How the Happy Valley ending honored the very first episode and why Tommy Lee Royce had to die in that gruesome way

The Happy Valley ending last night paid tribute to the very first scene that introduced Catherine Cawood when the series began in 2014

Happy Valley ending
(Image credit: BBC)

The Happy Valley ending of season three paid homage to the first-ever episode of the show, but can you remember why?

Happy Valley season 3 finished last night and fans were gobsmacked to see how the finale ended with a showdown of words between Tommy Lee Royce and Catherine Cawood. 

After Tommy Lee Royce had been fatally stabbed and had broken his wrist and ankle in a fight to the death with Darius Knezevic's henchmen, the serial killer made his way to Catherine's home. While fans were at the edge of their seats as Catherine and Tommy nearly crossed paths, the pair ultimately missed each other and it wasn't until Tommy had a chance to look through Catherine's photo albums of Becky and Ryan, and take a load of pills, that the pair finally locked horns. 

The final scenes then paralleled the first-ever episode of the show when fans were first introduced to Catherine, but can you remember this scene from 2014?

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In the final episode of the show, Tommy Lee Royce committed suicide by pouring petrol all over himself and then setting himself on fire. This gruesome death was a way of saving himself from going back to jail and although Catherine made an attempt to dampen the flames with a blanket, she didn't manage to save him in time. Tommy Lee Royce died in hospital and Catherine was informed with a text while she visited Becky's grave at the end of the episode.

In a direct parallel, the very first episode of season one of Happy Valley introduced Catherine Cawood as a no-nonsense copper who was dealing with a police emergency as she purchased a pair of sunglasses and a fire extinguisher. 

It was then revealed that she was on her way to dealing with a drunk man in a children's playground who was threatening to set himself on fire after his girlfriend dumped him. Later Catherine says that she had to 'foam him' as he went to light a cigarette and hadn't connected the dots that lighting this lighter would set him on fire and kill him.

Happy Valley

(Image credit: BBC)

Suicide by burning alive was then once again brought up at the end of the first season as Tommy threatened to kill himself and Ryan as he doused them both and the canal boat in petrol and threatened to light them both up. Catherine of course saved the day and ultimately stopped Tommy from killing himself.

This raised a direct comparison with how she didn't stop Tommy from killing himself in the last episode, and by repeating the name 'Gary' as he asked her to, (she said, "I'll never forget Gary Gackowski - I nicked him once for a public order offense and he bit me") she almost gave him the green light to light to set himself ablaze.

It's clear that the writers used this symbolic death at the end of the show to mirror the beginning of the show and finish the series on a poignant high. Finally, Catherine said what she needed to say to the man who had plagued her all her life, and finally, Tommy was able to see how Ryan was better off without him.

Laura Harman

Laura is a news writer for woman&home who primarily covers entertainment and celebrity news. Laura dabbles in lifestyle, royal, beauty, and fashion news, and loves to cover anything and everything to do with television and film. She is also passionate about feminism and equality and loves writing about gender issues and feminist literature.

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