The return of arguably the most successful Welsh crime drama of all time has been much heralded, not least on these pages, but when you see Faith Howells again in her new coat, your heart begins to sing in a way that isn’t matched by many dramas in this genre.
One of the most put-upon characters in recent memory, Faith (the superb Eve Myles) has a determination and such strength and resilience that it’s not hard to root for her. And she has been through a hell of a lot – a disappearing husband that tore apart her family, involvement in with an Irish crime lynchpin, resorting to underhand dealings to get herself out of said crime lynchpin’s clutches, police, realising her husband was a bit of a ne’er do well AND an almost star-crossed love affair with a rough and ready blast from her past.
But the real strength of Un Bore Mercher is that way these crime elements mix seamlessly with family and relationship drama. You wouldn’t really call Un Bore Mercher cosy and warm exactly, but there is a great warmth to it.
And this where we dive into series three. Evan and Faith are about to enter into what looks like tense and acrimonious custody proceedings, and their uneasy truce is entirely due to the children. And the children – one a tearaway 15-year-old and one a sensitive, younger sibling – are finding adjusting to their new normal very tough.
It’s these scenes with Evan – who’s desperate to make amends – Faith (who isn’t), and the kids that give it real, emotional depth.
Elsewhere, Faith and Cerys (who have started their own legal firm) have a new case to deal with: an old, ahem, friend of Faith’s (well, a guy who fitted her kitchen and once made a pass at her) has hired them to get involved in a complex, emotional and ethically ambiguous saga involving his teenage son, who lies in hospital with a brain tumour. His father, Mike, wants to operate, while the hospital does not because of the slim chance of survival.
Once again, this emotion – and the lovely connection Faith makes with Osian – is truly what sets her and the show apart from its contemporaries. Faith Howells has a way with people.
And she also has a way with her mother.
The big plotline in this series is the emergence of Rose Fairchild, the mother that walked out on Faith and her family when she was 15. Rose (played with menace and a fairly average Cockney accent by the excellent Celia Imrie) employs Stave Baldini (who in this series seems to be living in a log cabin and doing his best impression of Grizzly Adams) – they seem to have some previous – to rob one of Gael Reardon’s joints (she’s out of prison but owes Rose money) and then introduce her to Faith.
Their initial confrontation in episode one is quite something, their subsequent meeting in episode two is no holds barred and we see a threatened Faith once again – she (literally) bears her teeth, tells her in no uncertain terms to stay away and then is broken once again. Rose and her reemergence have taken her to a place she does not want to be, and under all that confidence, her vulnerability bubbles up yet again.
But Rose looks as though she’s here to stay – she has also started legal proceedings to let her see her grandchildren, and she’s beginning to resort to underhand tactics. She knows about Faith’s involvement with Gael, and has the photographic evidence to prove it. Furthermore, she’s willing to use it.
It looks as though there’s going to be a battle royale between these two, and already sensing stormy skies ahead, Faith reaches out to DI Laurence Breeze for help.
Add in Evan doing some sneaking around in the shadows, her best friend admitting she’s an alcoholic and Cerys hooking up with one of the male nurses at Osian’s hospital, and I’d say we’re nicely set up for the rest of this final, six-part series.
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