An original Welsh-noir murder series on Netflix (in three seasons, 13 total episodes), Hinterland is for those who love this genre. The main character, DCI Tom Mathias, is a deeply troubled unsympathetic detective who, together with his more mature and brilliant partner Mared Rhys, travels around a small hamlet in Wales solving at least one murder per episode. The dark, forboding, and gloomy landscape rivals that of the best Nordic noir raising the same question: how can there be so many murders in such a small town? Dark and at times, sinister and ominous, the Welsh scenery parallels the characters and their secretive, bleak, often damaged lives. There is a hinterland or backstory for each character.
Police investigatory work in Hinterland often seems to go nowhere. Where are the brilliant breakthroughs? In this police procedural, Mathias and his supernaturally patient partner, Mared, lead the viewer to red herring after red herring, sometimes at an annoyingly slow pace. There are few malevolently brilliant masterminds which makes the surprising endings even less expected.
If you like detectives unraveling intricate master plans, only a few episodes provide that type of drama. The suspect is never the “easy” one with means, motive, and opportunity. Even when the perpetrator is identified early on, the motivation is superbly unraveled, with an infrequent note of empathy for why he or she committed the murder. Broken murderers abound. Moral lessons to be learned are often paired with suffering that created more suffering.
The structuring of the three seasons with the “book-ending” of episode one (in Season One) with the finale (in Season Three) is exceptional. While each episode stands on its own for a single murder, it is beginning in Season Two that we see how the show’s screenwriters wished to tightly weave the darkest hinterland of psychological pain into the climax in Season Three’s finale.
For those who also appreciate exceptional photography and cinematography, each episode has beautiful framing of shots through door frames and windows to underscore the need to shift perspective along side the detectives Mathias and Rhys.
Highly recommend this sleeper!
Availability: Netflix streaming.