Tag Archives: craith series 2

REVIEW: Craith (S2 E6/6)

With Mia on the run, Connor attempting to take his own life and Lee in custody, the gang who had been causing havoc in and around the mist-shrouded streets of Blaenau Ffestiniog, as well as its surrounding woods, roads and quarries, looked for all the world as though it had finally been cornered; their ever-violent tear halted.

What was left was a confrontation between ringleader Mia – sociopath, psychopath Mia – with Cadi. Everything was leading up to it, and I couldn’t wait for the battle of wills to commence.

We had to hold on for a little while because Mia went to visit youth worker James Rhys in his caravan (a quirky Air BnB waiting to happen, surely), and pecked on a loaf of bread as she systematically began to tear him down for what she perceived as his role in Gwyllim Scott’s tragic death. She initially came to him for help, but instead started to blame him for neglecting Gwyllim and blaming him for his death.

Soon she had gone, but not before James had made a call to Cadi.

Cadi, in turn, called in the big guns and the search for Mia in the woods was on.

With all the thermal imaging and control centres and helicopters, it was only a matter of time until they found her. And when they did, she emerged from the shadows – as if from the trees themselves – knife gleaming in her hand and eyes flashing, like a demonic imp.

Cadi asked her to drop the knife, she playfully told her to come and get it.

She pulled the knife away when Cadi reached for it.

Game on.

The confrontation continued back in the interview room – Cadi was calm, friendly even, and flashed smiles. But beneath her calm exterior, you could tell she was on edge confronted as she was by the disquieting malevolence facing opposite her. Cadi tried to get inside her head, but Mia wasn’t having any of it – she sat, sneering, showing the same kind of arrogance she has shown throughout this. She was in control, as she has always been.

Mia asked Cadi – once the DI had finished theorising – whether that was all she had got. She then began to turn the tables, mentioning Cadi’s dad, and how he fucked up during the Dylan Harris case. She got personal and it knocked Cadi sideways, but she remained calm.

It was a great scene. Line Of Duty does interview scenes very well – Sian Reese-Williams should know after all – but this was up there. There’s often shifting power dynamics in interview scenes and there were plenty here – Cadi with the upper hand early on, Mia parrying easily, and then snapping back. At the interval stage it was definitely Mia winning on points, but then Cadi got to work on a new angle, and it worked – she played the Gwyllim card, she played the Connor card, and she poured on the fact that she was responsible for these deaths thickly and without mercy. It worked.

The fact that Cadi had hit her Achilles heel suggested that, despite all of her murderous actions and overpowering lust for control, there was good in Mia. Twisted, perverted good, but good nonetheless.

Another reason to love Craith – its villains are three-dimensional, never cartoonish or throwaway or flimsy. There’s light and shade in all of them.

(By the way, Reese-Williams was superb in these scenes, showing hidden (geddit?) emotions beneath her surface with nervous eyes and picking of hands… subtle body language gestures that fitted her character and situation perfectly.)

With a show like Craith, there are no fashionable twists, no real surprises, just slow-burn intensity that simmers into a boil, and an inexorable march towards a moment of confrontation and truth.

Craith is also very much assuredly a whydunit, but there’s an acknowledgement that someone doesn’t have to have a big reason to do what they do. For Mia, she told Cadi that she killed Sion Wells because she felt like it. In other crime series – where the onus is on twists and quick resolutions – that would have felt like a bit of a letdown. Here it felt right.

A few readers have been in touch complaining that this series has almost demonised working-class kids and presenting them as feral animals running wild is hackneyed and panders to negative stereotypes.

I read it differently: this series was at pains to present plausible context for their fractured personalities. Mia, Lee and Connor had come from broken homes let down by the establishment, let down by people who simply didn’t care anymore.

One line really struck me in tonight’s episode.

James Rhys, talking to Cadi about Gwyllim’s death, began to question his involvement in the tragedy: “Maybe I  did let him down, maybe we all did.”

