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Series / Hinterland
aka: Y Gwyll

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From left to right, DI Mared Rhys, DCI Tom Mathias, DC Lloyd Elis, and DS Siân Owens.

Y Gwyll (Welsh: The Dusk), titled Y Gwyll/Hinterland in bilingual and Hinterland in English-language broadcasts, is a Welsh detective drama that airs on S4C and BBC One Wales and is available for streaming on Netflix in North America. Each scene was shot twice, once in Welsh, and once in English. Two versions were then broadcast: one completely in Welsh, and one in bilingual Welsh/English. The first series aired in October of 2013, and it was renewed for a second series.

The focus of Y Gwyll is on our protagonist DCI Tom Mathias (Richard Harrington), who has relocated from London to the coastal town of Aberystwyth in the west of Wales. He is joined by DI Mared Rhys (Mali Harries), DC Lloyd Elis (Alex Harries), DS Siân Owens (Hannah Daniel), and CS Brian Prosser (Aneirin Hughes). The series has been described as Scandi-noir in Wales (or alternatively a Celtic-noir), in the same vein as Forbrydelsen, The Bridge (2011), or Wallander, sharing similarly bleak settings and the same moody tone. Some might also describe it as "Luther Goes to Broadchurch."

In April 2016, the series has been picked up for broadcast by BBC4 and is being screened in the Saturday night slot usually reserved for Scandinavian-noir crime dramas.

Y Gwyll/Hinterland provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Abandoned Area: The farmhouse at Talygroes has fallen into disuse after all of its property had been relinquished to Coradog Williams and left to rot, although our detectives find that a mystery person has been squatting there.
  • Accidental Murder: Cases where this happens:
    • "Penwyllt": The three best friends, Tommy James, Dic Rees, and Gwilym Morgan, know that out of towner Michael Reynolds was secretly banging Dic's wife using Wyn Bratton's caravan. In an attempt to intimidate him and dissuade him from coming near Lowri again, they kidnap him and shove his face into a channel that carried livestock waste. Unfortunately, it had been raining heavily that night and they end up drowning him. They dumped his body in the quarry lake, which Tommy owns, and Gwilym was tasked with getting rid of the dead man's caravan.
    • "The Girl in the Water": Alys had just left the hotel and her professor, and realized that she lost her mobile and missed the last train out of Borth. She asks Dyfan, the station master, to call a taxi for her; almost at the same time she comes across his miniature models and starts mocking him. Dyfan, who is secretly her father, asks her to stop and grabs her, and while during the struggle she manages to break free from his hold, she also trips and hits her head on a corner and breaks her neck, so he decided to move her body, because she deserved to be in a beautiful place in a beautiful pose.
  • Adults Are Useless: Minister Eurof Daniels. Catrin John told him she was being abused at the Pontarfynach orphanage did nothing, covered for the death of Emma Jones and then kept quiet about fellow Minister Jones' abuse of his family, because he's a man of the cloth.
  • After Action Patch Up: Gwen Thomas tends to Mathias' bandaged hand. Things go better than expected. At least for a while.
  • Asshole Victim:
    • Helen Jenkins, she ran the Pontarfynach children's home, where many abuse and horrors were comitted.
    • Retired CS Robert Owen, who was the main sexual abuser and rapist at said children's home.
  • Baby-Doll Baby: Awen John.
  • Berserk Button: For DCI Mathias, it's parents not being allowed to see their own children. Anything to do with children being harmed, really.
  • Blackmail: In "Night Music," Eric Roberts killed three escaped German POWs who had taken shelter in his barn by burning them alive in there. Coradog Williams found out, and threatened to inform the authorities unless Roberts gave up Talygroes piece by piece for free.
  • "Blackmail" Is Such an Ugly Word:
    • Iwan Thomas keeps prodding Prosser about Kieron Jones' "suicide" and its relationship with Devil's Bridge. Prosser, Dr. Blake and Owen do not take it well. Eventually Prosser snaps at Thomas' prodding and kills him.
