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?
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