Vigil Recap: Everything You Need To Know Ahead Of Tonight’s Episode

by : Poppy Bilderbeck on : 12 Sep 2021 09:32

Warning: Contains Spoilers

Vigil Recap: Everything You Need To Know Ahead Of Tonight's EpisodeBBC

If you’ve been aimlessly treading water this week for the next episode of BBC One’s new hit series Vigil and need a recap, then look no further. 


Warning: Spoilers ahead. If you haven’t kept afloat with the latest episodes, then you better turn away now.

The new six-part series, starring the likes of Line of Duty‘s Martin Compston, Gentleman Jack‘s Suranne Jones and Peep Show‘s Paterson Joseph, is releasing its fourth episode at 9.00pm tonight, September 12.

However, due to the BBC leaving us holding our breath for a whole week in anticipation, the events that occurred in the first three episodes may have slipped your mind. So here’s your latest recap before you dive back in later today.


While the show may have since been called out by members of the Royal Navy for slight inaccuracies in the portrayal of submarine life, when you have a stellar cast containing no other than Martin Compston, then, quite frankly, who cares?

The first episode began with a trawler getting pulled underwater and it’s members killed. The incident was at first thought to have been caused by HMS Vigil, but was soon revealed to be another lurking submarine who had, in fact, been tailing the boat. Captain Newsome (Paterson Joseph) subsequently declared the stalking to be ‘the single most frightening development in submarine warfare in [his] lifetime’.

During the trawlers’ sinking, Chief Petty Officer Burke (Martin Compston) spoke out against the incident, demanding Vigil should emerge from the depths of the sea to go and help the trawler’s crew. Alas, Burke, much like Compston’s rebellious role in Line of Duty, was dismissed and later found dead in his bunk. Cue what nearly caused me to turn off my television immediately, as without Compston, was the series even worth it?


Oh, but how glad I am that I kept my TV on. For not only did Compston grace the screen once more when Burke left a series of tapes and clues on a USB stick in the wake of his suspicious death, but the drama continued to swell as DCI Amy Silva (Suranne Jones) was sent onboard to investigate.

Burke’s death was originally ruled out as a heroin overdose, however he was not a regular or known drug user. Silva also discovered evidence on his body which had been (inaccurately, according to the Navy) stored in a torpedo tube. Aided by her two years at medical school, Silva found bruises on Burke’s neck and suspected the heroin had been planted inside his nostrils as a cover up to what instead was actually a murder.

Viewers soon learned that Silva too had not had a smooth-sailing past, requiring anxiety medication and not seeming overly enthusiastic about being stuck in a claustrophobic submarine with a group of tense, testosterone-fuelled and overbearing men for three days (who would?).


However, Silva had the help of her trusty sidekick DC Kirsten Longacre, who she requested to join her on the mission – Longacre remaining on land as Silva went into the depths below.

The audience was left hooked through flashbacks of Silva’s memories between herself and Longacre. The flashbacks also contained memories of a tragic event that saw her partner drown in a car accident.

While Longacre worked to unravel the mystery up on land, Silva tried to search for clues below. The two communicated through secret languages, codes, memories and Morse – while viewers were left screaming at the television in fury as one would find out something crucial that put the other in perilous danger.

Burke’s girlfriend, peace camp helper and protester Jade Antoniak (Lauren Lyle), was also caught by police trying to break into Burke’s room and warned Longacre that the navy were somehow involved in the murder.


Episode one subsequently left viewers feeling stranded at sea, as Silva’s discovery of Burke’s blood confirmed foul play and Longacre’s discovery that the death may be linked to the disappearance and cover-up of the sunken trawler.

Even more heart-stopping was Longacre being cornered by the Royal Navy, wielding guns as she tried to make off with Burke’s USB stick.

Furthermore, by the end of episode one, viewers knew there was definitely a murderer on board. With an icy atmosphere between the crew and Silva, and to top it all off a ‘complete reactor shutdown’ – would Silva survive?

Episode two plunged straight back in and saw the crew at their ‘action stations’, trying in desperation to save the boat. During the incident, later identified as being a reactor scram, another engineer, Gary Walsh (Daniel Portman) was injured by a nitrogen blast and had to be taken to the infirmary.

