For six years, Mali Pryce (Greta James) was held against her will. In the first episode of the Welsh miniseries, Hidden, her body is found in the woods. Missing since 2011 (the show is set in 2017), her family thought she had run away. The truth is much worse, and while the police search for her captor (Rhodri Meilir), their efforts are hastened by the realization that he’s searching for someone, too – another girl to replace Mali.
Very early on Hidden establishes itself as a smart show, with strong performances across the board, but it does become wearing to watch after a while. This is a miniseries that will give you nightmares, and a lot of that comes from the show’s removal of suspense. You know who the kidnapper is before the police do. You know who his future targets will be, and that’s a strange position to be in because there are these characters that the show follows that don’t have any ties to the case.
But they’re going to, which is why the show includes them. I still don’t know how I feel about this and the same goes for the extended scenes of the kidnapper and his newest victim. Gareth Bryn, who directed five episodes, talks about this in a bonus featurette, and how they weren’t sure how the audience would take to having the killer’s perspective, but he is right about it being easier not to know and one thing Hidden is very aware of is the impact of abusive relationships. They’re not an end-all explanation for Dylan’s behavior, but they are a factor that’s recognized.
In terms of getting to know Dylan’s targets in advance, the alternative is meeting them when they’re about to be attacked and then you risk confining them to the role of victims. These are characters whose lives are bigger than that but you don’t always get to see them in different contexts. It’s weird knowing the show is telegraphing their fates, because otherwise there’d be no indication of what’s to come, but Hidden doesn’t forget them, when they’re no longer the focus, and pays attention to the trauma they experience afterwards.
While you’re forced to wait for the police to catch up, it’s not from any fault in their police work and Sian Reese-Williams is fantastic as DI Cadi Johns. Ever since episode two, when she put on deodorant at her desk and spit mouthwash into a coffee cup, she’s reminded me of a calmer Carrie Mathison from Homeland and her coworkers are an impressive bunch, too. I especially love that there’s no contention between Cadi and her boss, DSI Susan Lynn (Victoria Pugh), the rare police chief who’s shown working alongside her team, instead of against them.
The show nearly falls into the trap of an office affair but saves itself with aplomb, and while you can wonder about how the case was handled in the past, that they didn’t pick up on Dylan sooner (and Cadi’s father, Huw (Ian Saynor), was the former chief of police but no one tries to discredit him), it’s being handled correctly now. They just don’t have much time.
Hidden Series 1 is available on DVD and streaming on Acorn TV and while it’s real-life horrors can be hard to stomach, it’s excellently made.