Shetland ending explained

Shetland ending explained: Who killed Ellen, was Cal’s death an accident, and is Ruth staying?

We didn't see that twist coming!

Shetland series 8 came to a dramatic, emotional – and uncomfortable in places – ending this week, and there were more bombshells than Omid Scobie’s latest book, so here’s episode 6 explained.

After six rollercoaster episodes, viewers finally learnt who had killed Ellen Quinn. We also discovered the cause of Cal’s death, and had enough time to decide whether Ashley Jensen’s DI Ruth Calder could replace Jimmy Perez longterm.

In the grand finale, Tosh and Calder reunited and turned their focus on Ellen’s family. Police searched the property, knowing that Ellen had returned to her home on the night of her death.

Over the hour, the finger of suspicion pointed first at Bobby Bain, then matriarch Grace, and subsequently Ellen’s ‘dad’ Kieran. Here’s everything about the dramatic Shetland ending explained…

***Warning: spoilers from Shetland episode 6 ahead***

Tosh and Ruth interrogating Grace Bain in Shetland episode 6
Tosh and Ruth interrogating Grace Bain in Shetland episode 6 (Credit: ITV Studios)

Shetland ending explained: Who was Ellen Quinn’s dad?

At the end of episode 5, DI Ruth Calder and ‘temporary DI’ Alison McIntosh discovered that Ellen Quinn had returned home on the night she died. Realising that she was killed by one of her own family, they searched the property and hauled several relatives in for interrogation.

At first, Bobby Bain seemed to be the likely suspect. He had visited Ellen in London just days before she returned to Shetland. Most importantly, however, they were seen arguing. Also, she had blocked her ‘uncle’ on her mobile phone months before.

However, in a sickening twist no one could have seen coming, we discovered that Bobby Bain was in fact Ellen’s dad. Brother and sister Bobby and Stella had sex in a drunken moment of grief after the death of their dad. The end result of the night of incest was Ellen.

Having kept the secret for years, Bobby blurted out the truth one fateful night in September the year before on the anniversary of his dad Kenny Bain’s death. This was the night which caused Ellen’s breakdown (not the death by drowning of Akmal Sadat as previously thought).

After that night, Ellen understandably struggled with her mental health, fled Shetland for London, and distanced herself from her family.

Who killed Ellen Quinn?

Bobby Bain did not kill his daughter Ellen. In fact, he seemed broken by her death. Her killer was actually Kieran Quinn, the man she thought was her dad.

Stella (Dawn Steele) was four months pregnant with Ellen when she married Kieran Quinn. He believed it was his child. On the night Ellen returned to her family home, her family had no idea where she was. Worried sick, Kieran couldn’t sleep and went looking for her.

Having finally found her walking the streets, he offered her a lift. She told him what had happened in London, and that two thugs were after her. Naturally, Kieran pleaded with her to go to the police.

However, she was adamant she didn’t want to go. In a moment EastEnders‘ Kat Slater would be proud of, Kieran told Ellen “I’m your dad”. To which she spat back: “No, you’re not.”

Goading him, she told Kieran that he’d been “played like an idiot”. Having been pushed and pushed, he lost control and lashed out. Kieran strangled Ellen in the car until she went limp. Realising what he’d done, he tried to help but it was too late, she was dead.

As for the missing money, Bobby Bain did the right thing and gave it to Tom Knox. Viewers will know that the Bain family cheated the Knox family out of their land, so the money was a way of righting that wrong.

Kieran Quinn in Shetland series 8
Barry O’Connor as Kieran Quinn in Shetland series 8 (Credit: ITV Studios/Jamie Simpson)

Shetland ending explained: Who killed Cal?

At the end of Shetland episode 6, Tosh delivered some important news to Ruth. Having received the traffic report on Cal’s car crash, the evidence showed that his death was an accident.

Cal was twice over the limit, and had drugs in his blood stream. There were no other vehicles involved.

Is Ashley Jensen returning as DI Ruth Calder?

DI Ruth Calder (Ashley Jensen) reluctantly arrived in Shetland in episode 1 with a lifetime of baggage about her hometown on her back. However, having spent some time back home, she began to appreciate the island for its beauty, and her history with the place.

Having finally become closer to her estranged brother Alan, Ruth felt connected to her only living family member. At the end of Shetland episode 6, she told Tosh she was taking extended leave from work at the Met Police.

Ruth planned to spend “a month or two” on the island reconnecting with her family, and her hometown. She was last seen heading into the sea in honour of her old flame Cal. Whether DI Ruth Calder returns for a Shetland series 9 remains to be seen, though…

Ashley Jensen as DI Ruth Calder in Shetland series 8
Ashley Jensen as DI Ruth Calder in Shetland series 8 (Credit: ITV Studios/Jamie Simpson)

Will there be a series 9 of Shetland?

The BBC has not yet commissioned another series of Shetland. However, they’d be mad not too.

Great viewing figures for series 8 proved that the series still has legs. And we think Ruth Calder and Tosh make a great team. So watch this space.

Read more: Love Shetland? 7 other Scotland-based crime dramas you must watch

YouTube video player

Shetland series 8 is now available to watch on BBC iPlayer.

What did you think of Shetland series 8? Leave us a comment on our Facebook page @EntertainmentDailyFix.

Helen Fear
TV Editor