I’ve spoken about how grief has been beautifully, achingly portrayed in this series, but after hearing James utter those words it occurred to me this series’ main theme was neglect. The working-class families of Blaenau had been neglected, the perpetrators of the crimes had been neglected – Connor admitted when he awoke from his coma that he had been desperate to be a part of something – and even the victims had been neglected. Nobody cared about Geraint Ellis.

Instead of demonising working-class communities, I felt this sent a strong message – as these communities are neglected and fractured it’s so important to look out for one another, to glue the pieces back together.

But what about Craith as a crime drama? I thought it was fantastic. The cast was on great form (Annes Elwy, in particular, was mesmerising as Mia chewing up the screen every time she appeared on it), the cinematography was utterly breathtaking and the story was absorbing and emotionally involving. And, more importantly, it gave its characters room to breath… and room to just be.

I would have liked more of Cadi and her personal life (there’s the hint of a romance with Rachel, the pathologist), but as she stood out in the garden, her sisters inside clearing out her dad’s clothes, she looked out across the Strait and took a deep breath – another case solved, but what else lies ahead?

I’m hoping it’ll be a third series.

Paul Hirons







REVIEW: Craith (S2 E5/6)

We’re almost at an end of this superb second series of Craith, and as befits a six-episode series that is nearing the end the pace really picked up in tonight’s instalment.

I did wonder at one stage whether Mia, Connor and Lee were indeed responsible for the murder of schoolteacher Geraint Elis, and whether there was going to be an almighty twist revealing that someone else had done it. But the murder of Sion Wells really has put paid to any conspiracy theories.

Once again, despite the whiff of a twist, Craith has concerned itself with being a cat-and-mouse whydunit rather than a whodunit, and the task now at hand is how Cadi and Owen will circle the wagons and bring in Mia, Connor and Lee.

The aftermath of the murderous attack on Sion Wells took centre stage in the early goings of this penultimate episode.

And, as ever, it was done in a poignant, considered way. Hefin and Beca had arrived at the petrol station to find that they had been broken into, and, soon after, Hefin found Sion’s bloodied body lying in the pit in the garage, the detritus of violence all around. He was concerned about shielding his daughter from the horror of death, a scene she had witnessed before with her mother, and quickly ushered her into the shop.

And you felt so sorry for Beca, a young woman who, upon meeting Sion, saw the flickers of potential and a brighter future. But it wasn’t to be.

There was more heartbreaking fall-out to the death of Sion Wells elsewhere.

Lee, who had gotten angrier and angrier in the past few episodes as he realised that his relationship with Mia had deteriorated, began to understand the full consequences of his actions. Not only had he been complicit in two murders, but he was facing the prospect of being taken away from his infirm dad. His older brother Jason was a liability and he was the only one taking care of his father, making sure he took his pills on time and being the only one to make sure he was ok. As we watched him tend to him, you got the impression that, inside, he realised that he would be soon prized away from his father and that no one else would be taking care of him in the very near future.

And then there was Connor.

Connor had been the most outwardly affected by the gang’s actions in the Geraint Elis household, and you wondered whether he would be the first to crack. Mia had unscrupulously shagged him in the previous episode, which, you could tell, confused him – she had played him beautifully, and she did what she had set out to achieve with her sexual entrapment. He was now on her side, bonded by what he thought was physical love.

But stabbing Sion Wells in the back made him think again, and he knew the game was up – it was just a case of what he was going to do. Would he go to the police? Would he break down and reveal all to his long-suffering mum?


He did something far more devastating.

A strange, eerie kind of calm came over him. He left a note for his younger brother, complete with a personalised piece of fishing tackle he had whittled and shaped in his late grandfather’s workshop. By the time Liam had found the note and handed it over to his mother, he was long gone, and she knew he was in desperate trouble. She rushed to her car and drove at speed to the lake – her son’s special place – hot tears of panic streaming down her face.

She got there too late.

In a beautifully heartbreaking scene, we saw Connor walk slowly and calmly into the lake, letting the gentle ripples take him and pull him under.

It was heartbreaking to watch.

