Happy Valley season 1 episode 1 analysis – characters in scenes

The purpose of this post is to analyse the balance of scenes between protagonist and their world i.e friends, family, and subplots that are non-case related (B stories) and antagonist, and as this is a police thriller, victim.


Let’s start with Act 1.

The yellow highlight = protagonist. Red = antagonists. Light Blue = victim.

So, what can we notice?

Firstly, there is very little of the victims.

The opening scene we meet the protag, but not in connection with the main case.

After the credits the main case begins.

Immediately we are introduced to this episode’s main antagonist: Kevin Weatherill. NB some may argue that either Tommy Lee Royce or Ashley Cowgill are the main antagonist. However, as the act breaks are all punctuated with Weatherill’s actions (see this post) I believe he is this episode’s main antagonist. He instigated the entire plot. Without him, we wouldn’t have the story.

As you can see, the scenes are quite balanced. After the initial scene with Nevison and Weatherill (scene 3) there are 8 scenes followed by 3 scenes dedicated to the antagonists at the end of the act.

One of the most interesting thing to notice is that the protag and antags have not yet met.

Now let’s look at Act 2 and Act 3.

Act 2 is another well balanced act between protag and antags. Interestingly, at the end of Act 2 we witness the victim with the main antagonist.

Act 3 are 4 scenes dedicated to the protag’s personal life (B story) although in this case the B story cleverly ties in with the main plot, as the child of the protag is also the child of one of the antags (not Weatherill and not related to the main case – this B story will take shape more clearly throughout the rest of the season).

In my opinion the way the writer intertwines the B story with A story is the major strength of the work.

Now, let’s look at Act 4 and Act 5.

As we can see Act 4 begins with the main victim. This is the first time we spend any time with her. The first 5 scenes of this act are dedicated to the victim meeting the antagonists.

However, what is most important to note is the final scene of Act 4 is where the protag meets the antag for the first time (although in this case the protag has no idea she is meeting the antag.)

Act 5 has the second and third longest scenes in the entire episode (scenes 38 and 40) both dedicated to the major crime – the kidnap.

Scene 42 sees Lockwood see (but not meet) Lee Royce, who will become the season’s main antag.

The final scene is Lockwood discovering a major clue to the case and propels us into the next episode.

The three scenes prior to this final scene have victims and antags together for 3 scenes.

To sum up then, overall, protag and antags are kept apart until Act 4 and Act 5.

Act 5 is a glorious blending together of antags and victim.

The protag, however, is still kept separate. In fact, the only time protag meets antag is scene 37, at the end of Act 4.

What else do you notice?


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