REVIEW: Shetland (S5 E3/6)

There are two things you can rely on when Shetland hits its mid-series mark. One, that Perez (and/or Tosh) will go on a little geographical sojourn (last year it was Norway), and two, Jimmy will transform from the mild-mannered, softly-burred, overcoated dreamboat to Angry Jimmy. Like clockwork, both of these things happened in this third, mid-series episode.

First, Perez (Tosh stayed at home) went off to the mainland and to Glasgow to look for leads on Aaron McGuire. He teamed up with trafficking expert DI Sam Boyd (the always excellent Kate Dickie), who took him around the town and laid down exactly what they were  up against: people trafficking was an insidious, difficult-to-stop runaway train, with countless young women from Eastern Europe trafficked by Romanian gangs for cheap labour, sex work and/or marriage to Pakistani men. As the colour drained from Perez’s face with each passing fact and each passing visit to a trafficking hotspot, they called in on McGuire’s ex-wife who, in turn, led them to a house crammed with trafficked people. There, they interviewed a petrified Nigerian woman, who gave them a lead: a woman with a two-headed snake tattoo on her arm. This, in turn, led them to the owner of a tattoo parlour – a sleazy goodie-too-shoes named Graeme Benson – who, thanks to Tosh’s digging, was found to own a whole group of properties linked to trafficking, including the hotel in Shetland where Zezi was once held.

This made Perez go full Angry Jimmy, not least because while he was in Glasgow, Cassie – who’s attending university there and had lunched with her dad – had been threatened. He snarled at Benson: “If you go near my daughter again, I’ll tear your fucking eyes out”. Oh yes, we like Angry Jimmy.

(But wait.  Rewind a sec. As soon as Cassie became involved and was then threatened because of her dad’s snooping, my heart sank a bit – how many times do we have to see a policeperson’s teenage offspring plunged into jeopardy? We saw it in Trapped last week, and we see it almost every week if one of the main characters has a child. Dear writers: it’s getting to be a bit of lazy tactic now, so please stop using it.)

But it was hardly all sweetness and light back on Shetland either. At the end of episode two, Sandy royally cocked things up with Calum Dunwoody, and the lag, who had gouged his wrists with a pen (ouch), died in hospital. Not good.

We saw more of Zezi, too, who made a run for it and found herself, like her late brother before her, alone in the Shetland wilderness. And then another thing happened that made my heart sink a bit – as she was waving traffic down, she was picked up by a woman who said she would take the distressed young woman to the hospital. Did she heck. We all knew what was going to happen – the woman was revealed to have a double-headed snake tattoo on her wrist and she drove her back to McGuire’s holding house. To say that out of all the cars and drivers on Shetland Zezi would be picked up by someone connected to the trafficking ring was predictable to say the least, and something that would only happen in a crime drama.

Still, we now knew that the woman with the tattoo (Angela) was now on Shetland, not in Glasgow.

We also now know why Rhona was so at loggerheads with Perez. Rhona was insistent that Perez concentrate on the Hayes murders, but he was insistent that Zezi’s case was the one to concentrate on because it was the key to the Hayes murders. It was an interesting and curious conflict – Rhona and Perez have always been as one in past series – and we found out the root of it: Rhona had had a relationship with murdered Carla Hayes and had a personal interest in the Hayes angle. It made sense.

Elsewhere, Tosh and Sandy (keen to make amends) made a bit of headway in the case, and Perez, on his return to the islands, had indulged in a very dramatic, rainsoaked, quayside snog with Alice. This has been coming, let’s face it, and there’s a sense that this will be a bit of a star-crossed romance – Alice is married after all.

I also wonder, as others have wondered, whether Alice is involved in the case, somehow. She and her husband Chris came back to Shetland just as all this trafficking business takes place, and she’s an expert in trafficking. Hmmm…

Paul Hirons