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Vigil finale, BBC1, review: What a disappointing anti-climax to an otherwise gripping – and fun – thriller

The i 9/26/2021 Rachael Sigee

There was some irony that in the final episode of the BBC’s submarine murder mystery, Vigil, DCI Amy Silva (Suranne Jones) was aghast at the rather anticlimactic justification for everything she’s been through: a Russian attempt to discredit Britain’s nuclear deterrent programme. “People were killed for that?” she spat. Viewers might be inclined to feel the same way.

After six weeks of underwater misdeeds, murder and sabotage (a high point of this episode was Paterson Joseph exclaiming: “It’s sabotage!”), the finale fell a bit flat.

While DCI Silva being trapped in the missile store was terrifying, the tension of her subsequent race for safety was disrupted by scenes of minor characters fixing a leaking valve. Meanwhile, the big photograph reveal of the onboard spy had lost all impact because we already knew who it was.

The HMS Vigil turned out to be a pawn and, ultimately, despite the bodies and cover-ups piling up, nothing significant really changed. Evidently, pursuing global peace leaves almost everyone’s hands dirty to some extent. As Rose Leslie’s DS Kirsten Longacre shrugged: “That’s modern warfare.”

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It was disappointing after the previous episodes, which were gripping and fun even as they stretched credibility – namely in the Armageddon-style approach of entrusting the most dangerous, difficult and potentially war-averting tasks to a civilian.

It was the civilian storyline that did get a little more closure, with Silva and Longacre finally able to communicate without using coded messages. The relationship was a little thinly drawn but the performances landed, making their reconciliation a touching moment.

As a finale, Vigil shared DNA with Line of Duty’s last season, in which institutional corruption reigned supreme. Both were bleak and probably fairly accurate but not hugely satisfying narratively especially after such a rollicking, ridiculous ride to this point.

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