Hannah Dunleavy on the final episode of Happy Valley: just another everyday story of country folk. Contains SPOILERS.
“What a shit week!”
Catherine Cawood has foundations sunk so deep the bottom is warm but even she couldn’t fail to be rattled by the horrific onslaught of stalkers, stumbled upon murder-suicides, grandparental responsibility and this twat.
I’m going to spare you a full essay on why Happy Valley is really a western, but suffice to say it has never been clearer than in this episode, where she and Frances passed like gunfighters in a duel.
It’s to Happy Valley‘s credit that despite putting Catherine so often in the right, it doesn’t present her as faultless, personally or professionally. If she were perfect, she’d have spotted the damaged car. But she’s not, which means we got that gloriously drawn-out shot in which it dawns on her what’s happened here and what the life she is saving will be like in the future.
Both scenes between Sarah Lancashire and Susan Lynch were some of the best things this series has ever done. Amazing when she read her her rights, amazing when she left her card. All the 10s.
John was allowed one brief ‘got away with it’ face this week before a descent that was swift and total. And literal. Although it was almost farcical in parts, it seemed in character for this twat.
Yep, John was John to the last, revealing that he’d talked 17 people out of the thing he was threatening to do without a single death. Except that one, before I got there anyway. You know, not his fault.
After already going ‘Full McNulty’ he went ‘Full Carver’ in the car, revealing that, despite everything, he still did not think he was to blame for any of this. (“Why me?”)
After showing us John would never take responsibility for his actions so would inevitably jump off that bridge, the series went about persuading us that Catherine was probably on it. Despite being, for once, out of her depth.
Then, just as we all thought she’d only gone and done it, he went over the edge with another of Kevin Doyle’s pitch-perfect facial expressions. Give the man a Bafta nomination.
There was something refreshingly anticlimactic about the Frances Drummond story. Yes, we could have gone down the hinted road of fire and threatened lives but instead, despite exuding menace from the get-go – and being full-on scary with near supernatural whispers (“Think about Ryan.”) – Frances was defeated by nothing more than a by-the-book arrest and a reality check on the membership numbers in the Tommy Lee Royce Fan club. She was all about the psychological damage inflicted on the Cawood family. You know, the proper scary stuff. Good choice, I think.
The very mention of Winnie’s name stabbed a fear dagger through me and I had to check the clock to see if there was still time for it all to go wrong for her. But it seems that all’s well (within the parameters of this being Happy Valley) and ‘Ryan kicking a ball up her wall’ replaces ‘possible assassination by organised crime lords’ as top of the list of things Winnie has to worry about.
So, it all worked out alright in the end. Of course not, but this is Happy Valley. Anything could be round the corner. Another series, whenever that might come, would be most welcome.
The big questions and other assorted thoughts
The BBC continuity announcer was proper breathless about this. Are they like that with everything?
Another reminder of the previously little-discussed repercussions of not erasing numbers you don’t use from your phone. Let’s get it done people.
What now for a Tuesday night? Badminton? Chess Club? Somewhere must have a quiz on, surely?
I’ll be blogging Game of Thrones when it starts at the end of April. Please join me.2850 Views
Hannah Dunleavy is the deputy editor of Standard Issue. She likes whisky and not having to run anywhere.