Many people will criticise Craith for being slow – too slow for some – and not having the kind of bells and whistles and twist-laden narrative that high-octane crime dramas like Line Of Duty have. But the benefit of this kind of approach – this intense, simmering style – is that characters bed in. You can take your time with them, and luxuriate in the study of each one until you’re emotionally connected to them. This is what Craith does so well, even with the bad guys. It helps also that the bad guys aren’t caricatures – they’re greatly flawed, they’re vulnerable and they’re too far gone. But they’re also human beings who inhabit grey areas. Murderers or not, they all have some redeeming features.

They’re all capable of love.

Which is why that final scene, that moment when Connor took his own life when he realised there was no other place to go other than the darkness, was so powerful and so moving.

But what of Mia?

She had gone to ground, thrown away her phone and school bag and went rogue. She knew that the game was up, and was almost waiting to be found, moving slowly around the town, taking refuge in cafes and quiet places.

Cadi and Owen had Lee in custody and would surely soon find out Connor’s fate, and she knew that her merry dance of manipulation, her desperate struggle to be someone  – something – greater than those around her, was coming to an end.

She sat on a hill in near darkness. Her pale, wan face was illuminated by a constellation of freckles, her eyes shimmering. She looked out on to the town below her, knowing that Cadi John was close and a confrontation of epic promotions was looming on the horizon like the setting sun.

She knew it was coming.

We knew it was coming.

Paul Hirons






REVIEW: Craith (S2 E4/6)

“Does grief last forever?”

“It has to. Otherwise what does losing someone mean?”

When lines of such power, poignancy and heartbreaking truths hit you right in the chest and make you cave in, it’s easy to forget that beneath the slow-burn and the stunning shots of Gwynned and Snowdonia, there’s real skill on show here in terms of writing, acting and meaning.

It’s also easy to forget that beneath the cat-and-mouse game here, Craith is exploring human emotion – mainly guilt in this series, but also the chasm of grief.

Throughout this series, DCI Cadi John has somewhat taken a backseat.

Instead, the story has really featured Mia and her gang of killers. But Cadi has been there in the background, quietly working all hours – like all hours – at the police station, worrying about her sister and trying to come to terms with the death of her father in the best way she can.

As we hit the back straight of this excellent second series, Cadi stepped forward from the shadows and began to unravel a little. She and Owen had been sniffing around the Gwyllim Scott lead – a teenager who used to go to the youth centre and had taken his own life.

Youth worker James Rhys had come to the station to talk to Cadi in a more reasoned manner and told her about Gwyllim’s struggles and how he had been cyberbullied. It was during this conversation that the lines I quoted earlier were uttered, and immediately Cadi – almost reaching out and opening up emotionally for the first time – understood exactly what James Rhys had said about grief. The fact that she had to ask the question said everything – she was struggling. All the long hours, all the time away from home. Her sister had taken to booze to numb the pain, but Cadi was running away.

Later that night, she began to face things a little bit. She opened the door to father’s room, his books still on his chair. Like he was still there. The fact that he wasn’t made her eyes well.

These scenes reaffirmed what a fine actress Sian Reese-Williams is. She’s just fantastic at subtle emotion – a raise of the eyebrow here, and turn-up of the lips there – and in this character she has to portray both strength because her position calls for it, and vulnerability.

The other notable moment in this episode happened when Cadi and Mia met for the first time.

Cadi and Owen had established that Karl Lewis was not guilty of the murder of Geraint Elis – in fact, they elicited a confession from him that he had made up the whole accusation of abuse – so they went back to Mia to find out what she had been playing at.

This scene was loaded.

Loaded with portent, a hint at what might happen in the future and a tension that comes from knowing what one character has done while the other does not.

And, of course, Mia played a blinder. Cadi had asked Mia’s mother to be present, but it was obvious to all that she was an aggressive, unsteady woman who treated her daughter with disdain. Mia made full use of this shit-show from her mother and even blamed Karl Lewis – one of her mum’s exes – for provoking her false statement to the police.

