Plot, right, we need a plot. Can’t use the books - too long, too clever. What about this? Chopped up body parts turn up on beaches. Usual isolated community, weird characters, flawed cop, spectacular scenery. Contemporary issues, well, maybe some people trafficking from, say Nigeria. Sorted! Shetland Series Five.
Well, actually, that’s Trapped, series one, from 2015, set in Iceland and very watchable on Amazon Prime. It has the kind of budget, scenery and weather (the latter two captured in phenomenal filmic detail), that makes Shetland-the-show look like commercial for a certain frozen foods retailer. Trapped is very like Shetland, though, in its structure, characterisation and sheer daftness. Not a word of a lye.
Back in Lerrick and environs, it’s episode two and the drain cleaner/flesh dissolver (selling like hot Izal medicated toilet paper from wir ain Shetland Janitorial) known as lye has evaporated.
Two more murders, Prentice and Carla Hayes. I suspect the copious fridge magnets, but no clues, even in the freezer compartment. Jamie didnae dae this, says Jimmy. But did Olivia (Daniel’s mum)? She has blood on her Primark. Quick test, white boiler suit. It's Hayes blood but they were already dead when she got there. She didn’t call it in because she needed a top up on her phone. Pay as You Go, never a great idea.
Wait a minute, here’s the daughter, Zezzi. Where? Dunno. Here’s Jamie, dead as well? Dunno. No, looks like he’s alive, just. Fake forensic elderly doctor locum person Cora: “Three murders in three days, Jimmy” She sounds delighted. More than in the last century in Real Shetland, if it exists anymore. I’m beginning to doubt it.
Anyway, people trafficking. “I just find it hard to believe that it’s here on Shetland.” Me too, Jimmy, me too. And suddenly we’re in flirtatious mode with a woman with a part-Irish, part-Welsh accent who used to work for Shelter and is therefore empathetic and sympathetic and besides, her husband's off doing up a house. Let them have builders!
Procurator Fiscal Rona “People are scared there’s someone going around butchering families.” Not Olivia. Jimmy thinks there’s something much bigger behind it. People Traffickers.Are you sure about this? No. Neither am I, Jimmy, neither am I.
Illegal salmon processing plant. Manager in Oxfam suit was driving a van up by the Hayes’ place, searching for runaway smolts, or on sea lice patrol. He saw Calum Dinwoodie’s boat the Silver Darling nearby, the captain suspiciously reading a Neil Gunn novel. Jimmy’s on board the boat now. I’m thinking Keith Floyd or Rick Stein may be in the galley, cooking up some illegal salmon, possible marinated in lye. No, there are no chefs in the hold, just a handy credit/business/key/Monopoly card. Here’s Sissy and Bad Beardy Kiernan (false identity) Man, with what looks like one of the Away Day Caravan girls from Episode One, but isn’t.
OK, Calum was moving people about in his boat, Jimmy thinks. Better check out his house. Morag the wife is there with the weans, but the music says Calum is lurking suspiciously. That looks like a Kia. Could anything be more suspicious than a Kia? Only a Dacia Duster. Sure enough, here he lurks. It’s Volvo versus Kia. There can only be one winner, especially when Calum dunts Jimmy about the fizzog. He’s huckled. In one of the least procedurally accurate police interviews ever seen on TV, Calum admits he landed the refugees off Scrabster. Presumably not the one in Caithness. These people could, it seems, have Calum killed in a heartbeat. These people are everywhere. Jimmy is "just some guy standing on a rock in the middle of the sea". Morag might be at risk. Send Sandy! He’s got a penknife. Or a pen...
To the hospital, where Jamie Hayes, it seems, is ready to talk. Actually, nobody’s told him his mum and brother are dead, so he’s a bit upset. Sandy tells Calum he’s heading up to Morag’s. Calum is somewhat concerned. Jamie, remarkably recovered, describes what happened. He was stabbed by a silent someone in a ski mask, but his mum saved him. Jimmy (not Jamie) then tells Olivia all this, in a room with green wallpaper. Lots of talking this week. Lot of talking about that talking someone else has been talking about.
Back to the Lodberries, where Irish Shelter Welsh Alice woman is here to see Jimmy. What are your plans for tonight, oh, married woman? I will never turn down a free meal, she says, when my husband is wallpapering.
Tosh is back at the Hayes house. She finds a picture of an old cottage which is probably where Zezzi and the tattooed girl are being held. Unless it isn’t. Meanwhile Jimmy and Alice the Welsh-Irish rugby woman are having dinner and romantically discussing people trafficking. she used to work for Shelter, you know. Anyway, Alice likes talking about people trafficking as it shows there are folk with worse problems than her. She now sounds sort of Dublin-American. Isn’t Jimmy tired of playing the grieving husband, she demands? Jimmy’s upset and goes for a walk. Dearie me, there’s an awful lot of talking this week. If this was Trapped there would have been a snow plough crash, a mass lobster crisis, a mad photographic stalker and at the very least an avalanche by now. We need MORE LYE!
Och, Tosh, wandering around a sinister cottage in the twilight. You really should know better. Lights! Action! Jings, it’s Prentice’s cannabis farm! Such a thing could never exist in Real Shetland. Ahem.
Duncan tells Jimmy Alice fancies him and that he, Duncan is his housemate and not even slightly jealous. Sandy is threatening Calum. Give me the names! Sandy gives Calum a pen, which is not a good idea. You can do a lot with a pen. Give me twenty minutes, says Calum. He writes slowly. Jimmy needs a minute to speak to Alice. Good friends are allowed to analyse the shit out of each other, apparently, and flirt like crazy, even if one of them’s married. This is how they roll in Lerrick.
Jimmy wants to go to Glasgow. He thinks you can get better espresso there. He's hankering for the West End. Byres Road syndrome. His boss doesn’t want him to go, not with all these new cafes opening in Commercial Street and needing the business.
And finally we're back in the cells, or cell. I knew that pen was a bad idea. You should never have tried to work out a new plot twist, Calum. It takes more than 20 minutes and leads inevitably to extreme frustration. Now look what you’ve done.