Happy Valley: Episode #1.4

"Do you think you're letting this get a bit personal?"

I compared Catherine to a bloodhound in my previous review. It was even more obvious in this episode. When Lynn, Tommy's mother, mentioned the dog in the cellar, Catherine's ears practically went up.

The last five minutes of this episode were so powerful and unexpected; we don't usually get this sort of resolution in a fourth episode when there are going to be six. I also didn't expect a wealthy young woman who had been kidnapped, drugged, raped and abused to show such exceptional courage and selflessness. Ann got herself free while Tommy was trying to kick Catherine to death, bashed him in the head, and dragged the bloodied and seriously injured Catherine up the stairs and out into the street. And then Catherine saved Ann right back by getting Ann into her police car and shutting the door before collapsing in the street. Ann screaming at Catherine not to die made me cry. Intensely moving.

Until this point, I'd pitied Ann, and felt deeply for her and the way she was being treated. After this scene, I thought she was a genuine hero. There we were, in the midst of seeing the absolute worst of humanity in these shitty kidnappers; it was a shock to suddenly see the best. Gold acting stars for Sarah Lancashire (Catherine), Charlie Murphy (Ann Gallagher) and James Norton (Tommy Lee Royce). Wow, they were so good.

The only reason that Catherine stumbled over Ann in the first place was because, even with everything else that was happening in her life, Catherine went out of her way to help a complete stranger (Helen Gallagher) with an undefined problem. And okay, it also happened because Catherine was deliberately harassing Tommy, but her instincts were certainly sound, weren't they? This episode also showed that recovering addict or not, Clare is very much like Catherine. It was Clare who made certain that Helen talked to Catherine, and, amazingly, Clare who also connected Tommy and the house on Milton with Ann's kidnapping. Would Catherine have believed it was a dog if Helen hadn't asked Clare for help?

It was clear as a bell to me that Catherine was even more desperate than she might have initially been to rescue Ann because she had just lost Kirsten, which had reawakened her pain and grief over her daughter Becky's death. Even during the fascinating restaurant scene, such an everyday location to talk about life and death and kidnapping, I thought Sarah Lancashire was making it clear with complete silence that Catherine was strongly identifying with Helen Gallagher's distress.

The lead-up to the rescue was quite effective, too, not to mention upsetting. Tommy learned that Ryan was his son and of course, started to stalk him while insisting on being acknowledged as his father. (Poor Ryan. Like he needs more confusion and uncertainty in his young life.) The possibility that Tommy might have some rights when it comes to Ryan is practically unbearable under these circumstances. No surprise that Catherine went straight to pieces as well as resorting to penis-related threats.

This episode might not have been so tense if they'd had a lesser actor than James Norton. Tommy was chilling from beginning to end. He hit his mother several times while manipulating her into indulging in drugs. He was so cruel that he planned to keep Ann in the cellar so that he could play with her for a few days before he killed her. I was completely thrown by Tommy telling Ann he'd just found out he was a father, as if she were his girlfriend or something, but it was definitely in character. Because of course, for Tommy, it's all about Tommy. He doesn't see himself as evil. Tommy can probably justify to himself everything he's ever done.

It was ironic that Lynn, a barely functioning addict, showed interest in acknowledging Ryan as her grandson while Richard the reporter had denied that his familial relationship with Ryan even existed. Although I must admit that Richard rose a bit in my regard after he (1) took Catherine's advice and started researching the distribution of drugs in the Valley and (2) played football with Ryan, and offered to watch him. It was pretty much perfect writing, having Richard on the phone telling Catherine about drug dealers who run perfectly respectable businesses but who are frightened of those above them, just as she was driving up to Ashley's farm where Ashley, a perfectly respectable businessman and drug dealer, was clearly frightened that those above him would find out he had been "moonlighting."

Kevin Weatherill became so desperate that he decided to turn Ashley in while still pretending he had never been involved. I was hoping throughout the episode that discovering that PC Kirsten had been murdered by his partners in crime would finally shake Kevin into going to the police, but no. Like other criminals, Kevin doesn't see himself as bad. He was actually still blaming Nevison for not giving him a raise. It's all Nevison's fault. Sure.

Interesting that Kevin's wife Jenny was certain Kevin would get caught and that she was so contemptuous of him. And yet, she didn't turn him in either, did she?

Bits and pieces:

-- Catherine used to be a detective and gave it up nine years ago to raise Ryan. That makes sense.

-- Catherine's evidence against Marcus Gascoigne was screwed up on purpose. I thought Catherine's boss had a good point about it being much like Catherine breaking into Ashley's house on Milton.

-- Interesting that like Marcus Gascoigne, the kidnap specialist Phil Crabtree appeared to be a former amour of Catherine's. Did either affair occur while she was still married to Richard?

-- Also interesting that the director twice showed Tommy balancing on the pony walls outside his house as if he were still a kid. Because I think Tommy is still emotionally a child. An evil child.

-- Poor Shafiq had a panic attack when he heard how Kirsten died. Catherine reacted when she first heard, too, but only with her eyes.

-- I just watched James Norton in the first season of Grantchester where he plays a principled, kindly young vicar who was physically and emotionally scarred by his service during World War II. I think James Norton might have some range.


Catherine's boss: "Are you all right?"
Catherine: "I'm fine. Effed off, insecure, neurotic and emotional, I'm fine."

Ashley: "We were moonlighting. We were out of our depth. It shouldn'ta happened."

Tommy: "I can't keep it muzzled all the time. It'd be inhuman."
So incredibly disturbing.

Tommy: "They want me to kill you. But I thought we could have a little recreational activity first."
He deflects. It was all his own decision, all his doing, but he's saying "they" want me to kill you. Which is what Ashley was doing with the phone calls to Nev.

I thought this episode was exceptional. Five out of four nonexistent dogs (and thank you, Thomas, for the terrific screencaps),

Billie Doux loves good television and spends way too much time writing about it.


morgan india said...

Billie, you should watch the new adaptation of War and Peace. James Norton is fantastic in it and almost makes you forget that he is Tommy Lee Royce. It also has Gillian Anderson in it.

I find that the majority of the characters in Happy Valley to be really quote despicable and perhaps that's why I'm so fond of this show. As well as the fantastic performances by the entire cast.

Billie Doux said...

I might just do that, Morgan -- thanks for the suggestion. Norton is impressive. Although I seem to be even more nuts about Sarah Lancashire.

Mallena said...

Thank goodness I watched this on Netflix. I can't imagine having to wait a whole week to find out what happens next after Catherine is lying in the street at the end. I was telling Ann to run.. RUN, after she got free. I think that's what I would have done after all that she had gone through. She could have brought back help, but no, Ann was going to escape with her savior, a person she didn't even know. It was an astounding scene. Another good English crime drama on Netflix is "River". Man, those Britons sure know how to make good TV.

Heather said...

I concur completely about the 5 out of 4 rating! Great review. I was just as gutted by this episode in the rewatch, as I was the first time around. Maybe more so. You pointed out what made it so poignant, I.E. Ann's concern for Catherine.