Mia smiled as she walked back to her classroom, knowing full well she had gotten away with it.


At the garage, Sion and Beca were becoming close again. The theme of grief reared its head again as Beca entered what used to be her family home for the first time in years, the ghosts of her deceased mother still thick as smoke. Sion, seeing her open herself up to him did the same, and revealed that he had been in jail because he had killed a mother and daughter while drunk at the wheel.

It was the classic set-up. We saw these two damaged souls connect and, finally, show their feelings for one another, the promise of a brighter future for them both beginning to rise like the sun in the sky.

Not so fast.

Mia, Connor and Lee had already stopped by the garage earlier in the day and had terrorised Beca and her father once again, only to find Sion stepping in and stopping them. Mia was not happy.

Not happy at all.

They returned later that night and broke into the garage, with Sion once again stepping in to stop them ransacking the place. It soon turned nasty, with Sion and Lee fighting, and Mia picking up a knife and stabbing Sion in the back.

While this explosion of violence was taking place, Cadi was poring over Gwyllim Scott’s social media profiles, looking for clues as to who might have bullied him. There, in the background of one of his selfies, was Mia…

Suddenly, connections were made.

Paul Hirons




REVIEW: Craith (S2 E3/6)

After a manic week or so, I was looking forward to catching up with Craith again, the brooding Welsh Noir that has pushed its métier of slow-burn, menacing atmosphere and style of storytelling to new levels in its second series.

And, as ever, this third episode of the series pushed the envelope when it came to aesthetics. I mentioned in my review of episode two that there were shots and mise en scène that simply took my breath away, and there were several in this episode that did exactly the same, namely a church shot shrouded in mist and shot of Cadi and Owen driving to interview a lead through a sky so foreboding it could have been lifted from a Dickens novel.

The focus of this episode, though, was the funeral of Geraint Elis. Cadi hoped that the guilt felt by the local community would provoke some sort of memory, some sort of confessional piece of information that might help them. Elis’s daughter – who seemed to be dealing with the guilt of neglect worst of all – and her creepy, overbearingly passive-aggressive husband were in attendance, as were Mia and Connor.

Connor, particularly, was finding the prospect of being confronted with Elis’s death hard to deal with. The guilt was beginning to really gnaw away at him, and his mother had noticed his mood, his fidgety anxiety during the service, so much so that she questioned him about his connection to Elis when they got home.

She sensed something, and when she asked what was going on Connor didn’t react well, flying off the handle and pinning her to the wall.

And as always – always – Mia was watching him like a hawk. She knew that he was near to breaking point, and she had to act. During the past two episodes she’s been at pains to be gentle, slyly manipulating him, making sure he wouldn’t crack. And now she was going to seal this deal.

First, she told the police that she saw Karl Lewis go into Geraint Elis’s home. That, she thought, might give the breathing space her gang needed. Next, she did something extraordinary.

One night she took Lee and Conner to Dylan Harris’s old farm, where she took Connor on a tour of the place. The lad was already wracked with more guilt because of his attack on his mother, but upon entering Harris’s house of horrors, she told him that he was no monster and in no way comparable to Harris, a true ghoul. She had sex with him in the same room where Harris had tortured and murdered his victims.

(This was a clever and chilling way to connect the two series together.)

Not only was it a macabre setting for such an act, but as she looked up at Lee – who had entered the building to see where his two friends had got to – as she rode Connor she flashed him an expression that was sheer malevolence. Be in no doubt, she was having sex with Connor to further get him onside, to give him the impression that they had bonded. To make him think that he could trust her.

Mia is such an interesting and complex character – at one moment vulnerable and downtrodden, the next surging, raging.

There were other things that happened in this episode, of course. Sion was revealed to have been imprisoned in a previous life and had got into an altercation with Lee’s nasty elder brother, Jason. And there were some great Cadi moments, too: not only was she dealing with the fall-out of her confrontation with her niece, but she almost lost her rag when she interviewed a former youth club worker. The youth worker had launched a furious defence of troubled teens and, if anything, that’s the socio-political context behind this story – that just because you’re troubled, it doesn’t make you a bad person.

