What is a TV schedule without at least one good British detective drama? The homegrown police procedural is a staple of any well-structured, well-balanced small-screen timetable. A gritty bite of entertainment to be enjoyed sometime after Sunday dinner. Serving up the necessary drama and death for the next five weeks is Vigil, a Line of Duty-esque thriller with a maritime twist.
Suranne Jones stars as DCI Amy Silva, a detective brought on board the Navy submarine HMS Vigil to investigate the death of sailor Craig Burke (familiar LoD face Martin Compston, sporting his Scottish accent for once) who appears to have died from a heroin overdose. Obviously, it turns out that’s not the case. As we buckled in for a second episode, there were twists and turns, red herrings and questions aplenty. Here’s what went down in Vigil episode two.
And we’re off! The episode picks up where the last ended, mise-en-scene with the submarine in emergency shutdown. Details are hard to catch (an undiagnosed case of reactor something or other) but the upshot is this: power is down, no-one knows why and the crew have three hours to get it back up and running before certain death befalls them all. Again, as our reviewer previously noted: Why isn’t everything set on a submarine? The stakes of even a broken lightbulb are exponentially greater when it’s happening 300m below sea level.
If that wasn’t enough to get pulses racing, there is also the (very!) sudden threat of collision with a tanker that manages to sneak up on them. Disaster is narrowly averted by diving below it, but the question is raised: why weren’t the crew able to detect it? Is it human error or is someone messing with the boat’s systems? Could it be related to the enemy submarine possibly trailing HMS Vigil? Maybe, but I’ve watched enough Line of Duty to know the first (or second or third) answer is never the right one.
As it would seem, everything is not what it seems
It’s only taken two episodes for Vigil to drop its first couple of twists. Thanks to some solid detective work on the ground from DI Longacre, we find out that the crew aboard the HMS Vigil is certainly no happy family. She uncovers the identity of the two sailors who beat up Craig Burke weeks before his death: Gary Walsh and Simon Hadlow. Further detective work reveals that Walsh had been after Burke for getting his brother Douglas dishonourably discharged from the Navy for bullying – eventually leading to his suicide. Burke went to the wake to apologise, sparking the fight in question.
That’s not where the family ties end though, with Walsh’s other brother Sam playing a part too. It turns out Sam, a junkie, gave Walsh some heroin to bring onboard the boat. One drug test later and we know that Walsh isn’t taking the drugs, so why bring them aboard in a candy container? To frame Burke, of course! Talk about sweet, sweet revenge.
If not Walsh than who?
Walsh and Hadlow swear up and down that they aren’t behind Burke’s death – although one lets slip that “no one meant for him to die” – and Silva believes them. (Maybe she knows that, given the tried-and-tested TV formula, we’re still four episodes away from uncovering the truth). With Prentice logging more demerits against Burke than any other officer combined – and calling him a “traitor” in an unhinged outburst – he seems to suggest another suspect in the midst.
Prentice may not have committed murder but he is still the show’s villain
The episode’s most satisfying scene arrives when Silva storms up to Prentice to arrest him for obstructing a police investigation, AKA locking her up in a cupboard when he saw she was close to piecing the puzzle together. Of course, whether Silva can arrest him or not is up in the air. (The question of who has authority aboard HMS Vigil – Navy vs police – continues to be a fruitful source of tension for the show’s writers.) But either way, seeing Prentice berated like a little boy is a delicious moment of TV. Then it all gets very Line of Duty, with a nine-minute interrogation scene during which a petulant Prentice continues to deny all wrongdoing.
That is until Glover (one of HMS Vigil’s few good eggs, bless him) returns with Burke’s green fleece, which he found – you guessed it – hidden on the way from the missile deck to Prentice’s bunk. The jig, it seems, is up. Prentice admits to the following: Walsh went to Prentice claiming to have found heroin in Burke’s bunk as revenge for his brother; Prentice saw through Walsh’s attempt at framing Burke and confiscated the drugs but having never liked Burke anyway (because he was dating enemy of the Navy, Jade) he didn’t note the incident in the logbook in order to protect Walsh. Later though, Burke and Prentice engaged in some fisticuffs after which he discovered Burke in his bed apparently dead from a head injury sustained during their fight. In an attempt to cover it up, Prentice took the confiscated heroin to try and make it look like an overdose.
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There you have it… or not quite. It takes a matter of minutes for the apparent resolution to fall apart when Silva notices a strange stain on Burke’s fleece and, joining the dots for us, suddenly recalls Adams’ illness and the fact he was the one who gave him CPR. Burke was poisoned! That’s far more sophisticated than a mere brawl gone awry; poison points to conspiracy. The question is, just how far up do the lies go?
All that being said, however, while Prentice may not have committed murder, his real crime is being an insufferable d***head.
As Brad Pitt would’ve said in a reboot of Se7en: What’s on the USB?!
Following on from the events of episode one, DI Longacre has in her possession a memory stick that she found hidden in the hollow arm of a chair in Burke’s room. It turns out someone knows it’s missing and they’ll go to great – and violent – lengths to get it back. When Longacre returns home to discover a couple of masked goons ransacking her place, one bloody face and a black eye later, the detective knows the extent of what she’s found and the danger she’s in for having found it.
Following the attempted burglary, Longacre pays Jade (Burke’s girlfriend and known enemy of the Navy) a visit and it turns out Jade is just as determined to find out what happened to Burke. She’s so determined, in fact, that later in the episode she goes to meet a stranger on an abandoned road in the middle of the night to get some information. With the ominous street lights, empty road and nondescript car pulling up, it all gets a bit eerie and foreboding. It doesn’t take long before Jade’s body is discovered by Longacre in the nearby water. The only saving grace? Jade managed to text the password to unlock the USB’s other files before meeting her untimely demise: “Purity.”
Vigil continues on Sundays at 9pm on BBC One.
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