The Seventh Series of Shetland has just ended on BBC 1. Led by the headline that Douglas Henshall was leaving his role as Detective Inspector Jimmy Perez it has been by far the most talked about series.
Having watched every series and itched for this new series I am surmising the finale with very mixed emotions. I am like so many gutted that Perez has gone. How will it be without him? It is difficult to imagine.
His way out was a concern throughout Series Seven. Surely they wouldn’t kill him off?! As the series progressed it became more and more obvious that there was a love interest and that Perez had maybe had enough of the pressure of so many murders on Shetland. The series is no tourist advertisement for anyone who cannot suspend TV fiction for the reality of life on a small island!
As I surmised this Seventh Series I felt that it was actually a poor show. Perez’s leaving was an emotional cover for the weakest plot of any series so far.
Oh there were cliff hangers. How did Tosh get out of that caravan?! Phew! Then there was a tug filled wit a bomb heading straight for a tanker. Well actually, there was no bomb on board! That last car chase when Perez himself headed out across the narrow roads chasing the killer, at last revealed. Surely he was leaving with Meg and not going to get blown up by Jamie Neary.
Jamie Neary. There was a dark horse. Now, I know that the screen writers of thrillers have a tough job these days. Twenty years ago they had ninety minutes to fill whereas now it is six long episodes. They all struggle and contrive blind alleys like Tosh’s husband’s ex. I love Tosh but Alison O’Donnell struggled a little to act her way through that little thread.
Far too often in these six episode storylines, and this was one of the often, our real killer plays it low key and then suddenly comes into play after four or five episodes of wild goose chases.
The twist in the tale was that Neary didn’t kill Bill Rogers who had recognised Lloyd Woods in a shop. He knew Lloyd was actually Walter Edwards who was wanted for a murder in Texas. Lloyd or Walter’s wife killed Rogers but Lloyd or Walter is in a cell awaiting extradition. In a 90 minute show this would have been enough.
Anyway as a side bar it actually gets us to the most satisfying bit of Series Seven. It leads us into what I have been accustomed to call The Gospel According To… Shetland.
Perez believes Walter to be innocent. Just a hunch. It’s another feather light part of the plot that goes by because of the stronger consequences. Perez allows Walter to go, encourages him to flee the island. He knows that that will be the end of his career but is willing to sacrifice his career for such a noble gesture.
Making sure an innocent man escapes injustice is a good way to leave the police is a paraphrase of how he puts it. It is a powerful five minutes. Gospel like. Maybe worth some of the weaknesses of the hours before.
That is the powerful ending not his his last conversation with Meg which a little dissatisfying too. She seems too easy to convince seconds after playing hard ball. It is hard to follow the Gospel moment!
And so Tosh, Sandy and Billy are left wondering. How can they go on? How can we go on? Will Tosh take the reins or will someone else arrive from the mainland? Surely not Ardal O’Hanlon who did on another crime infested island!
Series 8 without Perez. It’ll be sad and different but I am sure murders are afoot on Shetland. Like Midsommer they always seem to be! Bring it on...