The TV drama and Broadchurch wannabe Happy Valley returned to our screens for a second series this week, giving a whole new meaning to the term ironic as even the weather is miserable from the offset.
Sarah Lancashire continues to play the role of the darkly humoured Catherine Cawood, a Yorkshire Police sergeant living with her sister Clare (Siobhan Finneran) and young grandson Ryan. Wainwright doesn’t hang around when it comes to introducing this series’ investigation, after only a few sips of tea and the first bite of that digestive biscuit, we are faced with the discovery of a dead body. This launches Cawood into the murder mystery of her nightmares.
The episode becomes slightly confusing for those who aren’t already Happy Valley fans and failed to become addicted to the previous series, due to the introduction of Tommy Lee Royce (James Norton), a key character in series one, who was convicted for the rape of Catherine’s daughter. Luckily Lancashire’s character fills in the gaps with a brief recap of events, bringing us up to date with all the drama, so if you are new to the valley don’t be put off.
The main sub-plot provides a well measured amount of relief from the dominant story line, it is not, however, any less intense. A rather dishevelled looking Kevin Doyle plays the role of a cheating husband, John, and Amelia Bullmore succeeds in fulfilling the role of jealous and slightly – slightly being the understatement of the century – insane girlfriend-on-the-side, Vicky. Their tale of deceit and blackmail gives the main murder investigation a run for its money, and will leave you dropping the rest of that digestive in your tea.
Combined the two make a gripping and exciting first episode to the new series. These are, however, interjected with what seem to be less significant mini plots, including a darkly humorous ‘sheep rustling’ incident, a rather slow potential romance between Catherine’s sister Clare and her high school fling Neil, and the later appearance of Catherine’s son Daniel, and Tommy Lee Royce’s girlfriend, Frances.
The introduction of these will result in you involuntarily taking on the role of a paranoid police officer as suddenly, everyone’s a suspect, including Catherine Cawood. Cue over analysis of every facial expression, exchanged glance and nervous fidget. Throw in a few gory details and, hey presto, you’ve got yourself an increasingly intriguing murder investigation.
Whether you’re already a dedicated Happy Valley watcher, or you’ve never heard of it in your life, you won’t be disappointed. Although, in my opinion, it has nothing on the outstanding Broadchurch, it’s definitely getting there. So free up your Tuesday nights and be prepared to get hooked.
Image courtesy of The Guardian.