‘Happy Valley’ ending explained: Who killed Joanna?
(Credit: Netflix)

Must Watch Series

‘Happy Valley’ ending explained: Who killed Joanna?

In the atmospheric Yorkshire dales, where the accents are as rugged as the landscape, lies the backdrop for Sally Wainwright’s acclaimed series, Happy Valley. The three-season series took a seven-year hiatus between its final and penultimate chapters and managed to remain a hit among its fans.

Though often categorised as a police drama, Wainwright herself views Happy Valley as a psychological portrait, with the indomitable police sergeant Catherine Cawood at its heart. Portrayed brilliantly by Sarah Lancashire (who will be seen in Netflix’s spy drama Black Doves), Catherine navigates a world of crime and personal turmoil, her life entangled with that of the manipulative ex-convict, Tommy Lee Royce, played by James Norton. 

With its raw portrayal of human struggle, Happy Valley mesmerised audiences, earning critical acclaim and a devoted fan base. With its riveting finale, the series delivered a satisfying resolution to Catherine Cawood’s journey. 

Even though the show reached its conclusion in 2023, new viewers continue to flock to it on streaming platforms like Netflix.

What happens at the end of Happy Valley?

After three seasons of gripping suspense, Happy Valley concluded with a finale that tied up loose ends while delivering emotional closure for its characters. The final episode saw Catherine Cawood confronting Tommy Lee Royce, the man responsible for her daughter’s tragic fate. Tommy’s final descent into desperation culminated in a deserved act of self-destruction, which was cathartic for Catherine as well as viewers. She made up with Clare and realised she had nothing to fear about Ryan meeting Tommy.

The final episode of Happy Valley began with the arrest of Tommy’s accomplices, Matija and Ivan, setting the stage for the ultimate confrontation. As Catherine grapples with her past, Tommy’s escape plan unravels, leading to a showdown in Catherine’s home. The tension reaches its peak as Catherine and Tommy face each other one last time, their bitter exchange escalating after he confesses that Darius killed Gary Gaggoski eight years ago and he was merely covering for him.

Tommy reveals a flicker of remorse in a surprising turn of events, offering an unexpected glimpse of humanity. But Catherine remains resolute, confronting him with the harsh reality of his actions. She reminds him that it was his abuse that led to Becky killing herself, calling him a “delinquent f**k”. Even though Catherine saves Tommy from dying of his burns, we get to know that he has died in the hospital.

Rob is cleared of Joanna’s murder charges, but he ends up behind bars for trying to blackmail a student of his for sordid pictures. But one of Catherine’s final acts before retiring to a relatively blissful life of trekking the Himalayas is to solve Joanna’s murder. She realises it was Faisal who was responsible, supplying illegal diazepam to Joanna and others in the area, and lets Andy know as much.

You can stream all three seasons of Happy Valley on Netflix and catch the trailer here: