We should know better than to expect too much of a good time in The Calder Valley, but it was pretty hard not to get caught up in the light moment between police sergeant Catherine Cawood (Sarah Lancashire) and her sister Clare Cartwright (Siobhan Finneran) that opened season two of Happy Valley. Catherine tells a morbidly funny story involving a pack of dogs attacking a sheep. Unfortunately, this quirky case leads to Catherine finding a decomposing corpse, and this sets off what appears to be this season’s main case.
Happy Valley is taking the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” idiom to heart. A lot of what made season one such great television is brewing in its sophomore outing. This new case also has a disturbing link to Tommy Lee Royce (James Norton) – like Ann Gallagher’s (Charlie Murphy) season one kidnapping – who is cooling his psychotic heels in prison. There’s even the family man who has lost his way when he gets in way over his head. This time it’s Detective Sergeant John Wadsworth (Kevin Doyle) when he tries to break things off with his mistress of two years.
While the premiere hints at more family drama between Catherine and her son Daniel (Karl Davies), there may be happy times ahead for Clare, who has a darling run-in with an old flame. I’m looking forward to the wonderful Finneran having more to do.
One of the highlights of season one was the close relationship forged between Ann and Catherine. Now that Ann is a police officer, the two are sure to spend more screen time together. It will be interesting to see how Ann’s ordeal shapes the kind of officer she’ll be.
Another parallel to last season is Tommy’s ability to have an inappropriate and secret connection to his son (and Catherine’s grandson), Ryan. A creepy woman, Frances Drummond (Shirley Henderson), with a fixation on Tommy has moved to town and placed herself in a position very close to the young boy.
Despite the many callbacks to season one, Happy Valley’s second season premiere displayed no signs the show is heading anywhere near being stale or repetitive. The writing and the stellar acting – led by the scene-stealing Lancashire – won’t allow it.
The second season of Happy Valley is available on Netflix instant viewing. We’ll be reviewing the episodes weekly.
Happy Valley S2E1
I am so happy this show is back. Sarah Lancashire delivered a master class in acting in each episode last season, and I look forward to what she’ll bring to Catherine Cawood this year.
Fun Fact: Shirley Henderson isn’t the only Harry Potter film alum in this season. She played Moaning Myrtle in the films, and Neville Longbottom himself (Matthew Lewis) joined the series as a troubled employee of Nevison Gallagher (George Costigan).