    • Retired CS Robert Owen threatens Powell, who was sent in to investigate Thomas' death, with divulging his past relationship with Mared if he keeps digging too much about Iwan Thomas's investigation into Kieron Jones's death and Pontarfynach's children home. Powell capitulates and with the help of Dr. Blake, closes the Iwan Thomas case with a ruling of suicide.
    • Owen later tries this on Mathias when he comes asking about Pontarfynach's children home, and tells him to stop or he'll ruin his reputation because he had a relationship with Iwan Thomas' ex-wife. Mathias doesn't care.
    • Owen even tries it on Prosser, pointing out that he killed Iwan Thomas in the same type of situation that the former did to Hugh Vaughan, even though the latter did what he did because of the former's action that put the whole machination into motion.
  • Chekhov's Gun: In the 2015 special, Rhys and Mathias are stopped at a red light outside a nameless service station; the station would prove critical later.
  • Clear Their Name:
    • Aron Bowen, the murder victim of "The Sound of Souls," has insisted that he had never murdered his partner Abi Watkins, for which he served time in prison, even continuing to investigate this after his release. Mathias takes upon this investigation in addition to that of Aron's own death. In the end, however, Mathias is unable to clear Bowen's name, although he does discover the real killer and lets her know very well that Abi's murder was All for Nothing.
    • Dr. Hugh Vaughan is ultimately exonerated of the rumors of abuse at the Pontarfynach children's home upon the death of CS Owen.
  • Close-Knit Community: Aside from isolated places like Penwyllt, all of Ceredigion seems to qualify.
    • DI Rhys's father Alun Rhys knew Idris and Coradog Williams, and provides valuable insight. ("Night Music") Iori Thomas recognizes Rhys from her visits to Yr Hen Glyn as a child. (2015 Special)
    • Hywel Maybury, a potential suspect in "Devil's Bridge," works for Dean, the manager of the arcade on the strand. Three episodes later, it turns out Dean had previously dated Alys Thomas, the victim. Mathias even remarks about "Ever Decreasing Circles" when he shows up to interview Dean in the latter episode.
    • A big circle: Iwan Thomas was the police officer who investigated child abuse claims at Devil's Bridge Children's Home ("Girl In The Water"). Alys Thomas was his daughter. Dean, the arcade night manager, dated Alys, and hired Hywel Maybury, who was abused at Devil's Bridge as a child ("Devil's Bridge"). Never mind that Mathias' first case in Aber was the murder of the former headmistress of Devil's Bridge, then later sleeps with Iwan Thomas' wife Gwen.
  • Cool Car: Prosser's Mercedes CLS.
  • Dark Secret: As seen on "Devil's Bridge", something really bad happened at the children's home by the titular Devil's Bridge. A later investigation reveals that the police chief at the time was using his position to get away with sexually abusing the children in the home and murdered the physician who suspected that the abuse was happening.
  • A Day in the Limelight: By this show's standards, both DC Ellis and DS Owens each get featured heavily in season 2 episodes.
  • Deal with the Devil: In "Devil's Bridge," Mared recounts the legend of the creation of the titular bridge: The Devil told an old woman that he would create a bridge, and in exchange he takes the first soul who crosses it. She threw her bread across the bridge and lets her dog chase it. The Devil was said to have been so ashamed that he left and never returned to Wales.
  • Death by Irony: Joseph Roberts sets himself and Talygroes on fire. In 1943, his grandfather burned three German POWs alive in a barn, which resulted in the Roberts family losing Talygroes in the first place.
  • Defective Detective: Mathias is one. In the special aired between series one and two, he reveals his young daughter drowned, and he feels responsible.
  • Dirty Cop: Robert Owen raped children, committed murder to cover it up, manipulated Prosser and Dr. Blake into helping clean up his mess, and tried to use blackmail and intimidation to hinder subsequent investigations. Prosser himself ruined Iwan Thomas's career and later killed him because he got too close to the truth.
