Happy Valley has come to a close for good, treating fans to a sensational showdown between Catherine Cawood and Tommy Lee Royce, the man who raped her daughter before she took her own life.
Creator Sally Wainwright recently revealed that fans have star Sarah Lancashire to thank in part for the final episode, which was in many ways the perfect ending to the show.
Speaking to Newsnight, the writer revealed that Lancashire "wasn't happy" with her first draft of Happy Valley's ending and made a few alterations.
"I have Sarah to thank for that ending in many ways because I wrote the first draft and everybody seemed quite happy with it and then she made it clear that she wasn’t happy with it," Wainwright explained.
While the final episode gave Catherine the closure she needs to retire, it left a few question marks hanging over Ryan’s (Rhys Connah) future, suggesting he might follow in his grandmother’s footsteps.
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In one scene at the police station, the youngster was delighted when the chief superintendent Andy Shepherd mistook him for a new police recruit.
Speaking about the scene, Connah exclusively told RadioTimes.com: “Me and Sarah were speaking about that scene on the day we were filming it. She said for her, that sets up how the story is going to carry on after the cameras have stopped rolling.
"This is the final season of Happy Valley. This is the end, but that provides context for the story after, so we can see a little bit past how season 3 ends. And I do think that Ryan would become a police officer.”
So, why won’t there be a fourth season of Happy Valley with Ryan at the helm? Read on to find out.
Why won't there be season 4 of Happy Valley?
Creator Sally Wainwright and lead actor Sarah Lancashire have discussed the ending of Happy Valley at length, and agreed that the drama "would only return once more" seven years after the second season aired.
At a BFI screening to mark the premiere of season 3 last December, executive producer Will Johnston explained their collective thinking going into the third season. He said: "The two vital things are that Rhys [Connah, playing Ryan Cawood] is now at an age to make his own decisions about his life and the relationships in it, and [Lancashire's character] Catherine's on the brink of retirement, and those felt like such juicy things to explore."
He also hinted that Happy Valley would deliver a definitive ending, saying: "It definitely isn't coming back – and again this is [from] Sally and Sarah who completely and rightly feel that you can have too much of a good thing."
He continued: "We're really not doing any more. You're a few weeks away from the ending but when you get to it, I really hope you'll feel content that if that's the last you ever see of the characters of Happy Valley, it was a big way to go out."
Although the series has been perfectly engineered by the creative team behind it, Johnston also revealed that Lancashire – who also serves as an executive producer on the new season – had "a very big voice" in deciding how her character's story would conclude.
"A series like this returning, the actors are in conversation very early about their characters and the way that things move forward. It's to be worked out together and Sally, as singular as she is as a writer and a director, is also a massive collaborator."
As for Wainwright herself, she echoed the same sentiment while speaking to Radio Times magazine and stated that they made a "definite decision that this was going to be the final season".
She said: "Just because it’s been successful, we weren’t going to let it drift on until it became a pale shadow of itself."
But it doesn't mean that there isn't an explosive finale to look forward to. Wainwright spoke of the final episode of season 3 and said: "A narrative has gone across all three: in season 1, Catherine and Tommy came face to face outside Ryan’s school, and in season 2 they almost came face to face in the crematorium, at Tommy’s mum’s funeral.
"In season 3, there’s a very big face-to-face showdown. The kind of cathartic showdown that people have waited for. It’s pretty dramatic."
Similarly, before the final season aired, James Norton (who plays Tommy Lee Royce) said: "I think the reason this series is particularly exciting is because everyone knows it’s the last and so everyone is going to be waiting for something to happen, and everyone is sort of predicting and guessing how Sally wants to end it."
He continued: "I have been predicting for the last seven years how she is going to end it so it was really wonderful to read the script and hear her ideas – and they don’t disappoint."
He added that the new season is "as big and bold as ever" and is a project he is "immensely proud" of. In his Big RT, though, he mentions the "pressure of expectation", saying that the series "hit the bull’s-eye in the first and second season".
"We’re all aware of the incredible love people have for it and we really have to deliver. But I’m pretty sure that, by the time you get to the finale, you’ll be reeling."
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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.