Happy Valley stuns with Sherwood-style twist
The BBC dramas have both excelled at leaving viewers completely and utterly stunned. **WARNING: SPOILERS FOR SEASON 3 EPISODE 3**
Happy Valley has done it again. Another episode down, another cliffhanger that's left many of us picking our jaws up off of the floor.
While there's a lot to be said for the Doctor Jekyll and Mr Hyde nature of Faisal Bhatti (Amit Shah), the question of Joanna Hepworth's (Mollie Winnard) survival is the only thing on our minds.
It was a murderous twist that most of us wouldn't have seen coming but it's one that is reminiscent of the way that other hit BBC drama Sherwood opened up. While the dramas are not to be mistaken for one another, they're both brilliant in the way they weave shock value into an episode. Namely, how a seemingly awkward, well-meaning character like Faisal (and like Andy in Sherwood) turns into a weapon-wielding villain.
In both cases, the men feel triggered by something said around them and their demeanour. With Happy Valley's Faisal, it's the fact that Joanna says her husband could probably have beaten Faisal up. In Sherwood, it was the discussion of Andy's late wife's suicide. But with both of these dramas, the quick advance to murder leaves us stunned.
Initially, many thought that episode 3 would mainly be concerned with the fallout from Clare (Siobhan Finneran) and Catherine's (Sarah Lancashire) confrontation scene in the café. It came after episode 2's shock admission that Clare and Neil have been taking Ryan (Rhys Connah) to go and see his father, Tommy Lee Royce (James Norton), in prison.
In this episode, we traversed those mysterious prison walls and got a glimpse into Tommy and Ryan's growing relationship – as well as Tommy's apparent and somewhat hilarious disrespect for Neil (Con O'Neill) – while also getting increasingly choked up over Catherine's emotions around her family's betrayal.
Really, though, this third episode wonderfully managed to give us further insight into the ever-evolving sub-plotlines within the show.
Like previous seasons, the storyline is never just focused on Catherine and her family. Rather, Catherine always manages to be the uniting factor in the crimes and characters within the series.
This time round, we know that Ivan (Oliver Huntingdon) and Matja (Jack Bandeira) slot into a wider criminal group after demanding Faisal gives them a portion of his drug dealing earnings.
While there's a brilliant (and bloody) face-off with Catherine and another suspect in the later scenes of this episode, the attention was really on Faisal and Joanna. After lying to Faisal in order to get the money to escape her abusive husband, Rob (Mark Stanley), Faisal and Joanna hatch a plan to murder him instead.
With drugs on hand, a syringe that's ready to be hidden and a body disposal plan to think through, Faisal seems weirdly animated talking about the plan to kill the PE teacher. He visits Joanna and instructs her: "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 then asks Joanna for the keys to the garage, and once in there, canvasses the room. "I could drag him out this way. Open this door, reverse his car in a bit, nobody will see anything."
"Yeah, maybe we shouldn't," Joanna says nervously. She admits: "Alright so, I didn't. I lied, he doesn't know about you... I just said that so you'd help me but he doesn't. So we don't have to do this.
"I think it might be better if I just went back and talked to that police lady, ask her to help me. I won't say anything about you."
"Is that alright – not doing it?" she asks, but when Faisal presses her, Joanna thinks about the possibility of not moving away from Rob. Faisal's anger is red hot and as well as shouting in her face, he proceeds to condescend her.
Joanna knows she's lied previously but admits she's not lying now, saying: "Anyway, I'm not lying because if I was, don't you think he'd have knocked on your door by now and smashed your teeth down your f**king throat? And been to the police?"
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"You better lock that door otherwise he'll know you've been in there," Faisal goads her, prompting Joanna to push him. But when he falls back on her kitchen counter, he gets back up with a rolling pin in his hand and hits her over the head. It's not an accident, it's not something he steps away from with a look of guilt on his face. If anything, he still looks furious.
Joanna is still alive, slightly moving, when the house phone rings, with Catherine leaving a message. She's asking Joanna if she wants to give a proper statement before her bail hearing and that she's on duty until 6pm if she hopes to do so.
With Catherine's voice in his ears, Faisal looks like a deer caught in headlights and you can see that his world – or should we say, his façade – is slipping from his grasp. He's a desperate man looking for control and much like Sherwood's Andy, he'll likely stop at nothing to retain the illusion. But will Faisal deliver the lethal injection?
Something tells us that he definitely could, and possibly frame Rob in the process, but we'll just have to wait and see. If anything, this episode of Happy Valley has once again proven that Sally Wainwright's writing can never be predicted – and we just can't get enough.
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.
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