The time has come: we must say goodbye to Happy Valley forever. It was almost too good to be true when it was announced that Sally Wainwright’s hit police procedural would be returning to screens for a third season, some seven (!) years after series two – so we should be grateful for that, at least.
Over the past six weeks, viewers have been reintroduced to the finest police officer in all of Halifax, Sergeant Catherine Cawood (Sarah Lancashire) and her arch-nemesis, devious criminal Tommy Lee Royce (James Norton). Along the way, we’ve come across familiar faces and encountered new ones, too. What has remained the same, though, is Wainwright’s writing, which – with its realism, suspense and stew-focused humour – is as superb as ever. And this week’s fiery finale is a prime example of that. Let’s dig into the last ever episode of Happy Valley. *Cue the tears*
At least the BBC has thrown in an extra 10 minutes of runtime to placate us…
A WEDDING RUINED
Can you hear the wedding bells? It’s only hours until Ivan (Oliver Huntingdon) gets married, with his trusty best pal Matija (Jack Bandeira) by his side, swigging from a flask. The pair are thick as thieves. Literally. In the corner of the room is a rucksack full of cash they stole from their gang boss Darius (Alec Secareanu).
It turns out they don’t need to worry about facing Darius’s wrath, however, not now that the police have come knocking (or rather bashing) thanks in part to Ryan’s ID on Matija back at the courthouse. The two men are arrested for false imprisonment (of Danielle), money laundering, and assisting in Tommy’s escape. Ivan’s poor bride!
DO THE RIGHT THING
We knew our lad would pull through! (Not really, but we’re glad he does.) Speaking to the officers investigating Tommy’s whereabouts, Ryan (Rhys Connah) seems hesitant to divulge the truth at first. But only moments later does he spill the beans. He tells them everything: about his late-night phone call with Tommy, and his dad’s plans for the two of them to run away together. The police track down Tommy’s console – but it’s too late. Tommy is gone, leaving only his elderly bunk buddy to greet the charging police officers.
In the meantime, Ryan continues on his do-good mission by helping to repair the relationship between Claire (Siobhan Finneran) and Catherine, who last said some very cruel things to her sister. Ryan sits down with his granny for a heart-to-heart, explaining what brought on his sudden “I love you” the other night. He goes on to recall Ann’s (Charlie Murphy) brutal speech, in which she told Ryan that no one wanted him but his granny. “But Claire was there, she was always there as long as I can remember,” he says. “So you can’t fall out with her, not ’cause of me.”
Ryan’s heartfelt words seem to have done the impossible and softened Catherine’s wrath. She pops around to Nev’s (George Costigan) house where Claire is cooking dinner. After that inevitable awkwardness, Catherine – who has been feeling vulnerable and sensing Becky’s (Emily Barnett) presence around her – opens up to her sister and even goes so far to admit that she was wrong to have been so scared about Ryan meeting Tommy in prison, explaining that she was worries that her grandson would turn out like his dad. “But he’s just a happy, well-adjusted, flipping normal kid!”
The ice between them appears to have thawed when Claire asks her whether she is “stopping”, to which she replies, “Can do, yeah.” Coming from Catherine, that’s about as close as you get to a big, soppy hug. She does make a good point, however, adding that when Tommy realises he can’t take Ryan to Marbella with him, he’s “gonna be angry, desperate and dangerous”.
“HELLO, I’M TOMMY – WHAT’S YOUR NAME?”
With Matija and Ivan newly arrested, there will be more police attention on Darius than ever. He was already against Tommy’s plan to kill Catherine, but given the recent events that have transpired, now is definitely not the right time for one of his associates to murder a policewoman. Admittedly, it did not go down so well when Darius previously tried to talk Tommy out of his plan for vengeance, so he’s changing tack. Kill Tommy, instead. Or get your brother to do it. Zeljko (Greg Polakchi), Viktor (Anthony Flanagan) and a silent new tough guy Marco come to pick up Tommy from his safehouse, which they tell him is not safe any more.
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Tommy, however, picks up on a sinister vibe coming from these three men, and spots a couple of things (including a bright green jerry can of gasoline), that make him think his safety is definitely not a top priority for them. He runs back into the house and grabs a knife, which he then, in extraordinary scenes, uses to kill Marco and Viktor in the moving vehicle. Two done; one to go. He and Zeljko end up in a knife fight on the field. Tommy – using a large rock – emerges victorious, but not without sustaining some serious injuries himself. He has been stabbed in the stomach, and is nursing a banged-up wrist. As he lies on the field, he hears Ryan’s voice – but surely now he must know that those Marbella plans are no more. Darius won’t be so keen to help out the man who killed his brother.
Tommy is still on the run, but this time he has no one looking out for him. He puts on a disguise (well, I guess you could call it a disguise: Viktor’s glasses and two hoodies) and makes his way for… dun, dun dun… Ryan’s house, where Catherine has fallen fast asleep on the sofa. Catching killers is no walk in the park, you know.
