Happy Valley S2 E4 must be saving the boiling excitement for the final episode in series 2, because this one is more about boiling emotions. I figured there would be dangerous situations to go all around by now, but I was wrong. We have to wait a bit. There are some spoilers ahead.
The review is organized into sections about the crimes, about Ryan’s birthday, and about Tommy Lee Royce’s machinations.
Catherine (Sarah Lancashire) is called out at 4 AM by the two prostitutes she warned about the serial killer. Leonie (Hebe Beardsall) was assaulted by a man when he refused to pay for her services. Leonie tells Catherine about a white van, about being strangled, and about threats of getting a broken beer bottle shoved up her vagina by the man. Catherine’s ears perk right up. Leonie wrote the man’s plate number on her arm.
The van belongs to Sean (Matthew Lewis). Sean is arrested and charged with all 4 murders, including Vicky. They find forensic evidence in his van and phone for a couple of the murders.
John Wadsworth questions Sean, along with Jodie Shackleton (Katherine Kelly). As more evidence against Sean is found, John feels a bit calmer about his own problem.
Jodie realizes that Vicky’s murder doesn’t fit the pattern and she talks about it to her co-workers. Andy Shepherd (Vincent Franklin) from CID asks John why his number is in Vicky’s phone. John offers a smooth lie he must have practiced beforehand.
There’s an incident with a young man named Daryl (Robert Emms). He’s arrested for fighting back against some bullies. I couldn’t tell at this point if he has something to do with any of the murders or the sex slaves or if his purpose in the plot is to distract. He was in episode 1 as part of the sheep story, too.
Catherine’s immediate superior Mike (Rick Warden) praises Catherine and Ann (Charlie Murphy) for realizing the guy they found hanging from a tree was murdered and the murder is probably connected to the sex trafficking case and the Knezevics.
Speaking of Ann, Catherine suspects her of drinking too much. Her father Nevison (George Costigan) confirms it. Neither of them know it’s because Ann thought she had a date with John Wadsworth and he stood her up.
Speaking of John, his wife changes the locks and leaves all his stuff on the doorstep. John seemed calmer than he was in the last episode, until he tried to force his way into the house by banging on the door with a brick. Yep, he’s still a bit on edge.
It’s Ryan’s (Rhys Connah) 10th birthday. This brings up all sorts of emotions for Catherine, because her daughter hanged herself just 6 weeks after Ryan was born. She struggles with her grief at this time of year. She’s quick to anger and quick to give in to tears.
They have a cake and presents for Ryan, including a very large present that Catherine found on the doorstep.
The big box contains an expensive electric racing car set. Only after it’s all set up and Ryan has played with it does Clare (Siobhan Finneran) discover a card. The card says the gift is from Ryan’s dad. Catherine frantically disassembles the toy and says she’s going to throw it in the bin. She tells Ryan why he cannot have a gift from his father. She’s yelling and crying all the while.
Catherine takes the box to the police station and asks to have it checked for fingerprints or other clues. Mike, her boss, promises to check with Gravesend Prison to see who has been visiting or writing to Tommy Lee Royce (James Norton).
On the night of the birthday party, Neil (Con O’Neill) stays over. He and Clare watch the news report on the arrest in the serial murders. In bed, Neil tells Clare he knew Vicky. He had a fling with her. She blackmailed him and humiliated him. That’s why his marriage broke up. Even thinking about it now makes him ill.
Neil does not want to go to the police, but Clare realizes that if Vicky blackmailed Neil, she might have blackmailed the man who murdered her. Nevertheless, Clare promises not to tell Catherine.
Tommy Pulls the Puppet Strings
Tommy discovers the only thing Frances (Shirley Henderson) did was give Ryan a birthday present that was supposedly from him. He is angry. Frances thinks she’s creative for not doing anything illegal while still upsetting Catherine. Tommy makes it clear that he wants her to get rid of Catherine permanently. He tells her that if she doesn’t do what he wants it won’t work between them and they cannot be two hearts beating as one.
This was the second episode of Happy Valley series 2 directed by Neasa Hardiman.
Rhys Connah has consistently done a great job as Ryan. He had many more scenes than usual in this episode including a long one with Shirley Henderson as Frances, the emotional one where Catherine tears down the racing car set, and a family dinner scene where he parrots Frances’ opinions on forgiveness for his father. He did terrific work.
James Norton conveys his anger and frustration at Frances while managing to make her believe in his charm and “honest face.” Quite a feat.