Happy Valley, S1 E6

Siobhan Finneran and Sarah Lancashire in Happy Valley

Everything goes to hell in Catherine’s life and work in the season finale of Happy Valley. Hang on for the ride! There are spoilers everywhere.

Catherine tells Nevison
Catherine tells Nevison

Catherine (Sarah Lancashire) was asked to tell Nevison (George Costigan) about Ann’s rape. She does. She also tells him that nobody knows where Lewis and Tommy (James Norton) are.

Kevin is in prison. Ashley is free. Ashley is shot during a traffic stop by a person on a motorcycle who speeds away. Presumably this murder is done by one of the drug dealers up the line that Ashley ratted on.

Tommy follows Catherine and Ryan
Tommy follows Catherine and Ryan

Tommy abandoned the apartment with its two dead bodies and broke into a narrow boat sitting on the canal. His stab wound isn’t healing and he’s in bad shape. He follows Catherine and Ryan (Rhys Connah) around all the time and sees where they live.

Should I invite your dad and Ros?
Should I invite your dad and Ros?

Clare (Siobhan Finneran) is planning a birthday party for Catherine. The Gallaghers are to be invited. Clare talks to Catherine’s son Daniel (Karl Davies) about whether or not he thinks she should invite his dad and his dad’s new wife Ros. She makes the huge mistake of telling Daniel that Catherine and Daniel spent a couple of nights together recently.

The birthday party is a disaster. Daniel drinks too much and confronts his father about being with his mother. He curses Ryan and calls him the thing that shouldn’t be.

All my life I behaved. What thanks do I get?
All my life I behaved. What thanks do I get?

He blames Becky for her own problems because she was no good and because she liked Tommy and hung around with him. He confronts his mother for things she said right after Becky’s death and claims that she feels guilt, not grief, over Becky’s death. After he’s spewed 8 years of resentments all over the party, everyone leaves.

One more round
One more round

Catherine winds up her birthday by having a fight with Clare. The finishing touch.

Why haven't your done more?
Why haven’t your done more?

The next day Catherine reports back to work. She’s demanding with her superior officers about things they have not done as part of the investigation and hunt for Tommy Lee Royce. She has a long list of things that should be done. They promise to get them done. After a few more days of inaction and frustration, Catherine actually turns in her badge and quits.

A mailman reports a smell in an apartment building and the police find the two murdered guys Tommy left to rot.

Big mistake number 2 for this episode is that Catherine and Clare decide that Ryan will be allowed to ride his bike to school.

Remember me?
Remember me?

The moment Tommy sees Ryan without Catherine around he approaches him. Ryan says, “I’ve never had a dad.” He follows Tommy to the boat. They talk about going for a ride as soon as Tommy gets some petrol. Tommy makes Ryan promise not to tell. Ryan asks to come back the next day.

The next day Ryan shows up at the boat with a friend. When Tommy gets angry that he told, Ryan says, “He didn’t believe me when I told him I had a dad.”

Day number 3 of knowing where his dad is sees Ryan return alone to the boat.

I'm taking you with me
I’m taking you with me

Tommy, who is feverish and sick looking, shows Ryan a container of petrol. He tells Ryan it’s time for him to go and he wants to take Ryan with him. He doesn’t want to leave Ryan with his granny – that’s no fate for a lad of his. He’s talking in cloaked language but he intends to kill himself and he’s going to kill Ryan at the same time.

Tommy won’t let Ryan go home. The crazy conversation beside the container of gasoline drags on for so long that Clare calls Catherine about Ryan being late. She learned from Ryan’s friend that he’s been visiting his dad down at the canal. Catherine rushes toward the canal, calling for all sorts of backup and help. Clare rushes to the canal as well. They arrive first. Clare holds Catherine back from charging into the boat until backup arrives.

Ryan is finally starting to realize his dad is up to something bad. His fear shows in his eyes and he wants to get away. Tommy grabs him and pours gasoline over them both. When Ryan screams, Catherine runs in.

