Shetland season 7 ending explained: what happened and how did Douglas Henshall’s DI Jimmy Perez exit the BBC drama?
The Shetland season 7 ending brought Douglas Henshall’s time as DI Jimmy Perez to an end in the most moving way alongside seriously suspenseful moments.
From start to finish, Shetland season 7 packed in all the atmospheric seascapes, brilliant cast performances and heart-wrenching moments fans would have hoped for as they prepared to see Douglas Henshall depart as DI Jimmy Perez. The Shetland season 7 cast have anchored the show since the beginning and this series their characters investigated the disappearance of vulnerable Connor Cairns.
Before long, it had turned into a murder investigation and a race against time to prevent bombing threats from devastating the Shetland Islands. From where Shetland was filmed to whether Shetland season 7 was the last, the BBC drama likely had viewers asking plenty of questions as the team attempted to get to the bottom of things.
But what happened in the Shetland season 7 ending and how did Douglas Henshall leave as DI Jimmy Perez? We reveal what you need to know about that emotional finale…
*Warning: spoilers ahead!*
Shetland season 7 ending explained
In the first dramatic scenes of the Shetland season 7 ending, DI Perez urged his team to stay focused as he believed that fisherman Ally Flett was being used “more as a distraction” than anything else and that another, more dangerous member of the bombing group is still out there. The officers then proceeded to interrogate both Ally and Carole Anne about their potential part in the terrifying campaign of murder and eco-motivated bomb threats that they’d been investigating.
Eventually Ally admitted that after Bill Rodgers - the US tourist whose body had been found in a suitcase - had disappeared, Connor started having second thoughts about what he’d got involved in.
Bill had apparently wanted to keep things on a “need-to-know” basis so that if any one of them got caught, no one could give anything up to the police. With his engineering knowledge Connor built the device and timers, Carol Anne had knowledge of Stenwick, Ally had a boat and he claims that Connor’s girlfriend Bryd had access to fertilizer.
“I was told we’d plant a real bomb to drive the point home,” Ally explained. “And then we’d call in a warning later, so they could find it. But they’d know that somebody could blow up the place if they wanted.”
In light of Bryd, Connor and Bill’s deaths, Ally told Jimmy and Tosh that he feared their killer could be planning a real attack, before confirming DI Perez’s suspicions that Jamie Narey was the remaining conspirator. Leaving the interview room, all hands were on deck and after narrowing down the potential targets to one in particular, Perez and his team set off to put their lives on the line to protect their Islands and community like never before.
Ultimately, after plenty of heart-stopping moments it all came to a head on a cliffside with DI Perez slowly approaching Jamie, who had a device and nothing to lose.
“Every cause needs a martyr,” he told the detective, who responded, “You won’t be seen as a martyr. You’ll be seen as a murderer.”
Furiously, Jamie described Connor and Bryd as just “playing at saving the world” and when they threatened everything he’d been working towards, he snapped. With his temper rising the police mark's person took a shot at Jamie, who fell to the ground and detonated the bomb. Thankfully for anyone watching from between their fingers in horror, everyone’s favorite DI got away unscathed, mirroring the resolution after what happened to Tosh in Shetland episode 3.
Jamie survived too and was treated in hospital, but denied killing Bill Rodgers, which immediately aroused Jimmy’s suspicions. Looking back over the evidence and the oil paint found on the suitcase, DI Perez’s attention became focused on artist Lloyd Anderson’s partner Alison, believing that Lloyd didn’t do it.
American Lloyd was previously revealed to actually be Walter Edwards, who is wanted by the FBI for murder but who asserts his innocence and Jimmy believes him. The detective went on to make a call to his will-they-won’t-they romantic interest, nurse Meg Pattison, at the hospital and asked whether Alison was with her mother there at the time she’d claimed the day that Bill was killed. The answer was a resounding “no”, leading Jimmy and Tosh to track her down to a lonely hillside.