Tommy breaks into the house through a downstairs window. Horrifyingly, he’s also brought that jerry can of gasoline in with him. Slowed down by his extensive injuries, it takes some time for him to make it to the living room. Finally, though, Catherine wakes up thanks to a phone call from Ryan asking her to pick him up from the police station. Suddenly, it’s a race for Catherine to get out before Tommy gets in. She manages it though, closing the front door just as Tommy emerges from the basement.
WHAT’S UP WITH HEPWORTH?
An examination of Joanna’s corpse finds that the years of abuse she suffered from Rob had left her with multiple fractures. It’s enough to convince the investigating officers to bring Rob in for questioning. The findings, together with Ryan revealing to the lead investigator that Rob once told him he had an unhappy marriage, have the officers on high alert. While we know it wasn’t Rob who killed Joanna, it is undeniably satisfying watching him squirm as the detective questions him about abusing his wife, and his ongoing affair with another teacher.
Speaking of Rob, Ryan also thinks back to the one nice conversation they had in the gym, during which Rob offered advice to Ryan about what to do with his dad. This time, however, the scene focuses on Ryan walking away and Rob appearing to look at his bum as he does, with Ryan catching him and feeling uncomfortable. (More on that later.)
THE FINAL SHOWDOWN
It’s the moment we’ve all been waiting for. When Catherine comes home to find her window broken, she enters the house cautiously where Tommy is looking forlorn, guzzling booze and downing painkillers after looking at photos of Becky and Ryan.
The conversation that unfolds between Tommy and Catherine is too much for a brief recap, but what really shines through in that moment is how deluded Tommy is. He truly does not believe he is a bad guy. For example, when Catherine asks him to push away the knife, he asks her incredulously: “You think I’m gonna hurt you?” as if the thought had never crossed his mind. Only hours earlier, did he consider setting light to her house with the jerry can of gasoline.
But Tommy tells Catherine that he forgives her for lying to him about Ryan’s existence all those years because he can see what a good life she has provided for his son. Catherine can’t believe what she’s hearing. “You forgive me? You have no idea what you did to Becky… and you forgive me?” Catherine puts him in his place, recalling how he killed Kirsty, raped Ann, and threatened to “cut her tits off” just as he once threatened Becky. What is disconcerting and brilliant about the scene is that watching Tommy’s face, it truly appears as though he can’t take responsibility for any of it. It doesn’t take long before he is telling Catherine to “f*** off”, and blaming her for his actions towards Becky. “If I did anything to her, it was because of you, you sanctimonious b***.”
A FIERY FINALE
Things come to a head when Tommy, with nothing left to live for, pours the gasoline over his head. He warns Catherine not to tase him because it could start a fire, and “believe it or not, I don’t want you to get done; I want you to be here with Ryan”. So reaching for the matchbox, he sets himself on fire as Catherine watches on in horror. She springs into action almost instantly, however, taking one of Claire’s crocheted blankets and putting out the flames. The rest of the police arrive and Tommy is presumably taken away in an ambulance, while Catherine walks away and tries to process what has just happened.
Claire drives to meet Catherine and embraces her as she sobs into her arms. Always one to crack a joke, Catherine tells her sister: “We’ve had another bit of a tousle. I won. Obviously.”
In the last scene of the episode, as Catherine says goodbye to Becky’s grave before presumably heading out on her big Himalayan escape, she receives a text informing her that Tommy has died in hospital. Talk about timing.
DARIUS IS GOING DOWN – HOPEFULLY?
As a parting gift, Tommy tells Catherine the truth about Gary Goggowski’s murder. He divulges that it was Darius who killed Gary eight years ago, not Chris Oxley as he had previously told the police. “I lied for him but he’s pissed on his side of the bargain.”
The first scene of the episode sees Catherine crashing on Ann’s sofa when she finds a packet of little blue pills that look an awful lot like the ones Faisal was giving to Joanna. Ann tells Catherine that it was her probation officer who left the pills there. “She doesn’t get them on prescription! Silly b*** offered to get me some. I told her to sod off.” Good for you, Ann.
Although in that initial scene, Ann initially refuses to ask her probation officer where she gets them from, being the good friend that she is, she pulls through for Catherine. In one of the final scenes of the episode – just as I thought, “You’ve got to be kidding me – Faisal gets off scot-free?” – Catherine tells the officer investigating Joanna’s death that she heard from Ann that a fella named Faisal was the one supplying the probation officer with drugs. And get this: he lives right next door to Joanna. The pharmacist’s fate is pretty much sealed then and there. Although, I would’ve loved to see him put behind bars.
Meanwhile, Hepworth has been charged, only not with the murder of his wife. Instead, he was caught with indecent images on his phone, which were sent to him from a student that he was blackmailing. That explains the scene of him and Ryan in the gym.
And so it’s come to this. The end of Happy Valley. We’re sad it’s over but glad it happened. Finally, Catherine can now go on her big Himalayan vacation. Catching three bad guys in 24 hours? No one deserves a holiday more.
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