Vera Natural Selection explained as the atmospheric ITV drama sees DCI Stanhope unravelling a web of deceit on a remote island

Vera Natural Selection was an intriguing way to open season 7 and now ITV3 are re-airing this particularly twisty episode…

Vera Natural Selection explained. Seen here is Vera played by Brenda Blethyn
(Image credit: BritBox/ITV)

Vera Natural Selection saw DCI Vera Stanhope investigating the death of a woman who hadn’t been afraid to upset the people around her - with devastating consequences.

As we await the final special episode of Vera season 12 and the eventual release of the new series of Vera, ITV3 has got fans of the drama covered by re-showing some brilliant episodes from past series. The next to air is Vera Natural Selection on 16th August at 8pm on ITV3 and this is one episode where the victim isn’t universally liked. Her behaviour hurt everyone from her colleagues to her sister and her partner but DCI Stanhope isn’t prepared to let her killer get away with their crime.

Here we explain Vera Natural Selection, who killed Gemma and the details of the subplots that surrounded this primary storyline…

*Warning: Spoilers ahead*

Vera Natural Selection explained: Who killed Gemma and why? 

Following on in the wake of the re-showing of Vera The Sea Glass on 9th August, the Vera Natural Selection episode didn’t let up in the emotional stakes in both the main storyline and the subplots alongside it. The main case DCI Vera Stanhope, DS Aiden Healy and the team investigated in this premiere episode of season 7 was the murder of Gemma Wyatt. She was a wildlife ranger on the remote island of Ternstone and was found dead there. She’d drowned and after plenty of the heart-wrenching twists and turns we’ve come to expect from Vera, it was revealed that her colleague Vicki Hogarth killed her

Ternstone island in the Vera season 7 trailer

(Image credit: YouTube/ITV)

Vicki’s older sister Beth had been in the same school year with Gemma and throughout the episode there were more than a few examples to indicate that the wildlife ranger hadn’t been the best of people. She’d blackmailed her boss, fought with her sister, cheated on her boyfriend (who was later revealed to have secretly married her) and mercilessly bullied Beth. 

Vicki believed that it was because of Gemma’s relentless remarks that Beth had struggled with anorexia and passed away at 14 years old. Over a decade later Vicki had got the job at the island Visitor Centre to get her revenge on Gemma for her sister’s death. Her father Michael’s alcohol dependency likely also contributed to her decision as she wanted Gemma to face up to how she’d “caused it all”.

Michael had eventually found his daughter crying and she’d confessed she was the murderer. He then decided to take care of the situation and disappeared. The experienced DCI soon discovered the connection between Beth and Gemma and initially thought Michael could have taken revenge. 

She went on to track Michael down and it was during an emotional discussion between him, her and Vicki that it all came out. He tried to confess but hadn’t known that his daughter had hit Gemma before she killed her and so got the details wrong.

Vera in the Vera season 7 trailer

(Image credit: YouTube/ITV)

Vicki admitted to what she’d done to Gemma and that she’d killed her and propped her up in the observation hut so she’d be seen by her husband at sea, apparently alive. Vicki had then gone to the pub for her team leader Sophia Ashbrook’s leaving do and slept with her colleague Jamil so she’d be able to use him as an alibi. She'd tampered with the CCTV to hide footage of her father's body transporting Gemma's body.

She explained that she’d wanted to “have it out” with Gemma but that she’d “laughed in [her] face”. 

“She said it wasn’t her fault if some people are messed up,” she told the detective. 

Ultimately, Vicki was arrested for killing Gemma and Michael was arrested as an accessory for trying to help his daughter escape justice.

What happened to Davy Andersen? 

Alongside the primary plot of Gemma’s murder was the secondary storyline of the tragic death of wildlife trust team member Davy Andersen on the island. Sophia had been there the day he died and although he’d been an experienced climber, the team leader claimed he’d been “rushing” to see a rare bird and his rope had just “unravelled” as he hadn’t checked it was tied properly.

For a while it looked as if his parents could have killed Gemma out of revenge as Vera began to re-examine what happened the day he died and it seemed like a cover-up had taken place. Ultimately, they were proved to have been innocent, but Sophia had covered up some of what had happened on the day of Davy’s death. 

Vera and Sophia in the Vera season 7 trailer

(Image credit: YouTube/ITV)

She had been living with Parkinson’s but hadn’t told anyone about it and hadn’t revealed she’d been the one who’d tied the rope that day. She thought she’d checked it but with so much going on in her life, Sophia later came to believe that she hadn’t properly checked the ropes and was terrified of admitting this. Gemma had come forward and offered to back her up at the time but a few weeks before she was murdered, Gemma had seen Sophia pass out. Sophia had told her everything and Gemma decided to blackmail her into retiring early.

What was Peter up to and what was his real name? 

As well as Gemma’s murder and the cover-up surrounding Davy’s death in Vera Natural Selection there was also the matter of the wildlife trust intern Peter who’s real name was Tom. He fell under suspicion and it emerged that he’d got caught up in a bad crowd and was picking up drugs because he was afraid what would happen if he didn’t do as they said. Gemma had found the drugs he was holding on to and Tom had begged her not to tell anyone. As far as he was concerned, she’d agreed but Gemma had tried to call his probation officer. Since he hadn't known this, he hadn't had a motive for killing Gemma and was set to be spoken to by the drug's squad instead.

Seasons 1-12 of Vera are available to watch now via ITVX.

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.