TV Review: Happy Valley

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It’s been nearly two years since the BAFTA-winning and critically acclaimed first series of Happy Valley aired on BBC One. The first series captivated with shock twists, intense scenes and some incredible dramatic performances from Sarah Lancashire (pictured, plays Catherine Cawood) and James Norton (plays Tommy Lee Royce).

After THAT thrilling episode where Catherine finally found Ann Gallagher and freed her after a intense showdown with Tommy Lee Royce in his mother’s cellar, and of course the perfect series finale which saw Catherine finally catch Tommy Lee Royce after he went on the run, my expectations for the new series were through the roof.

The events of the second series take place almost a year after the first, Tommy is now in prison after being convicted of his many crimes committed during the first series and Catherine is back to being her usual incredible self and capturing the criminals of the town. The series opens with a very funny anecdote from Catherine to her sister, Claire, about her day which involved her chasing drugged up kids and having to put down a sheep. However, the tone soon becomes much more serious as it becomes apparent there’s a serial killer on the loose. The Gallagher family remain an integral part to the new series, with Ann now working as a police officer and Helen Gallagher sadly passing away from cancer in the first episode. The episode takes a shocking turn when Catherine discovers a decomposed body that later turns out to be Tommy Lee Royce’s mother. She quickly becomes a suspect in the murder investigation due to threatening behaviour towards her prior to her death. It’s sad to see Catherine accused in such a way after proving her commitment to the police force in the first series. Meanwhile, Tommy strongly believes Catherine DID kill his mother and enlists a very strange woman, who almost appears obsessed with him, called Frances to spy on Catherine. She takes a job as teaching assistant at Ryan’s school in order to keep on eye on them. Harry Potter fans may recognise the actress as Moaning Murtle!

There’s two other storylines running in the first couple of episodes. The first involves new characters – one is a police officer working on the murder investigation and his lover who he has been having an affair with for two years. In a very weird turn of events, John attempts to end the affair, and his lover, Vicky, turns very psycho and drugs him. He later wakes to find threatening emails with photos of himself in a compromising position from Vicky. He resorts to drastic action after she attempts to extort money from him and after a fight between the pair, he strangles her to death in her home. I’m very interested to see where they’re going with this storyline. So far, it’s not been linked with any other storyline, yet I have a suspicion he might attempt to cover up the crime and somehow become implicated for ALL the murders that have taken place.

The other storyline is surrounding Catherine’s sister, Claire. She recently made contact again with an old school friend, Neil, and the pair have become dating. In the second episode, Claire begins to drink again at Helen’s wake and this leads to a massive showdown with Catherine which ultimately result in quite a few home truths being thrown between the sisters. Both actresses really shine in these scenes, and it’s incredible to see Claire getting a big storyline and the much talked about alcoholic phase that predated the show, finally surfacing as she struggles to deal with Helen’s death and Catherine’s job.

Overall, an incredible two opening episodes that certainly haven’t disappointed. The show has set up many storylines to develop over the series, and I’m excited to see how they develop. I’m going to hedge my bets early and suggest the killer might be a female character. Catherine has alluded to the fact that the killer does not necessarily have to be male, and there must be a reason for this. Unless it’s a red herring? For the shock factor more than anything, the killer could well be female.

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