Series one started every episode with a rippled reflection of Faith’s husband Evan (Bradley Freegard, Myles’s real-life husband), and held the premise of the show – deciphering a missing partner’s devastating secrets. Now that the mystery’s solved, where can the series go? It’s like the titles are distancing themselves from Evan, focusing only on Faith’s recovery from her emotional traumas.
Series two focuses on Faith's (Eve Myles) emotional recovery
The first episode of series two doesn’t throw Evan away, but slowly chisels his character from Faith's life. Picking up 18 months later, Faith gets the kids ready for school, works cases for the Howells law firm, and delivers dubious brown packages for the annoyingly obscure criminal Gael Reardon (now Anastasia Hille, replacing Angeline Ball). In the thick of all this, Faith remembers back to the night of Evan's return.
Writer Matthew Hall occasionally dips into Faith and Evan's lengthy dialogue, 18 months prior. The structure feels innovative at first, another mystery to be solved, but that night unlocks nothing new. And because the ultimate showdown between them is fragmented, the weight of the anger never feels heavy enough. Faith’s present-day, lawyerly concerns about defending a farmer accused of murder are of less interest, and yet they replace the original premise.
Faith defends a farmer accused of murder
The courtroom cases were decent filler in series one, but to lead with them in series two is dangerous... considering how poorly written they were. But Hall redeems himself a bit, generating some curiosity about the farmer murder case – being one that’s hard to prove and that puts the firm at risk.
With the Evan mystery abandoned, Faith’s character is one of the few supports for the new series. She goes against the antiquated stereotype of a forgiving wife, who'll stand by her man no matter what. That expectation is violently knocked away in a gloriously funny moment when it looks like she’ll forgive Evan. Then she headbutts him.
This episode is filled with lukewarm and forgettable moments, but a close-up on Eve Myles lifts the energy of the scene – probably because she's the only decent actor. She unleashes waves of genuine anger and sadness, layers of disgust and depression, all while trying to maintain a tough yet smiley exterior. It’s a crushing, engrossing performance the series doesn’t deserve.
Keeping Faith airs on Tuesday 23rd July at 9pm on BBC One. All episodes will be available on BBC iPlayer after it's broadcast.
|Keeping Faith series 2, BBC review
23 Jul 19 – 23 Jul 20, 9:00 PM – 10:00 PM