Shetland season 6 recap: why was DI Jimmy Perez arrested and what does this mean for season 7?

If you’re looking for a Shetland season 6 recap you’re probably not alone as the season 7 trailer teases what's to come after *that* twist...

Shetland season 6 recap reveals why Jimmy Perez was arrested, seen here played by Douglas Henshall
(Image credit: BBC/Silverprint Pictures/Mark Mainz)

A Shetland season 6 recap might be needed as the season 7 trailer lands and Douglas Henshall’s departure as DI Jimmy Perez poses questions about his character’s journey.

The return of the hit BBC crime drama will be bittersweet for fans as Shetland season 7 will be the last we see of DI Jimmy Perez. Shetland cast member Douglas Henshall will be leaving after this season, making the shocking circumstances surrounding his character all the more important in the upcoming instalment. Season 6 packed in some serious drama on both the investigative and personal fronts for Jimmy. The finale saw him arrested in full view of his entire team and now the Shetland season 7 trailer has landed, giving a first glimpse at what is to come.

Here we give a Shetland season 6 recap on why DI Jimmy Perez was arrested, who Donna Killick was and how this could affect season 7…

*Warning: spoilers ahead!*

Douglas Henshall Shetland actor in season 7 promo

(Image credit: BBC/Silverprint Pictures/Mark Mainz/Matt Burlem)

Shetland season 6 recap - why was Jimmy arrested? 

For Shetland fans, the BBC drama’s return for season 7 likely can’t come quick enough and now there are just a few more weeks to go. Though following on from the heartbreaking final moments of Shetland season 6, things could be set to get a whole lot worse before they get better for DI Jimmy Perez. When it comes to a Shetland season 6 recap, things ended very badly for the Shetland Islands’ determined detective as he was arrested in front of his team.

As Jimmy stood there, seemingly resigned to his fate, he was arrested under suspicion of being involved in the “unlawful death” of Donna Killick - a familiar but certainly not a friendly face from season 4. 

Arrested Jimmy may be, but as avid Shetland watchers will know, this was all part of a sinister plot for revenge that was carried out across the sixth season. When convicted murderer Donna Killick returned in season 6 it was clear that this returning Shetland character could spark trouble. 

Having been found guilty of the murder of a local girl years before, many of the islanders - including the girl’s family and DC Sandy Wilson - were furious to see her back. Although Donna had come home to die, Jimmy was also suspicious of her. 

Unfortunately for him, Donna’s former lover Duncan was far more trusting, though perhaps for good reason. He has a complex history with Donna and after feeling guilty for abandoning her to her sentence, is drawn back into her world. Not only did Duncan make contact with Donna, he was also convinced to post a letter to her solicitor in Shetland season 6 only to discover later that its contents were designed to trap both him and Jimmy. 

DI Jimmy Perez (DOUGLAS HENSHALL) in Shetland season 7

(Image credit: BBC/Silverprint Pictures/Mark Mainz)

Donna persuaded Duncan to assist her with taking her own life, first ensuring that the letter was sent declaring that if she was found dead in this way, it should be considered as murder, Duncan was involved and Jimmy helped him cover it up. 

This was all revealed by Jimmy in a dramatic meeting on the beach in the finale with Duncan distraught that he could have been manipulated so easily and Jimmy refusing to let Donna control them like this. 

“We can’t let her get away with it,” he told Duncan, who countered with the argument that Jimmy, a police officer, would have to lie and pervert the course of justice, risking his career, his relationship with his daughter and his freedom for him. 

Jimmy responded simply, “This is different. You didn’t do anything wrong.”

DI Jimmy Perez (DOUGLAS HENSHALL) in Shetland season 7

(Image credit: BBC/Silverprint Pictures/Mark Mainz)

As the biological father of Jimmy’s step-daughter Cassie, Duncan is not only bound to Jimmy through her, but a friend to the detective. He told him he couldn’t allow him to ruin his career for him by doing exactly what Donna said he would do and covering it up. 

Duncan did go on to hand himself in and was arrested for his involvement though he didn’t manage to save Jimmy. Having been told by a fellow detective that if Donna's death was investigated, he would be facing questions, this came to pass for DI Perez. In the closing stages he was told that given the circumstances of Donna’s death, how weak she was at the time she died and the letter a full investigation was ordered and he was implicated. 


(Image credit: BBC/Silverprint Pictures/Mark Mainz)

And if this Shetland season 6 recap couldn’t get any more suspenseful, he *was* technically involved as Jimmy told Duncan where to move a mug with his DNA evidence on it and what to say to try and hide his involvement. Whilst Jimmy did plan with Duncan to help conceal what had really happened, meaning the stakes have never been higher for Jimmy ahead of Shetland season 7’s return in August 2022. 