  • Domestic Abuse: The delivery man, Dylan Bevan, in "Night Music" is guilty of this against his ex.
  • Driven to Suicide: Happens on numerous occasions:
    • From "Night Music," Joseph Roberts self-immolates in his ancestral homestead.
    • From the New Year's Special "In the Dead of Night," Mari Davies twice. Unsuccessfully at first by setting fire to her own home with her son Wil in her arms, and unfortunately more successfully when she jumps from a cliff, despite Mathias's best efforts to coax her away from the ledge.
    • From "Ceredigion," Mathias at a particularly low point attempts this with a Russian Roulette. Luckily the one he fires is empty.
    • From "Dark River," Gwilym Pritchard attempts suicide by carbon monoxide poisoning by locking his garage and leaving his tractor engine on. Mathias and Rhys arrive in time to drag him out.
    • From "The Sound of Souls," Ffion steals a bottle of pills from Mathias's caravan and takes the entire bottle on the beach near where her father's body was found. Luckily she survives the ordeal.
    • From "Aftermath", Owain Jones, after being outed as his father's murderer, hangs himself in the chapel.
    • From "Return to Pontarfynach, Catrin John ends up stabbing herself with stolen scissors in the mental institution at the beginning of the episode.
  • Drop Dead Gorgeous: The corpse of the titular girl of the episode "The Girl in the Water" was posed in the middle of the bog in a red dress. Subverted, though, because she had already been wearing that outfit when she died and Dyfan's posing of her body was not intended to be sexual at all, as initially assumed, but to make her resting place as beautiful as possible.
  • Dying Town: Penwyllt, a former stone quarry village, is one. In real life, there is a Penwyllt that was a former mining settlement, but it's in the Swansea Valley (South Wales) rather than in Ceredigion (Mid-Wales), and its main function today is as a stopover for caving enthusiasts.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Prosser is horrified when Owen confesses he was the abuser at the children's home, not Vaughan, and that he helped cover up for him all these years since. Although really, Prosser is more Punch-Clock Villain than actually evil.
  • Fair Cop: DS Siân Owens. DI Mared Rhys counts too, for some.
  • Fee Fi Faux Pas: Mathias spent his first day at a crime scene rather than attend a town's welcoming event held in his honor.
  • Fish out of Water: Invoked in the bilingual version, DCI Mathias communicates mostly in English while everyone else is more comfortable speaking in Welsh. In all versions, he is a Welshman who is returning from an extended career as a policeman in London.
  • Foreshadowing: Mared notes that when she had just had her daughter, her house was always a mess, and yet Catrin's is spotless. We find out her baby is just a doll that she insists on caring for, after having her first child taken away after birth at thirteen and after a miscarriage when trying for a baby with her husband.
    • In the 2015 special, Mared goes home and angrily chugs a glass of wine, holding the wine glass precariously over the railing. Later, at a crime scene, broken wine glasses litter the floor.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: Superintendent Robert Owen.
  • Grief-Induced Split: It's revealed that Mathias separated from his wife Meg and moved from London to Aberystwyth due to the death of one of their two daughters; she drowned while swimming and Mathias blames himself because he looked away from her only for a moment and couldn't reach her in time. He suffers immensely from trauma and depression, causing him to withdraw from everyone. Meg feels that Mathias has abandoned her and their remaining daughter, returning his letters unopened and refusing to take his calls. In Season 2, Meg tells Mathias she wants to get divorced and move with their daughter to Canada for a fresh start, saying they can't wait for him forever; Mathias is upset but eventually accepts that this is the best way for Meg and their daughter to heal, especially as he's barely there for them due to being consumed by guilt and grief.
  • Guilt Complex: Plenty to go around; particularly Mathias, in spades. But also Jenny James, Hywel Maybury, Byron Rodgers, Dyfed Williams, just in the first episode alone. This show makes guilt look like the Welsh state religion.
