‘Vigil’ Synopsis And Ending Explained

‘Vigil’ Synopsis And Ending Explained

It follows Detective Chief Inspector Amy Silva of the Scottish Police Service investigating a death onboard the submarine HMS Vigil.

Vigil is a British police procedural television miniseries on BBC One. The six-part series was created by Tom Edge and produced by World Productions. It stars Suranne Jones, Rose Leslie, Shaun Evans, Paterson Joseph, and Martin Compston. 

It follows Detective Chief Inspector Amy Silva (Jones) of the Scottish Police Service who is sent to HMS Vigil, a Vanguard-class nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine, to investigate a death on board. Her investigations and those of her colleagues ashore, uncover a conspiracy that brings the police into conflict with the Royal Navy and MI5, the British Security Service.


The show garnered more attention than expected with the show finale being viewed by an average overnight audience of 7.1 million viewers. Even though the second season has not been announced yet, there is an expectation that it will be renewed. Till then here's a look at what Season 1 was all about, spoilers included.

'Vigil' Synopsis and Ending Explained

The story begins first with the mysterious disappearance of a Scottish fishing trawler, the Mhairi Finnea. The net of the trawler gets stuck to an unidentified submarine and this unusual activity is picked up by the submarine, HMS Vigil, which is nearby. The sonar operator of Vigil, Craig Burke (Compston), requests his captain, Commander Neil Newsome (Joseph), to help the trawler crew. But the captain refuses to do so as it may reveal their position. When Burke argues, he is sent to his bunk where he is soon found dead.


This matter is brought to the attention of Detective Superintendent Colin Robertson (Gary Lewis) and DCI Amy Silva who is asked to conduct a formal investigation. They are told that Burke overdosed on heroin. But Silva finds through her investigation that this was untrue and that the drug was rubbed on his nostrils and he was actually poisoned with a nerve agent like sarin. It is then found that the nerve agent was mixed in Burke’s food by Vigil's chef Jackie Hamilton. But Silva believes that she was probably threatened and struck a deal with the actual culprit to help her son who was in jail.

Who Killed Burke and Why?

Burke’s death is speculated to be related to the incidents at US Port Havers, Florida, where nuclear-powered submarines like Vigil go to get serviced. During the routine maintenance, due to the error of a junior mechanic, there was an accident that ended up killing two local contractors in the turbine room. This accident was covered up by the British and US Navy. Burke seems to have also chanced about this cover-up by the navy and was about to reveal all this in a recorded video. These pieces of evidence were found and corroborated by Silva's junior Detective Sergeant Kirsten Longacre (Leslie.) 


Burke's girlfriend, Jade Antoniak is also found dead but her death seems to have been co-incidental even after Longacre finds that she was getting monthly income from MP Patrick Cruden, who was against British nuclear warheads. He explains that Jade was his illegitimate daughter only and had nothing to do with anything else. But further investigation shows that Jade actually had a picture of the traitor on Vigil meeting with Piter Vasiliev who was a Russian Intelligence officer. If the picture was leaked, it would have exposed Russian agents, which was why Jade was killed as well.

It is found that the picture was clicked by the Russian operative onboard Vigil, Burke’s replacement who had even flown out with Silva, the sonar operator Mathew Doward. He is arrested and he reveals that Piter had asked Burke to sabotage the ship but because he was going to become a whistleblower, he was killed. It turned out to be a mere PR stunt to deteriorate the image of the Vanguard-class submarines that would have influenced the parliament to scrap the Tridents, to soften Britain’s nuclear defense.

In the end, the Russian infiltration on the Vigil is also covered up to ensure that the Royal Navy did not come into a bad light in the public eye.


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