First look UK TV review: Keeping Faith Season 2
Ivan Radford | On 23, Jul 2019
Warning: This contains spoilers for Season 1 of Keeping Faith. Not caught up? Read our spoiler-free review of the first season here.
“Just keep going.” Those are the words of Faith Howells (Eve Myles) to herself as she returns for a second round of Keeping Faith. The Welsh Drama (Un Bore Mercher in its original language) was the surprise hit TV show of 2018, with its strategy of recording everything a second time in English opening up its small-scale drama to a massive audience: millions of people watched the show on BBC iPlayer before it had even been broadcast on old-fashioned linear TV. Part of that was down to its heartfelt tale of a woman trying to solve the mystery of her husband’s disappearance (a nice change to television’s Missing Young Girl trope) but a large chunk of its appeal came from its star, Eve Myles. Back for Season 2 – and now given pride of Place on BBC One – she’s lost none of her brilliance.
She delivered a gut-wrenching, career-best performance in Season 1, balancing the fear and pain of loss with the frustration and strain of keeping things going as normal – and then juggling that with the shock of unearthing her husband’s shadier secrets, the anger at his deception and the determination to solve the mystery and achieve some justice for herself. The prospect of a second season is almost exhausting to contemplate, but Season 2’s strength lies in the way it picks up the story, ensuring we don’t get a repeat of the same drama.
Instead, we resume as Faith has discovered that Evan (Bradley Freegard) was alive all along. Jumping forward to 18 months later, with Evan back home with the kids, it might seem like everything’s resolved but far from it; Faith is still having to put on a calm facade while working through renewed hurt, fresh mistrust and amplified rage, every bit of it richly justified.
“You broke me,” she declares to her estranged spouse, with righteous fury, and watching Myles subtly shift from one emotion to the next is as moving as it is utterly riveting. When he first returns home in a flashback, she ushers him into a room and picks up a wine bottle – an accessory that might be romantic but could just as easily be to clobber him round the head with. When the blows do come, even behind closed doors, the kids can still hear the arguing upstairs.
That tiny decision to cut to them eavesdropping in the bedroom is all you need to know about Keeping Faith; this is a masterclass in minute details adding up to maximum emotional impact. It’s so fitting, then, that the show should get a second season, one that allows its complicated web to get increasingly entwined; Demi Letherby gets more screen time to flesh out Alys Howells, Faith’s eldest daughter, into a substantial character in her own right, bearing the brunt of her dad’s disappearance and finding a rebellious phase through her friendship with schoolmate Angie (Martha Bright). Mark Lewis Jones also returns as the gruffly appealing Steve Baldini, who grew close to Faith as he helped through Season 1.
The legal drama elements that powered the show forward, though, still remain; Anastasia Hille replaces Angeline Ball as Gael, local kingpin and a widow with a grudge, who shows no sign of letting Faith off her hook. And there’s Amie-Ffion Edwards as Madlen Vaughan, whose own husband, Will, has disappeared and seeks Faith’s help to find him.
The result is both nuanced and unafraid to feel big, a show that’s capable of slightly cheesy moments without losing its sincere sentimental streak. As Myles holds the show’s strands together with a presence that’s as electrifying as ever, this story of a woman just attempting to get on with it promises to be gripping all over again. With the whole box set arriving on BBC iPlayer following its BBC One debut, unlike Faith, you’ll have no trouble keeping on going through the whole lot.
Keeping Faith: Season 2 is available on BBC iPlayer from 9pm on 23rd July 2019. Season 1 is available until December 2019.