NB: SPOILERS INSIDE
Sorry, sorry – it was a busy week last week and even though I’d watched episode five of Craith, I didn’t have time to write it up. So I thought I’d double up here and do a double-episode review. We were, of course, coming off the back of an episode – a half-way-through-the-series episode – that was exclusively set on the farm of Dylan Harris, his scary mother, Iona, and his sweet but obviously terrified daughter, Nia. After that little mid-series sojourn, it was back into the land of the living in these two episodes, and back to the investigation, and Cadi and her family.
What’s really great about Craith – and I’ve said it before – is that Ed Talfan and his writing team really take their time exploring peripheral characters and giving us plausible and believable reasons to why they are like they are. We get fully-rounded, three-dimensional characters. Across the board. We see the Pryce family, coming to terms with the murder of their daughter and sister, Mali, and how they deal with grief (anger, violence); we see Lowri Driscoll come to terms with her attack, her anxiety, and her world falling apart; we see Owen unhappy in his marriage and flattered by the attention of Alys in the office, kind of taking her up on her offer of a post-work drink; and we see Cadi and her father Huw exchange touching reminiscences as his time to shuffle off his mortal coil edges ever closer. What we haven’t seen too much of yet – and certainly not in this fifth episode – are the reasons for why Dylan Harris is doing what he’s doing, and why his latest prisoner, Megan Ruddock, was so distressed and had a hard time dealing with life. I suspect we’ll see more of that later, perhaps in the final two episodes.
What we get – with all this rich characterisation – was dollops more engrossing, melancholy human drama, warts and all. So it was handy in the middle of episode five to get an expositional sequence in which Cadi and Owen went through the case on their incident board, half to remind themselves where they were and half to remind us. There had been a development – they had traced the pick-up truck to an unhelpful manual worker who hired Dylan back in 2005, but he didn’t want to help because one of his hired help was arrested and convicted for the murder of Anna Williams – a young woman who looked exactly like Dylan’s previous victims (Llinos Evans in 2007, Mali Pryce in 2011 and the failed attempted kidnap, imprisonment and no doubt eventual murder of Lowri Driscoll). But… that original investigation was handled by Cadi’s dad, Huw, and a man – Endaf Elwy – had been put away for the murder. Cadi had to think that this could be a miscarriage of justice.
Episode six was superb – if we’ve had whole episodes given over to tangents (necessary tangents, but tangents nonetheless), this instalment had a bit of everything with all characters involved.
Cadi visited Endaf Elwy in prison in Gloucester (Elway was portrayed as a vulnerable man extremely well by Mark Lewis Jones, who normally plays big, gruff and very masculine characters. Here he was showing off his range with style). Their quiet, intimate exchanges were interspersed throughout the episode, culminating with Elway breaking down after maintaining again and again he didn’t kill Anna Williams.
Elsewhere, down on the Harris farm, the interaction between Harris himself and Megan Ruddock ramped up. Their relationship was at once touching, terrifying and desperate, and we eventually started to understand Harris’s motivations (if I had one criticism of this series is that we still don’t really know why Harris does what he does) – the man-child gently oscillated between caring and menacing, and so his ‘caring’ for Megan continued. Megan herself was paid visits by two people other than Dylan – Nia (who slipped a drawing of a rainbow under her door, and I still maintain will play a key part in the denouement), and Iona, who bared her teeth and told Megan a story from her childhood, of her father hunting and his prey not given any quarry if they ever tried to fight back. This systemic, innate, animal liking for the hunt and the capture seemed to get Iona into a bit of frenzy, and suggested that she meted out the same sort of treatment to her son that she had received. As far as Dylan goes, his conversation with Megan at the end of the episode was interesting – Megan seemed to see Dylan for what he really is: someone who has never been valued, someone who does what he does because he needs to express love (albeit in a warped, perverse way) and to wrestle back some sort of control. Ownership. Could Megan and his other victims be the kind of prey or pet Iona spoke of?
It’s all deeply engrossing, compelling drama. And it’ll end soon – Owen received CCTV footage of Dylan’s truck in the vicinity of Megan’s last reported whereabouts. The net is closing in, slowly but surely.
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