We really didn’t think Happy Valley could get any more shocking and twisty. But then that happened. If you’ve watched episode five, you’ll know what we’re talking about.
After it ended, I sat in gob-smacked silence and just stared into my mug of (Yorkshire) tea.
In one of the most powerful scenes from Sally Wainwright’s BBC1 show, farmer Alison saved her son Daryl from a life of imprisonment in the most drastic way imaginable.
Susan Lynch played the controlled yet desperate mother beautifully. Her beloved boy’s (Robert Emms) admission to her that he had brutally violated and killed several women kept her up, mind racing, all night. She’d had her suspicions, but not quite dared to believe it could be true.
As Daryl sat at the kitchen table in the morning, tucking into the fry up she’d made him, he clearly believed his mum would sort things out to stop him being jailed for the rest of his life.
And she did — but not in a way that he could have imagined in his wildest nightmares.
“I don’t think you’ll like prison, ” she said to him, with an eerie calm as she suggested they run off to America instead.
We got swept up in her idea that they’d have one last adventure before the police caught up with them. It sounded a bit idealistic, but it was a dreamy, soothing idea. For Daryl, and for us.
Because despite Daryl being a killer, there wasn’t much satisfaction when we discovered that he was the culprit. Weak, disturbed and lonely, it was tragic that it was he who’d committed such horrors.
“What else would you like to see?” his mum asked, eyes filling with grief as she picked up a rifle. Daryl continued to tuck into his breakfast, entirely oblivious to what was about to happen.
And as, wide-eyed with childish hope, he suggested “Disneyland,” BANG went the shotgun.
It’s often what you don’t see that’s most powerful, and Alison shooting her son was left to our imagination. All we glimpsed was her aiming the weapon at his head – and then the camera panned away as we heard the dull thud of the gunshot as blood spattered across the kitchen window.
Happy Valley is about how ordinary people can end up in desperate, unthinkable situations. The idea that “anyone is capable of anything” is even a line spoken by Inspector Shackleton in next week’s finale – a statement never better illustrated than protective, loving Alison’s decision to murder her own child.
After such a chilling episode, we imagine you’ve got something to say about it. What did you think? Did Alison’s actions curdle your blood or did you see it coming? And if you did predict it, did it shock you anyway? Was it one of the series’ most powerful moments for you, or was your heart perfectly calm? This is THE place to discuss all your feelings about what just happened…
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