Happy Valley recap: Everything to remember about season 1 and 2

Happy Valley recap: Everything to remember about season 1 and 2

After what feels like forever, Happy Valley is returning for a third series.

The brilliant BBC crime drama from Sally Wainwright wedged itself into viewers’ hearts with two series released in 2014 and 2016, respectively.

It received further acclaim in the US after being released on Netflix.

For some time, it was unknown whether the third series would happen, despite Wainwright’s assurances. But then, in 2021, the new season was officially announced.

Now, in the BBC’s first new drama of 2023, Sarah Lancashire’s detective Catherine Cawood will be returning to our screens.

Considering it’s been six years, you’re probably in need of a little referesher ahead of the forthcoming episodes.

Read on for a recap...

Tommy Lee Royce

For those who don’t remember, Tommy (James Norton) is the convicted rapist who is believed to have raped Catherine’s daughter, which led to the birth of her son Ryan (Rhys Connah), and later to her suicide. Tommy was sent to prison for abducting and raping a Yorkshire local named Ann Gallagher (Charlie Murphy), and, at the end of series one, abducted Ryan in order to carry out a murder-suicide, which was foiled by Catherine.

Tommy spent series two behind bars, but indoctrinated a lady named Frances Drummond (Shirley Henderson) to help him make Catherine’s life a misery. Frances, a lonely pharamcist who became a fan of Tommy’s, manipulated the criminal’s young son, and Catherine’s grandson, by writing letters to him in the guise of his father. She also praised Tommy to Ryan while working as a teaching assistant at his school.

By the end of series two, Frances realised Tommy had a string of interests in the outside world, and cut ties with him. But this left him enraged as he had viewed Frances as his best bet at tormenting Catherine. However, in the last episode, it was revealed that Frances might have driven the ultimate wedge between Catherine and his son: viewers saw Tommy receiving a letter from Ryan, in which he told his dad he loved him.

James Norton in ‘Happy Valley’ (BBC)
James Norton in ‘Happy Valley’ (BBC)

The conclusion to the mystery killings

Throughout series two, Catherine investigated a series of killings that were revealed to have been committed by Daryl Garrs (Robert Emms), a young local farmer. He confessed to his mother Alison (Susan Lynch) who, wanting him to avoid jail time, shot him dead. After Alison survived an overdose, Catherine arrested her.

Catherine’s sister Clare’s new romance

In series two, Catherine’s sister Clare (Siobhan Finneran) started a romance with an old friend, Neil Ackroyd (Con O’Neill). They are both recovering alcoholics, which concerned Catherine and led to a fall-out between the pair. Both fell off the wagon, with Catherine forced to arrest Neil for drunken behaviour in public. By the end of the series, though, he promised to take good care of Clare.

Siobhan Finneran in ‘Happy Valley’ (BBC)
Siobhan Finneran in ‘Happy Valley’ (BBC)

Catherine’s concerns about Ryan

The final message of Happy Valley’s second series involved Catherine’s concerns for Ryan. There were several moments that led her to believe her grandson might have an angry streak in him, just like his father. Unbeknownst to Catherine, Ryan was in contact with Tommy, and with six years now gone by in the series, the show will no doubt explore the rippling effect this has had on a now teenage Ryan.

Happy Valley returns to BBC One on New Year’s Day.