‘Tree On A Hill’ Ending Explained & Series Recap: What Happens To Clive, Margaret, And Sylvia? 

Set in the serene Welsh countryside of Swansea, Pren ar y Bryn, or Tree On A Hill is a psychological dark comedy following an unfortunate series of events in the lives of a middle-aged couple, Clive and Margaret Lewis. Given the rustic location the story has been set in, Tree On A Hill feels strangely nostalgic despite the dark storyline and the quirky characters. This series talks about a lot of things, including the effects of isolation, desperation, fear of change, and the effects moral ambiguity. The story also explores the ideas of superstition and faith in the conservative Christian village of Penwyllt. Cut off from the rest of the country, the characters are living a monotonous life, hoping to leave for the big city, but are burdened with responsibilities. Moreover, as a student of languages, I cannot help but express my fascination with the Welsh language, which in itself is a significant motif in the series. 

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Spoilers Ahead


What Is Clive And Margaret’s Story?

Clive Lewis and his wife Margaret, or Mags, are a middle-aged couple living in the village of Penwyllt, Wales. Clive works as a clerk at John Frederick Watkins’ carpet shop. Penwyllt is an extremely tiny settlement, and the impact of it being so small can be seen in the fact that everyone knows everyone. People don’t have much to do for leisure either, except maybe hang out at their community center, where the inhabitants get drunk and play bingo. 

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Clive and Margaret, too, have hit monotony in their lives. They feel as if their love has faded, and it is not their fault either. Clive feels as though he has not achieved anything in life, and Mags feels she is not good enough for her husband. Truth be told, before they were married, Clive had a thing for Sylvia, Margaret’s little sister, and because of this, she often thinks that she is not good enough. Clive, on the other hand, even though he is truly in love with his wife, is somehow jealous of Glyn, Sylvia’s husband, because of his financial success and big house. Perhaps the frustration of being nothing more than a carpet seller bothers Clive. He also feels insecure about his body, even with his wife. Clive spends most of his time in his basement assembling a railway diorama of the village, but Mags wants him to go out more, even though he isn’t keen on it. As a person who is afraid of change, this diorama is like a perfectly controlled environment for Clive, which serves as an escape from his mundane life. 

During Sylvia’s birthday party, Glyn, despite being mean to Clive, requests that Clive feed his cat, Tomi, while Glyn and Sylvia are away on vacation later. Later at the party, Clive sees Sylvia cheating on Glyn with Herbie, his colleague at the carpet store, and John’s son. This revelation causes tension for Clive, as he is not the kind of person who keeps things to himself. When he tells Mags about it, she claims to have already known about it. 

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While Sylvia and Glyn are away, Clive frequently visits their house, the Manse, to feed Tomi. Clive ends up taking a liking to the house, as he’s always wanted to live in a house like this, but his mundane life never gave him the opportunity to do so. On one occasion, he asks Mags to accompany him to the Manse, where they end up getting intimate for the first time in a really long time. While Sylvia and Glyn are supposed to be on a getaway, Clive and Margaret get one for themselves at the Manse. However, this moment of joy for them is only short-lived, as Glyn returns unannounced and spots Clive in a state of undress. Being the ill-tempered man he is, Glyn punches Clive to make him reveal what he’s doing at the Manse. However, before Glyn can assault Clive, Margaret ends up smashing a wine bottle on Glyn’s head and killing him. 


How Does Clive’s Life Change After Glyn’s Death? 

Margaret had hit Glyn’s head in defense to save her husband from her brother-in-law. Margaret is not the kind of person to harbor malice for anyone, and it was purely on impulse that she killed Glyn. Quite naturally, both Clive and Margaret started to panic as soon as the mishap took place. They suggested reporting the incident to the police, but soon realized that it would lead to Mags’ arrest. 

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Clive and Mags, despite their recent distance, loved each other, and Clive didn’t want his wife to be imprisoned. Clive suggests they clean up the scene to make it seem like he discovered Glyn’s body when he dropped by to feed Tomi before reporting it to the police in the morning. After cleaning up, the couple goes back to their house, but Clive comes up with a new plan. He proposes that they get rid of Glyn’s body so that it would seem like he disappeared. Clive and Margaret strategically move Glyn’s body to a nearby forest and bury him, but fearing the body would be detected, they change their mind. Instead, Clive takes care of the body by himself and stores him in a freezer that Sylvia gave to Margaret. 

As the story progresses, Clive becomes more and more assertive and confident. It’s as if, even though because of tragic reasons, Clive, who feared change, goes through one. He was thought of as a soft-spoken man, but since Glyn’s death, he has started to take responsibility for coming up with ways to avoid being caught by the police. He also shows more evident affection for his wife. In fact, even Clive acknowledges that there has been a change in him, which cannot be stopped now either. Clive, like Margaret, feels guilt for what happened to Glyn. As a coping mechanism, he begins talking to Glyn’s body in the freezer in their basement. Gradually, he even starts to see Glyn’s ghost, which Clive knows is only a figment of his imagination. 

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How Do The Police Catch Wind Of Glyn’s Disappearance? 

