Awkward, seemingly well-meaning and a complete non-threat. Those are the words that sprung to mind when previously thinking of Happy Valley's Faisal Bhatti (Amit Shah). Now? That's all changed with another expertly-crafted shock ending by Sally Wainwright.


Many of us are still processing those final scenes so let's briefly run through them. Charged up with the energy he had from crafting together a murder and body disposal plan for Joanna's husband, Rob (Mark Stanley), Faisal's energy is completely different from what we've seen previously.

He's a man struggling to retain a sense of control in every part of his life but with Joanna's news that she's told her abusive husband about his involvement in providing her with diazepam, Faisal sees no other alternative than to kill Rob.

Arguably, the chaotic scenes of Faisal and Joanna attempting to concoct the plan weave in some light comedy. But in the final scenes, Faisal enters Joanna's (Mollie Winnard) home with shoe covers, clear that he's got business to take care of.

He bursts in, first checking that he's not saved in Joanna's phone as a contact. "We have to make sure that nobody can connect me to him, so obviously if they can connect me to you, that's a connection," he tells her.

More like this

He instructs Joanna tersely about how many diazepam pills to crush up into Rob's drink and produces a syringe which he'll use to inject him with the lethal dose of thin air. "It'll take about 15 seconds... and then we'll put him in his car and I'll drive him to Huddersfield and then I'll just leave him in his car."

He even states that he'll "drop a bit of something" into his own wife's drink so that she'll "be out of it" and won't be suspicious of his midnight activities. He says it in such a way that you'd be remiss not to take a beat and wonder whether he's done this before.

Happy Valley S3
Joanna Hepworth (Mollie Winnard) and Faisal Bhatti (Amit Shah) in Happy Valley. ,Lookout Point,Matt Squire, BBC

"Are you sure you want to do this... for me?" Joanna asks him. And Faisal is sure, he's forthright in the fact that he thinks without Rob, Joanna won't need the pills anymore and thus, will leave him alone. Let's face it: his saviourism is cloaked in his own selfishness. He simply doesn't want his wife finding out about his drug dealing or extra-marital affair.

But when Joanna questions Faisal about how they'll cope with putting Rob's 13-stone body into the car, he says: "I'm stronger than I look." Joanna laughs and suddenly, Faisal's demeanour changes. He's threatened and instantly moves round the kitchen island towards Joanna, shouting in her face: "I'm trying to help you... I'm trying to find a way to solve the mess that's been created."

Even though he knows that Joanna has to live every day in fear of her own husband, in fear of similarly aggressive situations and violence, he proceeds to stand over her.

He watches her intently as she has to retrieve a hidden stool to access the key box that Rob has placed out of her reach. It's a mission for Joanna to get the keys to her own garage and in doing so, Faisal is only reminded of the power imbalances that exist within her life. So, the real question is: why has he sought to create more of them?

Happy Valley S3
Haniye Bhatti (Myra Sofia Iftikhar) and Faisal Bhatti (Amit Shah) in Happy Valley. ,Lookout Point,Matt Squire, BBC

Once in the garage, Faisal proceeds to develop his body disposal plan. His speech grows alarmingly quicker and in a strange way, his animation almost points at excitement. But Joanna has to come clean and reveals that she's been lying.

"I just said that so you'd help me but he doesn't [know]. We don't have to do this. I think it might be better if I just went back and talked to that police lady. I won't say anything. Sorry."

With that admission, Faisal transforms before our very eyes. Up until this point, we've understood him to be the small town pharmacist, the father who is consistently ignored in his own home and always reminded by his wife that they could be doing better. His own teenage daughter even says he's got a "massive chip on his shoulder" because of his brother's career as a doctor and him, as a pharmacist.

Faisal always seems in over his head – from his dealings with Matja and Ivan, to the very fact he's selling drugs from his own pharmacy and even being coerced by Joanna to buy her a flat.

He's the character that we know has some questionable morals but up until this point, many viewers have undoubtedly given him the benefit of the doubt. Oh, the cloak of being a bumbling and confused man.

Faisal Bhatti (Amit Shah) & Ezra Brook (Joseph Palmer) in Happy Valley.

But in those final moments, where he condescends Joanna, shouts in her face and assaults her repeatedly with a rolling pin, he reveals himself as the character many of us have underestimated.

You see, while Faisal may not be your archetypal charismatic drug kingpin, he is calculated enough to pounce on the addiction needs of the small community he lives in. He knows the drug problem that has riddled the Calder Valley, and yet exacerbates it for his own financial benefit.

So too does he take complete advantage of Joanna, someone he knows is a victim of domestic abuse and is addicted to diazepam, but has clearly been having a sexual relationship with. By Joanna's actions in the first episode, it's a dynamic that has likely previously been transactional, but most definitely is one led by its power imbalance.

He's cold-blooded, aggressive and, as it turns out, deadly.

In those final moments, where he sees Joanna's still breathing and moving, he could make the right decision. But instead, he's fuelled by the fact that Catherine (Sarah Lancashire) leaves Joanna a phone message, and likely, the fear that his world is closing in is only growing larger.

While the episode leaves us on a cliff-hanger of whether he will kill Joanna or not by way of syringe, one thing's for certain: Faisal is a character that we've gravely miscalculated. But what will the consequences of his actions look like?

Happy Valley season 3 continues on Sunday at 9pm on BBC One and BBC iPlayer. The first two seasons are available to watch on BBC iPlayer now.

If you're looking for more to watch, check out our TV Guide and Streaming Guide or visit our Drama hub for more news and features.


Try Radio Times magazine today and get 12 issues for only £1 with delivery to your home subscribe now. For more from the biggest stars in TV, listen to the Radio Times View From My Sofa podcast.