Set in scenic North Wales, the BBC’s Hidden is a recent detective drama series that follows the investigation of a young woman found dead in a river in the Snowdonia National Park.
Kicking off the series, the first episode begins with a man driving wildly through a wooded area, headlights ablaze. We don’t see his face, we just know that he’s wearing a baseball cap, and has a large vehicle – perhaps a pick-up truck. He gets out and runs between the trees with a torch, searching for something. He meets with a crying, scared-looking girl dressed in white, her hair down, facing a waterfall. Immediately, we know what this story is going to be about; strange goings-on in the woods and vulnerable girls just waiting to be uncovered by some unappreciated detective who will save the day – fingers crossed.
Following the intro – a montage of clips of miscellaneous articles, accompanied by apprehensive music – we meet the female protagonist, Cadi. As Detective Inspector, Cadi gets called out to what can only be the unsettling scene we saw before the intro, and on her way, she drives across the Menai Bridge and through some lovely Welsh countryside. I have to say I found it a bit odd when she reached the site where the body was found because she didn’t talk to any of the people who were already at the scene. She simply walks over, uncovers the body of the girl and begins to make assumptions on what happened by quickly looking over her. We are shown her wrists, covered in red marks, suggesting she was restrained before her death. Already I felt, as a viewer, that this part of the story has been done before, which unfortunately meant that a moment intended to hook me instead felt almost repetitive, and also lacked a level of formality. By not addressing others already at the scene, this stage seemed rushed and impractical.
It appears that there will be a couple of intertwining stories within this series, which would make the plot more interesting. A young woman working as a carer is introduced, and we quickly learn that she has a dodgy ex-boyfriend or similar, because she keeps getting calls from someone called Marc. We also meet another young girl in a university lecture whose wrists worryingly begins to bleed. She tends to her cuts out in the toilets and looks sadly at herself in the mirror. Here we have two vulnerable female characters who are sure to be involved in the unfolding dark story some way or other.
Whilst the detectives learn more about the drowned girl, discovering her identity and the fact she went missing in 2011, we simultaneously are given insight to the life of the potential abductor. We see him arriving late to work in his truck with the same baseball cap on, and eventually see his face. We also see where he lives – in what seems to be the middle of nowhere (surprise), with a woman we assume is his mother who isn’t particularly nice.
In the last five minutes of the episode, you can tell things are going to escalate as the music picks up in pace. DI Cadi zooms into a picture of the girl’s body and discovers a bracelet on her wrist. In her paperwork, she finds other missing girls with the same bracelet, suggesting they are connected. On her way back to the office to work this part of the story out, she passes both the university girl standing on the bridge and the carer who is in the police station, again, indicating the two characters will become more involved with the unravelling story.
The episode closes by putting a new idea in our minds. We’re back at the house of the suspicious baseball cap guy and his mother. She beats him with a rope that is kept in their front porch and kicks him out of the house. He goes into some kind of outdoor cellar with a bed that he sits on, which makes it reasonably obvious that the drowned girl was kept there. Our suspicion of him is now somewhat justified, yet the cruelty of his mother shows another side to the man we might have judged too soon; he is himself a victim.
From this first episode, the series seems to have a good story, and I like the way it is filmed, however, to me it feels like a lot of other series I have seen before. Despite this, I would recommend Hidden to someone who hasn’t already seen many detective dramas, and who likes to see the landscapes of North Wales flatteringly displayed, as there are lots of pretty shots of Snowdonia, the Menai, Bangor and the university!
All episodes are available for 6 months.