Happy Valley Finale – Dichotomy of Thoughts and Action

Catherine BestEveryday police around the world are involved in horrific events that must on many occasions surpass even their abilities to cope, despite rigorous training in how to react.

A dichotomy of thought and action must sometimes come into play, as the lines in the sand we all have to know where to draw become harder to define, especially when personal and professional aspects of our lives sometimes intertwine and have heartrending results.

It would be perhaps as it is for police officer Catherine Cawood in the final two episodes of the dramatic BBC ONE Happy Valley series, the story of a kidnapping gone wrong that has even bigger consequences.

Responsible for the brutal rape and kidnapping of a lovely young woman on her patch, when she finally faces Tommy Lee Royce who is the offender, she will also face her own demons.

She will have to come to terms with how to separate her personal life from her professional life.

The suspense built up during the first four episodes, after which we all ended up on the edge of our seats has come to a head. In the final two episodes we literally nearly explode, along with Catherine and her temper.

Actress Sarah Lancashire, whose role as Catherine Cawood has received overwhelming praise.

ResuceHer performance provides a lesson for students of acting in character development?

The moral dilemma faced by Catherine, in this is finely etched psychologically very intense drama, has more twists and turns than a gnarled old English oak.

Sarah as Catherine is stubborn, tenacious, tough and hard, but throws you with her unexpected acts of random kindness and understanding.

Anne who had been kidnapped visited Catherine in hospital because she was nearly beaten to death rescuing her. She tells her that she is unable to tell her parents, let alone her mother who has very little time to live, that she was raped.

She asks Catherine’s help her to let her father know.

Catherine in hospital

Catherine as soon as she can after leaving hospital faces off the father of Anne because she needs to let him know so that there are no surprises in court when they finally catch killer and rapist Tommy Lee Royce and take him to trial.

It’s no wonder this excellent dramatic series has been renewed as its won the hearts and minds of audiences all over the world.

Publishing our review of the first four parts, we discovered many fans.

The complex series of interactive events that see Catherine Cawood finally catch Tommy Lee Royce would have had viewers I am sure, as entirely caught up in the emotion and action as I was.

Catherine in RedIt’s all so shocking we are left wondering how we would have handled the same situation.

Suspense, high emotion, rough justice and a flawed ballsy heroine so far from perfect you can’t help admiring her.

Catherine is human in how she deals with him and we discover she does know she cannot let him die or otherwise he will have won after all.

However that doesn’t stop her giving him a damn good hiding, at least until her colleagues pull her off him.

Catherine couldn’t have ever possibly foreseen the dreadful things that would, and could happen to her family.

The awful crime committed years ago against her daughter had become ongoing.

It had by way of circumstance, become an aspect of yet another violent crime that meant all the issues surrounding what had happened to her at the hands of the same protagonist.

After being released following her brutal beating at his hands where she barely escaped with her life, she’s left in a state of great depression coping with a complete sense of defeat.

Catherine 3All of her resentment of Tommy Lee Royce comes bubbling back to the surface once again, overtaking her life, and by extension, her colleagues on the force and family when she hears they haven’t caught him after all and he’s still on the run.

Before the beating happened she believed she had resolved the main issues arising from the rape and death of her only daughter. She thought she also had acceptance from all her family about needing to look to the welfare of the innocent child born as a result, especially her only daughter suicided.

But now there is a great deal more to consider. Old attitudes are bubbling back to the surface, which at the time of her daughter’s death she hadn’t taken on board, let alone coped with.

Happy ValleyNow is not entirely the ideal time either.

There are huge family issues, especially with her own son Daniel (Karl Davies), which will not wait.

She is forced into confrontation not something she relishes at home, although she faces it daily at work.

Happy ValleyEven bigger questions are now asked of Catherine when she goes home from hospital after weeks and weeks of recovery and so she finally blows her stack as she bucks authority.

All that pent up rage roars loudly.

Happy-ValleyThrowing her officer epaulettes into her station managers face, she sets out to capture Tommy Lee Royce herself.

She believes all her mates are failing in their efforts to track down Ashley and Tommy, who are still on the run.

Little do they know he had been holed up with his accomplice and a friend from his former prison days, both of whom he has murdered and left behind?

When the stench of the rotting bodies in the apartment building becomes apparent weeks later her colleagues burst in and make the horrific find.

Forensics then discovers Tommy has been wounded and is ‘on the run’, and so events move rapidly forward. Catherine has donned her uniform and is back on the case.

In disguiseNeedless to say she doesn’t know Tommy has disguised himself and is in reality stalking her and Ryan his son, as they walk home together after she picks him up from school.

Now he knows where she lives as well.

Tommy is being patient, he is biding his time because he needs to heal the wound he sustained on his last kill.

When Catherine’s sister finally persuades her to let Ryan walk home alone because he’s trying so hard to be independent, he takes advantage and makes his move.

He befriends Ryan on the street and over a series of days persuades him to come back with him to a locked up barge boat on the river he’s been hiding in.

Happy ValleyAs he’s never had a parent’s experience, having grown up in institutional life himself, Tommy swears the child to secrecy. However the next day he turns up with his best friend who he has boasted too he now has a Dad.

Tommy doesn’t know how to deal with this and Ryan sensing something’s amiss beats a hasty retreat after his mate who storms out.

The next day however his curiosity drives him back to see how his ‘Dad’ is, he’s a nice kid after all.

Tommy bolts the door, locking him in and Ryan begins to get the sense something is very definitely wrong.

Catherine and Sister 2

He doesn’t know how he’s going to escape.

He had hoped Tommy would get some petrol and take him for a ride on the river, but Tommy has other ideas for what he will do with the fuel.

He has decided that he wants to take Ryan on his own journey to the afterlife, which he knows is inevitable.

Septicemia, a life-threatening infection from his wound is by now also causing him confusion and other changes in his mental status; affecting his brain and how it works.

Reason is not option any more and any challenge will be to the death.

Meanwhile Catherine is alerted by her sister as his mate from school’s mother has phoned about a garbled story he’s told her of Ryan, who is hiding out with his Dad down at the river.

Having found out where Tommy is and that he has her grandchild with him, Catherine explodes into action and taking her sister they go to the rescue.

Six gruelling, gripping and gut wrenching episodes come to an end, at least until 2015. I could hear everyone in Australia breathing a collective sigh of relief that through her stubborn determination she had triumphed.

Catherine Cawood needed Tommy to face the justice she has sworn to uphold.

Happy-Valley-2Having rescued Ryan, standing on the hillside looking down over Happy Valley at the end with the warmth of the sun on her face, Catherine can see hope ahead.

Utterly compelling, provocative from start to finish Sarah Lancashire as Catherine Cawood’s was a BAFTA winning performance if ever there was one.


Carolyn McDowall, The Culture Circle, 2014

Happy Valley

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