Glyn used to run a forestry firm outside the village with his employee, Lefi. To make Glyn’s disappearance more obvious, Clive and Margaret drop Glyn’s truck at the office. However, Lefi’s elder brother Alex, unlike Lefi, was a brash, quick-tempered man. When Alex finds evidence that Glyn was drowning in a massive debt, he is infuriated. He feels as though his brother would be the one who has to pay the loan back, and impulsively, he sets fire to Glyn’s truck. The police catch wind of Glyn’s disappearance after his vehicle is set ablaze and start an investigation to find out what happened to Glyn. The head detective at the local police station is Sergeant Ruth, who again knows everyone in this small Welsh settlement. Ruth initially suspects foul play in Glyn’s disappearance, but her prerogative changes when Lefi shows her the countless receipts for Glyn’s debts. 


Why Does Sylvia Forgive Margaret? 

Margaret was haunted by the guilt of killing Glyn. With every passing day, she became more and more depressed, coming to terms with her actions. Especially seeing her own sister struggling with her husband’s presumed disappearance brings more burden on Margaret, which is why she confesses to Sylvia that she killed Glyn and even shows her Glyn’s body in the freezer. 

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Sylvia is shocked and disgusted at her sister. She locks herself in a room to keep her distance from Margaret. But then, Sylvia wasn’t innocent either when it came to her life with Glyn. Their marriage was on the verge of breaking down. She had been having an affair with Herbie as well. Moreover, the night Glyn returned to the Manse, Glyn and Sylvia had a huge fight after she confessed to him that she had been having an affair. Glyn was an irresponsible man to begin with, and he treated Sylvia inappropriately. Seeing that Margaret was herself struggling to deal with her own actions and that she had not even slept the previous night, Sylvia suggests that they stick together and that nobody else can know the truth. This was a tricky situation for Sylvia, but she ended up choosing her sister over her emotionally abusive husband. 


Who Is Haydn? 

Haydn is an inhabitant of Penwyllt. He used to run his own pharmacy in the village until he developed a drinking habit and was deemed unfit to handle medication for people. He felt disdain for the folks because they were the ones who got his pharmacy shut down. Following the closing of his business, Haydn descended into depression and gradually started to lose his sanity. On the night Glyn had died, Haydn decided to take his own life and headed to a nearby forest to do so. He yelled at God for his cruelty, but before he could hang himself, he fell off the tree, only to see Clive and Margaret trying to bury Glyn’s body. 

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Haydn sees this as a message from God. He contemplates whether he should leave them alone or make a complaint. Instead, Haydn, reborn into a superstitious Christian, decides that he will help Margaret find God. He follows Margaret and cryptically leaves her messages to hint to her that he knows about what Clive and Margaret did. Eventually, Margaret, who has also been greatly affected by her killing of Glyn, buys into Haydn’s delusions. Some might even say that she found forgiveness in God even though she was never a churchgoing lady. 


How Do Clive And Margaret Get Rid Of Glyn’s Body? 

After Margaret had abruptly confessed to Sylvia, Clive was curious about her carelessness. He thought Margaret didn’t care about him going to jail for covering up her crimes before she blurted out the truth. This prompts Clive to leave Penwyllt and her wife behind. It is only then that he starts seeing Glyn’s ghost. While he was alive, it always seemed like Glyn hated Clive and looked down at him; however, this imaginary Glyn was rather thoughtful towards Clive, rationalizing why his wife killed him. The imaginary Glyn advises Clive to go back to his wife, as she needs him at this hour more than ever. Moreover, he asks Clive to bury him near a hill outside Penwyllt. 

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Clive goes back to his wife, who, along with Sylvia, decides that they must indeed get rid of Glyn’s body; however, Glyn’s frozen body is too heavy for them to lift. This is why Clive asks for help from Herbie. Although Herbie initially refuses, Clive convinces him to help them. Clive and Herbie arrive at the spot on the hill where they finally bury Glyn with respect. 


What Happens To Clive, Margaret, And Sylvia? 

Earlier, Sylvia visited the Manse with Lefi to distract him so that Clive and Herbie could have the window to drive away with Glyn’s body when Lefi abruptly showed up at Clive’s house. Sylvia and Lefi indulge in a conversation, and Lefi confesses that he has feelings for Sylvia as well, and the two end up sleeping together. John Frederick, Herbie’s father, catches her with Lefi and shames her for it, which was something she feared. Sylvia’s image was really important to her, but she ended up losing all of it. 

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Clive is relieved that he was able to get rid of Glyn’s corpse. The fear of being imprisoned had been haunting him and his wife, but now they were in the clear. On their way back, however, Herbie and Clive are met with an accident because of a goat that suddenly appears in the middle of the road. It is suggested that both Clive and Herbie perish in the accident. It’s interesting that the goat is often viewed as a symbol of Satan, which adds further layers to this ending. He was innocent, but since he helped his wife, who killed a man, Satan had his way with Clive. 

Meanwhile, Margaret visits Haydn, who clarifies to him that he knows about her involvement in Glyn’s murder. Haydn baits Margaret with his delusions, which she readily accepts as well. Margaret was burdened with her sins and was looking for anything that could give her hope and redemption. Like Haydn, even Margaret had started to descend into insanity, but by the end, she accepted the Christian faith. 

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Shrey Ashley Philip
Shrey Ashley Philip
A teacher, photographer, linguist, and songwriter, Shrey started out as a Biotechnology graduate, but shifted to studying Japanese. Now he talks about movies, advocates for ADHD awareness, and embraces Albert Camus.

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