Warning: contains Shetland Series 6 spoilers.
Shetland. Craggy peaks. Icy winds. Moodily filmed close-ups of pebbles lapped by chill waters, dry-stone walls, sheep wool snagged on barbed wire and poignant puffins. The silhouette of DI Jimmy Perez standing alone on a clifftop, a good man struggling in a harsh world. Murder.
BBC One‘s previous visit to Shetland took its toll on Jimmy, who started Series 6 burying his mother and had to accept as it went on that he was losing his father to dementia. With daughter Cassie staying on the mainland, Jimmy was alone and struggling to stop pal Duncan from being manipulated by the return of old flame/convicted murderer Donna Killick.
Donna Killick’s Revenge
As was revealed in Series 4, 20 years ago Donna had murdered 18-year-old Lizzie Kilmuir to stop her from telling Donna’s abusive partner that Donna was cheating with Duncan (resulting in the birth of their now-adult son Alan). Donna then let an innocent man go down for her crime and serve two decades inside before her guilt was exposed.
To great discontent from the islanders – not least of all Kate, the sister of Donna’s victim Lizzie Kilmuir – Donna was rehomed on Shetland following a terminal cancer diagnosis. Her move from prison back to the island to live out her final days prompted understandable protests and abuse from locals. Kate Kilmuir organised a campaign to get Donna moved, which was boosted when crime scene photographs of Lizzie’s corpse were leaked to the press and angered residents further.
Sandy Exposed as the Leak
The leaker of those crime scene photographs? DC Sandy Wilson, who has feelings for Kate and wanted to help her anti-Donna campaign. Sandy was a friend of Lizzie as a young man, and therefore felt his own resentment towards her killer. When Tosh found out via Donnie that Sandy was behind the leak, she confronted him and he agreed to confess to Jimmy, but after Duncan’s arrest in the series finale, Tosh stayed Sandy’s hand, telling him that now wasn’t the time. Sandy’s misconduct has therefore so far gone undiscovered.
Duncan and Jimmy Framed
In the Series 6 finale, Duncan ended up as Jimmy’s chief concern. Jimmy had initially warned him to beware of Donna and was right to have done so. Donna had come back to enact a revenge plan on Duncan and Jimmy, whom she blamed for uncovering her crime. She manipulated Duncan into helping her take a deliberate fatal overdose, but only after sending a letter to her solicitor accusing Duncan of planning to murder her in that very way and to have it covered up by a cognisant Jimmy.
While Donna’s letter was total fiction, as it turned out, Jimmy did try to help Duncan cover up his assisted-suicide crime. When he found Duncan with Donna’s body, Jimmy realised what Duncan had done and advised him to move the overdose mug Donna from which had drunk to the sink, so there would be an explanation for it bearing his fingerprints.
Jimmy’s Arrest Cliffhanger
In the end, Duncan’s conscience forced him to turn himself in to the police, and he was duly arrested. While Donna’s end-of-life nurse Meg didn’t want to see him punished for what he’d done, Kate Kilmuir accused Duncan of letting her sister’s killer off the hook. The series ended with Duncan locked up and, as part of the investigation into Donna’s accusations, Jimmy also arrested under suspicion of colluding in Donna’s murder. Jimmy was led away by Aberdeenshire police in front of his team and fans were left wondering if Donna had succeeded in framing the pair.
Alex Galbraith’s Killer
The major investigation of Series 6 was into the murder of lawyer Alex Galbraith on his doorstep. That caused, to quote the words of Sgt Billy McCabe, a big stooshie, which resulted in more bodies piling up and various theories involving a nuclear submarine, a family of Syrian refugees, a missing drone, a lucrative decommissioning contract, a nun and the unlawful burial of a girl following her accidental death.
In the end, Perez worked out that Galbraith’s killer had been his own wife Eve, a politically ambitious MP who was trying to silence him about their role in the accidental overdose and illegal burial of a young woman named Marie-Anne at a party years earlier.
Tosh and Donnie’s Pregnancy
The Series 6 finale left Tosh with her own cliff-hanger, after she found out that she and Donnie were pregnant. She was last seen looking at the test result and smiling.
Jimmy and Meg?
Donna’s Irish palliative carer Meg asked Jimmy out for a drink in the Series 6 finale, but he turned her down. Their obvious spark left things on a will-they-won’t-they cliffhanger, which fans will be pleased to know continues into Series 7, which picks up around a year after the Series 6 finale and focuses on the disappearance of a vulnerable young man whose family have moved to the island from Glasgow. Read more about the new guest cast here. This is set to be Douglas Henshall’s final series as DI Perez in Shetland, which will continue with Series 8 in 2023, with a new as-yet-unannounced lead character.
Shetland Series 7 airs weekly on BBC One and iPlayer on Wednesday nights at 9pm.