(4 / 5)
After the fairytale grotesque of Series 1, writer Carys Lewis has done a far better job than her predecessors Mark Andrew and Ed Talfan, with this second slice of Snowdonian Scandi-Noir.
The cinematography and direction, which was accomplished and stylish in the first outing, is now established, highly honed, consistent and heavy with painterly symbolism.
The police characters and their families are becoming more familiar and a depth is being added to the character of DI Cadi John, played with gruelling conviction by Sian Rees-Williams. The other recurring characters have been downgraded to background figures for the most part, only interesting as they interact with Cadi John and provide foils for her story.
The bleakness mist-ridden and unremitting; a pallet of every shade of grey and blue grey and ink is smeared with heavy cloud and drizzle. Every interior is chaotic – oozing poverty and misery with its browns and umbers and filthy, greasy greens. No-one smiles unless it is ironic or through gritted teeth.
The building blocks of misery are familiar ones: poverty, family death and other tragedy, loss of reputation, illness and disfigurement, drug abuse and sexual abuse are all rife in these dark and exposed wildernesses around Snowdonia.
But, after the awful cliches of Series 1, with its house in the woods peopled by a serial killer and his insane, grotesque mother, we now have something altogether more worthwhile.
The plot takes a small group of dysfunctional and damaged youngsters and explores two of them with real depth and quality of writing, acting and directing. There is cliche here too but it is managed and gone beyond.
There is a wonderful sub-plot around a petrol station and shop with a father and daughter, wonderfully played in her case. The tenderness which develops between her and the ex-convict who helps out at the garage is beautifully written and realised.
The pace is slow – painfully slow and over-self conscious at times and there is perhaps too much focus on style and the noir market; but, having said that, the acting throughout is excellent: Annes Elwy and Steffan Cennydd being outstanding and time and care has patiently shaped a very fine piece of original Welsh drama.