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!
Throughout this whole series, the spectres of Robert Owen, Brian Prosser, Iwan Thomas and the Devil’s Bridge children’s home have loomed large over proceedings. Ever since Thomas showed up at the end of series three, we’ve known that event at the Devil’s Bridge had been left unresolved. Now, in the final two episodes of this third series, we’re finally about to see the end game of this lingering story play out. It’s just a question of who survives.
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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.
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We’re progressing nicely in this third series of Y Gwyll, with some neat character progression and plenty of intrigue. However, if there’s a criticism of Y Gwyll it’s that each case Mathias and Rhys investigate follows a pretty standard routine: the duo gets a call, they go out, they investigate the scene (which usually means Mathias snaps on a pair of blue rubber gloves, and processes the scene meticulously) and then the interviewing starts, which is where Rhys comes in (her greater empathy and human connectivity often coming to the fore). But in tonight’s episode there was something different and new, and certainly something we haven’t seen before in this programme – the killer was revealed from the very first scene.
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It’s very difficult to know how deeply to go into the plotline of Y Gwyll, if only because there are so many ways and places to watch it. I’m reviewing it after watching it on S4C – the show’s Welsh-language home – because it only seems and feels right. But other will watch it on the BBC next year and then, at some point, Netflix, on which it seems very popular with non-UK viewers. But a review has to be a review, which means spoilers (which used to be called details before people got their knickers in a twist over them) and discussion. Anyway, here’s what happened in episode four – the half-way point – of this third series.
NB: Like the man said: spoilers inside
Last week saw the return of S4C’s Y Gwyll (Hinterland) for a third series, and straight away it settled into a familiar groove: a grim tale of a harsh wind-swept world, people worn down by decades of feuds and battles, and secrets bubbling to the surface when they can’t be kept at bay any longer. Our first two-part story of the series saw Mathia and Rhys looking into the murder of local pastor Elwyn Jones. As ever, it was a slow, methodical trudge through the investigation, a pace and style that Y Gwyll has made its own.
NB: Spoilers inside
While BBC4 massages us with bright, sun-lit crime dramas from Australia on a Saturday night (which feels a bit wrong as we descend into winter if I’m being honest), S4C is back with another series of Y Gwyll (Hinterland), which has gained strong critical acclaim (not least from this site) for its fantastically dark, cinematic stories of folk from the Ceredigion slowly falling apart. You can add to that list of frayed characters DI Tom Matthias (the perennially frowning Richard Harrington), who originally came to Aberystwyth looking for a new life after the death of his daughter, a subsequent breakdown and the estrangement from his wife. What he found instead was a rural community festering from decades-old feuds, monosyllabic communication, and a sense that the bleak, unforgiving landscape bore not only supreme stoicism but an acrid bitterness in the people that mingled with it. With the show becoming a global hit thanks to Netflix – indeed, it’s one of the most commented upon shows on this site – I couldn’t wait to see what series three had in store for me.
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