Last week, the series five opener of this superior British crime drama saw Jimmy Perez and his team confronted with a head-scratching case – that of a young Nigerian man, Daniel, who had somehow found himself on Shetland. He ended up murdered, chopped up into pieces, body parts washing up on local beaches. By the end of the episode, there was the stench of human trafficking in the air, after Jimmy and Tosh had found something potentially horrific at a local hotel.
But there was more here – with ‘away day girls’ rackets, dodgy fishing quotas and secret oil pipelines, Shetland seemed to have become an outpost of petty crime and scams aplenty. Quite the opposite from the fiddle-playing, woollen sweater-wearing, atmospherically-landscaped paradise we had all thought it might be.
This second episode didn’t let up, either.
Suspects Prentice and Carla Hayes found were found murdered in their own home, while Jamie Hayes was left for dead, hiding in the family car. It was action stations, with a slightly incredulous Jimmy seeming to struggle a little bit to take everything in – not only was there the spectre of people trafficking swirling about the islands, but there was a double murder to now grapple with. Jimmy was certain the two strands were linked, while Rhona was less convinced – she wanted Jimmy to concentrate on the Hayes murders.
And this is where this series’ theme began to emerge – it’s asking the question: who is more important? Local victims of murder who, for good or for bad, have been part of the community for decades and generations; or an outsider, who has no reference point or local context? Jimmy – with Olivia breathing down his neck at every turn and asking this very same question (and threatening to do something stupid that would ruin the investigation) – was perhaps erring on the side of Daniel and his captive sister, Zezi; while Rhona was perhaps erring on the side of the Hayes. It’s an emotional and moral conundrum that feels especially relevant in today’s world and the only answer is this: they are both as important as each other.
The case itself saw some breaks: hotel owner Paul Kiernan had done a runner and was seen to be holding Zezi in a location unknown; while boat owner Calum Dunwoody was indeed found to be complicit in people trafficking. He had been using his boat to ferry captive women from Shetland – which was being used as a holding point – to the mainland. Before he could talk, he had slit his own throat in police custody (thanks to a mistake from Sandy, who had lent him a pen to write down the people who he worked for).
Elsewhere, there was some good detective work by Tosh – whenever isn’t there good detective work from Tosh? – who had uncovered a weed farm owned by Prentice Hayes and another of his mobile phones, which could come in handy to trace calls to his paymasters. And, of course, there were some personal elements to this story, too. Jimmy and Alice seemed to be getting closer and closer, the latter telling him it was time for him to stop acting like the grieving husband and start to live his life. Be careful what you wish for, Alice, be careful what you wish for – it looks for all the world that these two will get together any time soon.
The way it ebbs and flows, the way it’s plotted and the way we’re swept along by the tempo and the procedural journey (which, in turn, also strikes emotional and personal chords with the main protagonists) means that Shetland has really become one of those shows where you could sit and watch it forever – even Jimmy cooking a meal. The actors and the characters, at this stage, feel like they are in perfect synchronicity.
FOR OUR EPISODE ONE REVIEW CLICK HERE