Friday, November 12, 2021

TV Series review: Vigil

Vigil is a murder mystery/police procedural taking place on a British nuclear submarine. One of the officers dies under suspicious circumstances after a dramatic incident occurs at sea – a fishing vessel is dragged down to the depths of the ocean by another submarine. Chief Petty Officer Burke reports unusual sonar readings at the time, but the other officers and the captain disagree. When he is found dead in his cabin, DCI Amy Silva of the Scottish police is airlifted to the HMS Vigil’s secret location. Meanwhile, on land, a parallel investigation ensues concerning Burke’s background and associates. However, acts of sabotage continue on the Vigil … and it becomes clear that Burke was definitely murdered. International espionage and conspiracy are soon apparent, and one asks the question is Russia at the heart of this drama?

Like the curate’s egg, the series is good in some parts, but the mostly bad or annoying parts spoiled it for me. The opening scenes leading to the horrifying deaths of the fishermen and the incredible footage of the fishing trawler being dragged inexorably under are absolutely fantastic. I thought, this is the series for me. It was a great start which sadly dwindled to limping along, no matter the presence of acting stalwarts like Paterson Joseph, Adam James, Shaun Evans, Gary Lewis, and Stephen Dillane. The problem was not casting Suranne Jones as DCI Silva, but in directing her so that she came across as so badly crippled by PTSD that she should not have been allowed to drive, let alone head up a murder investigation in a cramped environment like a submarine. Her character went from annoying to agitated to hysterical. Her rendition of a police officer/detective was pathetic. No police officer would try to interrogate men during a nuclear sub drill, or is it just me? She also never wrote down a single statement from witnesses, despite having a notebook.

There were so many things wrong with the basics of the submarine setting that one wonders if they even got in an expert to help with details such as the layout, the protocols, the uniforms, the drills. I think the scriptwriters just winged it. Another very annoying angle which I found distracting and unnecessary--unless a woke agenda is part of the production--is Suranne’s sudden change from being a heterosexual female in a relationship with a man and sharing a daughter with him, to suddenly being in a lesbian relationship with a pushy, much younger police officer (Rose Leslie) who seems determined to get her gal. Couple this inconceivably sudden change of heart (while she is ostensibly mourning the loss of the beloved fiancé) with many jarring and completely inappropriate and repetitive flashbacks to both the accident in which she lost the fiancé and then shmaltzy romantic scenes with her lesbian lover. I got the feeling the audience was being played and I found an interesting article in which this writer, Mary Misasi, explains the phenomenon of queer-baiting. Read it; very enlightening.

I sat through Vigil because of the actors I do like, and I could see quite a gripping story beneath all the implausible stuff. Alas, there is a lot of unlikely bunkum related to Russia, the US, and the UK which anyone with a shred of knowledge of politics will spot. But, in all fairness, the mystery and espionage behind the murder do hang together coherently and if you can discount the ridiculous, you will enjoy the suspense. 3/5


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