Happy Valley S1, E3

Sophie Rundle in Happpy Valley

By the end of episode 3 of Happy Valley everyone – the police and the kidnappers alike – are hanging on by their last nerve. The stakes go way up in this episode, and our heroine Catherine (Sarah Lancashire) is coming unraveled. Far be it from writer Sally Wainwright to ever let the tension drop before the tale is told. There will be spoilers!

The Murder

Lewis (Adam Long) is moving Ann (Charlie Murphy) in the white van because Catherine was snooping around the house where they’d hidden her. Officer Kirsten McCaskill (Sophie Rundle) who is chatting on the phone with Catherine, sees the van speeding. A tail light is out. She pulls the van over.

What's that noise in the back, Lewis?
What’s that noise in the back, Lewis?

Lewis tells Kirsten his name (a fact Tommy cites later as a reason to kill Ann, who was listening in the back). She asks him to get out of the van and look at the tail light.

Tommy Lee Royce intent on murder
Tommy Lee Royce intent on murder

Tommy Lee Royce (James Norton) is watching this from Ann’s Mini Cooper. When Tommy sees Kirsten asking to see in the back because of noises in the van, he bashes into her with the Mini Cooper. She has time to say, “I think they’ve killed me” to Catherine before Tommy drives over her 3 times.

Tommy and Lewis flee the scene and take Ann to the caravan park owned by Ashley (Joe Armstrong).

Catherine sees what's been done to Kirsten
Catherine sees what’s been done to Kirsten

Catherine races to the scene along with ambulances and helicopters but all they find is Kirsten’s bloody body. Catherine’s distraught but she gives all the right orders, does her job.


Catherine feels responsible for Kirsten’s death. She only tells her sister Clare (Siobhan Finneran) this. Kirsten’s boyfriend (or husband, not sure which) comes to the police station and blames Caroline for Kirsten’s death. Catherine talks sensibly to him even though she secretly blames herself.

Her boss wants her to do something about her arrest of the councilman. He’s insistent that she should let him off. She won’t do it.

Over the line
She’s crossed the line

During a routine arrest, Catherine snaps. She grabs a smart-mouthed bystander and mishandles and humiliates him before letting him go.

In a staff meeting, she hallucinates the terrible sight of her daughter, hanged.

Catherine breaks down cleaning out Kirsten's locker
Catherine breaks down cleaning out Kirsten’s locker

Later, cleaning out Kirsten’s locker, Catherine sees the same horrible vision of her daughter’s death.

A hot temper on that one
A hot temper on that one

Scariest of all, at least to me, is the way Ryan (Rhys Connah) acted because he thought Catherine didn’t want him to play football with his grandfather (she does, actually). He yelled at her, threw something at her and was generally awful. When we’ve just watched his biological father drive over a woman’s body 3 times without batting an eye, it’s hard not to wonder if all the love Catherine has given little Ryan will overcome his genetics. She doesn’t know Tommy’s raped another woman and is responsible for Kirsten’s death yet, so the nature vs. nuture theme is more on the audience’s mind than on Catherine’s at the moment. (Although, with her ex husband being the way he is about Ryan, the nature vs. nuture question is probably never far from her thoughts.)

Catherine goes back to the house where she’d been told Tommy Lee Royce was. This time she kicks in the door. She looks all around the house. It’s obvious something happened there. The basement floor is sprinkled with drops of blood and the discarded underwear. But she doesn’t know Ann’s been kidnapped so she doesn’t connect what she’s seeing to any crime she knows about.


Helen Gallagher (Jill Baker), Ann’s mother, continues to implore Nevison (George Costigan) to call the police. Because of something Ashley said when he called and asked for Kevin to deliver another £50,000, Nevison is convinced Ann will be released the next day. Nevison urges Helen to go to the mission where she volunteers and act normally.

Can Catherine be discreet?
Can Catherine be discreet?

