Happy Valley: Tommy Lee Royce sets himself on fire
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She had me worried there for a minute. For several, in fact. In that excruciatingly tense scene towards the end of last night’s Happy Valley finale, I genuinely feared for the show’s hero, Sarah Lancashire’s magnificent Sgt Catherine Cawood.
Catherine’s nemesis, psychopath Tommy Lee Royce (James Norton), had broken into her house. She’d come home to find him at her kitchen table with a blood-stained knife. This was surely not going to end well.
But it wasn’t so much Catherine’s physical safety I feared for. Armed with a taser, she’d easily persuaded Tommy to surrender his weapon.
Besides which, he was crocked after an earlier scrap, where he’d finished off three henchmen.
By the time Catherine had walked in, he’d swallowed enough painkillers to down an elephant, washed down with lashings of scotch.
“I’m dead meat,” he’d sighed, knowing that if he didn’t end it now he’d either be back in jail or facing further repercussions in the underworld.
No, what scared me was when he started to sound almost human.
Would Catherine, this extraordinary woman who’d made it her mission to avenge her late daughter Becky – whom this man had raped and who’d later taken her own life – actually fall for it?
This, of course, was all about her grandson Ryan, the boy to whom Becky had given birth. From behind bars, Tommy had been secretly trying to forge a relationship with his son, now 16. When Catherine had found out, she’d been horrified.
But lately she’d also started to wonder if she’d handled it all wrong. So did Tommy touch a nerve when he protested: “You never even let him know who his real dad was.”
There was a flicker of self-doubt in Catherine’s eyes. But then he pushed it too far, having the gall to say: “I forgive you.”
“You forgive me?” Catherine cried, her outrage instantly sweeping any self-doubt aside.
Two minutes later, Tommy set himself alight. End of story.
And what a story it’s been, crafted by the great Sally Wainwright.
One of the all-time great police dramas? Well, no, because Happy Valley was never really a cop show.
It was a cracking, compelling family drama, with a tough, flawed, hugely relatable woman at its heart. She just happened to be a police officer.
At the end of a conventional police drama, we always know justice will be done.
Justice was finally done in Happy Valley as well. But keeping us on the edge of our seats to the end was the very real fear it might not be.
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