The opening episode of Y Golau (The Light), the latest Welsh-language cab off the S4C rank was an intriguing, beautifully-played drama about a woman still struggling to come to terms with the murder of her daughter Ela 18 years before. Her grief was not only poignantly portrayed but also amplified thanks to the return of her (supposed) killer Joe Pritchard, who was released from prison after almost two decades.
Another returnee – journalist and self-proclaimed friend of Ela, Cat Donato – was also sniffing around the case, sensing that the terrible story from her childhood was an opportunity to make a journalistic name for herself in the present day.
In this second episode, we saw more of Cat and a gentle drip-feed of information when it came to Ela’s disappearance.
The first scene was fairly electric. Sharon (played by the always excellent Joanna Scanlan) confronted Pritchard outside his hostel, but despite her pleas, he stonewalled her and told her that he couldn’t help. In return, she promised to make his life hell.
Following on from that scene, the themes in this episode seemed to be difficult first meetings and how people realise they need each other.
We saw Cat try to ingratiate herself with the residents of Llanemlyn. Fresh from getting the cold shoulder from Pritchard, Sharon turned the tables and cold-shouldered Cat, revealing that the journalist wasn’t quite the friend of Ela’s that she made out.
A little crestfallen but undeterred, Cat met with old friend Caryn (Craith favourite, Sian Reese-Williams) and got some joy from the detective who worked the original case. He told her that Pritchard did not know Ela at all, but she had been spotted in town looking distressed on that fateful day and then later on the Pritchard’s farm itself. In fact, Pritchard’s own father had telephoned the police on the day of her disappearance to say that he had spotted her on his land.
The detective also revealed a bit more about the case – that Ela’s blood was found in the caravan.
By the end of the episode, both Sharon AND Pritchard had decided to open up to Cat – both realising that to relieve the pressure each was feeling, they needed her as much as she needed them. This dynamic was clever and interesting and and led to an edge-of-your-seat scene featuring Pritchard and Cat, who had agreed to take him to a job interview in return for an interview. Demanding she stop the car because he was starting to freak out at the very mention of Ela and the day she disappeared, their conversation continued in the woods – it felt for all the world that he was covering for someone, or at least blocking out the events in the caravan.
Whether Cat will end up bringing them together and helping to heal wounds remains to be seen. But one thing is certain – the character of Cat is an interesting device. She’s part expositional conduit, part amateur detective. And something tells me that she’ll end up going on a proper journey of redemption, too, where she has to face down the ghosts – and conduct – of her own past.
Pritchard’s reintegration into society was also interesting to watch, not least because he was being preyed on by fellow hostel dweller Ian. This slimeball had overheard Sharon and Pritchard’s conversation in the street, and saw an opportunity – he told Sharon that (for money) he was willing to help and get her the answers she was looking for. Thankfully, it backfired on him, but this strand did give the episode real tension.
Elsewhere, we saw Greta prepare for her forthcoming wedding and Sharon carted off by the police for harassing Pritchard once too often.
However, the real surprise came at the end of the episode when we saw a woman – sitting at a desk with her back to camera – use a German-language search engine to look for Joe Pritchard news stories online. Could this be Ela?