Happy Valley Season 1 Episode 2 step outline

SPOILER ALERT. Please do not read if you have not seen Happy Valley Season 1.

We explore this episode in 5 acts.

Please note – Happy Valley is a trilogy: 3 seasons with 1 main overarching story.

In this post we will look at the various story threads, and how writer Sally Wainwright weaves them together.

We can observe four story threads:

The main story which runs through the three seasons is about Catherine and her grandson Ryan and his relationship with his father – trilogy antagonist Tommy Lee Royce. I have called this the ‘A’ story (trilogy).

Next, there is the season story: the kidnapping of Ann Gallagher by Kevin, Ashley, Lewis and Tommy Lee Royce. Let’s call this the ‘A’ story (season).

We can see immediately how the two A stories – season and trilogy – intertwine around the character of Tommy Lee Royce (the trilogy’s main antagonist).

Thirdly, we have Catherine’s extended family: her sister Clare, her ex-husband Richard and her son Daniel. Let’s call this the ‘B’ story.

Fourthly, we have the theme of drugs, police procedure, and corruption. Let’s call this the ‘C’ story.

The different story threads are colour coded.

Let’s look at Act 1.

So, here we can see the episode opens with the C story, followed by opening credits.

It is interesting to note there is no B story.

Immediately following the credits we are into the season A story – the kidnapping.

Next, we are nudged into the A story for the trilogy – Catherine (protag) V Tommy Lee Royce (antag).

The next two scenes introduce Catherine’s day to day of busting small time drugs gangs so represent the C story.

The act finishes focusing on the A story (season) of kidnapping with season victim Ann whimpering, bound and gagged, to carry us into Act 2.

Now let’s check Act 2. Again, no B story.

Here we can see that Act 2 focuses only on the two A stories, expertly interweaving the season story and trilogy story.

The act again finishes with Ann (season victim) and her ordeal, propelling us into Act 3.

Act 3 finally gives us some insight into Catherine’s personal life.

In fact, Act 3 blends all 4 storylines.

This central act opens with a scene introducing Daniel, Catherine’s son, inviting her and her sister Clare to dinner (paid off in Act 4 Scene 32.)

The next scene, 17, interweaves the C story, drugs and corruption, with the B story and the A story (trilogy).

The next 4 scenes, 19-22, focus on the season A story.

Scene 23, which we might call the midpoint of the episode, points to the A story of the trilogy.

Again, the act ends by focusing on Ann and her ordeal.

Act 4 steers away from the A story for the trilogy (Catherine / Ryan / Tommy Lee Royce) and opens with a 4 minute scene which references drugs and corruption, the C story.

The next scene, 27, foreshadows Kirsty’s death.

Scenes 28 / 29 focus on the A story (season).

The central scene of Act 4 brings us back to the C story: drugs and corruption.

Scenes 31/32 revolve around Catherine’s son, ex-husband and grandson – B story.

Act 4 ends with us focusing again on the A story for the season (33/34).

Act 5 opens with B story, with a powerful moral conflict between Catherine and Richard discussing the consequences on their family of dealing with bringing up a child who was born to their (deceased) daughter as the consequence of a rape.

The rest of this final act is equally split between A story (season) and A story (trilogy) – expertly separated by one scene, 38, which glues both stories together and brings protagonist and antagonist (almost) face to face.

Catherine has yet to meet her trilogy antagonist, but here, we the viewer – in privileged superior position – know that only a wall separates her from direct confrontation with her arch enemy Tommy Lee Royce. Dramatic irony at its finest.

The final 3 scenes draw us back into the A story for the season to propel us into the next episode.

Do you agree with this analysis? Please let me know your thoughts.

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