If you're yet to watch the penultimate episode of season 3 of Happy Valley, be warned as there are major spoilers to follow.


In a turn of events that we weren't quite expecting, we left the fifth episode of Happy Valley feeling as if Ryan (Rhys Connah) could actually be the one person that could send Tommy Lee Royce (James Norton) back to prison. But the real question is: will he?

In the last moments, we saw how Tommy not only memorised his son's online gamer ID but used it to message him. We always knew Ryan's darned games console and affinity to video games were going to rear their head but we couldn't have expected this brilliant Sally Wainwright twist.

With the two now in contact and Ryan being made very aware of Tommy's plans for the pair to flee the country, Ryan has left things as though he plans to mull them over. However, could Ryan finally have woken up to his father's deceitful and dangerous ways?

Ann's (Charlie Murphy) confrontation with the teen may have been harsh but many viewers (including this one) were left applauding her when she finally seemed to give Ryan the reality check he's been after. Is it enough to obscure Ryan's growing blind loyalty to Tommy, though?

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Is Happy Valley's Ryan going to set Tommy Lee Royce up?

Happy Valley S3
Rhys Connah as Ryan Cawood in Happy Valley season 3. BBC/Lookout Point/Matt Squire

As it stands, it's a very large possibility.

In the last part of episode 5, we saw Tommy contact Ryan via an online gaming chat. Although Tommy is the one to reach out to Ryan, the teenager quickly asks his dad for a voice chat. With headsets on and only the glow of their screens lighting up their dark rooms, the pair converse as if they're the same age. Boy-like in his actions and words, Tommy asks Ryan if it's really him, if he's on his own.

Ryan refuses to tell Tommy where he is, instead asking the fugitive where he's staying – the first glimmer of hope that the viewer has that maybe Ryan may be wiser than we first thought.

"You wouldn't lie to me, would you?" Tommy asks but instead of replying, Ryan diverts the conversation asking him how he knew his gamer tag. Tommy tells him that Ryan told him "ages ago" and that he memorised it.

Tommy is grinning as Ryan solemnly tells him that he's all over the news, asking "What's the latest?". "Not to approach you because you might be armed and dangerous", Ryan says. "Are you?"

It's a conversation where they're both asking questions and neither of them are answering, instead choosing to beat around the bush and assess how much information to give away. But when Tommy admits that he wanted Ryan in the courtroom to see his escape, Ryan looks disappointed. "Were you not impressed, Ryan?" Tommy pushes. But Ryan keeps asking him what he's going to do.

"Didn't you think it was cool?" Tommy presses again, ignoring Ryan. He explains how he was nervous about the escape until he rode off and "floated away", complimenting the new model of bikes available.

He tells Ryan his route, and how he got out past Bradford and then explains the plan he has for them both. But Ryan, surprisingly, doesn't seem to look happy at the prospect of running away with his dad.

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Happy Valley S3: James Norton as a "free" Tommy Lee Royce. BBC/Lookout Point/Matt Squire

"I know right now you might be thinking it's mad but if you dwell on it, you might start to see that it could be an opportunity, an adventure, for us," Tommy explains. But instead of saying that he'll do it, he corrects Tommy and says he'll think about it.

Tommy then says: "I do love you, you know. You're all I've got, you're all I've ever had ... Think about it and we'll talk like tomorrow, yeah?"

All the while, Ryan's facial expressions point to a teen that's not only confused but also doesn't feel similarly to Tommy. If you remember earlier in the episode, after having his confrontation with Ann, he unexpectedly tells Catherine that he loves her. And that is the kind of love Ryan's been used to - one that's full of loyalty, care and warmth. Not the kind of love that warrants him telling secrets and being deceitful, as Tommy is pushing him to do.

Ryan has a wealth of knowledge that he could very easily pass on to his grandmother and the police, including Tommy's escape route – which could pinpoint where he could be hiding – and his plans to flee the country.

He's promised to call him the following day and if crime dramas are known for one big trope, it's the tense 'police team listens in on a phone call' scenes. Could we be getting an action-packed one here? Something tells us that if Tommy figures out that Ryan has betrayed him, though, the consequences could be catastrophic ...

Why would Ryan set Tommy Lee Royce up?

Charlie Murphy as Ann Gallagher in Happy Valley season 3.
Charlie Murphy as Ann Gallagher in Happy Valley season 3. BBC/Lookout Point/Matt Squire

I don't think anyone would have liked to have been on the receiving end of Ann's poised tirade, but that conversation was one of the tensest exchanges to have happened in Happy Valley.

The whole familial mess has been on account of people deeming Ryan "too young" to be told anything about his mother and how she died. If the past season has proved anything, it's that keeping the 16-year-old in the dark about Becky's suicide (and the fact his father is a serial killer and rapist) has only allowed his curiosity to grow.

Now, of course, we're at the point where he's building a relationship with his father but like Catherine, Ann is furious that Ryan would even think of speaking to Tommy. So she decides to "un-complicate" matters for the teen, finally telling him the truth about what Tommy did to her and Becky.

"We're not talking about relationships Ryan, he's a psychopath, he's incapable of relationships. The only relationship he's got is with himself inside his crippled little head. What he did to your mum was no nicer than what he did to me. He raped her.

"He violated her, he traumatised her, he probably said the same imbecilic, degrading, humiliating things to her that he said to me. He made her feel so wrong in herself that ending her life became the desirable option. Can you even start to imagine what that might feel like?"

Ryan states that Tommy loved Becky, but Ann isn't done, saying: "He's a psychopath. All love means to him is a weakness in other people that he can use to exploit them with. He forced her to have sex with him, when all she wanted to do was go home.

"He impregnated her to humiliate her, to belittle her, to degrade her, to terrify her. You weren't wanted. You were very big time, seriously not wanted ... and that's exactly what that piece of s**t wanted."

Happy Valley S3: Charlie Murphy as Ann Gallagher BBC/Lookout Point/Matt Squire

She continues: "Have you any idea what Catherine did for you? How massive that was? Your grandad walked out because he couldn't stand it, [Daniel] wouldn't speak to her because he couldn't stand it either.

"They were all going 'put it in care, put it up for adoption, let social services have it'. But she wouldn't, she refused, she was the only one big enough, decent enough, to take you on. Despite what that subhuman, brain-dead moron did to her daughter."

While Ann was definitely a couple of glasses of red wine deep, nobody can really fault her for letting rip on the youngster, especially when he continually justifies Tommy's actions, despite knowing nothing about the past. It was the first taste of the harsh reality Ryan has really had and although he pities Tommy's upbringing, he could finally be waking up to the fact that nothing justifies the crimes he's committed.

Ann reminds Ryan that the fact Tommy's in contact with him is because "he's using you for no other reason than to upset Catherine, to twist the knife, because it amuses him".

So, will Tommy's pursuit of revenge actually mean losing his son in the process? It'll certainly show Ryan – once again – that his father is a dangerous individual and could ultimately be the nail in the coffin when it comes to deciding whether or not to betray Tommy.

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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