Shetland season 7 finale is the perfect send-off for Jimmy Perez
The latest episode marked Douglas Henshall’s last appearance in the hit BBC drama. **WARNING: Contains finale spoilers**
Led by Douglas Henshall’s Jimmy Perez and based on the acclaimed novels by Ann Cleeves, Shetland has been a huge success for the BBC since 2013. With the news Henshall was leaving after the show’s seventh season, fans may have worried that the series would struggle to wrap up Jimmy’s storyline and give him a satisfying ending.
The finale of Shetland's seventh season wrapped up threads from across this series but also across the show as a whole, providing a lovely send-off for Perez and setting up the future of the show with several of its cast still on hand to lead the announced eighth run.
The finale clears up who was responsible for the murders of Connor Cairns and his girlfriend Bryd, also tying up the environmental attacks planned on the island, but the storyline that most directly ties into Perez is that of Lloyd Anderson, a painter on the island who fled his past in the US and was to be deported for his suspected involvement in a murder in the '80s.
When it became clear that Anderson might be innocent and that his partner was the real culprit, it provides a moral dilemma for Perez, who isn’t happy to send a man to his certain death in the US and so risks his career to help Lloyd live and escape the authorities.
This ending is perfectly in keeping with Jimmy’s belief in right and wrong and sense of justice, and will be sure to please long-term fans of both Cleeves' novels and the show. This is a more impactful ending than Jimmy being killed off or simply resigning; it shows how his moral fibre and sense of conflict helped him continue to do good.
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The series had long been hinting at lingering doubts over remaining in the job through conversations with Lloyd, Tosh and Meg and ultimately it is his sense of guilt for those he hasn’t been able to save that helps Jimmy save Lloyd in his final role as a detective.
The subtle hints at Perez’s departure had been deftly handled and let him to go out on his own terms with a well-timed departure, allowing his story to come full circle while also sowing seeds for what things might look like in his absence.
The little touches at the end between Jimmy and Tosh show how far their relationship has come and how she will have an integral role for the future of the drama, having learnt a huge amount from her mentor.
This ending also serves as a reminder of just how well Douglas Henshall and Alison O’Donnell have bounced off each other for the past nine years, with their relationship and chemistry a key point in the show’s long-standing success and an ingredient that will be absent moving forward.
Perez’s relationship with Meg Pattison has been one of the series’ other strengths, even as it has moved past Cleeves’ source material.
Meg has been a vital part of both season 6 and 7, initially looking after Perez’s father and the troublesome Donna Killick on her return to the island in the last season. There was immediate chemistry between the pair and a will-they-won’t-they thread soon developed, as viewers hoped Jimmy could finally have a future with someone who cares about him.
After initially seeming like his chance with Meg may have sailed past, and with Meg’s reticence over Jimmy’s commitment to his job and seeming lack of care for others, the pair do – it seems – commit to something longer term, both making clear their affection for one another.
Jimmy has struggled to connect to others following the death of his wife and with his mother and father's deaths in the past two seasons, it has been a rough time for him. So his commitment to a relationship with Meg is a truly uplifting ending for him and one sure to bring a smile to many viewers' faces.
Jimmy saying he didn’t think he’d ever feel this way again demonstrates how important Meg has been in his life over the past two seasons, and it is a more than welcome ending for one of Britain’s best loved TV detectives. The subtle development of the pair's relationship and the clear strains at times, make this ending feel even more sweet and fitting.
Shetland’s seventh season has been hinting at Jimmy Perez’s send-off, dropping hints about his future in the force, the insular nature of his existence and cutting off those close to him, so it's truly a treat to see a character who has been through the wringer get the happy ending he deserves.
Douglas Henshall will be much-missed in the role, but it opens up some exciting new directions for the series – and viewers will no doubt be back to find out what life is like without Jimmy.
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