sun 19/08/2018

Hidden, Series Finale, BBC Four review - a whydunnit, not a whodunnit | reviews, news & interviews

Hidden, Series Finale, BBC Four review - a whydunnit, not a whodunnit

Hidden, Series Finale, BBC Four review - a whydunnit, not a whodunnit

Welsh thriller is far more than a copycat procedural

Duty calls: Sian Reese-Williams as DI Cadi John

Some contend that this Snowdonia-set mystery was a Scandi hommage too far, a mere recycler of gloom-shrouded riffs familiar from the likes of The Bridge or The Killing. Well yes, there was that element to it, but if you stuck with it it grew into far more than a mere copycat procedural.

For a start, it wasn’t your average whodunnit, since the killer’s identity was made pretty clear as early as the first episode. Instead, the eight-part series was more of a whydunnit, as the screenwriters probed methodically into the background, motivation and psychology of Dylan Harris (Rhodri Meilir, pictured below with Gillian Elisa), a serial abductor of young women. As the police slowly assembled fragments of evidence and a coherent picture swum fitfully into view – the drab mundanity of police work was part of the point, as was the humdrum dreariness of the lives of many of the characters in this beautiful but somewhat primitive part of the world – the value of simply being able to keep one’s life on a reasonably even keel assumed ever greater significance.

It was almost the last thing we heard at the end of the final episode, as DI Cadi John’s dying father urged her to move on “when all this is over”, and to make the most of the rest of her life rather than being chained to the mistakes of the past. He knew all too well of what he spoke, since he’d been the police officer responsible for sending the innocent Endaf Elwy (played with convincing anguish by Mark Lewis Jones) to jail a decade earlier.

The problem was how to avoid the pitfalls of an overbearing fate. Cadi had a carefully-weighted scene with her partner DS Owen Vaughan (Sion Alun Davies), when each of them pondered over how their lives had taken them round in circles while they’d been dreaming fondly of quite different outcomes. In the end, they had to accept the boundaries of different kinds of private and professional duty.

The way your parents and family can shape you before you’ve even realised it emerged in the story of Dylan and his grotesque matriarch Iona (Gillian Elisa), a medusa-like monstrosity who had rotted all the way out from the inside, and ensured that her son did likewise. But Megan Ruddock (Gwyneth Keyworth, pictured below), Dylan’s final victim, was also cursed with a cold, disapproving mother, yet despite her own mental health issues bravely demonstrated that it is possible to fight back and remake your life.

Admittedly it’s very difficult to argue that there aren’t enough detective shows featuring the abuse and murder of women, and Hidden had a whole string of gruesomely maltreated females who’d fallen into the horror-show clutches of Dylan and his vile, enabling parent. Some of the stuff about death and childbirth you really didn’t want to hear. The police and the survivors were also denied the satisfaction of seeing the loathsome Dylan tried and incarcerated, or of seeing him consumed in a maelstrom of his own whining, narcissistic self-obsession.

But in the end, Hidden worked because of the way its daringly slowed-down pace allowed the narrative to get under the skins of the characters and to probe into the fault-lines of their personalities. The hypnotic cinematography fully exploited landscapes of green, misty forest and wild mountainous crags, and was hyper-alert to time of day or changes of weather and season. There weren’t many jokes, but it gripped like a monkey wrench.

Admittedly it’s difficult to argue that there aren’t enough detective shows featuring the abuse and murder of women

rating

Editor Rating: 
4
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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Comments

I stuck with it. The chance encounter with the young PC whose insight leads to the denoument was a lazy piece of writing. Dylan's name was on the school list and the reclamation yard's and some elementary police work would have sportted that. Too much time was also spent watching Cadi John smoking and staring aimlessly into the middle distance. Eight episodes? Could have been done in three. I preferred Hinterland.

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