Vigil Episode 5 Review: You’ve Got Some Nerve, Agent!

Time is running out in Vigil’s penultimate episode. Spoilers.

Vigil episode 5 Suranne Jones Anjli Mohindra
Photo: BBC/World Pictures

Warning: contains Vigil Episode 5 spoilers.

What’s worse – drowning in your own sweat in a drysuit, or drowning in seawater in a torpedo tube? DCI Silva’s in the rare position of being about to find out, having survived the first scenario only to land herself straight in the second. If she gets out of this one, oh, the pub stories she’ll have to tell! Not that you can imagine Silva holding court on a bar stool, one licked finger in the crumbs of a packet of Cheddar and Onion McCoys, the other demonstrating how close she came to inhaling a nerve agent from a booby-trapped catering-sized tin of grapefruit segments. She’s a cold fish, a closed book, a locked box, an iceberg according to her ex. Ice pop more like, if that water keeps coming. 

Silva’s also an ace detective who quickly sussed out that Jackie Hamilton was the monkey and not the organ grinder in this mess. (Not that mess.) The DCI realised that the Russian asset needed Jackie to kill Craig Burke so that he could be flown in to take his place (makes you wonder exactly how Deerborne, whom Burke was there to replace, really broke that leg of his. Slipped on a Russian banana skin?). Doward, the sniffy lieutenant flown onto Vigil at the same time as Silva, is our man. It was him, in cahoots with Peter Ingles, who jimmied the lock to force the reactor scram, deliberately snagged Vigil’s communications wire and bribed Jackie to kill Silva – or maybe everyone – with that tinned nerve agent. 

All of Doward’s sabotage was an effort to make the boat surface so that the Russians could get a clean shot at her (or at least flex their muscles and show that they could if they wanted to), according to the latest theory at least. By next week, it’ll probably turn out the Russians are our mates and it’s Korea/mutant dolphins we really need to watch out for. Vigil’s that kind of show – every click of its Rubik’s Cube creates an entirely new pattern that overrides what came before. To think we once thought the Coxswain was the big bad. The naivety! 

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Even if the Coxswain did fail to keep his petty officer safely stowed when it came to Doc Doherty (side note: has ever before a passionate kiss on TV been preceded by the instruction “Rinse out your nostrils”?), he proved himself a goodie this week. He saved Silva from the deadly grapefruit tin and volunteered to go on a life-threatening mission that ended up threatening his life. He’s currently being turned into sweaty margarine by the Sarin that got in through a rip in his drysuit, and without the drugs required to treat him, is likely to become corpse no. three on Vigil’s patrol. Four, if Silva doesn’t get rescued from her tube sharpish. 

Silva will be rescued. Why else devote so much time to explaining her complicated domestic situation if all of this isn’t going to end with her, Longacre and little Poppy skipping together through an autumnal park wearing Boden jumpers? If unlike me you felt impatient with last week’s romance flashbacks, then this week’s diversion to a child’s birthday tea during a key stage in an investigation that could result in nuclear war likely won’t have impressed. It’s one dramatic ingredient too many, the custody battle. The traumatic fiancé death was one thing, the break-up another, but add in the little girl with the sulky nan? Like Twitter nowadays, it’s too many threads.

Tea party aside, the penultimate episode was filled with exactly what you want from a submarine thriller, i.e. Paterson Joseph booming “Isolate the missile compartment!”, a decontamination station being A-Teamed up using sticky tape and toilet duck, and a Battleships bit where Russian ships were closing in on Vigil like the creatures in the ventilation system in Aliens. It was an hour-long crisis, tense and grave, with no let-up. Even the shower scenes were life or death.

Onshore, things weren’t a great deal more relaxed. Peace camp member Ben Oakley was unveiled as the wrong-un that his lurking presence had marked him out to be from the start. Precisely what kind of wrong-un I couldn’t confidently say. First, he appeared to be working with the Russians, but he’ll be top of their hit-list when he releases the photo of Ingles and Doward he stole from Jade’s laptop. Did Oakley conspire with Ingles in Jade’s murder? Somebody else will have to tell me. It’s been a long week and to tell the truth, I’ve only just worked out the difference between scram and scran.

It all ended on a bona fide nightmare seemingly custom-designed to really shit up Amy ‘hates water and enclosed spaces’ Silva, who at this point must be regretting not bringing her ladle. In a torpedo tube, no-one can hear you scream…

Vigil concludes next Sunday the 26th of September at 9pm on BBC One. 

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