At the centre of the narrative, Sarah Lancashire’s troubled but tireless police officer Catherine Cawood continues to dominate the show, with her completely natural performance, whether she’s accusing her colleagues of treachery, despairing of her family, or sitting in the therapy chair.
However, there is a rival for the nation’s confused affections in the form of her colleague, DC John Wadsworth, as he battles to cover up what began as an ordinary row with his mistress Vicky and turned into him killing her on the carpet, and then disguised her body as the latest victim of a local serial killer doing the rounds.
Over the last two episodes, we’d seen actor Kevin Doyle starting to bubble on the stove, as his character John sought to juggle his double life, tried to end things with his lover, discovered she’d taken compromising photos of him, wormed his way back into her affections, only to discover she could still have had the photos, hence the carpet altercation…
However, this was all but a taster for this week’s episode which found the police constable still paralysed by his actions. We found him at work, being briefed along with his colleagues, on the very crime that laid him low, and the camera panned around until it found him, cowering against the wall, in no way recovered after what we discovered was a couple of weeks since the death of his former loved one.
Not only that, but circumstance dictated it was he who had to attend the postmortem and log the exhibits as the pathologists went about their gruesome business. As everyday trinkets - clipped nails, pink shoes - were handed to him, his shock was palpable.
With Kevin Doyle’s skill, we’d already seen some unexpected depth in 'Downton Abbey’s Mr Molesley and his simple tale of a butler wanting to become a school teacher. Here, he brought the same everyman despair of a once-good man turned by a series of choices into a husband who cheated, a lover who killed, and a police officer investigating his own crime. And that was before he found his wife in bed with another man. John Wadsworth was not having a good week. Actor Kevin Doyle, however, had a brilliant one.
'Happy Valley' Episodes 1 to 3 are available on BBCiPlayer, and continues next week on BBC Two.