Review: Vigil with Suranne Jones

Suranne Jones in Vigil

Vigil, a thriller with Suranne Jones in the lead, earned such enthusiastic comments on my Twitter timeline when it aired in the UK. I was eager to see it. It was good, but not great. I was a bit disappointed with that. I’m never entirely unhappy with anything Suranne Jones does, and I did engage with the drama and suspense of the 6 part series.

Part of my irritation with Vigil is where it’s streaming. It’s on Peacock TV. You have to pay $6 a month to see the good stuff and even then it shows ads. The best thing I can say about Peacock TV is it was easy to go back to the free plan after I finished watching Vigil.

There are a number of interrelated plot lines in the series. It’s set in Scotland. We start with a fishing trawler being pulled under the water when its nets hook a submarine. Scotland has a large activist group who want to get nuclear warheads out of Scottish waters. That includes HMS Vigil, which is a nuclear “deterrent” submarine capable of launching warheads. The drowned fishermen on the trawler added ammunition to their arguments.

At about the same time a sailor named Burke (Martin Compston) is apparently murdered on the Vigil. A civilian detective, Amy Silva (Suranne Jones) is helicoptered on board to investigate.

Suranne Jones and Shaun Evans in Vigil
There were over 100 sailors on the boat, and all of them were hiding something or suspicious.

Initially, Amy thinks she has 3 days to solve the crime, so she works at warp speed. Glover (Shaun Evans) is put in charge of following her around and showing her where people and things are.

Suranne Jones and Rose Leslie in Vigil
It’s not easy to say I love you.

Back in the Glasgow police department, Amy’s ex girlfriend Kirsten Longacre (Rose Leslie) is working on the case there. Amy requested Kirsten to work with because the two have a verbal shorthand and understand each other.

Their communications are complicated because the boat cannot send messages for fear of being located. They can receive messages, so Kirsten keeps Amy up to date on what she’s learning via coded emails.

It took all six episodes for the full story on Amy and Kirsten’s relationship to be revealed. We learn a lot about Amy through flashbacks while she’s on the boat in various uncomfortable and dangerous situations.

Spoiler summary paragraph of some of Amy’s issues ahead. She was married to a man and helped raise his daughter, Poppy (Orla Russell). The bond between them is strong, but the father dies in an accident and Poppy is taken away from her by the grandparents. Later Amy starts a relationship with Kirsten, but isn’t comfortable being out. Kirsten leaves her over it.

Back to the murder mystery. Amy finds several suspects among the crew. She accuses them and then discovers more and realizes they weren’t guilty. It takes all the episodes for the real killer and the real motive for the murder to be revealed. In the meantime, more people die on the boat and on land.

Porter (Ruben Joseph) is Kirsten’s partner

Kirsten finds all sorts of connected crimes and potential murderers in her investigations. She is involved with the Royal Navy, MI5, the U.S. Navy and intelligence agencies. Not everyone cooperates, which doesn’t help. Security around the nuclear sub is tight. She thinks maybe it’s a Russian spy, but can’t communicate her findings to Amy.

On the boat, there’s all sorts of life-threatening sabotage and secrecy. Captain Newsome (Paterson Joseph) has different priorities and goals for the ship than Amy has. They often conflict. As the tension ramps up and Amy gets closer to finding the killer, the whole ship is in danger. The suspense level is very high.

I have to give Suranne Jones credit for being game for anything. She was put in some terrible places in this series and didn’t quit acting forever as far as I know. She’s both tough and vulnerable here, and smart about her job. The situation she was in storywise was sometimes questionable, but her talent with a line reading or a facial expression never betrayed that.

Isabelle Sieb directed 3 of the 6 episodes.

8 thoughts on “Review: Vigil with Suranne Jones”

  1. christopher a swaby

    i enjoyed this series immensely. i would watch Ms. Jones in anything she does (i have watched things that wouldnt normally interest me because she was in them). i loved that her bisexuality wasnt made to be the focus, just a part of who she was. i loved that she maintained a relationship with her not quite step daughter. and i loved that she took no shit from anyone. i did think there was times she demanded attention when it was clear even more important things were going on – it seemed to me that she would have understood that a boat maybe sinking was legitimately the captain’s focus – but that never took me out of the show.

    i would love to see more of this character.

  2. Can appreciate its shortcomings , but for me Vigil was an edge of one’s seat thrill ride that helped us forget about the virus and such for a few hours. Add to that Suranne Jones, who can do no wrong, exploring a relationship with Rose Leslie – and count me in. It wasn’t Shakespear, but an interesting concept and a fun who done it with a woman in charge for a change. We streamed it before it launched on Peacock so didn’t have to deal with that aspect. All in all -I highly recommend it . Happy and healthy 2022 to all ! And thanks for your great postings ileene

  3. Always enjoy your take on new shows and glad that you have taken it upon yourself to filter out the good from the so/so and the time wasters. I never would have watched or believed that Nicole Kidman could be Lucy Ricardo. Amazing. And Suranne Jones is awesome and believable in any thing she chooses. Have a lovely New Year, stay healthy, and keep writing.

  4. Count me as another who will watch Suranne in anything. I enjoyed Vigil but thought it could have been an episode or two shorter. There were times towards the end that so much was introduced that I had a hard time following it. I do hope they bring it back in some format because she is great at playing a detective. I was so sad when Scott & Bailey ended. I loved that program. And I have been patiently waiting for Gentleman Jack to return.
    Happy New Year!

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