I have to admit something.
Despite being thrilled by the surge in Cymru Noir, the first series of Un Bore Mercher slipped through the net when it aired first on S4C (look, we can’t watch everything, ok?). When it went onto air on BBC One, it slipped through the net again.
And, of course, it broke records.
One of the only series that slipped through our net went onto break bloody records. Typical.
There were lots and lots of viewing records smashed by this Welsh drama. S4C, BBC One and iPlayer… it seemed people couldn’t get enough of Eve Myles and Un Bore Mercher, also known as Keeping Faith. Add in her real-life husband Bradley Freegard, Y Gwyll/Hinterland alumni Aneurin Hughs, Hannah Daniel and Mali Harries, as well a noirish plot that hooked and grabbed, and you can see why it did. And it had a credible cliffhanger and bridge to series two, the type that makes you go “Ooooooh!”
In the first series, we had a bit of everything: bent coppers (oh, Ted Hastings would’ve loved DS Morgan and DCI Parry), corrupt energy deals, wheeling and dealing, drugs, family drama, steamy affairs… it was good stuff.
But at the heart of it all was Eve Myles, an experienced actress who, in Faith Howells, found the role of a lifetime and a character that she fit like a glove. She was simply outstanding as the lawyer whose life had spun out of control, willing to do anything to save her family. Faith had soul and fire, plenty of flaws and, crucially, qualities that anyone would recognise. She wasn’t your Scandi heroine that had ‘something going on’. No, she was social, fun, and a busy, independent family woman juggling those two worlds. Sometimes failing, mostly succeeding.
READ MORE: OUR REVIEWS OF Y GWYLL/HINTERLAND
She was and, I’m happy to say, still is a well-rounded, human character.
But like she says to her returned husband Evan, she is most definitely not the woman he left.
She has been through too much, seen too much. She is hurt, scarred and wary.
That’s what Evan leaving, having to delve into his sordid private private life and that’s what having a gun pointed at her did to her.
It’s this relationship with her returned husband that, of course, forms the cornerstone of this second series. But instead of getting it all out into the open and early, we’re teased a little bit with dream-like flashbacks of Faith and Evan’s first meeting immediately after his return.
She launches into him, both physically and mentally. The tension crackles and the intimacy is almost unbearable (it helps to have a real-life husband-and-wife team in this situation) as they duke it out. Evan is sorry, says he shouldn’t have come back. Eve tells him Steve Baldini shifted the drugs he ordered from Gael Reardon to pay off the Glynns and pay off the firm’s debt. She struck a deal with Parry.
Later, a scene between the two in a prison visiting room displays the same sort of tension, authenticity and intimacy – Evan wants to make amends, touch her even; Faith laughing because she doesn’t want to cry, anger always simmering below the surface.
Yes, Evan is in prison because he went to the police.
And Faith is alone with the children again. Like she was when Evan first walked out of the door.
And this is what’s great about Un Bore Mercher. It has plenty of skullduggery and plenty of thriller elements, but at its heart it’s a family drama, whose mechanics you recognise and empathise with: the pressures of being a mum, the use of music designed to tug on the heartstrings and the way Faith is always under the cosh, running around at 100 miles an hour.
Series two carries these ideas on, but it’s clever. Like I mentioned before we’re not given the big showdown with Evan easily: it’s presented to us almost as if it were a dream sequence; a hot flame and a memory. These flashbacks are designed to disorientate us slightly, and it makes sense. Faith has lived through a noirish nightmare – from happy lawyer with a loving home and nice family, to everything shattering into a thousand tiny pieces and then trying to make sense of it all. If that’s not disorienting I don’t know what is.
Faith, however, must live her life and yet Evan’s catastrophic and almost fatal mistakes still reverberate. Gael Reardon is still on the scene, Steve Baldini is as well, just about. Cerys is being deliciously duplicitous (Hannah Daniel on tip-top form). And there’s new tension at work. A friend of the Howells family – William Vaughan – has been found murdered on his farm, and his wife, Madlen, is the prime suspect.
Faith is up for defending her, but Tom doesn’t want her to. Could this be the start of a rupture in the business? We’ll soon see.
In the meantime, though, it’s great to have Faith back in our lives. The way this series has started, viewing records will no doubt be smashed again.