It was great stuff, all perfectly pitched and played. And, of course, the whole thing looked bloody gorgeous.

Paul Hirons





REVIEW: Craith (S2 E2/6)

You just know in Welsh crime dramas that the landscape will feature heavily, and so it does in this second series of Craith. Using the ancient mining town of Blaenau Ffestiniog as its backdrop, there are certain shots that just take the breath away.

One scene in particular in tonight’s episode had my bones aching at the beauty of it all. As Connor and his little brother return from a fishing trip, his sinister cohorts Mia and Lee are there waiting for him at his house. Behind the street were mountains – like right behind the house – and mist crept down onto the houses and the road beneath them like a cloak. It was just stunning.

What was equally as stunning was the drama in this episode, creeping like the mist, moving slowly. Shrouding us.

I mentioned the intimacy of it all last week, and there was more evidence of the almost jarring intimacy between characters here in this episode, too.

The aforementioned Connor – who we learnt a bit more about tonight – and his brother’s fishing trip was just a beautiful, lovely scene. It almost felt different to everything else in this series so far – a scene full of gentleness, sun, water and, crucially, of innocence and hope. As they returned to the house, and with Mia and Lee waiting for them the colour palette changed, the mist descended, and Connor was back in his own personal mire.

As for ringleader Mia, we got to know more about her, too. Her manipulation and snarling deceit aren’t without their origins – in her case these origins were from home, where her mother cast a downtrodden atmosphere, and her boyfriend attempted to assault her daughter. Home for Mia was a constant disappointment and an unsafe and uncontrollable place. Her gang, and her leadership of it, brought with it status and control.

Behind a manipulative personality is often vulnerability and we saw slithers of this from Mia tonight. At another fantastic, visceral scene, the trio drove out to a wild party in a quarry. A fire blazed in the middle of it, techno swirled around the flames and booze and spliffs were passed around. Mia, in a quiet moment with Connor, expressed something… regret, boredom and a determination to be better than everyone else in the town. Whether she was opening up to Connor because she wanted him onside or whether she genuinely shared feelings with him remains to be seen.

But what of Cadi and the case? Beth and Elin, Cadi’s sisters, were providing her with headaches, especially as she was spending more and more time at the station. In terms of the case, Lee’s feral brother was interviewed, as was Carl Lewis, who brought the allegations of sexual abuse against the deceased all those years ago. As ever, Cadi interviewed him with sensitivity, tact and empathy.

There was another visit to Geraint Ellis’s estranged daughter, who was now feeling the full guilt of casting her father aside. There, at her shoulder, was her husband, uttering almost passive-aggressive platitudes, touching his wife on the shoulder constantly as if to warn off both Cadi and her from saying too much.

Again, little details make all the difference.

Elsewhere, the nervous Sion accepted a job from Beca’s father, and we began to see that particular strand open up slightly. The house Sion rents from the mechanic is a monument to a past gone by, a place that was once warm and with family energy coursing through it. Perhaps Beca once lived there, before her accident and the death of her mother.

But what happened to them? Beca, with a heart brimming with goodness, is scarred on her face. Her mother is gone.

We await to find these things out.

But, for now, Craith is bubbling nicely. For those mourning the loss of the likes of The Bridge and other superior Nordic Noir, this has a similar feel. There are socio-economic ‘second stories’ here, all giving the main procedural mystery so much rich depth. In fact, due to its quietness and intimacy, Craith reminds me most of Trapped.

You can’t say fairer than that.

Paul Hirons



REVIEW: Craith (S2 E1/6)

One of the more gratifying trends in crime dramas has been the rise of Welsh Noir.

Over the past five years, Welsh-language channel S4C has been at the forefront of this output, with series like Y Gwyll/Hinterland and Une Bore Mercher/Keeping Faith, both featuring the cream of the country’s acting and creative talent (as well as incredible scenery), and rightly garnering truck-loads of critical acclaim, not least from us.

