En tout, the BBC drama gave the people what they wanted: some solid entertainment and an intriguing whodunnit that you genuinely don’t see coming
Well that’s it. Veillée is officially over. Over the past six weeks, audiences have been taken for the type of twisty, turvy ride that’s to be expected from the producers behind Ligne de conduite. The limited series by Tom Edge started with a bang in August: ticking time bombs, police vs Navy office politics, Anglo-Russian tensions, and a suspicious death all taking place 300m below sea level? How dramatic! It begged the question: Why aren’t all TV shows set on a submarine?
Cela étant dit, even in its short six-episode run there have been dips in momentum and some… ahem, questionable dialogue (another cringey example occurred in last night’s finale). All in all though, Veillée gave the people what we wanted: some solid entertainment and an intriguing whodunnit that you genuinely don’t see coming. The series wrapped with an explosive finale and a conclusion that will certainly leave viewers divided. Realistic or boring? You be the judge.
While I’m sad to be bidding farewell to DCI Silva (Suranne Jones) and her mates, sure enough there’ll be another crime drama on the way to fill that police procedural-shaped hole in our hearts soon. Right, let’s do a final deep dive into the last episode before I have to think of another nautical-themed pun.
Stuck between drowning and a tight place
Poor Amy. If the torrent of tedious flashbacks we’ve been accosted with in recent episodes have served any useful purpose, it’s been to reiterate our detective’s fear of a) drowning, and b) tight spaces. It’s obvious then why, in some sick Saw-style twist, the final episode opens with Silva trapped in a soundproof torpedo tube rapidly filling up with water. Brief recap from last week: Silva realised that the Russian spy was Matthew Doward (the surly bloke that was flown in as Burke’s replacement played by Lorne MacFadyen) only for him to hit her over the head and shove her inside the tube seconds later. It appears there is no way out – or is that Prentice (Adam James) we hear?
Bad guy turned good
Just as Silva breathes what’s looking like her final ever breath, Prentice comes in to save the day and stop the water flow. We’re not out of the woods – or rather torpedo tube – yet, mais. En fait, more than half of the episode takes place in Silva’s absence until she is finally discovered and rescued, again by Prentice. The two don’t get far before Doward’s back and this time he’s wielding a knife. The reformed villain puts up a good fight before ultimately sacrificing himself to save HMS Vigil’s crew as well as Silva who has sprinted out the room with Doward following close behind. Prentice is dead but semi-redeemed. je veux dire, he still covered up what he believed to be a murder that he committed – but I guess we’re just sweeping that under the rug for now?
Even the slipperiest villains are no match for our detective-on-land DS Longacre (Rose Leslie). A sigh of relief was exhaled when peace camp leader Ben Oakley (Cal MacAninch) found himself cornered by police just steps away from his asylum at the Chinese consulate. In a brief but effective investigation that would make Superintendent Hastings proud, Longacre confirms what we already know: Oakley wanted to publish the photo of a Russian spy within the Dunloch naval base in an effort to force nukes out of Scotland. He took the photo from Jade (Lauren Lyle) and gave it to Russian intelligence officer Peter Ingles (Sam Redford), who then murdered Jade because of it. Oakley didn’t mean for Jade to get killed but as Longacre points out later in the episode, he certainly did nothing to stop it and so will be going to prison “for a long time” because of it. The detective also finally uncovers the hooded man in the photo (dun dun dun, it’s Doward.). Catch up, Longacre.
More subterranean drama
Again the show’s submarine setting proves itself to be ripe for action. Looking to stir things up further, Doward takes a wrench to some pipes and ta-da we’re back in emergency mode as water gushes in and starts weighing the boat down gallon by gallon. They can’t surface, not yet at least, what with those Russian tanks circling around like sharks. Puis encore, it’s only a matter of time before the submarine gets so heavy it won’t be able to surface even when it wants to. Tick tock. À la fin, it’s good old fashioned elbow grease courtesy of some unsung heroes that tighten the pipes back up.
It all comes to a head
Silva manages to evade Doward for some time but it’s not long before he manages to get a knife to her neck and march her to the control room. “Captain, the chain of command is changing,” announces Doward in what is a strong contender for Vigil’s most cringe-inducing line. After Doward makes his demands for the submarine to surface and make contact with one of the Russian vessels, Commander Newsome (Paterson Joseph) manages a clever piece of deception that sends the submarine lurching and destabilises Doward long enough for him to be apprehended. A helicopter comes to airlift out Doward, Silva, and the radiation-riddled coxswain (who is fine by the way, not that anyone asked). Done and dusted – but there’s still 20 minutes left?
And they all lived happily ever after
It’s smooth sailing from here on out, avec Veillée using the remaining time to tie up some personal loose ends. Silva is back on land and reunites with her step-daughter Poppy and DS Longacre. Needless to say, “I love you’s” are exchanged and the future looks peachy. There really is nothing like a near death experience to make you take stock of your life.
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Everyone is safe and sound but the question remains: why did Doward do what he did? Luckily enough, ceux en Vigil’s writers room anticipated our questions and broke it down for us in a simple Q&A interrogation scene, which I will now break down further:
Why did the Russians choose Doward? They didn’t. Not at first. Oakley told Ingles to reach out to Burke believing that, given the sailor’s existing animosity toward the Navy, he’d be likely to flip. Alas, he didn’t. So now, not only have the Russians failed at getting someone onside aboard the submarine but they have a sailor that can identify Ingles as well. The solution? Kill two birds with one stone, c'est à dire. get Jackie to kill Burke (on the promise of getting her son out of jail) and flip his replacement (Doward) plutôt.
Why did Doward say yes? While the traitor himself declines to speak on his personal motivations, the apparent answer to this big question comes courtesy of Silva herself. We’re apparently meant to take the detective at her word when she assesses Doward as a “narcissist” who did what he did because it “made him feel special, gave him power”. She got all that from “no comment”?
What was the plan for the nerve agent? The whole nerve agent debacle turned out to be just another attempt by Doward to get the boat to surface – not so Russia could blow it up, but rather so they could snap a few photos of the situation and create a PR nightmare for the Trident programme ahead of a vote on its funding. Silva said what we were all thinking when she exclaimed: “People were killed for that?!” The show’s conclusion seemed to take a page out of Line of Duty’s “H” book, in which the simplest answer is the right one. “Russia dupes Britain into scrapping its deterrent; that’s modern warfare,” says Longacre. Modern perhaps, dull definitely.
Business as usual
Although the Russians didn’t succeed in their plan to expose Trident as penetrable and dangerous, the fact remains that they’ve proved it is: A Russian spy managed to go undetected aboard a British vanguard submarine. But as expected, that’ll go unreported. The bottom line is that while the cold war may be over, no country wants to be the first to remove their nuclear powers. Some sneaky maneuvering by the straight-talking, well-meaning Rear Admiral Shaw (Stephen Dilane) means MP Patrick Cruden (aka Jade’s dad played by Stephen McCole) will keep his mouth shut. Alas, it’s like nothing ever happened…