It was inevitable that Happy Valley would pit Sgt. Catherine Cawood (Sarah Lancashire) against convicted felon Tommy Lee Royce (James Norton), but who knew that the set-up would be so dramatic?
It’s the mark of a good show when the audience can anticipate exactly what’s going to happen, and it still satisfies. From the start of season three, when we learned that Ryan (Rhys Connah) was visiting his father in prison, and that Royce was being moved closer to his son, it was obvious that something would go down at the courthouse.
Hell, even Catherine seemed to know, which is why she quizzed/warned her reporter ex, Richard (Derek Riddell), and even asked her boss to triple the security at Royce’s court appearance.
In the end, it hardly seems like it would have mattered. The violent distraction provided by Matija Jankovic (Jack Bandeira) and Ivan Sertic (Oliver Huntingdon), the low level criminals employed by the the Kneževićs, does exactly what it needs to, allowing Royce to slip out.
It’s a thrilling sequence: Royce climbs out of the holding cell in plain sight, runs out of the courthouse moments before it is locked down, flees to a convenience store, and disappears out the back in bike gear. It’s basically a seamless mini-heist movie.
It’s also character development, though. The escape is a display of Royce’s narcissism: the way he wants Ryan to see him “perform” is clear evidence of his sociopathy. He doesn’t care that people are getting hurt. It’s merely an opportunity for him to show off for his son. And that’s chilling.
Of course the Tommy Lee Royce stuff is exciting, but it’s only part of the episode. S03E04 continues to explore the fall-out between Catherine and her sister, Clare (Siobhan Finneran). The pair don’t share a ton of scenes together, if only because Catherine dodges Clare at every turn, preferring to confront Neil (Con O’Neill) at work, then seemingly let him off the hook.
It makes sense because she doesn’t really care about Neil. And since all of her outrage is on Ryan’s behalf, she also doesn’t blame him for visiting Royce.
That leaves Clare, who gets iced out on both the phone, but also in person when she attempts another (admittedly weak) apology. At this point it’s legitimately unclear whether the relationship between the sisters can ever be repaired. Last week Catherine’s rage felt vindicated, but it’s been a few days and there’s no indication they’ll ever reconcile. All Catherine wants at this point is for Ryan to agree to stop seeing Royce if he wants to come back and live with her. Oof.
- We knew that Darius Knežević (Alec Secareanu) was involved in shady criminal activity despite his bid for public office, but it’s still pretty wild to see him ordering Sertic and Jankovic to play the distraction in Royce’s courtroom escape in person. You’d think a man of his stature wouldn’t want to get his hands dirty.
- It appears that Ann (Charlie Murphy) did take down Sertic and Jankovic’s license plate last week, though she’s still struggling to remain dispassionate in her police work. She’s upset that Josip Matic isn’t being charged with raping the blind woman he grifted (we briefly heard about this event earlier in the season) and Catherine – somewhat cruelly – inquires if this is the right case for her. Little do Catherine and Ann know that Josip’s accomplices are none other than Sertic and Jankovic.
- Speaking of secondary characters: how funny is it to see Allison (Susan Lynch), the convicted criminal who killed who son and loaned Catherine her car in episode 3.02, casually freaking out Richard? Sometimes it seems like Richard is in a completely different show because he’s more or less a regular person who is bothered by things like crime and lies.
- There’s something ironic about coach Rob Hepworth (Mark Stanley) getting into a car accident with pharmacist Faisal Bhatti (Amit Shah) considering the latter just killed his wife Joanna (Mollie Winnard). Of course Rob would use a xenophobic remark during the altercation, confirming that while Faisal is a murderer, he’s still the better man. This story will get a lot more interesting now that Joanna’s parents have escalated the situation by officially reporting her missing. That won’t reflect well on Rob.
- Finally, I can’t wait to see how Catherine reacts when she learns of Royce’s escape. Will she discover that Ryan was in the courthouse when he promised he wouldn’t be?
Happy Valley airs Mondays on BBC America, AMC+ and Acorn TV