  • Hidden in Plain Sight: Invoked by the painting Salem, by Sydney Curnow Vosper: the devil's face is purported to be seen in the pattern of the woman's shawl, and it's quite popular around Wales, hence its recurrence throughout "Devil's Bridge."
  • Horrible Judge of Character: Prosser. To be more specific: Many years ago, when he was just an officer, he had complete trust on his superior, CS Robert Owen, which is why he went along with burying Vaughan and covering up and stopping any investigations into the abuses that happened at the Pontarfynach children's home. It's not until Iwan Thomas, and then Mathias, start to unravel what really happened when he realizes how badly he fucked up.
  • Iconic Outfit: Mared's parkas. Also Mathias' wool tie. And Prosser's ubiquitous police blazer in season 1; he looks like he could break into a jog at any second. Inverted in Season 2, where Prosser has ditched the obnoxious blazer for a proper chief supervisor's uniform.
  • Impending Doom P.O.V.: Used pretty much every episode, although they are not always the murderer.
  • Ineffectual Loner: Despite Wyn Bratton's 3-year prolonged solitude in the woods, he let Michael and Defi into his life.
  • Kick The Son Of A Bitch: Owen gloats about using Prosser's blind trust on him to inadvertently cover up for him and his abuse at the children's home.
  • Kill It with Fire:
    • In "Night Music," Eric Roberts torched his own barn when he discovered that escaped German POWs had taken shelter in there.
    • In "Penwyllt," Wyn Bratton had previously been sentenced to three years for arson and attempted murder of his ex-wife and his two boys. He claims he didn't know they were at home.
  • Let's Get Dangerous!: A nonviolent version, which may simply be an inversion of Informed Ability: after several early episodes establishing that Mathias runs for exercise, the few times in the series he has to chase someone down on foot, he does so handily and with almost no apparent exertion on his part.
  • Line in the Sand: Mathias and Rhys have this with Elis and Owens. Mathias and Rhys are investigating a case that will focus on their own people, including CS Owen and CS Prosser, and offer them a way out if they're uncomfortable with that prospect. Elis and Owens just ask what they need from them.
  • Loners Are Freaks:
    • Wyn Bratton from "Penwyllt" who lives up in the woods all by himself. Actually invoked, because he wanted to start anew after spending three years in prison.
    • Daniel Protheroe, the silent young teen from "The Tale of Nant Gwrtheyrn" is despised by locals because he lives in seclusion with his mother and he engages in petty theft at the local store and from poaching.
    • Dyfan Richard from "The Girl in the Water", is a reserved man that runs the local station, is always watching and creates tiny models. He's made fun of by others. Accidentally leads to the death of Alys, who made fun of him to his face.
  • Love Makes You Evil:
    • From "Devil's Bridge," Jenny James killed Catrin's newborn baby in a vain attempt to keep Catrin's love all to herself.
    • From "Dark River," Arwyn Parry's obsession with Greta Pritchard drives him into sending threatening emails and texts, getting into verbal confrontations, murdering her Polish tutee, and then kidnapping her and keeping her imprisoned in a well.
  • Make It Look Like an Accident:
    • Both Prosser and Dr. Blake wish the murder of Iwan Thomas could be ruled as a suicide.
    • In fact, because Dr. Blake is the coroner, turns out Prosser, Owen and Blake also did this to Kieron Jones, one of the child abuse victims at the Pontarfynach Children's Home and to Dr. Hugh Vaughan, who was a physician at said children's home and wanted to speak about the abuse.
  • A Man Is Always Eager: A subtle example in season 3: after being shot at and held captive for hours by Llew Morris, Mathias returns to the inn where he's staying to be greeted by Manon, his landlady/girlfriend thusly:
    Manon: (coming downstairs) You look tired.
    Mathias: I am tired. (goes upstairs with her)
  • Man on Fire:
    • In "Night Music," Eric Roberts burned down his barn in which three escaped German POWs had taken shelter. It's also how Coradog Williams blackmailed Roberts into giving him his land.
