REVIEW: Shetland (S5 E6/6)

It so it came to pass … it was time to find out whether my theory that Alice – the woman who Jimmy Perez had fallen for – was behind the people trafficking ring on Shetland.

It would’ve made sense both in this story and as a dramatic development in Jimmy’s life – he’s suffered heartbreak before and just as he opens himself up to the possibility of loving someone else again, he finds out he gets played. It would’ve been brilliant in the most callous and calculating way. But, alas, it didn’t quite turn out like that.

It didn’t take long for Jimmy and Tosh to find that the bodies Duncan found dumped on the beach (a harrowing image) were from Nigeria, and it certainly didn’t take long for Jimmy to realise that the only person who had known about the sting on McGuire was Alice. It was a brilliant piece of acting by Douglas Henshall to convey shock and horror at the idea that he had been betrayed by Alice – you could almost feel his stomach drop through the TV screen.

From that moment this final episode of Shetland went into overdrive and pulled out all the dramatic stops – from the did/she, didn’t/she scenes with Alice, to the realisation that it was her husband, Chris, who had been lying about working on the rigs, and had actually spent time in Nigeria and had accrued debts to the extent that he was blackmailed into people trafficking. While he was back on Shetland, he said, he disappeared for a few weeks at a time to go and renovate a cottage on Unst. Jimmy smelled bullshit, so took a ferry over to Unst to take a look at the cottage himself – there he found Zezi, gagged and tied in a cupboard. He had found her.

Throughout this case Jimmy has been more determined than usual – perhaps it has been because as a parent he felt Olivia’s pain, and perhaps it was because he was extra horrified at the idea that people trafficking had come to his beloved Shetland Islands. Whatever the reason, Jimmy’s frantic, almost desperate, search for Zezi had given him an edge and a drive to find the truth so intense that he pretty much destroyed everything else around him, which was an interesting and clever character dimension – his sanctimony and his holier-than-though good sheriff act put him at odds with flawed characters like Duncan, like Alice, like Sandy. Jimmy was an interesting watch in this series, and Douglas Henshall was superb.

The hunt was on for Chris, then, the villain of the piece and we were treated to a showdown that every good crime drama supplies – police person trying to coax the villain down from the edge and making sure they don’t injure either of them, and a big speech from the villain explaining why he or she did what he or she did. These showdowns are seemingly written into the contract of crime dramas.

But there was time for one twist: Chris had told Jimmy that he had not killed Prentice or Carla Hayes, which meant the team had another killer on its hands. Thanks to Tosh’s smart CCTV examination they had found a suspect, and between the drive from the station to the Hayes house, Jimmy had worked it all out. It was Rosie and Jamie Hayes, who had killed Prentice (because he was a sadistic pig) and Carla (because it was an accident).

It was all deeply satisfying, I have to say. There were no heart-stopping twists, and I think everyone had guessed that Alice and/or Chris had something to do with the people trafficking ring, but Shetland is just so well constructed, brilliantly acted and choc-full of characters you get caught up in and really believe in. I feel like I say that with every series, but it’s really true. Shetland is just fantastically consistent.

Some have grumbled that this story hasn’t been the strongest, but I disagree: the idea that people trafficking exists on Shetland gave this series a very interesting counterpoint to the islands’ reputation of craggy landscapes and beautiful coastline. And with the insidious horrors of people trafficking often swept under the carpet, what better way to explore it?

My only real complaint was that Benson’s storyline wasn’t dealt with in a satisfactory way (he was nowhere to be seen in this episode and he was explained away (he was basically a red herring)). But that was it, really. Olivia and Zezi had some catching up to do, and there was an acknowledgement that an estranged mother and daughter relationship takes time to heal and is not all sweetness and light straight away, and, of course, things were tied up nicely elsewhere: Jimmy and Duncan made up and realised they had no one else apart from each other to rely on; Tosh and Ronnie seemed to be a goer; Sandy was suspended; and Jimmy and Alice were no more.

See you again next year, Shetland?

Paul Hirons






25 Comments Add yours

  1. Dan Campling says:

    Great review as usual Paul. Whilst this series of Shetland was good I didn’t think it held up against the quality of previous ones. My biggest problem was that the reveal of Chris as the Big Bad was in no way a surprise. I mentioned in my comment for Episode 1 that Derek Riddell was much too well known of an actor to only have a slight bit part. The writers also followed the standard formula of introducing him in Episode 1, then removing him from the story before reintroducing him in increasing amounts leading up to the finale. I also felt the Jamie reveal was slightly weak. It was unusual from the get go that someone would kill Prentice and Carla but only wound Jamie, coupled with the fact that the attacks on Prentice and Carla were so different in how they were carried out. I also refer back to my earlier point regarding Chris, as the same applies for Rose. She was introduced in Episode 1, disappeared then was reintroduced. All in all it was a pretty good series and its a shame that we have to wait a year for Jimmy and the team to return.


  2. COOKE says:

    I agree wholeheartedly with review and comment above.
    The central ‘team’ are a joy to watch, no matter whatever else is going on.
    (That’s what keeps me hooked on Line of Duty too!)


