With Tommy Lee Royce (James Norton) on the loose, Halifax goes into lockdown as the Sgt. Catherine Cawood (Sarah Lancashire) and Clare (Siobhan Finneran) conflict gets mean.
Following Royce’s daring escape at the end of the last episode, it was tantalizing to hypothesize how everyone would react . Would this danger prompt Catherine and Clare to disregard their issues and bond together? Or would it only exacerbate the issue by reinforcing how dangerous Royce is?
The answer is definitely more of the latter than the former. Despite taking measures to ensure that Clare, Neil (Con O’Neill) and Ryan (Rhys Connah) are moved out of the house and in with Nev (George Costigan), Catherine doesn’t offer much kindness. Instead she unleashes an absolutely cruel diatribe on Clare, bluntly stating that she doesn’t want to go on vacation with her; that Clare and Neil bore Catherine; and, in an especially means-spirited dig, that Clare is co-dependent and Neil is an empty bowl.
Obviously Catherine is lashing out and Clare is an easy target. Clare is still walking on eggshells around her sister, and Catherine has a lot on her mind, but between this rant and Catherine’s inability to say “I love you” back to Ryan, well…Catherine is especially hard to root for this week. In a world where characters, particularly female characters, can’t risk being anything other than perfect lest the audience hate them, it’s amazing how willing Happy Valley is to make Catherine quote/unquote unlikable.
Perhaps it’s that other characters help to excuse her behaviour or even soften her? Take, for instance, Catherine’s son, Daniel (Karl Davies) who confesses to Ryan that while Catherine has said some “shitty, mean things”, she was always insistent that what happened to his mum wasn’t his fault. Or a drunken Ann (Charlie Murphy), who is even more candid when she lays into Ryan that Royce is a psychopath who raped and murdered Becky and how dare he let Royce use him to hurt Catherine.
Both confessionals hint that despite Catherine’s challenges, when it comes to her daughter’s death, she has always a) loved Ryan and b) blamed Royce in equal, unconditional measure.
Meanwhile, on Royce’s side of the narrative, he bikes out to the country where he’s picked up by Darius Knežević (Alec Secareanu)’s men, driven to a safe house with no telephone or weapons, and told to hunker down and, most importantly, forget about vengeance against Catherine Cawood.
What he does is get a little drunk and play videogames, but because the console is hooked up to the Internet, it allows him to message Ryan and entice him to come with him to Marbella. These scenes are great because Connah underplays Ryan’s response to both Royce and the audience so it’s unclear if he’s swayed by his father’s megalomania.*
*Also: last week I argued Royce is a narcissist, and the way he prompts Ryan for praise regarding his prison escape this week is proof positive (Norton’s delivery of “Were you not impressed, Ryan?” is impeccable).
It’s why all of the Catherine stuff is so vital in this episode: Ryan is lacking the reassurance that he’s wanted and loved by the person he needs it from most, which only serves to make it more enticing when his predatory father offers it up on a platter.
The question now becomes: will Ryan tell Catherine what he knows of Royce’s plan or will he be tempted to abscond with him?
- In the Hepworth portion of the story, poor Joanna (Mollie Winnard)’s body is discovered horribly folded up in the suitcase in the garage (wee see Amit Shah‘s Faisal do it in a flashback, and it is incredibly gruesome). Rob Hepworth (Mark Stanley) is definitely under suspicion, not just from Catherine, but also from Faisal’s wife, who – after realizing there’s now a corpse in play – encourages him to speak with the police about last week’s fender bender.
- With everything going on, it’s a bit unbelievable that Richard (Derek Riddell) still tries to meet with Darius (he ultimately cancels). The show has made it clear that the interview would be a huge deal for Richard’s career, but the timing definitely made it seem like he would be killed. The fact that nothing comes to pass is a touch anticlimactic, though at least Catherine doesn’t wind up having to grieve Richard.
- Low level crooks Matija Jankovic (Jack Bandeira) and Ivan Sertic (Oliver Huntingdon) are still lurking around the margins, plotting how they can acquire that pot of stolen money before Knežević notices. It’s uncertain how, or if, their storyline will intersect with either Royce or Catherine’s in the finale.
- Lastly: seriously Catherine? Someone tells you they love you and your response is “What brought that on?” Someone needs to smack some sense into this woman! (I honestly audibly groaned at her insensitivity)
Happy Valley airs Mondays on BBC America, AMC+ and Acorn TV