It has been well over a year since Happy Valley season 1 first appeared on Netflix, long enough that we had almost forgotten just how good this BBC TV series is. Happy Valley season 2 is every bit as compelling as season 1, maybe even more. It’s a thriller about the working class, with all of the grime, messy details and challenges of everyday life in a small English town. Underneath the suspense and drama, Happy Valley is a nod to the tenacity – the stiff upper lip, as it were – of these regular folks.
Taking a cue from the first season, Happy Valley season 2 opens with a bit of humor involving some sheep rustlers, though there is a dark edge to it. There is humor throughout the series, and it is needed to balance out the intensity and darkness of the drama. We still have people committing acts they are not quite clever enough to get away with; they’ve become criminals due to bad circumstances or a couple of bad decisions.
The central case involves a serial killer. The case soon gets entangled with Catherine’s personal life and the ongoing saga of Tommy Lee Royce and Catherine’s grandson, Ryan, a particularly intuitive 10-year old. In fact, if you don’t have clear recollection of season 1, it is worth rewatching the last episode before you begin season 2.
Most of the central characters from Happy Valley season 1 return, though there are some new additions. Most notable is Kevin Doyle, best known as Molesley on Downton Abbey, now a Detective Sergeant and part of the team called in to run the serial killer investigation.
Sarah Lancashire’s performance of Catherine Cawood is even stronger than the first season and worthy of the awards she has received and been nominated for. At times, she carries the weight of the world on her shoulders.
With Happy Valley season 2, Sally Wainwright, the show’s writer, has established a series as gripping and intriguing as any of the foreign TV shows on Netflix. While not as original a concept as River or The Fall, this is still an excellent show that feels very real. For fans of police and crime dramas, it should be required viewing! Though we are hoping for a Happy Valley season 3, Sarah Lancashire has told the British media she does not want to return for a third season, that the story has been told.
Update, November 2016: The good news is, there is likely to be a Happy Valley season 3. The bad news is, it is at least two years away, maybe more. According to a report in RadioTimes, show creator Sally Wainwright is interested in writing another season of the series, but is involved with other projects. She would also like for the character of Ryan to be older. Sarah Lancashire is said to be interested in returning as Catherine Cawood. Let’s hope it all comes to pass!