At first, Vigil wasn’t on my radar. I just thought it was another cop drama that had been gracing the TV screens and Twitter for the past three weeks. However, after discovering that Anjli Mohindra, the actress that made my childhood as Rani Chandra, was in it. I knew I had to watch it. And so, at the halfway point, has vigil made the cut of good detective dramas, or is this a cold case?
Someone has died on a Submarine and DCI Silva is made to spend three days in the Submarine to figure out who killed the naval officer. What is assumed to be a simple heroin overdose soon turns into something much more deadly.
Vigil is set on a Submarine called the SS Vigil. Detective programmes are usually placed in big cities, small towns, and coastal villages with secrets. Putting it in a submarine is out of the box and intriguing.
Primarily as it features the Navy and a Scottish police department, which you’d assume would get along considering they’d probably be lawful good. However, this is not the case, and so whilst there are the typical problems of power dynamics and arguments with authority. (That always happens in a cop drama.) The fact it’s two very high-up divisions of enforcement brings a nice subversion to the typical plays for power.
Another thing that translates well to the screen is the tense atmosphere on the submarine, which has been carried throughout the three episodes very well. It's enjoyable to watch and encapsulates the claustrophobia of living on a submarine powerfully.
Figuring out the mystery
Now, you figure out some mysteries quicker than others, such as Tiffany Docherty doing some dodgy dealings. It was there from the first episode. As the doctor on board, how could she have missed the bruising? My assumption was she didn’t and lied about it. And whilst Monhindra and the writing did make me warm to her and lose my guard a bunch, I also suspected her a little bit.
I also gathered we’d get a bit complicated with M.I.5 and other government departments as a) they’ve got to keep the drama going somehow, and b) The Navy is pretty hush-hush. Of course, the top dogs are going to be involved.
In episode three, you guessed who that guy in the photo was as Tiffany looked at him shiftily when Silva tried to question her.
This isn’t a bad thing.
Is this a bad thing? Is this going to make me lower the rating because, I guessed, the plot?
Well no. That’s a good thing. It means the writing is doing its job! As with a murder mystery, you want to leave enough clues for the audience to piece it together. That’s why we consume the medium. Plus, if you’ve watched enough of a genre or know the rules well enough, you figure out the plot points anyway. Also, no idea is original. Ultimately this is fine and is a sign of good writing.
I prefer detective stories like this that (as of right now) don’t shock the audience with a twist ending and don’t reward you for figuring it out! (At least that’s what I’m hoping for as we’re on episode 3/6). I like the fact it enables you to follow along and piece stuff together. And isn't lost in its own showboating and egotism to not allow the audience to follow along; or be pretentious in how the detective came up with the clues and become an extravagant mess.
Yes, that is my dig at Sherlock. I always hated that show.
Characters and relationships
We also split our time between the submarine and somewhere in Scotland. It does good at progressing the plot along and provides some good character relationships, and one wouldn’t work without the other. Yet, that doesn’t stop me from preferring the action on the submarine. I’m sure that is partly due to my association with it and the cold war (thanks GCSE history!)
The female detectives also have brilliant chemistry as detectives and romantic partners. I enjoy diving into Detective Silva's past throughout the story and find it the most exciting and emotional part. Suranne Jones’s acting pulls you in and feels the character’s loss towards losing her partner Iain not seeing her daughter Poppy. It adds layers to the character.
I also enjoy that she isn’t inherently a rough around the edges cop that’s gruff and barges about everywhere. She has some niceness to her. It's refreshing to see a cop be a tiny bit friendlier.
Yes, I am aware a cop with a tragic past is typical of a detective show; however, it’s shown wonderfully and fleshes out the character more. Plus, predictability isn’t a bad thing!
The bad bits and my one worry
My one gripe is when Tiffany is constantly side-eyeing the officer in this episode, as it was apparent, and I don’t understand how Silva missed it because it was very, very obvious. So it feels like an unnecessary dramatic moment.
I also worry that the show won’t end without answering important plot points with how many plot threads are part of the story. And whether it is generally a satisfying finale. I hope it won’t be one of those twists or pretentious clever endings that don’t work. Otherwise, this will have been an annoying waste of time for an enjoyable TV show.
Whilst the show offers exciting new locations and contexts with nicely fleshed out characters and is rather tense, it doesn’t inherently subvert everything for shock.
Having a bisexual main character that isn’t the main plot is refreshing too. On the outside, it looks like a typical detective show, and in many ways, it is, and in many ways, it isn’t, so you wouldn’t be blamed for going past this in the tv guide. But once you’ve watched it, you are hooked.
It’s mainly going to rest on how this finishes for the final review and rating; however, as of right now, Vigil has earned a decent three stars out of five stars. It all depends on the ending!
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