    • The murder victim of "The Sound of Souls," Aron Bowen, was discovered burnt on the beach.
  • Mistaken for Pedophile: Dr. Vaughan. The allegations of his activities perdured after his death, and they were used by CS Owen to convince Prosser and Blake to help him get rid of the body.
  • Mr. Exposition: Lloyd Elis is almost always the first detective at the scene of the crime, and is shown explaining all of the gory details to Mathias and Rhys who invariably arrive later.
  • Murder the Hypotenuse: A variation in "Devil's Bridge." Jenny and Catrin were best friends growing up and positively inseparable, until Catrin became pregnant and gave birth at thirteen. Fearing that Catrin would love the baby more than her, Jenny, after the baby was taken away from Catrin, smothered it in a vain attempt to keep Catrin's love all for herself.
  • Musical Spoiler: In the episode "Ceredigion", the music takes a notably dark turn the first time the actual killer appears on screen. It's jarringly obvious on re-watch.
    • A few early scenes involving Prosser have music that seems inexplicably creepy, making later reveals about the character less of a shock than they might have been.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Prosser upon realizing all the stuff he did, whether unwittingly or knowingly, specially after Owen taunts him for helping him in the past.
  • Not So Episodic: While it's mostly a Body of the Week series, season 3 does some serious Arc Welding revolving around the Pontarfynach orphanage, tying all the way back to the very first episode of the series.
  • Offing the Offspring:
    • In "The Girl in the Water," unintentially by Dyfan Richard, the man at Borth train station. He put Alys's body in the bog so that she would look beautiful.
    • In the New Year's Special "In the Dead of Night," Mari Davies attempts to kill herself and her son by burning their home. She ultimately survives, although her son does die.
  • Orphanage of Fear: The Pontarfynach Children's Home. Helen Jenkins, who ran the home, would routinely call for the children and teens to repent for their sins. She would lock then in the "hard room" if they misbehaved and removed their teeth without anesthetics.
    • It is later revealed that sexual abuse also happened there routinely until it was closed down.
  • Punch-Clock Villain: CS Prosser. His blind trust on his predecessor, Robert Owen, drags him into the child abuse cover-up at the Pontarfynach children's home, including helping him bury bodies and actively trying to stall any investigation into it.
  • Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: It's one of the reasons that cause Prosser to snap and kill Owen himself.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Prosser manages one on Mathias with three words: "IN A CARAVAN!" - comparing Mathias to loner (and easy pariah) Wyn Bratton. Mathias stomps out and has to recompose himself in a bathroom stall. ("Penwyllt")
    • Tom gets one back at Prosser in the end of the series, pointing out his complete failure of doing his proper job as a police officer and instead being Owen's lap dog.
  • Red Herring: Quite a few of these pop up in each episode:
    • From "Devil's Bridge": Hywel and Jenny are both very suspicious. The former had disappeared for several days, and at the Home, he was paid special attention by Helen Jenkins, either good or bad. Meanwhile, Jenny descended into a life of petty crime and multiple run-ins with the law after her time at the home, and turned herself in as the murderer. It was Catrin, the supposed bad girl-turned-good housewife.
    • From "Night Music": Dylan Bevan and Herbert Rees fall under suspicion. Bevan stole the victim's cameras, but is only guilty of seeing the victim's body and assault and battery against his ex-wife. Herbert Rees, on the other hand, had been trying to buy up Parc y Boda, and had found out that his wife was carrying on an affair with the man, is guilty of hiring the murderer in an attempt to kill two birds with one stone.
    • From "Penwyllt": Actually, all of the named cast from the town of Penwyllt could count, aside from Lowri Rees and Defi James. Gwyneth sent the postcard to Lowri, but it was just to stop her from obsessing over Michael Reynold's disappearance. Wyn's greatest crime was being a bystander to the murder, while the three best friends (Tommy, Dic, and Gwilym) had accidentally murdered Michael Reynolds by drowning him in a cattle grid which flooded during a heavy rainstorm.
