If you’re a crime drama fan and haven’t heard the news that this seventh series of Shetland is to be Douglas Henshall’s last, where have you been?
As for the strategy of releasing this news prior to series transmission, I’m torn. Telling people and making a big deal about the fact that DI Jimmy Perez will be walking off into the sunset at the end of the series perhaps ups the ante when it comes to watching the show week-to-week, wondering how exactly Jimmy will depart the show. Will he die? Will he get it together with nurse Meg and decide to leave the islands? Who knows?
Perhaps a more interesting way to approach this would have been to keep Jimmy’s exit a complete surprise, like DCI Cassie Stuart’s shock departure in Unforgotten. I mean, absolutely no one saw that coming and I wonder if something similar should’ve happened here in Shetland. (And before you ask, no, I don’t know what happens to Perez.)
With all that being said, I was not only intrigued as to how Perez was going to leave but also hoping that his final case would be better than the one featured in series six. Shetland is one of the most reliable crime dramas out there, and certainly the Donna Killick storyline was deliciously warped and evil in its darkness, but there were times when, tonally, things just didn’t fit last time around. It was all a bit of a muddle.
Thankfully – after this first episode – it felt like it had settled back down into its natural rhythm again.
If you remember, we left Jimmy in a spot of bother at the end of series six. He was under investigation and suspended from duty for his part in the death of Donna Killick, but this loose end was quickly tied up. After visiting Duncan in prison, it felt like we had jumped forward six months or so. Nurse Meg was still on the scene, and Jimmy went to thank her for the care she showed his now deceased father. And Tosh had had a baby, too.
Mercifully, the loose end was tied up within minutes after Jimmy was found not guilty of any wrongdoing due to lack of evidence and was free to resume his duties. (How Donna Killick must be spinning in her grave after seeing her devilish plan of vengeance fall apart.)
And Jimmy had a new case to solve. Local lad Connor Cairns – a sensitive artist and creator of graphic novels – had gone missing one evening, and Jimmy and Tosh began to dig into his life in a bid to find out what had happened to the lad. Connor had already tried to take his own life months earlier, and his mother was frantic with worry. His dad? Eh, not so much.
Jimmy’s spider senses sprang into action, and sure enough, dad Danny Cairns was a former cop. And not just any former cop – a corrupt former cop who stole drugs to sell on. He was also involved in a death. Could someone be out for revenge here? That seemed certainly seemed to be the case in the early going.
The story was also pleasingly imbued with some Shetland mythology – not least in Connor’s graphic novels, but also thanks to Connor’s younger sister Abbie and her Wiccan, death-obsessed bestie Clana, who were seen summoning up all sorts of things during some sort of solstice ceremony on the beach. Oh, and there was some wild swimming too, just to showcase the islands a little bit more.
There were other characters that were introduced – socially awkward librarian Murray, the Waldron family, who may or may not be out to avenge family member Pepper’s death, and Martin, a lodger at the Cairns’ B&B who was taking a strangely overbearing interest in Connor’s whereabouts…
What does this all mean and who are all of these characters? We’ll find out soon enough.
As for Jimmy, he seemed keen to get back to normal as quickly as possible and stamp his authority on the case, using his intuition and instinct as much as possible. We’ll see where that leads him.
So, a solid start and one that ended fairly grimly – Jimmy visibly upset after the discovery of a hacked-up body in a suitcase discovered by a trawler from the depths. Connor’s body? Nope.
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