I've decided to revisit the first season of Happy Valley, because when you're stuck, there's nothing like going back to the beginning, right? Just like Inigo Montoya! I'm interested in seeing all the people I didn't recognise the first time around, and this will also get me ready for series 3 of Happy Valley, slated to air in 2019. And it's Sarah.Lancashire. COURSE.
We open with Catherine Cawood (Sarah Lancashire) striding into a shop, picking up some sunglasses and a fire extinguisher. It seems poor Liam Hughes (James Burrows) is having a rough week, culminating in his dousing himself with gasoline and threatening his life with a lighter on a kids' playground. Catherine introduces herself as a 47 year-old-divorcee who lives with her heroin addict sister; it's either a competition over who's having the least fun at the moment or who has the most cause to douse oneself with gasoline but really it's just showing us Catherine's dry sense of humour.
I've already recognised the first person I missed! Catherine's partner Kirsten McAskill is played by Sophie Rundle who was just in Bodyguard!
Across town, business owner Nevison Gallagher (George Costigan! He's written a book since!) is being approached timidly by Kevin Weatherill (Steve Pemberton) for a rise; his daughter has been accepted into a fancier school than his wallet will allow. There's an odd dynamic between the two, Nev condescending and Kevin vacillating between anger and obsequiousness. Ultimately, Nev deigns to "think about it" and Kevin is left fuming.
We're back with Catherine, who's done work for the day, leaving to be accosted by her ex-husband Richard (Derek Riddell) who'd like to take her out, perhaps because he misses her, maybe because he's being fired or possibly because Tommy Lee Royce (James Norton) has been released. Catherine looks completely dazed at the news.
She's got to put that aside to pick up her grandson Ryan (Rhys Connah) which isn't as straightforward as usual; Ryan has been up to shenanigans. Well. He's eight or so and throwing chairs and telling his teacher to f**k off is probably more problematic than the standard grade three fare. Mrs. Mukherjee (Mina Anwar) is quite concerned about Ryan's temper. When Catherine tells her sister later, we see that it's even more concerning because of who Ryan's father is.
Home to see the aforementioned heroin addict sister, Clare Cartwright (Siobhann Finneran!! From so many things, but epically from Downton Abbey. I also recapped her work in Unforgiven and The Moorside as well as Happy Valley Series 2) and they helpfully fill in all the blanks of what happened this day.
An angry Kevin Wetherill takes his frustration out on his disabled wife Jenny (Julia Ford), Nev's said no. Across town, Nev's explaining his decision to his wife Helen (Jill Baker) and daughter Ann (an unbelievably young Charlie Murphy. Her face looks so unformed compared to season two). Helen points out that Kevin isn't just *anyone* but Ann is openly combative, storming off as Nev waves his money in her face, too. Nev seems to think that his due diligence has been discharged by even talking about giving Kevin the money, even though he ultimately said no.
Helen is clearly in pain, we see the better side of Nev for just a minute as he dotes on her.
Catherine and her ex-husband dine while he probes her for specifics about poor Liam and his petrol-soaked cigarettes, he's on the cusp of losing his newspaper journalism job and looking for a scoop. It seems his new "younger model" of a wife doesn't understand that you can't trade up, housewise, when you've just been traded down, job-wise.
"Well, you married her," shrugs Catherine.
She asks for more information about Tommy Lee Royce, he deflects and they end up topping off their evening with a furtive shag as his new wife is out of town.
Kevin gently cares for his wife, but he's still steaming over Nev's condescending refusal late into the night.
The Weatherills are off to their vacation caravan site, there's a new handicap ramp on the games room so it will be ping pong for all! Ashley Cowgill (Joe Armstrong whom I remember from a Black Mirror episode "Hated In The Nation") seems to be living quite the high life on holiday caravan rentals, Kevin is jealous and about to make a very bad mistake.
Catherine and Clare talk about Tommy Lee Royce; Catherine was trying to clear her mind with her ex the night before, so Tommy's not front and center. She knows he'll be around soon, he doesn't know how to be anywhere else. He is very much of the valley.
We get out first look at Tommy, he's unloading heavy things for Ashley.
So is Lewis Whippey (Adam Long from Home Fires!), but it's Tommy who accidentally drops a bag of dope at the feet of Kevin, who's come to pay his bill.
Everyone plays dumb, Kevin suggests they ring the police and Ashley and his gang start to close in on him.
Kevin is intimidated but surprisingly agrees to have a beer with Ashley. Not only that: he has a proposition for him. Kevin's come up with a plan to get the money he needs for his daughter's education, half a million pounds for Ashley and his fellas if they carefully kidnap Nev's daughter Ann and then gently put her back. Kevin explains why he hates Nev so much, his dad and Nev came up with the idea for the business together but it was Nev who took it over.
"No Ashley, I don't like Nev."
Now. How f***king far gone do you have to be to work out that kidnapping your boss's daughter is your best and brightest plan? For COLLEGE TUITION. Ashley asks for time to think about it which just gets Kevin riled up again: that's what NEV said!
Lewis does not like new guy Tommy, who has yet to speak, but Ashley wants to talk to both of them about the plan. He comes up with a crappy deal for Kevin: a 90/10 split, and because Kevin is a hopeless negotiator and essentially a walking description for "hapless", they settle on 80/20.
Catherine comes home to flowers from Richard ("you're playing with fire there" chides Clare) and an energetic Ryan demanding all of her time. She just wants five minutes to herself, you know? OH I KNOW.
