Shetland TV review: Perez gets his man - and his girl - and smiling at last he's gone
There’s lots of rocky headland in the detective drama Shetland - craggy, jutting and storm-bashed with fissures holding many mournful tales. But has there been a promontory more dramatic than Douglas Henshall in side profile, staring down a voe?
He’s done a lot of staring, has Henshall’s Jimmy Perez, and you tell me how often in ten years and seven series that you’ve seen him smile. Tricks of the light, I reckon, and in this BBC Scotland show, based round a police station which functions in near-darkness, there’s never too much of that.
But Henshall has stared his last. When it was announced he was bowing out, his Twitter feed was swamped with fan-love. “Hope you don’t get killed off,” went one message, while another offered the heartfelt plea: “Jimmy must find love in the end.”
Well, it could have gone either way. In last week’s episode nurse Meg Pattison (Lucianne McEvoy), TV’s most patient woman, sounded like she’d had enough. “You carry with you all the terrible things people do and I don’t know if I want that in my life,” she said, abruptly halting a rare date in a bistro.
And last night the latest terrible thing - an eco-terrorist with a home-made bomb - had descended on Lerwick. Thwarted at an oil firm’s HQ, Jamie Narey was in the High Street, right outside the post office, fat thumb on the detonator.
He lost his nerve there and nicked a car, while Perez quickly hoisted the collar of his pea coat to give chase to Quendale Bay, where the Braer tanker ran aground in 1993. “Still parts of it down there,” Narey told Perez as they confronted each other on the headland.
Would this be the fate of our hero? For years after, would parts of Jimmy be occasionally glimpsed in the North Sea swell - a chunk of arm, perhaps, or a moob? That coat is a telly tec classic - I want one - but Perez’s favourite pullover hasn’t done him much good. When Henshall tweeted “I’ll explain my reasons for leaving later”, I’d wondered if they could be wardrobe-related.
The bomb went off but the body count - three dead already in this yarn - didn’t increase and Perez extracted his confession. Unique among small-screen sleuths in not having a pastime, a passion, an idiosyncrasy or a quirky car, he’s been all about the job, and sometimes I’ve felt the bad guys have almost felt sorry for him and that’s why they’ve caved.
But he’s also been a cop with a conscience. At the end of the last series he helped with an assisted dying and was arrested. Here, he liberated the FBI-sought Lloyd Anderson, reasoning: “If the last thing I do is help an innocent man, I’m good with that.”
And it was the last thing. Well, almost. After saying his goodbyes to Sandy, Billy and Tosh (does she take charge now?), he strode out of the station, never to darken its doors again because they’re already dark enough.
Outside, the sky was gloomy, too. Down at the harbour, Meg, almost resigned, said: “I know that doing what you do is what you live for.” “I’ve quit,” said Jimmy. And the bluest of eyes, never having much cause before, twinkled in the gloaming.
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