Happy Valley: Episode #1.5

"Do you want some tea?"
"I've broken the kettle."

Episode #1.5 has the feel of being packed with a lot of action and plot points. Much of it happens in the midst of Catherine's fairly unmoving depression and Tommy Lee's static position, eluding capture at an apartment complex. An incredible juxtaposition, really.

If the script for this episode could be distilled into one sentence, it's this action line: ...Catherine's biggest fear is that this man will never pay for the things he's done. That could very well be the sentence that holds all of Happy Valley together, in fact. Because Lancashire is so good, in episode #1.5, that's all of our fear. Catherine's depression is among the most justified in recent tv history. And here, she has to climb out of horrendous physical injuries, encircled by it. As agonizing as it is, by this episode's end, it's very inspiring to see her go through multiple waves of her reality washing over her, and her emerging from the surf, standing. Not happy, not even necessarily stronger for it (yet), but standing.

Alternatively, Kevin is not made out of the stuff it takes to pull something like this off. Ashley isn't either. Neither was Lewis (RIP), or Brett (RIP). All of them lack some survival component that Catherine and interestingly, Tommy, have. Let's go back to Kevin, though, because the nuanced interrogation of him inside his office by Phil Crabtree (the wonderful Alan McKenna) was excruciating and very well-done. The beads of sweat on Kevin were practically another character in the scene! Truly, the climax of just how 'out of his depth' he always was. As for Ashley, I appreciated Phil's acknowledgment that the life ahead of him would be governed by him looking over his shoulder. I don't feel cheated for how his or Kevin's karma (if you will) has played out.

But then there's Tommy, whose personal body count has risen very quickly. It is painful to watch four weeks go by without him bothered by as much as a worry about how things are going to turn out for him. Perhaps this is the other side of the coin when one has no empathy -- they live without worry, as well. Fuck. (I really like Richard's assessment of the origins of Tommy's psyche, though I am not entirely convinced there isn't a sociopath/psychopath in there.) That lack-of-worry gene means he lacks something like fear, too, which is the only explanation for his audacity to leave the apartment complex and transform himself. The show made sure we understood just how different his entire look was when the stereotypical nice little old lady showed him the time of day at the bus stop.

Continuing with the kidnapping aftermath, I am very impressed with the restraint they have showed with Ann (and family). It's something the show does very well in general, but it really works in this case. They've made Ann resilient, compassionate and selfless, which is the opposite of indulging the horrors of what's been done to her. Kudos, Sally Wainwright. Anyway, there's so much more to mine that's interesting in watching Ann try to protect her parents from really knowing the truth, than from wallowing in the violations done to her -- it doesn't reduce the effect of what she's been through, it actually makes it more profound. (Seriously, other shows could learn from Wainwright.) I loved the scene with Ann perched on Catherine's hospital bed imploring her to hold her secret.

After all that, my favorite scene was the one with Catherine and Richard at the restaurant. Catherine's expression of her real and true feelings about Ryan and the death of her daughter -- none of which she's never not having, but rather has to move through her life with, stubbornly, was utterly heart-wrenching. She couldn't have said those things with as much weight to anyone else besides Richard, and thankfully, he cowboy'ed up for the conversation. Whatever heaviness was lifted, it seemed to relieve her of a burden, and she could propel herself forward again. Just how she's done so earnestly before, how we know her to be uniquely gifted.

Tommy Lee Royce better watch his back.

Thanks, Thomas, for the screencaps!

Bits and pieces:

-- ...It feels like a wedding... is the action line describing the dream sequence with young Becky beckoning Catherine to her.

-- Groggy as hell, Catherine remembers Lewis Whippey and the offense she arrested him for years ago.

-- Losing a spleen looks awful. Very eerie that Tommy promised her a life of misery from that beating.

-- Tommy emerging from the secondhand shop in disguise is the one meta-comical moment in the whole series and it's just great.

Quotes:

Christine: "Are you with me, Ashley? Have you taken that in?" (Love the civility that which the police bring to things.)

Mike: "Did you make an appointment with the psychologist?"
Clare: "She told her to put all her troubles in little envelopes. And to put all the little envelopes in a little box. And to put it in the attic until she felt strong enough to open it up again."

Catherine: "...her flesh was my flesh and she's dead. A part of me is dead. Physically. Dead. I thought I’d come to terms with it, but I haven’t, I never will..."

Four out of four used copies of War and Peace.

6 comments:

Billie Doux said...

Lovely, review, Heather.

This episode did such a good job showing how deep, serious depression *feels*. I think what resonated the most with me was the way Catherine lost control with Ryan. She was obviously deflecting her fury at Tommy onto his son, although she may not have realized that that was what she was doing.

I love the immediate close connection between Catherine and Ann. It was like saving each other's lives made them like sisters, or (more accurately) like mother and daughter. Ann's decision that her dying mother Helen will never know what happened to Ann was so incredibly unselfish. It made me like her more, if that's possible.

Billie Doux said...

Ooh, one more thing! James Norton recently starred in War and Peace. I'm sure that's why they had Tommy carrying a copy.

Mallena said...

It was amazing to me that Catherine's character was written as depressed and despairing, but Ann was strong and stoic in the aftermath. A more predictable show would have done the opposite. I thought Catherine was the stronger person, but Ann must also have a strong inner core. Some people let bad experiences ruin their lives, other people learn they can still keep fighting.

jencat said...

Billie - the War & Peace reference was just a coincidence, oddly enough, as that first series of Happy Valley was broadcast in the UK way back in 2014 and would have been filmed a year before he was cast in W&P. Apparently he mentioned it in an interview at one point:
http://www.radiotimes.com/news/2016-02-08/did-you-spot-james-nortons-war-and-peace-reference-hidden-in-happy-valley

Billie Doux said...

jencat, that is hilarious. :)

Thomas Ijon Tichy said...

Great review, Heather! ;-)

As this seems to have turned into a "spotting James Norton" section I would like to add that he starred as the physically disabled Sir Chatterley in the 2015 version of 'Lady Chatterley's Lover' together with Holliday Grainger (Lucrezia Borgia, 'The Borgias') and Richard Madden (Robb Stark, 'Game of Thrones'.)