Happy Valley finale: the six big questions we need answered
On Sunday, Sally Wainwright wraps up a decade of enthrallingly bleak goings-on in Calder Valley, as Happy Valley comes to an end. There are many threads still to be tied together and many questions that need answering; chief among them, of course, who will come out on top in the most hotly anticipated West Yorkshire ding-dong since the 1947 Challenge Cup Final.
1. Will Catherine finally have her revenge on Tommy Lee Royce?
There have been three Cawood v Royce direct confrontations in Happy Valley’s three seasons, and though she’s been bloodied, Catherine (Sarah Lancashire) has always come out unbowed. She is, as she has said several times, “not scared of him.” But this time Tommy (James Norton) is hunting her down and he’s out for blood. Last episode he told Darius Knezevic (Alec Secareanu) that as well as escaping the country with Ryan his abiding wish is to “get even with that b—h”, adding: “I'm going to find her, follow her and then I am going to bide my time and look for an opportunity.”
That doesn’t sound like much of a plan, to be honest, especially as Darius refused to get Tommy a gun and we only have 70 minutes of screen time left. But Tommy has had seven years in the slammer to engineer his revenge. He knows full well that Ryan is her weakness, so chances are we’ll be looking at another Ryan-Tommy-Catherine doom-triangle face-off like the one that ended the first series (with Ryan covered in petrol). Our money is on a double-death doozy with only Ryan surviving.
2. Whose side is Ryan on?
Last week Ryan finally told his granny, Catherine, that he loved her after all... only to be met with a brusque “What brought that on?” from Yorkshire’s most- and simultaneously least-loving supergran. This was after poor Ryan got the whole truth and nothing but the truth from a bibulous Ann (Charlie Murphy) about how his dad raped his mum, who then killed herself, and no one wanted him. It’s the kind of thing that can scramble a 16-year-old’s mind.
So, will Ryan stick with Catherine or will he run off to Marbella and go bungee-jumping with his wicked but misunderstood dad? And then there’s the third option, which is Ryan has finally twigged that his father is, in Catherine’s unique phrasing, a “w–katron”, and so is luring him into a trap. But will the poor lad tell Catherine what he’s up to or just spring said trap during the inevitable showdown?
3. Will the murderous chemist get his just deserts?
Yes, he will. The first two series of Happy Valley showed that Sally Wainwright has little time for hapless dorks who kill or endanger innocent women in order to dig themselves out of holes of their own making. Steve Pemberton’s Kevin Weatherall and Kevin Doyle’s John Wadsworth both got short shrift – one put in prison, one put in the ground. Which means Faisal Bhatti (Amit Shah) might want to watch out: there was a strange shot of Faisal’s foot as he climbed the back wall of the Hepworths’ house in episode four, suggesting that a footprint will be the clumsy chemist’s undoing. He kept tripping over children’s toys for no obvious reason as well, so this might also come into play.
That still leaves Rob Hepworth (Mark Stanley), however, who, if he didn’t kill his poor wife, could easily have done so. He can also expect some sort of comeuppance for being controlling, coercive and, in Cawood speak, a “t–t”. The question is whether, and how, this subplot will overlap with the main Catherine/Tommy grudge match. Might Tommy come to find Ryan at school, and there encounter Hepworth?
4. Will Catherine clean up the Knezevic crime empire before retirement?
Probably not. It’s been a constant refrain of Catherine’s that the Knezevics, the crime family who run Halifax, are “untouchable” – head boy Darius is even engaging in a bit of reputational laundering by standing for election to Bradford City Council.
But wait: we know, and have been reminded throughout this series, that Tommy Lee Royce was present at the murder of Gary Gaggoski by Darius Knezevic, back in the days when the Ks weren’t so charlie-big-potatoes that they didn’t do their own killing. Tommy keeping schtum got him Darius’s assistance in his breakout from court in episode four, but were Tommy somehow to turn against his old pal (Darius has refused to give him a gun, for example), he could finally take the Halifax Sopranos down.
5. Whither your favourite supporting cast member?
The Happy Valley finale has been extended by 10 minutes to a 70-minute runtime, but will that be enough to tidy up the fate of all of our favourite minor characters? We’re talking Clare’s Neil (Con O’Neill), who appeared in Hebden Bridge rather mysteriously in series two and then persuaded Clare to take Ryan to see Tommy in prison – is Neil a wrong ’un after all? Or how about puffy jacket thug Ivan (Oliver Huntingdon), whose impending nuptials to a woman we haven’t seen have hung over the series like a bizarre, comic refrain.
What about Ann Gallagher, who was so cruel to Ryan last episode (as well as always being drunk), yet still wants to become a detective? She needs to work on her people skills, at the very least. Will Alison Garrs (Susan Lynch) contribute anything more to the series than fixing the alternator on Catherine’s Land Rover? Will Rob’s daughter Poppy ever take off her jacket or is she condemned to a life of overheated indoor misery (on top of her mum having been murdered and dumped in a suitcase in the garage)? And most importantly, will PC Gorkem (Mete Dursun), who was so cruelly mocked by his colleagues for his interest in alien activity in the Calder Valley, be granted a vindicating visitation? The truth is out there.
6. Will Catherine get her Himalayan happy ending?
Catherine’s retirement plan consisted of doing up an old Land Rover and tootling off into the Himalayan sunset, no doubt with a couple of Baftas and the head of Tommy Lee Royce on the backseat. Her workplace frenemy Joyce (Ishia Bennison) has also amassed a two-grand war chest of donations from well-wishers for some kind of send-off party, though nibbles, drinks and cheery reminiscence wouldn’t really fit in a finale that’s expected to be as relaxing as open-heart surgery.
One of the strange things about the episodes since Royce escaped has been Catherine travelling around solo, when she is known to be the prime target for a violent, vengeful psychopath. That she seems hellbent on an encounter with Royce, in spite of having no protection, does not bode well. We all hope she can escape this troubled town, but I suspect that her Land Rover will remain parked on those wet, grey cobblestones.
The finale of Happy Valley is on BBC One on Sunday at 9pm