REVIEW Vigil (S1 E3/6)

Vigil has proved to be perfect Sunday-night viewing when you think about it. Pacey, slick, big names, twisty, turny, conspiratorial, and even a locked-room (or at least locked-sub) murder mystery for good measure.

However, what I like about Vigil the most, I think, is the way the two parallel investigations – one by Amy Silva onboard the sub, one by Kirsten Longacre on-land – dovetail and flit expertly between one and the other. It’s very well done.

And we get equal measure of each in this episode.

On dry land, Kirsten was naturally distraught when she found Jade’s lifeless body on the banks of the loch. She had indeed been murdered, by drowning as forensics determined. Jade’s death was, however, the tip of the iceberg. Consumed by guilt and the fact she couldn’t get there in time to save her, Kirsten ran the plates from the car that picked her up from the station only days before and lo and behold, its owner – a smarmy PR guy – worked for the local MP.

A suspect and someone dodgy-looking, and someone who was found to be depositing a grand into Jade’s bank account on a monthly basis, it turned out that Jade was the illicit daughter of said MP, and he was paying her a monthly stipend on the quiet. A cul-de-sac.

However, this MP was campaigning for the nuclear subs like HMS Vigil to get out of Scotland. Jade, and Craig Burke, were campaigning for similar things but for different reasons. Thanks to the information on Burke’s memory stick, we now knew that he had a “shit list” of crew members and knew that Certain Things Had Happened.

Apparently it all led back to an incident in Florida, where Vigil had docked the year before for repairs. Something dreadful happened back then to the point where members of the crew had been hastily shunted off elsewhere. Burke knew it and he was out to expose those who covered it up. He also wanted to expose the fact that ageing subs – carrying nuclear missiles, let’s not forget – were not fit for purpose.

Burke had also stashed away details of a stolen image showing the team’s Doctor, Tammy Docherty, in a steamy clinch with a mystery man with a dragon tattoo on his right arm. Docherty had also falsified urine samples from crew members after the Florida trip when the came aboard, many of them off their tits on various substances.

There was more action on-land – Rear Admiral Shaw found that the sub shadowing Vigil was not Russian as he thought (or hoped)… it was, in fact, American. Perhaps they wanted revenge for the Florida incident, where two of their own had died because of Vigil crewmembers’ incompetence.

Phew, a lot to take in, but throughout this episode narrative patterns began to emerge. And the more you think about the deployment of breadcrumbs or big clues, the more you became aware that one or two were about to be dropped. Not necessarily the outcome (OK, some of the outcomes), but the actual timing of them.

I mean, it was pretty obvious that when Jade said she was going to meet someone on the side of a deserted road at night she was going to come a cropper. We also knew that some revelation were going to be on Burke’s memory stick, it was just a case of when the would be unveiled. And when kindly, butter-wouldn’t-melt Glover was revealed to be the man with the dragon tattoo, it was no real surprise.

But of course, to Amy they were. Her mental health was flagging on the sub, and she was receiving more coded messages from Kirsten. This delayed reveal of information is another interesting device. It creates the absolute definition of suspense – Kirsten and us, the audience, know information before Amy does. And that’s the trick. Even though we know some things may or not happen before Amy, when they are revealed onboard Vigil, we’re now in Amy’s shoes.

By the end of the episode, Amy had a much better idea why the crew were so all over the place, and what had happened to them. She also knew that her confidante – Glover – might just be a wrong ‘un.

However, as Shaw and co were looking shadier and shadier back on-land, and Kirsten was picked up by MI5, one question kept nagging at me – if Vigil now knows that it’s the Americans that are tracking them, why not just come up for air and head home, and process this investigation properly?

Paul Hirons

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.



3 Comments Add yours

  1. Zeke says:

    Awfully good Series. Claustrophobic enough, the drip-drip of the clue both
    on land and under sea.. and only halfway through the Story!


  2. DJ says:

    I’m really enjoying this. I think the answer to Paul’s main Q at end of review may be: it’s one thing for the US to follow Vigil, but If you resurface you make position/location known to (enemy) spy satellites. We know Vigil has been up once (and will do again in 3 weeks), but its mission has a start and end date that has to fit with scheduled replacment sub.


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