Viewers are all saying the same thing about the gritty new series of BBC’s Shetland

Season seven of BBC One’s Shetland is off to an explosive start and is already leading viewers to consider a sad potential end to the series. 

Warning: this article contains minor spoilers for BBC One’s Shetland series seven, episode two.

When a BBC One series is on its seventh season, you know it’s cracked the formula of what makes great TV. Shetland is not only a completely enthralling take on the murder mystery genre, it’s also set against the stunning backdrop of the Shetland Islands in Scotland.

And while the drama has been beloved by many since its premiere back in 2013, this seventh series has been confirmed as actor Douglas Henshall’s last. Henshall has played the leading role of DI Jimmy Perez since the TV adaptation of the novels by crime writer Ann Cleeves first aired. But after nearly a decade in the role, Henshall is bidding farewell to the thriller.

Following the announcement, fans were understandably upset, but going into the new series has also brought up the question: how will Shetland continue without Henshall at the helm? It’s already been confirmed that the popular crime drama will return for an eighth series in 2023, with a new lead set to be announced in due course, so all eyes are on the new series for any Easter eggs or clues. 

Douglas Henshall as DI Jimmy Perez in BBC One’s Shetland.

The second episode of the series aired last night (Wednesday 17 August) and it’s safe to say that the weekly drip-feed of episodes – rather than the boxset iPlayer release of many other series – has only added to the tension. 

This season, DI Perez is investigating the disappearance of a vulnerable young man, Connor, whose family are new to Shetland. But what may seem like an open-and-shut case on the face of it actually may be a window into the darkness this family are running from. Could whatever they are hiding have come back to haunt them?

After last night’s episode, as well as questions and suspicions flying around about the case, many viewers have also been questioning DI Perez’s fate.  

We know he’ll be making an exit – we just don’t know how. As some viewers have predicted, could this season end in Perez’s shock death? Could his new girlfriend have something sinister lurking in her own past?

While Shetland has proved to be a nail-biting thriller year after year, there’s no denying that there seems to be even more tension this season. Is it because of less screen time for Perez? 

The nerves are very real for our beloved lead character but there’s no denying that Henshall is a pleasure to watch.     

Episode two may have left us with more questions than answers but that’s the name of the game with Shetland.

And we’ll be back on the sofa every Wednesday evening for the foreseeable.

Although Perez’s exit may be one of the main things on fans’ minds right now, Henshall revealed (in a recent interview with the BBC ahead of the series premiere) that he actually made the decision to leave a few years ago. He said: “I felt that his story was coming to a natural end – it was time to find a resolution to Perez’s private life. I never wanted to ruin the things that were unique to him and our series, so it felt like the right time to wrap up his story in a way that would be satisfactory to everybody.

“I am aware we’re not changing the world in any way, shape or form, but as far as crime shows go, Shetland does really well in that genre. We tell stories that are very good, the characters are great and I wanted to go out on a high.” 

And when talking about his series exit, he also said it will be completely “over” for his character, explaining: “The last thing I would want to do was give it away but it feels a bit real and weird now. Once this series is over on TV, it’s over [for Douglas Henshall] – I don’t think it will feel real until that moment, for me.”

As for Connor’s disappearance, we’ll have to continue to tune in weekly on Wednesdays to get to the bottom of the mysterious case – and just keep our fingers crossed that it doesn’t end in disaster for DI Perez also.

Shetland series seven airs every Wednesday on BBC One, BBC iPlayer and BBC Scotland at 9pm. 

Images: BBC

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