Happy Valley got off to a rip-roaring start last week with our heroine, Catherine Cawood (Sarah Lancashire), plunged into a new vortex of hellishness when she was accused of the brutal murder and sexual mutilation of her nemesis Tommy Lee Royce’s mother, Lynn Dewhurst. It was something new for Catherine – her identity and persona questioned to the point where cracks had started to show in her previously impenetrable armour. It was just a case of what else could or would happen to further undermine her. As it turned out, lots.
NB: This is a review and there’ll be talk of plot and all that jazz. Beware.
The first half of this episode saw Catherine trying to re-establish some sort of normality to her life, which ostensibly meant that she was doing what Catherine does best – stomping around her territory, making up the rules as she went along and going the extra mile to help out her community more than anyone could or should. Her house was beginning to resemble the Ark, with her sister Claire already in residence, her grandson Ryan also cossetted away safely (for now) and her son Daniel also kipping on the sofa. Now there was Ilinka Blazevic, a young Croatian woman who had escaped from the clutches of a trafficking gang. Against protocol (a bit like Paul Abbott’s No Offence) Catherine had brought her home to protect her because she was convinced no one else could. Add in Croatian-speaking neighbour Winnie (who got some choice lines) whose life was put in danger because of Catherine’s desperate need to protect (and bend the rules in doing so), and her house was bursting at the seams.
Ilinka proved to be a link between her murdered friend Aurelia – one of the serial killer’s victims – and the Kazanovic gang. Watch out for the storyline developing in subsequent episodes.
What happened in the second half of this episode saw Catherine’s world crumbling around her; a full unravelling. Tommy lee Royce was let out of prison for the day to attend his mother’s funeral. Catherine, while attending Helen Gallagher’s wake, left sister Claire behind to go and show her face at Lynn Dewhurst’s funeral. Again this act represented a break in protocol and, as such, her actions bred consequences. Royce, on seeing the woman he thought killed his mother, erupted into a fury and Catherine’s superiors, who were also in attendance, looked on in disbelief. She was soon admonished and her motives questioned again.
Her fragile state continued to fragment when she was told she still needed to come up with two alibis to properly let her off the hook for the murders of Dewhurst and Aurelia. By the end of the episode she was in bits – on returning to pick up Claire from the Gallagher’s she found her drunk in the garden, having a smoke with Ann. Claire (brilliantly played by Siobhan Finneran) had fully fallen off the wagon and we left Catherine chasing down the street after her, to try and stop her going to the late night offie to get cheap booze and get blasted.
Suddenly Catherine’s inner world was starting to disintegrate – her persona as the reliable, all-powerful sheriff, her home and now her family. And, with the softly spoken Tommy Lee Royce disciple Frances Drummond taking a job as a teaching assistant at the local school to be close to Ryan, this implosion will undoubtedly get worse before it gets better.
By there were other strands, too. There were touching scenes between Nevison and his daughter Ann, and then there was adulterer John and femme fatale Vicky. We heard Claire talking about Neil earlier in the episode, and how he had explained to her that he had got involved with a woman (while still married) who had not only blackmailed him but also pushed him to the brink of mental collapse. I wondered instantly whether this was Vicky.
Whoever it was, Vicky was to be no more. Feckless, cowardly John concocted a plan to take ‘control’ of the situation. He told Vicky that he had left his wife and turned up at her house with a bag of essentials. His plan was this – to convince Vicky that he was now hers and then ask her to destroy the images on her phone and computer. And then leave her. It didn’t work and, after a few wines and a semi-drunken attempt to destroy the computer himself, he exploded into a rage and strangled Vicky after an almighty struggle. It was a brutal, horrifying scene, but one – knowing John’s personality – you just knew was going to happen. He reminds me of many ways of Fargo’s Lester Nygaard, and if this is the case then John’s personality will surely change – a cowardly, timid man, who could sink into crippling anxiety under the weight of his crime; or he could become strangely empowered and intoxicated. Whatever happens next to John, he’s going to have to cover his crime up somehow.
So it’s not just Catherine whose personality and identity is being eroded; John the copper is now a killer. Tense as you like.
For our episode one review, go here
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