Telling Alison that if it wasn’t her, it could only have been Lloyd who killed Bill and he’d have to charge her partner, she finally admits the truth. It turned out that Bill had come to Lloyd’s house and threatened Alison, telling her that if the artist acted like he’d not seen Bill everything would be “fine and dandy”, but if not, Lloyd would have to go home and “face the truth”.
It was then that Alison, reacting in an emotional panic, attacked him with a hammer and got rid of the body. Questioned by a skeptical DI Perez whether she did it all on her own, Alison affirmed that it’s “amazing” what you can do when you have to. But whilst this part of the mystery is solved and two killers are apprehended, Jimmy can’t rest easy yet.
The experienced copper spent most of the Shetland season 7 ending riddled with guilt at the prospect of Lloyd being returned to the US to potentially face the death penalty. Visiting Lloyd in his cell at Lerwick Police Station, Jimmy told him gently about what Alison did and why before announcing he’s free to go and handing him back his US passport.
Hinting heavily in a moment that showcased Jimmy’s humanity, he told Lloyd that whatever he did, he shouldn’t leave Shetland and he shouldn’t get the early flight to Bergen. Declaring that he’ll say it was a “genuine mistake”, that he’d given the passport back believing Lloyd wasn’t a flight risk and that he’s not sure he’d care if no-one believes him, the artist is persuaded to go.
It is this emotional scene between Jimmy and Lloyd which sadly spells the end for the detective’s career on Shetland as Douglas Henshall’s exit storyline emerges from the joyful resolution of season 7’s mysteries.
How did Douglas Henshall leave as Jimmy Perez in Shetland?
The mystery of Connor Cairns’ disappearance, murder and that of Bill and Bryd might have been the major plot-point that was resolved first in the Shetland season 7 ending but it certainly wasn’t the last. Even before Shetland season 7 returned in August 2022, it was announced that it would be Douglas Henshall’s last outing as DI Perez, making the finale one of the most iconic and unmissable moments in the show’s history for Jimmy fans.
With Lloyd freed and Connor, Bryd and Bill’s killers in custody, it was time for the detective to bid his colleagues and the viewers at home alike a fond, final farewell.
Confronted in Lloyd’s cell by Procurator Fiscal Rhona Kelly about the artist being gone, Jimmy was told that it meant the end of his career, to which he responded simply that in his opinion, it was worth it.
“I’m done,” Jimmy declared softly, before delivering one of the most impactful lines of the Shetland season 7 ending as he continued, “If the last thing I do is help an innocent man, I’m good with that.”
In a moment that echoed the way Douglas Henshall’s Shetland exit left his co-star Alison O’Donnell “bereft”, her character Tosh looked devastated when she found Jimmy standing solemnly by his desk. She expressed concerns that she wouldn’t be able to do the job without her - something her former boss was quick to assert wasn’t true.
“You’re ready, trust me,” he told her calmly, perhaps suggesting that Tosh could be taking his job on the force, though his replacement hasn't yet been officially confirmed. In turn, Tosh encourages Jimmy to tell Meg how he truly feels before it’s too late. Seizing the day, not to mention her advice, he does just that!
DI Perez has had - to put it mildly - quite a tough time of it in recent seasons, but this all seemed worth it when he meets Meg in the final scenes of the Shetland season 7 ending. Telling her that she means everything to him, he said that never thought he could “get to feel like this again” after losing his wife Fran.
Meg remained a little concerned, knowing how much his job meant to him and how dangerous it could be, before Jimmy told her that he’d quit, not for her, but for himself. Realizing he meant it, Meg beamed as the couple kissed and the camera slowly panned out to reveal the breath-taking seascape of Shetland stretching out behind them.
Whilst the question of who exactly will be replacing DI Perez in the Shetland force in Shetland season 8 remains to be seen, this moment marked the end of an era for long-time fans and rounded off Jimmy's story in a wonderful way. And though for some people Shetland will never be quite the same without him, there'll no doubt be many fans eagerly anticipating the show's return already...
All episodes of Shetland season 7 are available to catch-up on BBC iPlayer now.