Catherine's on the job with Shafiq Shah (Shane Zaza), another day and another set of addicts with syringes stuck in their toes. Addiction is a BEAST. Aaaand poor Liam of the other day is threatening to charge her for Assault With Life Saving Foam, the newsagent is invoicing her personally for the Weapon of Foaming, even though he didn't know he had it!
Kevin is called into Nev's office for a big surprise, he can't give Kevin a raise, but he's going to pay the school fees for both of Kevin's kiddos, thanks to Helen, Nev's wife. And Ann, they've both had a go at him about refusing.
Nev explains: Helen has been diagnosed with liver cancer, so Nev's planning to work less and take care of her, making Kevin deputy managing director. Kevin stumbles through an apology...for Helen...but is it?
Therein exposes the colossal mistake of a bitter man chewing on his liver for lo these many years.
Another day, another parent/teacher conference with Ryan's teacher. It's moved up the pole, now, Catherine's in with the school principal. She'd like Ryan to start seeing the school psychologist. Catherine explains that it's his frustration with reading, but the school has heard comments from other parents...Catherine cries as the principal outlines strategies for managing Ryan's temper.
It's not about Ryan's schooling, though, it's about his mum Becky, Catherine's daughter, who died right after Ryan was born. Becky had never wanted Ryan, maybe because he was a product of rape, and hanged herself when Ryan was six weeks old. The rape is a bit of a muddle, Becky never reported it or even discussed it with her mum, who even thinks there might have been consent although she mentions a brutal attack. What matters is that Catherine is worried that Ryan will be like his dad, that's why she's watching so closely.
Catherine gets home and calls her ex, Richard. Fancy a meetup?
She's still preoccupied in the post-coital glow, what are the pros and cons of taking the law into your own hands? He counsels her to not become obsessed (too late), she's fixated on the best parts of vigilante justice involving a "severed scrotum" being ground into the mud and so on.
Kevin can't sleep either. He calls Ashley the next morning and asks him to call the whole thing off, he's not even aware he was never in control of anything.
The plan goes ahead, Lewis and Tommy waiting for Ann, who's driving along blissfully unaware singing a Tori Amos song at the top of her voice. Kevin goes to the police, demanding to see a "proper police officer", apparently not counterwoman Joyce (Ishia Bennison). Catherine is up.
Kevin stutters through an explanation of sorts to Catherine, but there's no time, see. She makes note of his license plate as he skids off in a hurry instead of coming in for a cuppa and chat. He really is the most impossible criminal ever.
Ann is carefully rammed by Lewis, she's indignant until Tommy Lee Royce puts on a mask and punches her in the face. He and Lewis start to drag her into the van, but it's much more realistic than usual in that she isn't knocked out at all. It's harrowing watching her being beaten and to listen to her scream, knowing what will happen to her.
**Watched through fingers while humming to block noise**
Kevin finally finds a secure enough line to call Ashley on; he timidly asks for reassurance that the lads won't hurt Ann, will they? They'll take good care of her?
Tommy Lee Royce hides Ann's car and *fixes his hair* while Lewis comes in with the van. Tommy threatens Ann with mutilation, then brings her down into the basement before dragging Lewis outside for an upbraiding. Lewis has seniority in the gang, but he's woefully inadequate as a criminal, mentioning "Ashley at the farm" in front of Ann. Tommy establishes his dominance, then is left alone, setting off for a quick look around.
Catherine is regaling fellow copper Kirsten with tales of a hapless addict Spider-man wannabe when she spots Tommy Lee hanging out on a corner, looking through a restaurant window. She screeches to the curb and runs back to the closed restaurant where Tommy's still-lit cigarette smolders. She's very close. She wanders up and down alleys, looking everywhere and one time directly at his location.
Ashley calls Nev from Ann's phone, which somehow he doesn't find odd. At first. He follows Ashley's instructions with mounting horror while Kevin watches from his office and tries not to throw up.
Oh jaysus, they covered Ann's head with a plastic bag and duct taped it before putting her in the sleeping bag. I'm awful with violence against women but I will try my best. A masked Tommy unwraps her, she tries to scream as he inquires if she's a virgin or not.
A frantic Nev calls Kevin, some "shit for brains toe-rag bastard has got our Annie." Kevin's astounded by the news that Ashley's asked for double what he suggested, he's got to find a million pounds in the accounts to pay off the kidnappers. What the hell is Nev going to tell Helen, Kevin??
We're out as Catherine researches Kevin on the police computer...
I noticed Tommy Lee Royce's looks much more this time around, I can't think why I didn't the first time, they're front and centre. There is no way to reconcile his character without including the fact that he is incredibly good looking yet completely devoid of personality aside from a hulking brutishness. Is that personality? I dunno.
I also only now noticed how beautifully shot the show is, as well as gorgeously scored. Somehow they've used the cinematography to create another character in the scenery itself, which is grim with devastating bits of colour. The bright splash of Tommy's bleached hair, the yellow of Ann's Mini Cooper, the red sleeping bag she is carried in so vividly captured.
It's Sally Wainwright's writing that makes this series, and how its complicated twists and intricacies are communicated by the inestimable Sarah Lancashire. I've followed her through a number of other shows but she will always be Catherine Cawood to me, perfectly capturing the humour and world-weariness of a woman barely hanging on but so very well. Until next time! Cheers