Review of first episode of Ygywll/ Hinterland-PART ONE-Nb. For PART TWO Review see posting 20th May 2014. Minor spoilers only-BBC4 or Channel # 107 Virgin Media TV Mondays @ 9pm in the UK

Ygywll/ Hinterland

Hinterland is like a Welsh Wallander. But unlike Wallander, Ygywll  is just a little bit generic. A tad underwhelming.  However it is lovely to see the scenery of Wales:
The stone walls, the deep, unexpected rushing rivers, the windswept tundra-like grasslands.  The unusual grass covered mound like an  ancient moss covered speed bump in the middle of nowhere.  I found that bump archaeologically interesting and wondered what it could be.  At one point i felt we were looking at a small slag heap of slate from an old slate mine.

There were lone men in outbuildings in more windswept places.  Much like as there is such people in isolated cottages or workshops in Wallander.

The level crossing for the train had no barrier.  That bothered me.  I was convinced this focus on the barrier-less crossing was there for the reason of some soon to be expected grisly death.  But no.  Well not yet anyway.

Of course DCI (Detective Constable Inspector) Matthias has a tragic and or sad back story.  He just has to have split up with his wife or she has died.  In this case, we presume split up since DC Rhys catches sight of two prerequisite adorable girls on a a photo that just happened to come loose out of DC Mathias’s wallet that just happened to fall on the floor.

Boys as children practically having disappeared completely from dramas as belonging to lonesome Detectives.  Girls being pretty much fixed now as forever daughters for no other reason than being traditionally and inexplicably closer to Dads: and of course more photogenic, cute and possibly prey for future psychotic murderers or worse.  When Detective Dad gets Too Close To The Case.

As for the rest of Hinterland we have kind of been here before.  As with Wallander, most of the case was guessable a long way back except  for maybe one or two at most, surprising twists.

The insertion of the folklore and the old photograph with it’s trompe l’oeil and sinister connotations felt a bit forced. as in: inserted into the drama for local flavour.  Fairly fascinating as these folk tales were.  I had the same feeling as when someone in another country and another drama starts dutifully intoning a similar ancient myth:
“long ago, the fire maiden met with a prince and they could not be together, she turned into a rock, see and then melted into the sea.  so that’s how/ when the Island formed…or some such twaddle.

 Really?  or are you just making all this up for the tourists.  Surely it is written down somewhere anyway which would be a useful way of recording this legend for prosperity. Even here in the local library. So why is it necessary to keep boringly banging on about it exactly?

In a minute (in such a drama) someone will say:
“But he’s a good man”
and then:
“It’s the way of his/our people”.

Although I did like Matthias’s response to the devil folklore tale:
“Yes, some might say he never left”.
Yep.  One could argue he hung around and decided to just rain on people.  All the time.  Just to wind them up.  Incrementally.   One could argue that all the sheep in Wales were blessed with the advent of rain and so it was that Sheep’s wool became waterproof and benefited all mankind from thereon.  See?  Folklore for the 21st Century.

Perhaps Ygywll will grow on me over time.  Possibly the characterisations will build up like in Swedish Wallander and overtake the luridness of the stories and or crimes.  Myself i wasn’t quite prepared for nor expecting quite so much blood. I mean a whole damn bath of it and droplets aplenty in loving, near microscopic close-up.  In full glaring BBC One style daylight.

I did at times find myself gazing at the face of DC Rhyss as she started to look like one of the actresses in the lamentable Line of Duty 2 but with a wig on.  Her face was equally inscrutable and dull of expression.  Was it her?  Or was there just a touch of Line of Duty dullness about the whole thing?  Was her hair really a wig?

If you find yourself wondering such things as i did it maybe because i was not wholly enthralled.

As in i didn’t really buy into all of it and was mentally ticking off the murder clich├ęs as they trilled by in quick
succession.  Whilst i was moved by the final scene: even though the location of it
and the reason why we ended up there were signposted a long way back, it would be hard not to be moved at the sound of a character jaggedly sobbing.

However another part of me was registering already that this was going to be a-sympathetic-to-murderers when-they-have-suffered touchy feely kind of show.  You know, when the person they murdered has been bad, then the murderer is not quite so bad or something like that.  Notwithstanding some pin-cushioned with stabbing implements, officially innocent people along the way.

Murder relativism.  Detective as social worker extraordinaire,  unofficial psychiatrist or even a 21st Century Priest.  At least Wallander, once he clipped the old hand cuffs on, was done with the case.

some subtitled descriptions of sound notes & dialogue:

(wind rumbles)

(wind whistles)

(waves crash)

So it opens with the eponymous jogger.  It’s the Detective.  He lives in a 70’s caravan.
(If it was an American series this would have to be a cool, super cool silver bullet shaped Silverstream but this is Wales)

DC Matthias:
“Who’s Johnny Cash?”

DI Rhys:
“A broken tooth, nasty”..

DCI Matthias.
He picks up a floating lipstick from the bath.
DCI Rhys:
“It’s not my colour”.
It might just be another wild bath night in Aberystwyth, but I doubt it”

DC Rhys:
“Salem by Sidney Rosper, you can see Satan’s face in the fold of her shawl, see?”

DCI Matthias:
“How long have you known him?”

DCI Rhys:
“He’s a good man”..
DCI Matthias:
“Further to fall..”

Police Boss: (to Matthias)
“I’ve got half the cognoscenti of the University out(to meet you) in their Chinos..”

One of the Police Team:
(the murderer)
“..wanted her to suffer?”

The Legend of Devil’s Bridge.
DI Rhys:
….So the Devil was so embarrassed he never came back to Wales”.
“Some might say he never left”.

Well the rain is certainly realistic.  It rains a lot in Wales.

Then the eponymous cross on a chain as a clue.  Lots of dripping close-up blood.

Matthias takes of his jacket.
(ghostly singing)
(he strains)
Matthias has found the body.  It ain’t pretty.

DCI Rhys:
“The night is far spent the day is at hand”
“Let us cast off the armour of darkness”
“and let us put on the armour of light”
(St. Paul to the Romans)

(waves crash)

(wings flutter)

Matthias: (the stone formation)
Hotel owner Gwynne:
“Looks more like a Walnut whip to me”!

(fly buzzes)

(clock ticks loudly)

(fire crackles nearby)

Ygwyll is very Wallenderish in its scenery.

(haunting song score)

(crows caw)

(throbbing score)


(suspenseful score)

(gulls caw)

I like how you can see England across the sea like a little crowded house of glow lights.


Liked it? Take a second to support Clarissima on Patreon!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.