Happy Valley S2 E1: Oh, What a Tangled Web She Weaves

Sarah Lancashire and Siobhan Finneran in Happy Valley

Happy Valley series 2, episode 1 aired on BBC One this week. The series is off to an exciting start. I can’t stop myself from writing about this series. I shall try to restrain myself from writing recaps with so many spoilers for season 2. I did that for season 1. Feel free to mention it if I stray too close to actual recaps or include too many spoilers for those who must wait for Netflix to stream the series.

Writer and director Sally Wainwright sets up a tangled tapestry of strings that will get pulled in the next 5 episodes. I’m eagerly anticipating how each of them will unravel and add to what will surely be a tension-filled ride.

I’ll describe the characters I think are going to be paramount in this season of Happy Valley.

A body found in a garage

18 months after series 1 ended, Yorkshire police sergeant Catherine Cawood (Sarah Lancashire) finds a body in a garage. It’s been there for weeks. Turns out to be Tommy Lee Royce’s (James Norton) mum. Catherine is a suspect in the murder. Don’t they know she’s the good guy?

When they finally realize this murder was one of several, they even want Catherine to clear herself from those murders! Catherine, who’s been given a medal for bravery and shaken the hand of the Queen. Damn those myopic bastards in the CID.

James Norton and Shirley Henderson in Happy Valley

Tommy Lee Royce has one of those women who fall in love with prisoners visiting him in prison. Her name is Frances (Shirley Henderson). She’s a petite and attractive woman who looks harmless. He convinces her that Catherine Cawood is responsible for his mother’s death and that she ruined his otherwise lovely life.

At the end of the episode, Frances stands outside Catherine’s house in the rain, looking not at all harmless as she watches young Ryan (Rhys Connah) play a game with Catherine’s son Daniel (Karl Davies).

Daniel is temporarily at Catherine’s place because his wife tossed him out. She thinks he’s been cheating.

Amelia Bullmore and Kevin Doyle in Happy Valley

Speaking of cheating husbands, enter an officer who is among those investigating the serial killer who really killed Royce’s mum. He is John Wadsworth (Kevin Doyle). He’s had a 2 year affair with Vicky (Amelia Bullmore). He’s trying to break up with her. She isn’t having it.

Sarah Lancashire and Charlie Murphy in Happy Valley

Ann Gallagher (Charlie Murphy), the woman who was kidnapped and raped in series one, is now a cop. It’s her first day on the job. Oh, blimey, another young officer for Catherine to have motherly feelings toward. Ann gets assigned to work with John Wadsworth on the murder investigation.

Siobhan Finneran and Con O'Neill in Happy Valley

Clare (Siobhan Finneran) runs into an old school friend named Neil (Con O’Neill). This may turn into a romance for Clare, but he seems awfully nervous around Catherine. Is he in trouble with the police?

Matthew Lewis in Happy Valley

Sean (Matthew Lewis) is an angry character fired in the first part of the episode by Nevison Gallagher (George Costigan). Later he is seen driving down a street where prostitutes work. Since the serial killer they are after targets prostitutes, he may be one of the strings that get pulled to maximum tension as series 2 progresses.

Somehow these few players manage to feel threatening to a number of characters, including Catherine. There are a few strands of the story I didn’t mention, but these look like the major players as of episode 1.

Welcome back, Happy Valley.

Some Thoughts

I love the opening sequence with Catherine and Clare sitting in the garden. Catherine looks so cool in her sunglasses with a cigarette in her hand. So cool. She’s telling a story about drugged sheep in a funny way that is a perfect beginning. It tells us Catherine and Clare are still living together. It tells us how Catherine found the body. And don’t they look cool?

There are some scary female characters this season. Vicky, the spurned lover, is terrifying. Frances looks like she can be convinced to do anything for Tommy Lee Royce. Already the tension is tight.

6 thoughts on “Happy Valley S2 E1: Oh, What a Tangled Web She Weaves”

  1. Came here to find a recap of season 1 of Happy valley–how could I have forgotten any of it, but I did. Now I’m all set to go, and happy to have found your blog, Virginia. I love your emphasis on strong and complex female characters. I’ve seen most of what you listed as best of 2015, and agree with your reviews. Had forgotten about Dark Places–will watch that tonight. Will try and get to see Lost Girl since you like it, even though it’s outside of my usual likes, but after loving Jessica Jones so much, I’ll give it a whirl. Thanks again for your work–Zoe

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