Clare is also a volunteer at the mission. She and Helen are friends. Helen asks Clare if Catherine can be discreet. She wants to speak to a police officer, but discreetly. Clare arranges for Helen to come over that evening to speak to Catherine.

When Helen doesn’t show, Clare calls her. Catherine asks to speak to her. Helen is sitting on the couch next to Nevison and it’s obvious he knows what she was going to do and has stopped her. Catherine can tell something’s wrong. She asks, “Is someone stopping you from speaking to me? Are you in danger?” Helen dismisses it all as a mistake and hangs up.

The Kidnappers

You're a mad bastard.
You’re a mad bastard.

Ashley, who didn’t mind Tommy raping Ann, finally is concerned when he hears that Tommy killed a cop. They hide Ann in one of the caravans at the caravan park. He sends Tommy off to get both the van and the Mini Cooper crushed. He wants to let Ann go but Tommy says she knows too much and they have to kill her.


Kevin shows up at the caravan park with the money. When his wife first heard about what Kevin was doing, she wanted him to burn his share of the money. Later she suggested they spend it in small, unnoticable ways.

Lewis sees Kevin at the caravan park, calls him a wanker and blames everything on him, including the murder, because the whole kidnapping scheme was his idea.

Some Thoughts

I’m still thrilled by the physicality Sarah Lancashire gets to exhibit in the role. She arrests a big guy who must weight at least 250 pounds and pushes him around like he’s a paper doll. When a bystander gets mouthy with her, she jerks him from his car and shoves him in a police car, telling him he’s under arrest. Inside the car where the other officers can’t see what she’s doing, she grabs the guy by the balls, (sorry, but that’s the best way I can find to say it) squeezes hard and makes him cry like a baby until he apologize for what he said. Then she lets him go.

That scene represents two things for me. One is Catherine’s physical bravery and strength. The other is the fact that she’s barely holding on to her emotions or her actions. She’s having hallucinations about her daughter brought on by the death of a young officer that she felt motherly toward. She knows how to be a cop. She can do that. But she doesn’t know how to handle her own emotions and grief. The one place where Catherine has been in control is at her job. And she’s losing it.

Catherine asked Richard again in this episode to report on the drug situation in Happy Valley. So far he’s refused. Clearly the crime involved in this series is the kidnapping and all things Tommy Lee Royce. When series 1 was made, no one knew that months after it aired, a second season would be approved. Perhaps drugs will be the crime focus for series 2.

The performances from everyone in this cast are absolutely brilliant. I’m obviously a huge fan of Sarah Lancashire, even though I only discovered her recently. I appreciate her every nuance. But wowser, such great performances all around. This is a quality series in every way.

All images from Happy Valley © Red Production Co.

2 thoughts on “Happy Valley S1, E3”

  1. Totally wonderful. Sarah Lancashire is the buckle of the belt which keeps the entire series together. She drives the first part of the plot \as well as providing a powerful psychological back-story. It knits everything together wonderfully.Very good, gripping television writing.
    The support acting is superb , each performance stands alone.

    The role of Tommy, the second most important character because he drives the second part of the plot .
    A wonderfully extreme character , yet played with nuanced intensity.

    As his power within the gang surfaces , indicating a sociopathic destructiveness regardless of the consequences , the character takes over from the plot ,seamlessly, then logically they shift to the explosive and terribly violent denouement.
    Shattering , yet fascinating and particularly thought provoking .
    You really care for and /or are fascinated by every one of the characters .
    Anne , how she copes with her kidnapping and rape, she turns a selfish ,spoilt women into a strong one,
    The true depth and sympathy for the sweet vulnerability of the ( Sophie Rundle) character , who clicks the plot on with her murder.

    The others ,the weak initiator of the whole story, the cowed and then foolishly vengeful (Steve Pemberton).
    The human evil of the George Costigan character. What a marvellous portrayal of a weak,, callous louse of a man , clearly out of his depth, yet too unknowing to realise it.
    James Norton, God …what a talent, not enough space here for the description of his performance. One of the finest seen on TV in years.

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