Hinterland season 3 on Netflix is a visual feast. The directors artfully stage every scene. Filtered light, framed views, the contrast and visual interplay of shadows and light guide us through this remote landscape where secrets strive to remain hidden in darkness. Remember, Y Gwyll, the Welsh title of this BBC series, translates as The Dusk. It’s fitting, as is Hinterland.
Hinterland remains a cryptic and dark foreign TV series, but this is perhaps it’s brightest and best season. The signature flashlight beams at night, piercing the darkness to bring Tom Mathias insight, are almost nowhere to be seen. While big events still occur at night, the daylight is now equally important.
DCI Tom Mathias (Richard Harrington) is – almost – a changed man. He still doesn’t smile, but speaks more than last season. He participates in questioning witnesses and suspects again rather than simply observing while Mared (Mali Harries) acts like chief investigator.
Mathias may be recharged and invigorated as a result of the fire that ended last season. The aftermath of the fire, Mathias standing in the ashes, as it were, begins season 3. There are no “previously on Hinterland” summaries. If you don’t remember the events, it’s worth a quick scan through the older episodes or reading a short summary.
A new case needs solving in each episode. These are fairly typical murder mysteries filtered through Hinterland style and ambiance. More important is the season-long arc, which has roots in the very first Hinterland episode. It relates to the Iwan Thomas story. If you don’t remember the details, enough info is shared to stay in the know. Partway into season 3, episode 2, it’s clear an attempt to misdirect, to frame, is underway.
In season 2, we learned a bit more of Mathias’ back story. We don’t learn any more here, but we do find out more about Mared Rhys, Mathias’ closest ally on the force. The story behind her single mother situation is revealed.
Hinterland was created by Ed Thomas and Ed Talfan. Thomas and Gareth Bryn directed season three’s four episodes. Each is 90 minutes, the equivalent of a feature film (they were shown on BBC in two parts each). It’s a clear consistent vision, beautifully executed. Hinterland is equal to The Fall as a gripping, suspenseful tale spread over multiple seasons. Keep it in your Netflix queue. When you finish season 3, you may just to go back to season 1 and start all over again.