  3. Sarah Jago says:

    But who did tip off Maguire? Jimmy worked out that only Alice knew the ransom plan but never followed up or challenged her on that. Did he just turn a blind eye, not in his character!


  4. Sarah says:

    Who did tip off Maguire? Jimmy had worked out that, outside of his team, only Alice knew about the ransom plan yet he just let that go when she claimed she had nothing to do with the trafficking. Someone sent that warning text, who was it?


  5. Malcolm says:

    Interesting comment from Alice near the end, when she suggested that Jimmy had tried to “set her up”, which is similar to the message sent to McGuire telling him he was being “set up”. My theory — she’s involved in the people trafficking at some high level but Chris doesn’t know that because he’s well down that particular food chain.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Rob from Australia says:

      The Alice issue weighs heavy. Why did Perez not pursue this? I do like your theory that Alice was in fact higher up the chain. She met Chris and dragged him into the trafficking and was then able to keep tabs on him as the wife. Something tells me this might be a cliff hanger for series 6 otherwise why would the writers not have divulged who did the tip off. And I do think the person had been tipping off all through the series. So many times the team seemed to have arrived to find nothing. Alice was the only one constantly in the know because Perez kept telling her things about the case during their chats.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. John says:

    Really enjoyed the series. Well written, superbly acted and the scenery is stunning. But I have a question. I may have missed it but who tipped the traffickers off about the trap when Olivia was due to pay the ransom?


    1. Yeah i agree Alice may have been involved as she was the only on to know about the “set up”


  7. Maria says:

    I think the most heart stopping – and gratifying – moment was when Olivia sat up in the bath and took Jimmy’s phone call to say he’d found Zezi. I was convinced that he was going to be seconds too late…


  8. TIM SAVILLE says:

    Excellent series and reviews. However, I thought that this would be the final TV series of Shetland. Or was it only the last Shetland novel that has (already) been published?


  9. John Hannoush says:

    Like some others I couldn’t see who had tipped off Maguire. Cunning set up for big reveal in another series, or it got lost in the editing and nobody noticed? :)


  10. Yes, the Benson storyline – I can only suspect his dossier has been handed over to the Glasgow squad to follow up.
    Let’s hope so, anyway.
    And was his payment of ‘squirrelled away’ money to Duncan, to be paid to Benson in turn? I didn’t follow their connection.


    1. MartyM says:

      No, I don’t think Duncan owed anything to Benson, just to his creditors. His way out of debt was to sell to Benson.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Ahhh. Many thanks.


  11. Pam says:

    I must have missed why Sandy was suspended. What was the reason? Enjoyed the series very much.


    1. jsrtheta says:

      Sandy was suspended because he gave Calum Dunwoody a pen and paper in jail, and left him alone. Dunwoody used the pen to kill himself.

      To be honest, I saw that coming as soon as Sandy left Dunwoody alone with the pen. Never give a prisoner something he can use as a weapon, even if only on himself.


      1. MaryAnn Bowen says:

        There was a brief mention of the possibility that Dunwoody did not commit suicide. I kept thinking they would get back to that, but that was dropped (along with the identity of the informant).


  12. Teddy Brannon says:

    I love this show so much! This was an usual series. I like it better with Jimmy searching for a love, not breaking up a marriage. Not his style at all


  13. jsrtheta says:

    I really appreciated this review, because I think it gets to all the reasons this is such a remarkable show. (I say “is” out of the desperate hope we haven’t seen the last of Shetland and Jimmy Perez.)

    Henshall is so brilliant, he never puts a foot wrong. Perez isn’t a Master Detective and he knows it, but he does his job and is smart enough to make connections faster than everyone else, while all the while feeling it keenly. This is his home, and he knows every decision will come with a price to his world.

    The setting for this series is fantastic, somewhere I’ve never been, somewhere most people have never been, but it’s the people that bring us back. Good decent people, people like the flawed Duncan and the overworked but capable and kind Tosh. The show also excels at isolating the locals even in Lerwick, and there is a sense of a world thrumming underneath the tourist traps, one which is the only relevant place.

    I do not want to say goodbye to these people. I hope I don’t have to.


  14. Karen Collins says:

    Great review. I also love this show, think Henshall is perfect, and in Australia have only just now been able to watch the last episode. Perhaps I misheard, but at the very end, why does Duncan call Jimmy ‘Billy’ (to which Jimmy calls Duncan ‘Fran’)?


  15. Angel says:

    He called her Mary (his soon to be ex-wife).


    1. Karen Collins says:

      Thank you ANGEL – but I still don’t really understand why.


      1. A Shetland fan says:

        I think Duncan said that because he was excited and preoccupied while looking through his restaurant file, so that when Jimmy asked if he should order pizza, Duncan just answered in the distracted way he might answer his wife. Jimmy looks at him surprised, but Duncan still isn’t paying attention, so Jimmy just shrugs and calls him Fran. Their relationship has many characteristics of a long-term married couple (Duncan is sitting there with his bags packed!). I thought the Mary-Fran thing was amusing in that respect.


  16. Karen Collins says:

    Thanks – I love their relationship and am very pleased Duncan is staying. Bring on the next season :)


  17. As to who tipped McGuire, my guess strongly points towards Alice. She was the only one to know about it and also, she walked away from Perez very easily


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