences on the jury would, no doubt, stay with them for a very long time and they would ruminate on what they truly had in the outside world.

In the end, 35 Awr was tremendous fun and the closest thing to if Hitchcock had dropped a tab of acid and decided to write a soap opera. Thanks to the large ensemble (all very well played), the series really did have that soap opera feel to it – there were twists, there were turns and there were secrets revealed. Add in elements of Agatha Christie and 12 Angry Men and 35 Awr felt familiar, even though it wasn’t in the end. It took these influences and ran with them. Boy, did it run with them. Yes, it was far-fetched, and yes, it was a little bit messy in places, but when you create a thriller in a purgatorial, other-worldly location, and go for it full throttle, the audience generally forgives any discrepancies and straps in for the ride.

And 35 Awr most assuredly was a hell of a ride.

Paul Hirons










4 thoughts on “REVIEW: 35 Awr (S1 E8/8)”

  1. Thanks for a great review. Hitchcock on acid is the perfect analogy.

    In the first few episodes I truly disliked Ree, but by the end – compared to Nadine, Steve and Peredur – she really was the voice of reason!

    Liked by 1 person

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