Yesterday we saw the first episode of BBC One’s latest, high-concept, primetime thriller, Vigil.
Essentially a locked-room murder mystery we’ve seen countless times before, things were given a neat twist because of its setting, onboard a nuclear submarine with a very uptight crew.
We left things last night in a precarious situation – there was an unexpected reactor shutdown (is it me or does the vernacular and vocabulary sound very Star Trek as people shout at each other?), and Captain Newsome once again displayed an almost Ahabian stubbornness to not do the intuitive thing. The right thing, in this instance, was to return to the surface, chill for a bit and take stock. However, because of the paranoia that another (enemy) sub was tailing them he decided to stay put and run on back-up batteries.
As for the investigation staged by DCI Amy Silva, the reactor shutdown made things doubly difficult. She got word from Longacre on land that Burke had previous with his cabin-mate, Gary Walsh. Walsh’s brother was a heroin addict who had been investigated for bullying, reported by Burke. Walsh and Burke then had an altercation in a pub before the current mission.
Like all good procedurals, suspects were beginning to be built up and then processed, and in this episode it wasn’t just Gary Walsh – XO Mark Prentice was involved, too. He was really taking the hump with Silva’s investigation, and soon his gaskets blew. He threw Silva into a random cabin and locked the door, which provoked an extreme reaction triggered by her accident.
Now, whenever we see an accident or trauma in flashback, we only see the full story of what happened in the final episode (see the recent Yr Amgueddfa on S4C), but here, unusually, the full story of Silva’s trauma was revealed very early in the story.
We saw her as a passenger in a car as her partner – the driver – was about to propose to her, his daughter in the back seat. When he took his eyes off the road, he careered off a road-edge and into a loch. Silva managed to save the young girl, but could not save her partner.
No wonder she was freaking out in yet another confined space.
However, she was rescued by Glover – who seemed to be everywhere and nowhere all at once; I have my eyes on him – and she confessed the reason for her unsteadiness. This seemed to engender sympathy from him and he then went into overdrive trying to help her out. Newsome, too, seemed to change his tune, especially when Silva dramatically arrested Prentice on the bridge in front of the whole crew.
And then it all came out – how Prentice had reprimanded Burke, punched him in self defence and saw him die in his arms when he went to visit him in his cabin to apologise.
However, after Glover found Burke’s discarded green fleece (handy that), they found traces of poison. And with the crew member who gave Burke mouth-to-mouth displaying some odd symptoms, it was clear Prentice did not kill Burke.
Back on land, Longacre had endured a violent attack from intruders looking for the memory stick, which, by the end of the episode, had been unlocked thanks to Burke’s girlfirend and activist, Jade.
We have all kinds of things going on in Vigil, we really do. As I said last night, it has all the ingredients to make it into a goodie – conspiracy, cover-up and a good, old-fashioned murder mystery. Very good fun so far.