Spoiler alert: This recap was published after Happy Valley aired on BBC One in the UK. Don’t read on if you haven’t watched episode four.
Tommy’s on the run, Joanna’s in a suitcase, and Catherine’s on the brink of retirement. As Sally Wainwright’s searing drama hits its peak, here’s the Crown Court hearing for episode four…
A flash and a great escape
We all suspected that Tommy Lee Royce (James Norton) was planning something for his upcoming murder trial in Leeds. Now everything came together and his plan worked like a dream – or, as far as the people of Calder Valley were concerned, a total nightmare.
We first saw Tommy shirtless in his cell, getting ready for his big day in court, shedding his Nazarene curls and unkempt beard with the help of a fellow inmate (actually a real barber named Gaz from Manchester’s Cutthroat Barbershop). This gave us a glimpse of his back tattoo: the name “Ryan” on a sword. Sword of Vengeance?
With short hair, a cruel smirk and arrogant pride restored, he was ready to face his audience. Because he had protected the Knezevics during the investigation of the corpse in the body of water, pointing to a rival gangster instead, the gangsters owed him and agreed to let him go.
The tension was unbearable as five key figures gathered at Leeds Crown Court: Tommy in his prison van, gang enforcers Matija (Jack Bandeira) and Ivan (Oliver Huntingdon, still battered and bruised from a staff assessment meeting), our hero’s journalist ex-husband Richard Cawood (Derek Riddell) and of course Tommy’s biological son, Ryan (Rhys Connah), who left school on Tommy’s orders.
At the pre-arranged time of 12:55, a pulsating, driving sequence began in which Ivan and Matija selflessly started a fight in the courthouse lobby as a distraction. Alarms sounded. Tommy took advantage of the pandemonium by dressing both security escorts and exiting the witness box. He parted the panicked crowds by shouting “Police!” (cheek) and was overtaken by security guards who belatedly locked the building.
Now we’ve seen what that secret text meant two weeks ago. He ran to the nearby Rico’s Newsagents kiosks, where a bicycle and a messenger outfit were waiting in the back. With a helmet, sunglasses, and cowl, it was the perfect disguise, allowing him to leisurely pedal to freedom while the police raced past and radios roared about his “history of violence and possible access to firearms.” As he rode off into the sunset, Jake Bugg’s words took on new meaning: “The only nice thing is the thought of getting out…”
Darius Knezevic, we’ve been waiting for you
The notorious Knezevices crime family, often mentioned but never seen, has plagued West Yorkshire for three series. Now we finally met them. After Ivan and Matija failed to silence the “shit-brain” Josip before he was arrested, the heavy-duty bunglers were called to meet the “boss”. The pouffe-clad couple, suddenly resembling little boys, looked terrified – not least because they had stolen a backpack containing around £15,000 in dirty money from the ‘cuckoo’ flat before it was taken over by the police. In a panic, they buried the cash near local allotments.
The “respectable businessman” and future local politician Darius Knezevic (Romanian actor Alec Secareanu, of God’s Own Country and Baptiste fame) was elegant and smoothly sinister as he summoned them to an abandoned building he had just purchased. His older brother Zeljko (British-Ukrainian actor Greg Kolpakchi) spoke little, only lurking ominously. Darius was sure Josip wouldn’t dare speak – the dear lawyer he assured would help sort it out – but Ivan still had to “be smarter”, so Darius brutally beat him up, urinated on him for added humiliation, before calmly washing his hands with a wet handkerchief . Well, these days she rarely likes to get them dirty. The next day, he had a job for the duo – one that involved wearing suits. See you in court, boys.
Unexpected item in baggage area
We recently saw abused wife Joanna (Mollie Winnard) about to be finished off by her neighborhood pharmacist and Diazepam dealer Faisal Bhatti (Amit Shah). Now she was nowhere to be seen as toxic PE teacher Rob Hepworth (Mark Stanley) came home with his two daughters. There were some heartbreaking visual details. Upside down Girl’s World toy with smeared red lipstick resembling blood. The ironic inscription “Kindness” hanging on the wall in the kitchen. The way Jo’s discarded nightgown was emblazoned with “Don’t underestimate me, it’ll be funny.”
When his car collided with Faisal the next morning during a school run, Rob flew out of the doorknob with racist remarks (“We have rules in this country, mate”). Faisal remained impressively calm in the face of Rob’s bristling hostility – even taunting him, “Are you okay? Anything else bothering you? (basically a falsely concerned “U ok hun?”). Misfortune was a disguise. The killer chemist is much more calculating than he initially appears.
Hepworth dealt with his disappearing wife with all his usual charm, snarling at everyone, sneering at the suggestion that she was “vulnerable” and treating it more as a minor inconvenience than a real concern. However, alarm bells rang for Sergeant Catherine Cawood (Sarah Lancashire) when Jo’s parents reported her missing. During the interview, we learned that the couple met when Rob was a teacher and Jo was in the sixth grade. Yuck. He has since shown his true colors as a “control freak” who locked the fridge and flushed her anti-anxiety meds down the toilet. “If something happened to her, he did it,” her mother sobbed. Catherine, always clever, asked if Jo was seeing anyone else.
When a missing persons detective visited Rob at home and conducted a search, Rob’s eye was caught by a large suitcase in the garage. When he was left alone, he could hardly bear it. Viewers feared the worst. He unzipped it and found Jo’s corpse folded inside. As a suspect of “coercive control and psychological abuse”, he immediately became the prime suspect.
Bloody nose, but relentless
Focusing on Tommy’s prison break and poor Joanna, it was a relatively quiet episode for the protagonist Catherine – as it should be in her final days before retirement. She returned her spare uniform, prepared for Wednesday tea with the chief of police and “you can kiss my ass goodbye on Thursday.” Joyce (Ishia Bennison) collected “£2,175 and sixpence” in one round, but Catherine still refused to leave. If anyone can resist a Colin the Caterpillar cake, it’s her.
She paid a visit to Neil Ackroyd (Con O’Neill), the boyfriend of her sister Clare (Siobhan Finneran, positively vibrating with guilt and stress), convincing him not to facilitate Ryan’s further visits to the prison. Fan theories that Neil is Tommy’s father seem to be disproved by the way he fell over. When an invitation to Leeds eluded him, Grandma Robo became suspicious. Why would Tommy want his son to see him sentenced to even more years in prison? Well, unless he planned to “show what a great man he is by pointing the Crown with two fingers”? She informed her superiors of a potential escape attempt, but it turned out to be too little and too late.
Despite her approaching retirement, the weight of the world rested on her shoulders. Visions of her dead daughter, Becky, kept haunting her. She was worried about Joanna’s disappearance. She was worried that Ann Gallagher’s (Charlie Murphy) “snooze” would cause her own trauma during her attachment to CID. She was concerned that Richard would get dangerously close to the Knezivics while researching corruption in the council. At least Ryan was safe with Richard. See you.
The line of the week
“Alternatively, you can shove your wrong doing good up your ass,” Catherine’s forceful response to Clare’s suggestions for group therapy.
Notes and observations
After Tommy recovered, he listened to an acoustic cover of “Where Did You Sleep Last Night?” Nirvana. by Lead Belly. Maybe his taste in music is stuck in the grunge youth of the 90s.
A neat touch as mobster Viktor (Anthony Flanagan) has been labeled “007” in his subordinates’ phone contacts. Ivan must have been shocked and agitated.
Richard was hilariously thrilled at the prospect of a cozy dinner with convicted killer Alison Garrs (Susan Lynch).
This episode was not introduced in connection with the word “faggot”. Instead, Tommy was variously described by Catherine as a “mindless bandit”, a “black hole”, and most importantly, a “vankatron”. You will not hear any argument from us.
I liked this tweet by Les Dennis another day.
In the penultimate episode, will Tommy head straight for the nearest bungee jumping crane? Can Faisal frame Rob for murder? And what can £2,000 buy in Hebden Bridge or the Himalayas? Share your thoughts and theories below…