VIGIL Key Art - Season 1 | ©2022 Peacock

VIGIL Key Art – Season 1 | ©2022 Peacock

Rating: TV-MA
Stars: Suranne Jones, Rose Leslie, Shaun Evans, Paterson Joseph, Adam James, Gary Lewis, Martin Compston
Creator: Tom Edge, original idea, George Aza-Selinger
Writers: Tom Edge, Ed Macdonald, Chandni Lakhani
Directors: James Strong, Isabel Sieb
Network: Peacock (U.S.), BBC (U.K.)
Premiere Date: December 23, 2021 (U.S.), August 30, 2021 (U.K.)

VIGIL is a taut British thriller that mixes police procedural and espionage for best results. The six-part miniseries, created by Tom Edge from an original idea by George Aza-Selinger, divides its time between a city in Scotland, a nearby British Navy base, and the British nuclear submarine Vigil.

At the outset of VIGIL, a relatively straightforward police investigation is set in motion by the death of Vigil crew member Craig Burke (Martin Compston, seen in flashbacks) under suspicious circumstances.

Since Vigil cannot be called off of its patrol (the Russians might get too bold), police detective Amy Silva (Suranne Jones) is flown by helicopter to the sub, which surfaces to take her aboard. Silva is supposed to conduct her queries over a period of three days.

Back on land, Amy’s fellow police detective Kirsten Longacre (Rose Leslie) follows up leads indicating that Burke may have been involved with a local woman.

Naturally, things are way more complicated than they appear at first glance.

VIGIL is both shrewd and surprisingly affecting in its details. The back story for Amy is specific and laid out with grace, while Kirsten’s romantic heart and ambitions are likewise handled with warmth. We even feel for Burke as we learn more about him.

Blessedly avoiding the standard cliché here, the detectives have a sympathetic superior, played with admirable forthrightness by Gary Lewis. Good thing, too, since he’s got to stand up on behalf of his department with both the British military and various other branches of government.

We get brief glimpses of lovely Scottish scenery, but see much more of the city and the inside of the submarine. VIGIL is perhaps not recommended for viewers who suffer from claustrophobia, as the sub’s narrow passages, small compartments and low ceilings all make for a cramped environment.

While not at all jingoistic (quite the contrary), VIGIL shares intriguing information with other submarine thrillers. Woven into the plot are facts about the running of the boat, and what it needs to avoid sinking or otherwise killing its crew.

Jones and Leslie both have the requisite toughness to be convincing as police detectives, and the supporting cast is excellent. Paterson Joseph as Vigil’s harried captain Shaun Evans as the coxswain, and Adam James as an especially truculent crewman are standouts.

With its unfamiliar settings, engaging characters, brisk pace, multiple clues, and mounting stakes, VIGIL is just about everything we could ask from a multipart mystery.

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