With the end of Y Gwyll/Hinterland, up stepped Craith/Hidden to fill the gap in early 2018. Like Y Gwyll/Hinterland it was engrossing, uncompromising in its approach to nuanced, intense storytelling and, in Sian Reese-Williams’ DI Cadi John, featured a memorable leading character. Not because she was all bells and whistles but because she was just so… normal and believable (and this is not damning her with faint praise).

A year later we’re back in north Wales, and the bleak, stark and stunning landscape still looms large, almost a character in itself.

If the slate-grey skies and the jagged mountains haven’t changed, there have been changes elsewhere. There has been a slight tweak in the creative team, but in front of the camera, DI Cadi John is now DCI Cadi John.

Six months after her terrifying hunt to find Dylan Harris and his prey, Megan Ruddock, Cadi – and partner Owen Vaughan – is back for a new case. Now dealing with the death of her beloved father and trying to hold her family together, she’s woken up early one the morning by a telephone call. With her elder sister now living in the family home, Cadi finds her just as she’s heading out to respond to the call at the kitchen table, blankly looking out into the dawn, a glass of wine by her side.

The police had been tipped off by an anonymous call, pleading with them to go to an address on an estate in the historic mining town of Blaenau Ffestiniog, in the heart of Snowdonia.

What Cadi and Owen find when they get there is the decomposing body of a man in his bathtub. It’s a grisly scene.

The body is soon named as Geraint Elis, a retired schoolteacher.

And so the hunt begins. As we now know in Welsh crime drama, the procedural element of these shows tend to be engrossing but also meticulous, slowly moving from place to person, from person to place. And so it is with this case, too, as Cadi and Owen – dealing with his own problems at home – begin to work leads.

Our attention turns to three teenage kids, a gang led by Mia (Annes Elwy), and containing Lee (Siôn Eifion) and meek and vulnerable Connor (Steffan Cennydd). As the story unfolds we go into their school and their home lives to explore their characters. We’ve had several crime dramas where the ‘kids in peril’ motif has been used, but this is different – we’re dealing with, or so it seems, kids as villains.

Mia is, most assuredly, a villain. She’s manipulative, sneering and shows sociopathic tendencies. It’s yet to be seen whether she’ll show psychopathic tendencies. Her malevolence and her hatred of everything jumps off the screen.

With Lee entirely compliant – and angry and scared – she zeroes in on Connor, who, although timid, is showing signs of regret, remorse and kicking against her will.

The group is being set up as killers, and Mia as the ringleader. All we’re getting at the moment in terms of motivation and background are glimpses into her home life, which contains a mother who doesn’t care and a mother’s boyfriend who is boorish and slimy in the extreme.

As for the victim, we’re told that he was an eccentric man and accused of sexual assault by one of his students.

Pieces are beginning to fall into place, but all eyes are on Mia, who correctly deduces that it was Connor who called the murder into the police. In a final, terrifying scene, the trio drives out to a lake in the country and begin to terrorise Connor a bit, threatening harm to him but instead leaving him to walk home alone.

There’s also a side story with more characters – a garage owner and his daughter, who runs the shop, and a traumatised man who lives opposite. We’re not sure what part they’ll play in this story, but their introduction is intriguing and offers a nice counterpoint to the teenage trio.

As ever, Craith is beautifully, artfully shot when it comes to framing, while the landscape is still as cinematic as ever. But it’s the characters and the world they live in – which hasn’t seemed to have changed since the 1970s – that draws you in.  As we saw with Y Gwyll/Hinterland, details are important, and so is silence: silence in between the mountains, silence between people and silence that allows characters to grow, to be nurtured. As ever, these kinds of dramas are few and far between and Craith has the courage to be true to itself and present us with scenes so intimate it’s like wearing a weighted blanket.

The good news is that Cadi is still Cadi – quiet, steely, gentle humour – but her character progression is gentle and believable.

I can’t wait to see where this one goes.

Paul Hirons