Shetland series 8 episode 4

Shetland series 8 episode 4: Is Cal dead? If so, was he murdered and whodunnit?

Has Ruth's old flame been put out?

Shetland series 8 continued this week and, if the dramatic closing minutes of episode 4 are anything to go by, it looks like we’ve lost our favourite bit of eye-candy.

It was a dramatic visit to the Shetland Isles, with the storyline galloping along faster than we could keep up with at times. One minute Liam Kenmuir looked as guilty as a cat with his paw in the cream, the next we discovered it was his girlfriend Rosemary Strachan who had been slaughtering sheep. The clue? She arrived home covered in blood, with a dripping knife in her hand. It felt like a scene from Halloween…

We still don’t have a Scooby Doo who killed Ellen Quinn, though. Here are all the burning questions we have after watching Shetland series 8 episode 4 (Wednesday, November 22, 2023).

***Warning: spoilers from Shetland series 8 episode 4 ahead***

Cal sitting in his silver van in Shetland
Cal Innes (Jamie Sives) was involved in a car accident in Shetland series 8 episode 4 (Credit: ITV Studios/Robert Pereira Hind)

Shetland series 8 episode 4: Is Cal dead?

While DI Ruth Calder and Temporary DI Tosh continued to investigate Ellen Quinn’s death, the side plot centred around Ruth’s old flame Cal Innes.

Clearly some sort of small-time drug dealer in the past, Cal was trying to put that all behind him. Until beady-eyed Bobby Bain made him an offer he couldn’t refuse. Using the money Ellen stole from police informant Remy at the beginning of episode 1, Bobby planned to buy a lot of drugs, sell at a huge profit, and die happy (and rich).

In the fourth instalment of the BBC One detective drama, Cal met up with Bobby to ‘sample’ the goods before buying. It also became clear that the pair knew each other from school. They enjoyed a few beers or two, and all looked very convivial.

That is until Cal tried to do a bit of digging for Ruth. Testing Ruth’s theory that her dad might have had an affair with Bobby’s sister Stella, he asked Bobby if he’d ever heard of a romance between the two. Cue an iceberg the size of Nigel Farage’s ego entering the room. Turning frosty as hell, Bobby asked Cal to leave and watched him drive off in his silver van…

Anybody else guess that Cal didn’t have many minutes left to live? At the end of the episode, the camera panned to skid-marks on the road, an overturned silver van, and Cal lying facedown in the dirt. Is he dead?

Was Cal murdered?

If Cal turns up dead (which we’re pretty sure he will), his death looks awfully suspicious. Of course, it could have been an accident. He was drinking and sampling drugs before he got in his van to drive home. However, he looked pretty compos mentis to us. Plus he’s lived in Shetland all his life, and knows those roads.

If Cal was murdered, the obvious suspect would be Bobby. But why did he take such offence at Cal’s questions? We now know that Ellen Quinn is NOT Ruth’s secret sister, as she first feared. But that doesn’t mean Stella and Ruth’s dad didn’t have an affair… Unless, of course, Bobby just wanted Cal dead once he had his hands on the drugs. Why share, when you could have the whole shipment?

At this point, we can’t think of anyone else who would want Cal dead. And we’re pretty sure DI Ruth Calder will be upset by Cal’s accident. Will she stick around to help solve the crime, though?

Russ Bain as Bobby Bain, and Jamie Sives as Cal Innes in Shetland
Russ Bain as Bobby Bain, and Jamie Sives as Cal Innes in Shetland (Credit: ITV Studios/Robert Pereira Hind)

Will DI Ruth Calder ever leave Shetland?

DI Ruth Calder (Ashley Jensen) arrived in Shetland kicking and screaming in episode 1 – well scowling anyhow. She’s made it no secret she didn’t want to go back. Although we now know that’s more to do with her family dynamics than anything else… In Shetland series 8 episode 4, during a rather sweet moment between Cal and Ruth, he reminded her that she once wanted to settle down in a house with a sea view on the island.

Ever since the end of episode two, DI Calder has been choosing to stay on the island. But at the end of episode 4, Tosh told Ruth in no uncertain terms to go home to London.

Fed up with Ruth keeping secrets – sister-in-law Amma’s possible involvement, and the suspected DNA link – Tosh dismissed her from helping on the case. But that might all change when Cal’s body turns up.

Worth saying, we love the good cop/bad cop vibe between Tosh and Ruth. They work well together, and we went through the whole of episode 4 without thinking of Perez once!

Why did Ellen Quinn think she was ‘stained with sin’?

Murder victim Ellen believed she was “stained with sin”, which is why weirdo Viking-worshiping Peter Ayre tried to “clean” her by burning her body after her death.

During interrogation, he told Tosh and Calder: “You should have let me finish the ceremony. Because of you, she’ll never be at peace.” After a party, Ellen checked herself into Landbanks clinic for psychiatric treatment. Do what happened at the party, who was involved, and why did Ellen feel guilty afterwards?

MAISIE SEATON as Ellen Quinn in Shetland
Who killed Ellen Quinn? (Credit: ITV Studios/Mark Mainz)

Shetland series 8 episode 4: Why was Ellen Quinn murdered and by who?

We are still no nearer knowing who killed Ellen Quinn. But the list of suspects continues to grow. Amma Calder has been lying about her relationship with Ellen all along. Turned out that Amma has a connection to Ellen’s flatmate in London. Ellen turned to Amma for help when Cassidy’s men were after her, but Amma didn’t help her. Not very Christian of her…

Meanwhile, Ruth’s brother Alan seems to know everyone involved in the crime – Peter Ayre, Ellen Qunn, the Bains. Now that would be some twist if Ruth’s family were somehow linked to the murder!

Also, the name Azir Sadat keeps on coming up. Ellen cleaned for him, was also treated by him, and was the last number she called before she died. In an earlier episode, it was revealed that Ellen’s cousin Heather is blackmailing Azir because she knows who really killed their child. Somehow we think this is all connected.

There’s also sheep-slayer Rosemary, who was clearly in awe of Peter Ayre and perhaps jealous of his relationship with Ellen. Rosemary called Ellen a “fake”. Could her envy have led to murder?

All we know at this stage is that Ellen was strangled which bought on a heart attack. Police also found a mix of wool and polyester in her hair, the colour of sage green.

Shetland series 8 episode 4: What’s in Ruth’s past?

During a heated argument in Shetland series 8 episode 4, Reverend Alan Calder spat out a few home truths to his estranged sister Ruth.

While she clearly had a difficult relationship with her dad, which caused her to leave Shetland, Alan is still devoted to their father. When Ruth told him about their dad’s possible affair with Stella Quinn, Alan saw red.

He told Ruth that she had been a “nightmare” growing up. Alan said: “The moment you left, we started living.” Harsh words, indeed! So why was she such a “nightmare”? What secret is in their past?

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

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Shetland continues with the penultimate episode on Wednesday, November 29, 2023 at 9pm on BBC One.

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

Helen Fear
TV Editor