How will Jimmy's arrest affect Shetland season 7 

Just like Detective Chief Superintendent Ian St Clair in Sherwood and Detective Superintendent Roy Grace in ITV’s Grace, Jimmy is the lead detective that Shetland hinges on. And if that shocking Shetland season 6 recap has reminded us of anything, it’s that his future is in serious jeopardy going into season 7. Especially following the recent announcement that Jimmy’s actor, Douglas Henshall, is leaving the show after the next season, the character’s fate is in doubt. 

Long-time fans will of course be hoping that the truth will out and Donna’s sinister revenge plot will be uncovered. Whether or not that actually helps Jimmy avoid prison remains to be seen as he did pervert the course of justice. 

DS Alison ‘Tosh’ McIntosh (ALISON O’DONNELL)

(Image credit: BBC/Silverprint Pictures/Mark Mainz)

Even if he escapes serving time, it’s possible he could lose the job that’s meant so much to him. And if Shetland season 7 begins with this difficult situation unresolved, then it will fall to his team to investigate the series’ next crime. 

In season 6 the investigation that extended all season long was the murder of local lawyer Alex Galbraith, who had helped secure Donna’s return to the island on compassionate grounds. Initially believing that this could have motivated an angry local to kill him, Jimmy also considered Donna as a possible suspect. Ultimately she was revealed not to have been involved at all and the side plot of her plan came to the fore at the end.

DI Jimmy Perez (DOUGLAS HENSHALL);DC Sandy Wilson (STEVEN ROBERTSON);DS Alison ‘Tosh’ McIntosh (ALISON O’DONNELL) in Shetland

(Image credit: BBC/Silverprint Pictures/Mark Mainz)

According to the BBC, Shetland season 7 will focus on the “mysterious disappearance of a vulnerable young man”. So with the matter of Jimmy’s arrest potentially set to be a background plot to this main mystery, it’s possible DS Alison ‘Tosh’ McIntosh, DC Sandy Wilson and the others will have to go it alone for the first time…

Who is Donna Killick in Shetland?

Donna Killick is a character who previously appeared in season 4 played by returning Shetland cast member Fiona Bell. She’s central to any Shetland season 6 recap due to her determination to get revenge on Duncan and Jimmy. In the fourth season she was revealed to have had an affair with Duncan in the past whilst she was trapped in an abusive relationship. 

Donna had become pregnant with Duncan’s child and when local teenager Lizzie Kilmuir discovered the affair, she killed her to avoid it being exposed to her partner and to protect herself, Duncan and their baby.

Mark Bonnar attends the Virgin TV British Academy Television Awards

(Image credit: Photo by Joe Maher/FilmMagic via Getty)

The truth only came out many years later after someone else had served prison time for Lizzie’s murder. In an interview with Jimmy, Donna eventually admitted that she’d been responsible and Duncan was also proved to be the father of her son. Whilst she was found guilty and sentenced to prison, Duncan continued to live on the Shetland Islands. 

And so when she returned terminally ill in Shetland season 6, he began to feel a sense of responsibility for her and what she did. It was this attempt to reach out and connect with her again that Donna used to her advantage.

As Duncan said in disbelief to Jimmy in the Shetland season 6 finale, “She could’ve lived for months, but she’d rather die and see us ruined.”

So it seems as though Donna couldn't forgive Jimmy for eventually apprehending her for Lizzie's murder or Duncan for the relationship that motivated her crime and for abandoning her to her fate. 

Shetland season 7 trailer

After months of waiting from excited Shetland fans since the finale of season 6 aired, the Shetland season 7 trailer has finally landed. And just as we've come to expect from the hit BBC drama, it teases some seriously tense moments! 

According to the BBC, Shetland season 7 is set to premiere on BBC One and BBC iPlayer from August. And with the trailer having already landed it could be that fans only have a few weeks before DI Jimmy Perez is back on their screens, rather than an agonizing wait until late August. Either way, it seems there's plenty to look forward to in the next thrilling instalment...

Emma Shacklock

Emma is a Royal Editor with seven years of experience working in digital publishing. Her specialist areas including literature, the British Royal Family and knowing all there is to know about the latest TV shows on the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and every streaming service out there. When she’s not writing about the next unmissable show to add to your to-watch list or delving into royal protocol, you can find Emma cooking and watching yet more crime dramas.