Keeping Faith episode 3 review: A boozy judicial hiccup sees Madlen in jail

Aimee-Ffion Edwards as Madlen - BBC
Aimee-Ffion Edwards as Madlen - BBC

A frazzled female lawyer wobbling into work with a wine hangover, desperately trying to look professional while guzzling water and breath freshener. It has become a familiar trope on Keeping Faith (BBC One) - except for once, it wasn’t heroine Faith Howells (Eve Myles) who was fuzzy-headed but her colleague Cerys Jones (Hannah Daniels).

As the series reached its midway point, the murder trial of Madlen Vaughan (Aimee-Ffion Edwards) moved towards its climax. Faith was determined to keep the vulnerable suspect out of the witness box but when she was called away to a family emergency, sidekick Cerys was left holding the fort. Resistance weakened by her booze-addled condition, Cerys unwisely allowed Madlen to testify.

Naturally, the move backfired. The prosecution portrayed Madlen as a jealous wife who’d shot her unfaithful husband out of revenge. Despite the lack of forensic evidence or witnesses, she was found guilty.

As Madlen was hauled off to prison, Faith and Cerys fell out, then made up. Don’t panic, though - it’s unlikely to be the last we hear of this “unforgivable miscarriage of justice”, as the furious Faith called it. My money is on ex-Army “manny” Arthur (Alex Harries) cracking the case with his ballistics knowledge. Watch this space and call me Nostradamus.

Outside the courtroom, the sub-plot wheels whirred round efficiently. Gangster Gael Reardon (Anastasia Hille) continued to lean on Faith. So did the unrelentingly suspicious DI Breeze (Rhashan Stone). No wonder Faith’s stress-busting trips to the gym seem to be getting more frequent and intense. It’s that punchbag I feel sorry for.

As you’d expect from this Cambrian cross between Broadchurch and Big Little Lies, murky secrets kept bubbling to the surface. Another dead body was discovered. Everyone seemed to have a dodgy deal on the go. In his open prison, Faith’s terminally untrustworthy husband Evan (Bradley Freegard) seemed to have more visitors than the British Museum.

“It’s not only him who’s imprisoned,” wailed Faith. “I’m in hell. I can’t breathe.” When love-lorn Steve Baldini (Mark Lewis Jones) told her that Evan was still in cahoots with Gael, it seemed to open her eyes and loosen the shackles but don’t count on it - especially after the climactic revelation that Evan is getting early parole and coming home, threatening to topple the hard-won family stability once again.

The complex plotting might stretch credulity at times but Keeping Faith was once again held together by the captivating Myles - once described by Russell T Davies as "Wales' best kept secret”. The camera spent a lot of time lingering on her expressive face and Myles duly delivered a gutsy, warm, winningly human performance.

Lacey Jones as Faith's daughter Megan with Brochan Evans as Madlen's son Dyfan - Credit: Rory Taylor
Lacey Jones as Faith's daughter Megan with Brochan Evans as Madlen's son Dyfan Credit: Rory Taylor

A word too for the remarkably accomplished child actors. The superb Demi Wetherby and Lacey Jones, who play Faith’s daughters Alys and Megan, have this series been joined by the equally affecting Brochan Evans as Madlen’s son Dyfan. This impressive trio managed to carry scenes by themselves and never felt jarringly unnatural, like youngsters in soaps often do.

Perhaps Keeping Faith will one day spawn a sequel called Alys’ Adventures In Wonderland. In the meantime, let’s enjoy a masterclass from Myles.