We probably have the Scandinavians to thank for ‘Keeping Faith.’ It’s been a few years since the concept of a crime drama was totally turned on its head by the outbreak of ‘Nordic noir’ productions coming from Northern Europe. ‘The Killing’ was just one of many, and they had a transformative effect on production values and plot complexity in English-speaking productions. There’s little doubt that BBC Wales and writer Matthew Hall watched a great deal of Nordic noir before creating ‘Keeping Faith,’ and so for that, we should all be thankful.
If you haven’t heard the name of this picturesque and gripping drama before, don’t be too alarmed. It was never intended to be the runaway success that it’s become in the UK. Originally created as a Welsh drama, only broadcast on a Welsh channel in Great Britain, it became popular through word of mouth. People who’d seen the first episode spoke to other people, and persuaded them to look it up on the BBC’s on-demand platform. They told even more people. Before anyone knew what was happening, it was the biggest sleeper hit of 2017. Eventually, it grew so popular that it was moved to BBC One – the largest terrestrial television channel in the country. Now, it’s back for a second season – and it’s still phenomenal.
A Brief Recap
If you love mystery dramas, the best thing you could do is just find a way to watch the show, go back to the first episode, and watch it. Telling you too much here would ruin the suspense for you, but we can give you the basics. One morning, housewife Faith Howells wakes up and find out her loving husband Evan didn’t go to work. He doesn’t come home that night. He isn’t out on their boat, his phone is switched off, and nobody has seen him. His car is found empty, but his bank account hasn’t been touched. Evan Howells has disappeared off the face of the Earth.
During the first twenty-four hours, Faith is more irritated than she is concerned. Maybe he went somewhere, got drunk, and fell asleep. She considers the possibility he’s run away with another woman. As time goes on, her suspicions turn darker. She finds a fake driver’s license, containing a picture of his face, but under another name. She discovers he increased the value of his life insurance policy shortly before he vanished. Stuck at home with children wondering where her father is, Faith faces up to the possibility that something terrible may have befallen Evan.
She still doesn’t know what that ‘something terrible’ might be, but other people in her small town have unpleasant ideas. There are whispers that he racked up huge gambling debts, but Evan hasn’t done anything as simple as losing all the family’s money playing mobile slots. Money does indeed appear to be involved, but it’s nothing as fun and harmless as trying your luck on a few mobile slots games on website like Amigo Slots. In fact, you’d have better odds of finding a first-time winner on mobile slots than you would on predicting where the show goes from its first two episodes. Regardless of that, thanks to an incredibly well-structured narrative, the show still manages to hit the jackpot. Trust us – you will not see the plot twists coming.
The Magic Of Eve Myles
Holding everything about the show together is Eve Myles – a Welsh actress whose previous best-known work was in ‘Torchwood’ – a spin-off of the more popular BBC science fiction series ‘Doctor Who.’ Staggeringly, before ‘Keeping Faith’ came along, Myles was struggling to find regular work, and considering giving acting up altogether. Based on the utterly compelling performance she gives here, she’d have been an unbearable loss to the profession.
Every time Eye Myles is on screen, Faith Howells comes to life. She makes the character three-dimensional, totally human, and utterly real. When Faith cries, you feel it. When she questions her own sanity, you want to reach through the screen and reassure her. Myles imbues Faith with a bewitching mix of vulnerability and strength, choosing the right moment for each. In the midst of tragedy, she laughs. Other times, faced with the most trivial of issues, she freezes. It’s one of the most realistic portrayals of loss and bewilderment we can remember seeing.
It’s been years since we’ve seen anything where we’ve rooted for the main character so much. It’s a masterclass performance, and if Myles doesn’t walk away with a clutch of awards by the time all is said and done, there’s something very wrong with the television industry.
Keeping Faith Going
Explaining why there’s a second season is challenging without giving away too much about the first season, but rest assured that the second season is necessary, and yet also manages to introduce new elements to the story while simultaneously expanding on what we’ve already seen. Faith is taken to new places, and pushed to the limits of her ability to cope yet again, and our hearts bleed for her once more. ‘Keeping Faith’ is currently being aired weekly on BBC1 in the UK, but the entire second season has been uploaded to the BBC’s on-demand services for those who want to watch the whole thing in one sitting. We couldn’t help ourselves, and if you can find it, we highly recommend you indulge yourself.
‘Keeping Faith’ is a show about secrets, and family, and human endurance. It’s about resolution, determination, and trust. With its haunting soundtrack and outstanding cinematic qualities, it’s a worthy successor to ‘Broadchurch’ and – in our view at least – eclipses that show in every respect. Most of all, it’s about an incredible woman in an iconic yellow raincoat, played by an actor who can evoke an emotional response from even the hardiest and most world-weary of viewers. On top of all that, you’ll never see a better advert for visiting Wales – a land that seems to be made up of greenery and windswept beaches. If realistic mysteries are your genre, then this is your show. Catch it before the internet is full of spoilers.