Review: Shetland (S4 E2/6), Tuesday 20th February, BBC One


Episode one of the fourth series of Shetland presented us with two cases – a potential miscarriage of justice in the murder of Lizzie Kilmuir 25 years ago and the murder of journalist Sally McColl mere days earlier. The common denominators? Thomas Malone, who was sent down for Lizzie’s murder and has been subsequently freed from jail, and original investigating officer Drew McColl, whose investigative journalist daughter Sally is the latest victim. 

In the wake of the brutal attack on Thomas Malone, the hunt was on for his attackers. In a community where pretty much everyone believed that Malone was a murderer, the list of suspects included more or less the whole island. But some digging around revealed that Benny Ray – local mechanic – had perhaps used one of his vans during Malone’s attack. When Sandy called round to chat to him, he and his lads circled him like vultures. When Jimmy confronted him with the new information that Benny was a drug informant for Drew McColl during the 90s (and a plastic figurine found at the scene of the attack that, in fact, belonged to Benny’s grandson), there was no denying that Benny Ray and his gang had carried out the attack. Not only that but by being a police informant his witness statements back in the Malone case should have been used.

It seemed the whole Malone conviction was a stitch up from start to finish.

Elsewhere, Jimmy – Dougie Henshall on prime form in this episode it has to be said – was investigating the Killicks, namely Alan, Sally’s boyfriend and current person of interest. Everyone got a shock when fresh DNA found on Lizzie Kilmuir’s scarf matched a male member of the Killick family. It wasn’t Alan because he wasn’t even born when Lizzie was murdered, but it was a blood relative of Alan’s. His dad? We got to know a bit more about Kevin Killick – he had been dead for eight years and was a serial abuser, whose wife (and Alan’s mother) Donna had never pressed charges. The big twist in the episode was that when Killick’s body was exhumed his DNA did not match that found on the scarf, which meant he was not Alan’s father. So whose DNA were they looking for?

(Donna, it should be noted, has been seeing Drew McColl secretly for a number of years.)

What of Thomas Malone? He was busying himself around town, given a helping hand to Kate Killmuir’s walk-in centre. But even though it’s likely Malone is innocent of the crime he was convicted for, there’s something incredibly unsettling about him. He twitches, he’s aggressive, he seems to inhabit a tortured place. We’re being manipulated slightly here when it comes to Malone – on the one hand there’s sympathy, on the other he does something or exhibits some disturbing behaviour that makes us think again. He’s beginning to become obsessed with young Molly Kilmuir, and awkwardly and creepily began to shoehorn himself into Jimmy’s private life (he turned up unannounced at his house, scared the life out of Cassie and strode about his kitchen as if he owned it – in short, intimidation and manipulation tactics) right at the end of the episode he, after what seems like a real battle with himself, takes his revenge on Benny Ray in the bloodiest way. Is Malone the murderer after all?

With Tosh working the Norwegian angle, there was a sense that Shetland was really finding its feet in this series after a strong opening. Because of the short scenes (sometimes very short scenes), there’s always something generic and fairly basic about Shetland, but when you have good characters, good actors and good stories, it makes for engrossing viewing.

Paul Hirons

For our episode one review, go here




5 Comments Add yours

  1. Pratul Chatterjee says:

    There is something I really like about Shetland other than the gripping story-line and beautiful landscape. The interaction between Cassie and her two fathers and the way she ignores their advice and suggestions is really unique. All three of them are strong characters and it is lovely to watch them.


  2. msdarasy says:

    Shetland shares a lot of the spare, bleak beauty of Scandinavian noir – even when the sun shines, the characters seek out shadows in which to hold conversations.



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