Happy Valley Ending Explained: Catherine, Tommy, Darius, Rob Hepworth & Faisal

With major spoilers, we break down the Happy Valley Series 3 finale.

Happy Valley 3-6 Sarah Lancashire as Catherine Cawood
Photo: BBC/Lookout Point

Warning: contains Happy Valley finale spoilers. 

Clare was right. In that café in Leeds in episode three, she’d explained to Catherine the thinking behind her hope that Ryan visiting Tommy Lee Royce in prison could end well: 

“What if seeing Ryan, having a good relationship with someone he clearly thinks a lot of, who had been brought up well, what if seeing someone who comes from a normal world makes this monster understand something about trying to be a better person? What if this is the one good thing, the one good simple relationship that he has never had before, that makes a difference?”

In that café, Clare’s speech had sounded like the ramblings of a naïve fantasist to Catherine, but in the finale, we saw Clare’s hopeful ‘what ifs’ come to pass. Granted, she didn’t predict the taser, the overdose or Royce setting light to himself at their kitchen table… but Ryan did turn out to be the one good thing that made a difference to that monster. Vindication for Clare and for knitwear-loving optimists everywhere. 

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Let’s get into the rest of the Happy Valley finale:

Is Tommy Lee Royce dead?

Yes. If you’d blinked, stroked the dog, or reached for a mug of tea at the wrong moment, you’d have missed it, but he’s dead. At Becky’s grave in her final scene, Catherine received a text message from her boss Mike that read: “TLR dead. Hospital just rang.” The text alert sounded the moment she kissed her fingers and touched Becky’s gravestone. Catherine read it, smiled and walked away with the reassurance that it was finally over.

Granted, you could always take the conspiracy theory route and imagine that Tommy actually woke up from his coma and was taken into witness protection after testifying against Darius Knežević, but that’s just not Happy Valley’s style. Royce got beaten, stabbed, took an overdose, set himself on fire and fell into a coma – the man’s dead. He’s not coming back, and Catherine is finally free of him.

Why didn’t Tommy try to hurt Catherine?

By the end, he didn’t want to. After telling Darius that getting revenge on Catherine was as important to him as escaping prison, Tommy had a complete change of heart. He went to Catherine’s house with a can of petrol, intending to burn it down, but after seeing Ryan’s bedroom – filled with toys and sports medals and all the accessories of a happy, loved childhood – and the photo albums containing pictures of Becky and Ryan, he realised that he wanted Catherine in Ryan’s life, and that she’d raised his son with the love and stability he’d never had. 

Why did Tommy take the overdose?

He’d just bludgeoned to death the brother of Halifax’s most dangerous gangster – Darius Knežević – and killed two of his men. Tommy knew that there was no future for him. He was too scared to go back to prison, and whether in prison or out, knew that Darius would have him killed, just as he’d planned to before Tommy fought his way out of that car. 

What happened to Darius Knežević?

Off-screen, he was arrested for the murder of Gary Gaggoski, following evidence given against him by a dying Tommy Lee Royce (in revenge for having reneged on their Marbella agreement). That was the evidence West Yorkshire Police needed to take Darius and his operation down, meaning the odious Tommy finally served some use. 

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We found all that out from Catherine’s DSU, who wryly commented at her retirement gathering that most serving officers go quietly on their last day, not bringing in two hardened criminals hours before they get their carriage clock and cake. 

Why did Darius turn on Tommy?

Either Darius was always planning to have Tommy killed, and only arranged the courtroom escape as an act of criminal PR – to stick two fingers up at the police and prove that he could do anything. 

Or, Darius was originally planning to see the Marbella plan through, but Tommy’s insistence on finishing his “bit of business” with Catherine made him reconsider. Darius was making a bid for legitimacy with his property investments and Bradford council election campaign, and couldn’t afford unnecessary risks. Tommy’s plan to kill a serving police officer made him a liability that would unleash a world of difficulty on Darius and his political ambitions, so he must have given the order to have Royce offed. 

What was Tommy and Darius’ original arrangement?

In April 2014, Darius Knežević fatally shot Gary Gaggoski and disposed of his concrete-covered body in a local reservoir – an act witnessed by Tommy Lee Royce. When the reservoir was drained and Gaggoski’s corpse was discovered, Darius ordered Tommy’s murder in prison to ensure he couldn’t give evidence against him. During the off-screen prison attack, Tommy made a deal with Darius and agreed to lie for him and pin the Gaggoski murder on a rival gang-leader, Chris Oxley. In exchange, Darius would aid Tommy’s escape from prison, secure him passage abroad and set him up a new life in Spain. Or at least that’s what he promised Tommy.

So, Ryan never even considered going on the run with Tommy?

No, he just said he’d think about it to save his dad’s feelings because he felt sorry for him. Ryan’s no fool, and unlike Tommy, was brought up to know right from wrong, hence him immediately telling the police the truth about having had contact with Tommy over the games console. 

Did Ivan get married?

No, instead, he and Matija got arrested for false imprisonment, money laundering and aiding a convict’s escape from prison. I hope his fiancée got the deposit back on the venue. 

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Was Rob Hepworth charged?

Yes, but not for Jo’s murder. As we saw when he was being questioned, there was evidence that Rob had physically abused Jo in their family home (his fingerprint in her fresh blood on a kitchen chair) as well as multiple historical fractures revealed during her autopsy, but that’s not what they got Rob Hepworth for. 

Rob was arrested for possession of indecent images of a minor on his phone, and for having coerced a minor into making sexual images. As we saw in the way Rob looked at Ryan walking away in the school gymnasium, Rob had a sexual interest in young boys, and had abused his position as a teacher to blackmail another young male student into sending him nude photos.

Was Faisal caught for Jo’s murder?

We didn’t see it happen but can absolutely presume it did. At Catherine’s retirement do, she gave her DSU the name Faisal Bhatti as a source of illegally sold prescription diazepam and noted that he lived only a few doors up from Rob and Jo Hepworth. The DSU went off to track him down, and how well do you think Faisal will stand up to questioning? Add to that the fact that Darius Knežević’s two heavies were also brought in and could easily testify against Faisal (or more likely, vice versa) and that’s a lot of dirt off the streets. 

Catherine had got Faisal’s name from series two’s Alison Garrs, who’d got it from her dodgy pill-popping probation officer, ran a check on it and realised he was Jo Hepworth’s neighbour and therefore the likely source of the diazepam she was arrested for in episode one, and would therefore have a motive and opportunity for Jo’s murder. 

So, the alien sightings didn’t amount to anything?

They didn’t, no. That just turned out to be a bit of diverting Happy Valley colour. 

What next for Catherine Cawood?

Closure, freedom, peace. She has a police pension, a working Land Rover, two and a half grand to kick-start her retirement travels, and a dinner invitation from millionaire Nev Gallagher if she fancies taking him up on it, which she probably doesn’t. Catherine’s fixed things with Clare, done her best for Becky, seen Tommy Lee Royce off this mortal coil, and realised that she needn’t ever have worried about Ryan turning out like his dad, because he’s just not is he? He’s just not. Thanks to her, he’s a happy, well-adjusted, pretty flipping normal kid.

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Happy Valley Series 1-3 are available to stream on BBC iPlayer