Put down the lighter
Put down the lighter

Catherine is able to overpower Tommy. Ryan runs. Catherine throws Tommy down and kicks him repeatedly. He begs her to kill him. Instead she foams him with a fire extinguisher and kicks him a couple more good ones. The backup arrives and Tommy is carted away.

Catherine takes her badge and her sergeant’s stripes back when they are offered.

Catherine and Daniel talk, apologize, make up. There is hope for their relationship to heal.

Just breathe
Just breathe

The final scene is lovely. Swelling music, Catherine alone on a hilltop with the wind and the sun. She’s finally free to just breathe, be whole.

Some Thoughts

The last scene might have been less final feeling, less of a conclusion to Catherine’s story, had the writer and the cast and crew known that Happy Valley would get renewed for another season. But they didn’t, so what we got was more like a happy ending than the usual cliffhanger that takes you into the next season with anticipation. No matter – Catherine is a great character and I’m thrilled she will be back.

I love the fire extinguisher foaming by Catherine taking us into the first episode and taking us out of the 6th episode. Nice detail.

Sarah Lancashire and Siobhan Finneran: what a team
Siobhan Finneran and Sarah Lancashire: what a team

Sarah Lancashire and Siobhan Finneran are exceptional together. I hope both sisters return for season 2. Catherine without Clare wouldn’t be the same. Having Clare gives Catherine a place to be human, vulnerable, normal. I know Siobhan Finneran is busy with other shows and Sarah Lancashire is busy with Last Tango in Halifax, so I hope the scheduling can all click. Strange as it seems to an American that a full season of a British show is only 5 or 6 episodes, it does have the advantage of enabling the actors to make quite a few different shows in a year’s time.

I want to offer kudos to James Norton on his great performance as a truly evil man. I’m glad there are actors who willingly take the parts they know will make the audience hate them. On the other hand, it’s wonderful to see someone we loved to hate elsewhere, like Siobhan Finneran’s Mrs. O’Brien on Downton Abbey, show up here in a much more likeable role.

This drama was powerful and visceral and real. Congratulations to all the people involved in making it extraordinary. And thank you to Netflix for bringing it to American audiences.

All images from Happy Valley © Red Production Co.

6 thoughts on “Happy Valley, S1 E6”

  1. James Norton. Great actor. Handsome man. I enjoyed him in Grantchester earlier this year on PBS. I knew I had to watch Happy Valley when I found out he was in it. One would think Sarah Lancashire would be reason enough.

    I got a bonus with Joe Armstrong. I have watched his father Alun in New Tricks for years.

    1. He was wonderful in both parts and so startlingly different. Excellent actor. I also really enjoyed Siobhan Finneran in Happy Valley. I know the Brits love their period dramas, but I enjoy the contemporary stories so much more. Everything from the clothing to the people are just looser and freer.

      1. I agree about the Brits and their period dramas. I was a fan of Bramwell for 3 seasons. I’m trying to watch The Paradise on Netflix. It’s proving difficult because I can’t get into the main characters. I’m doing my best to fast forward to the Miss Audrey scenes.

        I’ve loved British programs since I was a little girl. Man About The House was broadcast on a local channel. I distinctly remember
        I was fascinated by parakeets being called “budgies.” My brother and I still quote Are You Being Served to this day.

  2. Just finished watching “Happy Valley,” and while I enjoyed it, overall, I feel like a lot of air was let out of the wheels when we learn that Tommy did not…apparently…rape Becky. Which leaves open the question, did she kill herself? And if so, why?

    1. Just because Becky knew him, doesn’t mean she agreed to whatever he did to her. We did see what he did to Ann in season 1, and it wasn’t and example of loving kindness. Which makes me assume his relationships with women are not normal. If Becky was infatuated with him, as Daniel put it, he might have taken advantage of that in a violent way.

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