    • From "The Girl in the Water": Iwan Thomas and Alys' classics professor.
    • From the 2015 special: Bevwan, Rhiordi, Siwan
  • Scenery Porn: The series goes all the way in beautifully photographing everything that Mid-Wales has to offer, from the waves crashing onto the historic strand in Aberystwyth, to the primordial ravine beneath Devil's Bridge, to the windswept Cambrian Mountains, to the eerie beauty of the Borth bogs.
  • Self-Immolation: Joseph Roberts' ultimate fate at Talygroes.
  • Sex Equals Death: Invoked. When Mathias confronted Dyfan about the murder of Gwen, the latter claims that she had to die because the two of them had profaned the resting place of her adopted daughter (really his biological daughter).
  • Sliding Scale of Continuity: Episodes from the first two series stand well on their own without knowledge of prior storylines. However, it may be hard to jump on with Series 3 if you haven't at least read synopses of "Devil's Bridge" and "The Girl in the Water" from Series 1.
  • Slumming It: Mathias lives in a rickety mobile home on a dingy beach. This choice of abode seems to be a bit of Guilt Complex self-flagellation.
  • Soft Glass / A Glass in the Hand : In "Girl in the Water," Mathias casually puts down a glass of water, which instantly shatters into pieces and slices up his hand, which is bandaged for the rest of the episode.
  • Stepford Smiler: Catrin John, who used to live at the children's home and is now married and has a child, seems to be a symbol of perfection and the poster child for reformed behavior. We find out that her husband has actually left her, they never really had a baby, and she was the one who killed Helen Jenkins.
  • Suicide by Cop:
    • Almost successful in "The Girl in the Water." Dyfan Richard expresses his disappointment that Mathias does not go through with it, and ends up slicing his wrists instead.
    • In episode 3.03, Llew Morris takes this route.
  • Taking the Heat: Mathias is the main suspect in the investigation of the death of Iwain Thomas and for a good reason. The fact that he's being shifty on the subject of Thomas and was looking for him and had no alibi didn't help.
  • Teacher/Student Romance: Alys and her Classics professor Wynford Rees. Turns out it wasn't the first time for him.
  • The Tooth Hurts: Helen Jenkins, the murder victim in "Devil's Bridge," had her teeth knocked out by her murderer. Coincidentally, when she ran the Pontarfynach Children's Home, she used to pull the children's teeth out without anaesthetics and kept the teeth in a box.
  • Town with a Dark Secret: Quite a bit. Penwyllt, Borth, Pontarfynach all count, particularly Pontarfynach.
  • Trauma Button: While we don't see any flashbacks, Matthias is clearly bothered every time he has to deal with a case dealing with young children.
  • True Companions: Mathias and the rest of the team. When Mathias lays all the cards on the table about what happened at the Devil's Bridge children's home and that they would be investigating their own people, he offers them a chance to step away if they're uncomfortable with that prospect; the rest of the team just asks him what he needs them to do.
  • The Unreveal: ZigZagged. We initially don't learn who raped Catrin John when she was 13, and subsequent episodes give no indication that the matter will ever be resolved. Finally, two seasons later we find out that it was CS Robert Owen.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Prosser starts to unravel as Mathias and his team start to circle down on what happened at the children's home at Pontarfynach.
  • Watching the Sunset: How the last episode of season 3 ends. Given that all the loose ends from all the way back to the first episode of season 1 have now been tied up, it possibly signifies the end of the series.
  • Welsh Mythology: Some episodes mention local Welsh legends and myths, like that of the creation of the Devil's Bridge at Pontarfynach and the story of the maiden Blodeuwedd.
  • Will They or Won't They?: Tom and Mared. Sometimes crosses over into Belligerent Sexual Tension.

Alternative Title(s): Y Gwyll