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Happy Valley: Episode #2.1

"I don't know how you do it."

Eighteen months have passed, and things seem to be spinning out of control again.

The opening scenes with that poor sheep were black humor at its best. Yes, I had to kill a mauled sheep with a rock today, and then there was a misunderstanding with a vet and several stray dogs were poisoned, oh and then I found a badly decomposed dead body in a garage who turned out to be the mother of my mortal enemy. I'm sure this comedy of errors was meant to remind us of the fire extinguisher. It made me wonder if Catherine will have to mercy-kill someone with a rock in this season's finale.

Just as in season one, the coincidence factor was high. The fact that the body turned out to be Tommy's mother Lynn, and Catherine just happened to have threatened her during the possible time period of death, ensured that Catherine's superiors had to consider her as a suspect. (Poor Lynn. She was no saint, but she had a heartless criminal for a son during her life, and her death must have been horrible.)

Unsurprisingly, Catherine doesn't like being "on the other end of it." Not that she did anything wrong; if Catherine wanted to commit a murder, she'd go about it a bit more cleverly, wouldn't she? Plus, it turns out it was a serial killer. And Catherine was the only one on the force who thought about warning the prostitutes in Kings Cross that they might be in danger. I was totally disarmed that she even took them a bag of food, and that she had clearly done so before.

While Catherine was talking to the prostitutes, the truck driver that Nevison Gallagher just fired drove by. Is he the serial killer? We're clearly meant to think so, so maybe not.

So how lovely is it that Ann Gallagher decided to become a cop? It might be the perfect way for her to take control of what happened to her. And I loved that Catherine is mentoring her. There's this mother-daughter feel to it -- Ann following in Catherine's professional footsteps, Catherine being a substitute mother figure for Ann now that she's lost Helen.

It's interesting that we just learned that Catherine and Clare were orphaned: their father died when they were small and their mother when they were fifteen and thirteen. No wonder the sisters are so close. Clare offered to move out to make room for Daniel, whose wife threw him out, and I was going "Nooooo!" I can't imagine Daniel will be hanging around for long. Although it might be a nice thing for his relationship with Ryan. Those scenes with the two of them made me go "aww." Except for when Daniel blew it by confirming Ryan's guess that Clare is an alcoholic.

(That foot in the mouth thing is a family trait. Last season, Clare blew up Catherine's birthday dinner by telling Daniel that his mother and father were sleeping together again. This time, Clare was actually sitting with the Gallaghers at Helen's deathbed when she told them Catherine found a dead body. Clare, have you actually ever heard of tact?)

Are we getting a little romance for Clare this season with Neil Ackroyd, an old school friend who is getting over a bad divorce? I'm not sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing. We shall see.

Meanwhile, Tommy has been convicted and now has no hair, but his influence might still be felt. You wouldn't think that after the way he treated his mother, backhanding her and giving her money for drugs, that he truly cared about her, but he's possessive about his relatives, like they're objects that belong to him. Like he was with Ryan (note the photo of Ryan in Tommy's cell). James Norton continued to impress me with Tommy's reaction to being told about his mother's murder. The camera stayed on him for quite awhile as we watched his face slowly dissolve into grief before segueing, way too quickly, into fury.

It makes perfect sense in Tommy's twisted little mind that he would think Catherine killed his mother. After all, it's Catherine's fault that Tommy kidnapped and raped Ann and was going to kill her, right? It's Catherine's fault that Tommy nearly murdered eight-year-old Ryan, too. Makes perfect sense. But does Frances, his visitor, believe it, or was she just intoxicated by his presence? That visitation scene had some interesting body language going on. Tommy was crying, completely focused on himself, and Frances was so totally into him that she was mimicking his movements while leaning as close to him as she could get without touching him. And now Frances is stalking Ryan. Not good.

Finally, we got this season's version of the hapless Kevin Weatherill, Detective John Wadsworth (omigod, it's Molesley!) Just your every day police detective who works too hard and cheats on his wife. Unfortunately, when he tried to break up with his girlfriend Vicky, she decided to do Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction, practically down to the bunny. Loved the way she very carefully placed the objects in front of him during their break-up meeting: a toothbrush, a lone sock, his warrant card thingy. Plus a drugged glass of beer, which was followed by an uncomfortable nude scene as John woke up in a strange motel room to discover that his life had just gone to hell.

I thought Vicky was going to kill John. But what she did was almost worse. I actually feel sorry for him. Infidelity isn't a crime, but kidnapping and blackmail certainly is. He should go right to his superiors and tell them the truth. But I'm sure he won't.


-- I loved Shafiq telling Ann about the clothing hierarchy at the cop shop. The plain clothes lord it over the uniforms and make them do the grunt work, like house to house; Shafiq is a woodentop, Ann is plastic.

-- Ann is smart and observant. She heard John the detective on the phone and knew immediately with little in the way of clues that he was having an affair.

-- The unfortunate sheep belonged to a woman named Alison, whose son Daryl got beaten up down the pub because of it.

-- The date on John's phone was Tuesday, September 6.

-- Little Ryan does look a couple of years older.

I really enjoyed this wonderful opening exchange:

Clare: "Sheep rustling?"
Catherine: "Yeah."
Clare: "Sheep. Rustling."
Catherine: "Yeah."
Clare: "As in 'yee-hah'?"
Catherine: "No, there were no cowboys involved."
Clare: "No. Good point. That'd have been cattle rustling."
Catherine: "No, this is sheep rustling, North Halifax style. So there's just the one sheep, and three lads off their heads on acid."

A lot of impressive set-up for the rest of the season. Three out of four kidnapped sheep,

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


  1. I really liked the beginning of the episode with Catherine relating her sheep rustling story to her sister. Very funny, but of course this is Happy Valley, so more bad times to come. Molesley does what most silly people do in these situations, hide and lie. It would be super embarrassing to have to explain to everyone in your contacts list, why you are mostly naked in the picture, but that would be easier than the road taken by covering it up. That never goes well. Frances is the most interesting, yet frustrating character in this 2nd series. Even in the first episode she comes across as a desperately lonely person, but to be visiting a horrible fellow like Tommy? Ann being a police officer is perfect. She is a tough cookie, and her bond with Catherine is so great. It's sad the way Ryan has to make sense of his world by picking up bits and pieces from the adults around him. How do you tell a child all that complicated, sordid history?

  2. I loved this episode when I first saw it. I might've just been ecstatic there were 6 new episodes of this story that'd been released -- not sure. :)
    Great review, Billie. I agree that Tommy is just scrambled enough to assume that Catherine would kill his mom. Several characters are repeatedly shown as either passing the buck or crafting their own narrative, or sometimes both! It's quite an insight into the way we're wired


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