Shetland Series 6 episode 1 review | BBC drama has a touch of Vigil style


* Warning: spoilers for episode 1 of the Shetland series *

It’s been a long wait for the sixth season of the BBC crime drama One Shetland, but on Wednesday night the show finally returned – with a biting final scene that will seem rather familiar to viewers from another, more recent BBC drama: The underwater thriller Vigil.

Last season, the show’s writers really put poor DI Jimmy Perez to the test (the woman he imagined turned out to be married – oh, and ran a sex trafficking ring). But for longtime Shetland fans, it won’t be a surprise to learn that season six isn’t let go of Jimmy, either.

The episode begins with Jimmy (Douglas Henshall) attending his mother’s funeral atop a cliff, before he is called up for a high-profile murder: the murder of renowned local lawyer Alex Galbraith (Jim Sturgeon ), whose teenage daughter was on the phone with him at the time of his death.

Throughout the episode, Jimmy’s suppressed grief and anxieties over his father’s apparent dementia are reflected in his interactions with suspects and colleagues. Still dressed in his funeral attire, his voice trembles during an information meeting, before advising the victim’s wife and bereaved daughter to “take the time” to mourn – which, of course, is exactly what it should be doing too.

Shetland season 6

Sadly, the gloom that permeates much of this opening episode is at times (unnecessarily) also conveyed by literally dark shots, which means you might find yourself squinting during some of the key scenes.

In one scene, Jimmy even points out that his elderly father forgot to turn on the light – before they both sat there in the dark.

During the episode, melancholy Jimmy uncovers a kaleidoscope of motives for the murder of Alex Galbraith, a lawyer whose recent cases include a bitter custody battle for an addict and the controversial compassionate release of murderous Donna. Killick, which fans will recognize from season four.

Jimmy finally manages to track down a potential witness to the crime: Eamon Gauldie (Thoren Ferguson), who was piloting a drone over the Galbraith Residence on the day of the murder. However, Alex is currently an offshore diver, performing maintenance on an oil pipeline.

On a dive boat in a separate, secure room, Eamon is finally put in touch with the police – but the minute he picks up the phone, the pressure changes and the room fills with smoke and his bark of pain.

The cramped underwater setting and the frantic screaming on deck about the pressure valve will be just the ticket for viewers who still yearn for Vigil.

While you wait for Shetland Episode 2, visit our TV guide to see what’s happening tonight or check out our Drama hub for more news and features.

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