Shetland, series 7, finale review: DI Pérez gets the fairy-tale ending he deserves

 Lucianne McEvoy and Douglas Henshall in BBC's Shetland - Mark Mainz
Lucianne McEvoy and Douglas Henshall in BBC's Shetland - Mark Mainz

It’s been a week for fond farewells and here came another as actor Douglas Henshall’s careworn detective, Jimmy Pérez, hung up his trademark black peacoat in Shetland (BBC One). He was finally ground down by the Scottish archipelago’s unfeasibly high murder rate, I presume.

The seventh series of windswept sleuthing climaxed with DI Pérez racing to avert an eco-terrorist atrocity. A rogue protester was on the loose with a homemade bomb. Our hero gave hot pursuit – unusually for this glacially paced drama, we were even treated to a car chase – before a tense clifftop stand-off.

Surely Pérez wouldn’t go out with a bang by being blown to smithereens? Mercifully not, although the case wasn’t quite closed. There was still time for another twist as it became clear that not all three murders this series were connected.

Pérez reluctantly nabbed unlikely killer Alison Woods (Laurie Brett), who’d committed a crime of passion to protect her lover. Artist Lloyd Anderson (Patrick Robinson) was behind bars, awaiting extradition to the US, where he was a wanted man after being framed for murder. Knowing he’d likely receive the death penalty, Pérez broke the rules by letting him go. Not a bad day’s work – catching two murderers, setting an innocent man free – but would he get the girl too?

His faltering romance with nurse Meg (Lucianne McEvoy) has been on and off more times than the Lerwick police station kettle. She feared he was married to the job and for an agonising moment, it appeared they wouldn’t end up together. However, his explosive near-miss had put the future in perspective and he quit the force. As the pair embraced on the harbour wall, the camera glided up and framed the handsome scenery. It was as close to a fairy-tale ending as we would hope.

Beneath the Scandi stylings, Shetland is resolutely middlebrow, rather like Ann Cleeves’ other creation, ITV’s Vera. The plot didn’t always convince, the dialogue was awkwardly expositional, a few accents creaked. However, Henshall’s quietly powerful performance lifted it – a sad-eyed truth-seeker, his peacoat collar turned up against the dark forces of evil.

Shetland will continue with a new lead detective, yet to be announced. Devotees are rooting for Pérez’s sidekick, DS Alison “Tosh” McIntosh (Alison O’Donnell), to be promoted to protagonist. “You’re ready,” Pérez told her. “Trust me.” It felt like a message to BBC bigwigs as much as Tosh herself.