Happy Valley finale ending explained: how did the BBC One drama conclude – what happened to Tommy Lee Royce?

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After three series, Sally Wainwright’s crime drama Happy Valley has come to a close - but what happened to the main characters?

After three series, 18 episodes, and nine years, Happy Valley has come to a close.

The third series of the BBC One drama was another compelling blend of crime and family drama - but what happened to Faisal and Rob? Did Darius Knežević get away with his crimes? How did Catherine and Tommy Lee Royce’s final confrontation end?

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There are – obviously – significant spoilers for the Happy Valley finale here, and we wouldn’t advise continuing if you’ve not seen the episode yet. Otherwise, though, here’s everything you need to know about what happened in the Happy Valley finale.

The Pharmacist and the PE Teacher

Amit Shah as Faisal Bhatti in Happy Valley S3 (Credit: Lookout Point/Matt Squire)Amit Shah as Faisal Bhatti in Happy Valley S3 (Credit: Lookout Point/Matt Squire)
Amit Shah as Faisal Bhatti in Happy Valley S3 (Credit: Lookout Point/Matt Squire) | BBC/Lookout Point/Matt Squire

The Happy Valley finale opened with Rob Knepworth (Mark Stanley) being interrogated for his suspected role in the murder of his wife Joanna; pharmacist Faisal Bhatti (Amit Shah), who killed Joanna for fear she might reveal he was illegally supplying prescription drugs, watched the police vehicles swarm the Knepworth house from afar.

After a while, though, that investigation recedes from focus, only mentioned again at the end of the episode. Detective Andy Shephard (Vincent Franklin) tells Catherine that PE teacher Knepworth was charged with soliciting indecent images from his students; earlier in the series, Joanna had told Catherine that her husband had a habit of forming intense attachments with his students. Catherine, meanwhile, advises Shepherd to investigate the local pharmacist – though there isn’t an explicit link made between Faisal and the murder, the implication that Vince will discover what happened is clear.

Catherine asks what’ll happen to Joanna’s children, now that Rob Knepworth has been arrested. “There’s a grandmother,” replies Shepherd.

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Matija and Ivan

Matija (Jack Bandeira) and Ivan (Oliver Huntingdon) are arrested for false imprisonment, money laundering, and assisting in the escape of Tommy Lee Royce. They try to get away, but no luck – and Ivan misses his wedding.

Tommy Lee Royce

After waiting for a few days in the safe house, Royce is starting to stew. With increased police activity after the arrest of Matija and Ivan, the Knežević brother comes to move Royce to a new location – but Royce is suspicious. Not long into the journey, Royce attacks Knežević – did he really mean to help Royce? Could Royce have escaped to Marbella alive if he didn’t attack him just then? – and is heavily injured in the ensuing struggle.

Remembering Ryan tell him that the Cawood home was empty, Royce goes to their house for a safe place to hide (narrowly missing Catherine on the way). He finds photo albums from Ryan’s childhood, and has something almost approaching a realisation. By the time Catherine arrives home, finding him at the breakfast table, Royce has taken an overdose of painkillers, determined to die rather than go back to prison.

In a neat parallel to his confrontation with Catherine at the end of the first series – which was itself a callback to the very first scene of the show – Royce douses himself in petrol, threatening to set himself alight. Despite Catherine’s attempts to talk him down, he does so, and for a moment you can hear his screams of agony; after a fraction of a second, Catherine puts out the fire, though Royce is already badly burned by this point.

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Later, a detective tells Catherine that Royce is in a coma as a result of his injuries. While standing at her daughter Becky’s grave, Catherine gets a text: TLR dead.

Catherine

Siobhan Finneran as Claire and Sarah Lancashire as Catherine in Happy Valley S3 (Credit: BBC/Lookout Point/Matt Squire)Siobhan Finneran as Claire and Sarah Lancashire as Catherine in Happy Valley S3 (Credit: BBC/Lookout Point/Matt Squire)
Siobhan Finneran as Claire and Sarah Lancashire as Catherine in Happy Valley S3 (Credit: BBC/Lookout Point/Matt Squire) | BBC/Lookout Point/Matt Squire

Catherine Cawood ends her last day as a police sergeant responsible for two major arrests: Tommy Lee Royce, who she confronted at her home, and Darius Knežević, charged with the murder of Gary Gaggoski after Royce’s final confession. She sneaks out of her own goodbye party, too, taking a box of mementos and leaving behind the cake.

Earlier in the episode, Catherine and Claire reconciled, and it seems that any doubts Catherine had about Ryan’s relationship with Tommy Lee Royce have been settled. “Maybe I should’ve had more faith in him not to be taken in by him," Catherine says to Claire. “I suppose I was just frightened he’d be like him, that he’d turn out like him. But he’s just not, is he? For all his faults, he’s just a happy, well adjusted, pretty flipping normal kid.”

In Happy Valley’s final scene, Catherine touches a kiss on her daughter Becky’s gravestone, and walks off into the sunset.

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