*Warning: Contains spoilers for Vigil episode 6*
Time behaves strangely 200m under the sea, it seems.
It feels like months since Martin Compston was bumped off in the opening scenes of Vigil’s first episode, swiftly peeing off Line of Duty fans around the country – and can it really only be five weeks since Suranne Jones was winched on board to solve his murder?
The plot – at times as intentionally murky and unnavigable as the North Sea across the limited series’ slightly bloated length – resolved in solid, if unspectacular fashion in Sunday’s finale.
The work had largely been done last week, when the traitor on board was unmasked in episode five. The execution might have been exhilarating, but the actual result was one of the most disappointing elements of the series.
Rather than Paterson Joseph’s Cdr. Neil Newsome or Adam James’s wonderfully slimy Cdr. Mark Prentice, it was Matthew Doward who was pulling the string for the Russians all along – Matthew Doward, a character we’d only really seen a handful of times in the back of crowd shots.
Suranne’s DCI Silva was left to cool off in the torpedo tube as water filled in around her in that episode, and viewers on Sunday were thrown straight back into the claustrophobic hellhole in episode six. Thankfully, Cdr. Prentice comes to her rescue at the 11th hour, before a message in morse code leads to her rescue.
After that, everything falls into place in pretty underwhelming fashion. DCI Silva gets out in time to see spy Matthew blow his cover by trying to stab half the crew members to death in increasingly silly scenes. The characters both on land and on the boat make the discoveries that viewers already made last week, and before we knew it, it’s all over.
The mole is caught, Suranne heads home after a tricky few weeks on board HMS Vigil, sheds her sea legs and makes up with her partner Rose Leslie, before Matthew Doward explains what just happened over the last six episodes in a expository police interview.
We’re told in rather stodgy dialogue that Russia’s aim in all of this was to ‘make the nuclear deterrent look bad’ and help push through policy changes which would have resulted in the removal of Trident from Scotland altogether. Sadly, the threat of nuclear escalation has rarely seemed so perfunctory.
Like Line of Duty, there are similar themes of institutionalised corruption and ineptitude at play, albeit with vague political commentary about the validity of nuclear deterrents added into the mix, but little of the verve and nuance that made the former such compelling viewing at its best.
There’s no doubting the quality of its individual parts. Everything works. The performances are uniformly great (Suranne, Paterson Joseph and Adam James in particular), the direction from Isabelle Sieb and James Strong has been taut throughout the run, and there’s an immersive feel to the dingy interiors of HMS Vigil that’s hard to shake.
And yet, by the end, there’s no shifting the sense that Vigil has been treading water for some time.
The submarine drama started with such electrifying promise, but even coming off the back of the big reveal in episode five, the finale didn’t come a moment too soon.
Fans might clamour for a series two, but Vigil had already begun to outstay its welcome before episode six. It would be unfair to call it substandard, but we won’t be holding our breath for more episodes.
Vigil is available to stream on BBC iPlayer
Credit: Original article published here.