Longacre, on land, then discovered that Vigil’s crewmates had a bitter history, with Burke having been beaten up by fellow engineer Walsh and Lt Simon Hadlow (Connor Swindells).

Information soon washed up on shore about Walsh’s brothers, one of which was named Douglas, who Burke gave evidence against and as a result, caused him to be dishonourably discharged from the navy for bullying. Douglas later committed suicide, which explained Walsh’s hatred of Burke. But when Burke tried to apologise at the wake, he instead got beaten up, though didn’t press charges.

Walsh’s other brother, Sam, was revealed in the episode as being a drug-addict and so the link between the heroin onboard the ship, found by Silva in Walsh’s bunk, and involved in Burke’s death, soon became clear. Walsh denied the murder and bringing the heroin onboard, before deliberately spilling his (extremely dehydrated) urine sample all over poor Silva. Silva then guessed that Walsh had brought the drugs onboard to seek his revenge on Burke over his brother’s suicide.

The most awkward and infuriating questioning of all took place upon Silva’s interrogation of Hadlow, who tried to pretend like he had better things to do.

But she didn’t let him get off the hook that quickly, and while he swore that Burke had not been killed by him or Walsh, what he slipped through the cracks was something about the ‘chain of command’ onboard the boat.

The tension between Hadlow and his superior Lt Commander Mark Prentice (Adam James) immediately smelt fishy, as Hadlow clammed up, prompting the possibility that Burke’s murder could possibly go all the way up to the highest in command.

Alas, while Silva was breaking waves down below deck, on land things were really heating up. Longacre, staying at Silva’s house to take care of her cat, went home to find the house had been burgled and not only that, but the burglars were still inside.

Despite being apprehended by two bulky henchmen (are they the Navy? We shall have to wait and see…), Longacre fought back as best she could, even stabbing one of the perpetrators with a pair of scissors (which I’m sure is a moment that needs to be remembered for later).

Longacre did well to hang on so long, but the burglars managed to make it out, the police car infuriatingly driving right past them as they made their escape. She was left with a bloodied nose and some broken furniture, but made sure to tell Superintendent Colin Roberts (Gary Lewis) about Burke’s whistleblowing USB stick, some of the contents of which were password protected.

Oblivious to her partner’s altercation, Silva remained onboard and would be below deck for another three weeks while a replacement boat was sent. The decision had been made by Rear Admiral Shaw (Stephen Dillane) when he realised the Navy had been trying to conceal Silva’s report that Burke was likely murdered. Shaw blamed the Ministry of Defence secretary, but didn’t take the opportunity to confess regarding the missing trawler, leaving it unresolved as an ‘accident’ for the agriculture and fisheries ministry to manage.

Prentice called Burke ‘a treacherous little sh*t who got what was coming to him’, which led Silva to discovering Prentice had hit Burke and was responsible for the blood that had been found on the missile deck. It was soon revealed, after Prentice locked Silva in a cabin, that Prentice believed he had killed Burke and had subsequently been covering his tracks.

After being freed from the claustrophobic cabin by charming coxswain Elliot Glover (Shaun Evans), Silva recalled saving her daughter, but being unable to save her partner from a car accident that saw them plummet into a loch. She then opened up about the eight-year-old being taken away by her grandparents after the funeral. Glover and Silva were then spotted holding hands, which hinted at a possible future romance.

Silva then arrested Prentice, who admitted confiscating Walsh’s heroin and  planting it in Burke’s nostrils to try and cover up what he thought was a murder of his own doing. Burke’s missing fleece was found by Glover, who had been sent on a mission by Silva, and the nail looked like it was truly in Prentice’s coffin.

However, the fleece had a strange stain on it, and Silva deduced that Burke had actually been poisoned and that Prentice was not actually to blame. Engineer Adams (Tom Gill) had also been suffering from strange symptoms, confirming the possibility of poison, due to him having given Burke CPR.

Amid the chaos, an emergency shutdown took place with no clue as to what had caused it, while the boat narrowly avoided a collision with a tanker.

Meanwhile, on shore, Burke’s girlfriend Jade became friends with Longacre, telling her that MI5 had been watching her and that even Longacre wasn’t safe. While Longacre told Jade to call her if anything was wrong, she ended up being too late.

