Warning: contains plot spoilers for Shetland series 8 episode 4.

“The Bains take care of their own,” said Bain family matriarch Grace in the Shetland series eight opener when her 23-year-old granddaughter Ellen was declared missing. “Ellen’s a Quinn,” corrected Grace’s son-in-law Kieran Quinn. But is she?

That was the line of inquiry investigated by DI Ruth Calder in episode four, after she heard from a reliable source that when Ellen’s mother Stella was very young, she had a relationship with Ruth’s father. The local Church of Scotland reverend, now-deceased, was the leader of a youth group attended by young Stella, which set Ruth’s mind to thinking – could Ellen have secretly been her half-sister, conceived and born years after Ruth left Shetland as an 18 year old?

“It’s Not a Match”

In episode four, Ruth secretly requested a DNA comparison between herself and Ellen Quinn from Cora’s lab to check, and found out through a very disgruntled Tosh that no, it wasn’t a match. According to the DNA result, Ruth Calder and Ellen Quinn are not related, which means that – assuming Ruth Calder is her father’s biological daughter – Rev. Calder was not Ellen’s biological dad.

If Rev. Calder had impregnated Stella with Ellen and the Bain family had covered it up, then Grace Bain would have been unlikely to tell Ruth, as she did in episode one, that she preferred Ruth’s father’s ministry to that of Ruth’s brother Alan because Rev. Calder Snr’s name would presumably be mud in the Bain house. Ditto for Stella telling Ruth with no hint of shame that she was a regular attendee at Ruth’s dad’s youth groups and “got to know him quite well.”

So that’s an end to it? Not quite.

Did Bobby Sabotage Cal’s Van?

Revisit the episode one scene in the Bain farmhouse kitchen when Grace Bain is laying down the law and Ellen’s body has yet to be discovered. An annoyed Grace snaps at Ellen’s father Kieran: “God’s sake man, do you not know your own daughter by now?” and at those words, Stella visibly flinches. Perhaps Stella flinched at the hostility of the exchange, or perhaps because Grace’s words touched a nerve and Ellen isn’t in fact Kieran’s biological daughter.

Add to that the episode four development in which Cal Innes conducted his own investigation to help former childhood sweetheart Ruth. She’d heard from her father’s former mistress Jean that he’d also had an affair with young Stella, and so asked Cal if he’d heard any rumours to that effect. He hadn’t, but set off to find out from Stella’s brother Bobby – an old schoolmate and new business partner.

Cal drove up to the Bain farm, plied Bobby with drink and pills to loosen him up and then casually asked about the rumour that Stella had a buried scandal in her youth to do with a man of the cloth. Bobby’s reaction was unmistakable. Cal’s question had struck a nerve and Bobby seemed willing to do anything to shut him up. Stony-faced, he told Cal to leave and then – when Cal’s van refused to start – Bobby fiddled with the engine and got it going. But was that all he fiddled with under the hood of that van?

The episode four cliffhanger saw Cal’s lying bloodied and unconscious, possibly dead, after his van had come off the road. Did Bobby cut Cal’s brakes or otherwise tamper with the engine in order to keep him quiet about the Stella secret? Considering that Bobby needed Cal to conduct the drug deal he was hoping would refill the family coffers, if Bobby was willing to kill Cal to ensure his silence, then Stella’s secret must be a serious one.

“Dad Was Always Taking Photos”

Even if it’s possible to discount Rev. Calder as Ellen’s biological dad, he may still have had an affair with young Stella, and he may still prove vital to this investigation. How? Because of his photography hobby.

Ruth Calder had a fractious relationship with her father ever since she found him bed with Jean at their home while her mother was dying in hospital. Ruth left the Isles at her first opportunity and on her return to the family manse, she was surprised to see childhood photographs on display. Ruth’s brother Alan had found them after their father’s death, and told Ruth that their dad “was always taking photos”.

If there is a scandal in Stella Quinn’s past, involving a man of the cloth or otherwise, what are the chances that a key clue will be found in Rev. Calder’s photography collection?

Shetland series eight continues on Wednesday November 29 at 9pm on BBC One in the UK.

The post Shetland: Ellen Quinn DNA Sample Explained appeared first on Den of Geek.

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