REVIEW Yr Amgueddfa (S1 E6/6)

To say this Welsh series has had its twists and turns is a huge understatement.

For five episodes now we’ve seen museum boss Della Howells pulled this way and that, from having an illicit affair with an apparently Tom Ripley-type character to finding out that her father was implicit in an art crime ring headed by his own forbidden lover, master criminal Violed.

And not only that, the vultures have been circling at the museum intent on ousting her from her job.

To say that Della’s world had crumbled around her was another huge understatement.

In every noir, the central character whose life falls apart and who is placed in a stomach-flipping world where there is seemingly no way out finally finds a way to figure things out – to own the situation, and to even regain some sort of control. We saw that in this final episode: Della now in possession of all the facts was about to do things that would, in her eyes, re-establish a modicum of control.

She had indeed found the missing Rembrandt in her own home, and now had a bargaining chip. However, thanks to Violed’s mischievous, relentless pursuit she found herself in the criminal’s lair unable to fathom a way out of the situation. Violed wanted the Rembrandt and she would not take no for an answer. She forced Della to record a message to camera, admitting she knew her father’s role in all of this, as well as her mother’s (more about her mother later).

Then we got the kind of big Interlude that this series has become known for – an ingenious and original way to reveal more of the plot in a non-linear fashion. In this one we saw what Caleb really did when he escaped from Violed’s clutches.

He teamed up with Dan and they then went to Violed’s lair to try and save Della. Unfortunately, this bravado ended up with Dan shooting The Man In Black, and traumatised him for ever more.

And this was the way it went: just when you thought a character had escaped their situation another really bad thing happened to them.

The series ended with Della opening the exhibition to great acclaim and stitching up the weasly Elfryn (good), and Della choosing a life with Caleb over a life with Alun.

And yet that potted recap doesn’t even begin to cover what happened in this final episode. Some of it left me scratching my head a little, I have to admit.

First off, Alun. He turned up at the exhibition opening and offered an olive branch to his estranged wife, despite knowing about her affair with Caleb. The only reason I can think why he did this is because there’s more to Alun than meets the eye. He had a very interesting meeting with Della’s mother Elinor earlier in the episode, which hinted that they had some sort of scheme brewing or at least knew something about had transpired with the Rembrandt. Perhaps he had been playing Della for all these years. For what reason? We never found out (which means that there is a very real possibility of a second series).

I was also a little confused by the Mags/Lisa storyline. She had emerged from her drug-fuelled slumber at Lisa’s place and knew something was very wrong. However, despite the darkness and seriousness of her storyline, I did struggle to understand how it all fitted in to the story as a whole.

And then there was Violed. Her transformation from dowdy-but-cool charity shop boss to gothic criminal empress was just too stark for my tastes.

All that being said, I really did enjoy Yr Amgueddfa. It felt fresh, original and supplied so many twists and turns that if any crime drama is as fun to watch as this one in 2021 it’ll have done very well.

For it to all work, the characters had to be believable and there really was some pleasing depth and intrigue to this group. I particularly liked Alun, who began sleepwalking into a crisis in his work and home life and yet by the end we really didn’t know what to think about him.

Excellent lead performances from Nia Roberts, Steffan Rhodri and Steffan Cennyd (who is building up a really impressive CV) also made this series extremely watchable.

In the end, there was a theme running through this episode and even perhaps the whole series – how can you re-write history? In Della’s case, she was now on Violed’s hook, just like her father. It turns out no matter how fast you run, your own history catches up with you.

Paul Hirons

Episode rating:

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Series rating:

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

READ MORE: OUR EPISODE ONE REVIEW

READ MORE: OUR EPISODE TWO REVIEW

READ MORE: OUR EPISODE THREE REVIEW

READ MORE: OUR EPISODE FOUR REVIEW

READ MORE: OUR EPISODE FIVE REVIEW

LISTEN TO MORE: OUR PODCAST WITH FFLUR DAFYDD

Yr Amgueddfa is on S4C, S4C Clic and BBC’s iPlayer in the UK

4 Comments Add yours

  1. Elaine says:

    For me this ranks as the worst ending of the year. Forget Line of Duty, I was convinced that I had missed a scene or two in my recording. To build it all up and then cut to ‘several weeks later’ felt like such a cop out. Perhaps it was too clever for me-I didn’t really enjoy it after that. I thought the baby story was filler (unless there’s a s2 and it leads onto something), but was pleased that Elfryn was caught (but wouldn’t you sack him?). I had to suspend disbelief so much that at times it felt pantomime-like. But the performances were good. Would I watch another series? Not sure. It was bonkers, fun at times, slightly predictable at other times (Caleb was a good lad, the baby story), but left me disappointed. Overall: 2 stars.

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  2. Sammye Haigh says:

    Thank you, Paul. Were you able to watch this with subtitles? And if so, how? I have tried through several means and have not succeeded. Sammye Haigh

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    1. Paul Hirons says:

      Hi Sammye. Yes, subtitles were (still available) on the iPlayer and S4C Clic. There’s a little button in the bottom right hand corner of the screen to turn subtitles on and off.

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  3. Mike Sargent says:

    Yes it started so well, the lead actors were great, the story compelling. But the baby story was just filler, seemingly they got away with it. Elfryn should have been dismissed. What did they do with the body? Weren’t the police involved at any time? Did Della really have a future with Caleb? I’m not sure. It must seemed rushed at the end.

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