However, before Jade was found face down in the loch, she managed to text Longacre the password ‘purity’ for Burke’s encrypted files, though Longacre and Silva seemed no closer to finding out who was truly responsible.

Episode three left viewers feeling equally as swallowed whole, swept back into the drama by the discovery that Jade was the illegitimate child of MSP Patrick Cruden (Stephen McCole). Longacre discovered the family connection after running a number plate check on Mark Hill’s (Oliver Lansley) car, which picked Jade up from the station.

Longacre was told, once more, to beware of M15 spies in Jade’s peace camp, just as a particular member appeared protective over Jade when Longacre came to question her.

Before Jade died, her laptop was stolen and she reported being followed. Sure enough, Longacre was soon tailed as well, by two M15 agents she had previously seen with her boss.

With access to Burke’s USB files, the police were beginning to uncover HMS Vigil’s previous mission in Florida at the fictional Port Havers.

It was soon revealed that in a ‘party boat’ incident, 15 of the submarine crew had been arrested due to alcohol, drug consumption and disorderly behaviour. During the night the crew let loose, Silva found out Burke claimed to have been drugged, even sending off a urine sample that later showed up positive for LSD.

Longacre questioned a former crew member at the time of the incident, who was reluctant and appeared almost scared for his life. However, he told her to ‘look at the Davies’. She soon discovered that two contractors from Davies Marine Services had reportedly ‘drowned’ and their bodies found the morning after the party. Another cover-up became apparent.

The submarine that had been tracking HMS Vigil turned out to be from the US, and wreckage confirmed it had been responsible for killing the trawler crew. MI5 noted the cause of the tracking by the US could lead back to the incident at Port Haversgate, but the explanation was a bit watery, so presumably there is a lot more to it.

Silva was then told how her stay had been extended to three weeks, which from her immediate panic, it became clear she had not packed enough medication for. This cued flashbacks of eight-year-old Poppy being taken from her and her sitting at the doctors refusing to stop her police work.

The crew grew more hostile towards Silva, even coxswain Elliot Glover. Silva accused medical officer Lt Tiffany Docherty (Anjli Mohindra) of having access to the drugs but also a motive to kill Burke. While Docherty admitted to compromising the urine samples from the Port Haversgate incident, she claimed she had done it to save her friends’ careers, rather than being ordered to from a higher figure of authority.

Photos from Burke’s USB stick soon exposed Glover as having slept with Docherty, caught out by the dragon tattoo on his upper arm that Silva spied in a photo in his cabin, which was initially thought to be him with his wife and child. Longacre had managed to alert Silva via a reference to her favourite book.

Walsh, having been confined to his cabin after admitting to trying to set up Burke with drugs, got drunk and stole a gun. Before doing so, he was told by Newsome to keep his ‘mouth shut about Port Havers’ or face discharge. Silva managed to talk him down from using the weapon, speaking bravely about her own experiences around contemplating suicide.

Walsh then opened up to the detective about Port Havers, detailing how the contractors were ‘cooked alive’ due to the drunken antics of a junior mechanic, named Ross Harmison. He said a Fukushima-type disaster was only narrowly avoided. Harmison was sent to the Middle East and the cover-up was put into place, stating that the contractors had drowned.

Walsh admitted Newsome was involved and Burke had found out, so Silva now had a new suspect in her case.

The first half of the BBC One series ended with Burke’s memorial service, which spurred on PTSD and past memories for Silva, while also offering up Burke’s replacement, CPO Matthew Doward (Lorne MacFadyen) and galley chef, Jackie Hamilton (Anita Vettesse), as holding more possible information.

Over the last two episodes, the camera shot had been resting far too often on Matthew Doward for it to be a coincidence, and Jackie Hamilton looked incredibly (and suspiciously) upset about Burke’s passing.

For a memorial service, it was pretty icy, but let’s hope that the fourth episode tonight thaws out some more of the truth.

The BBC is skating on thin ice for many viewers by not releasing the rest of the series on iPlayer. I, for one, definitely don’t think I can last another week.

Episode four of Vigil can be viewed on BBC One at 900pm tonight, September 12, and on iPlayer

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