Wednesday, February 14, 2024

Vigil, Season Two, on Peacock

The British military has its own Royal Military Police for each brand of service, who in turn all have a Special Investigation Branch. Yet, for some reason, they keep outsourcing their murder investigations to the Police Service of Scotland. DCI Amy Silva’s first military-related assignment almost made sense, because the murder onboard a nuclear sub was the sort of “locked room” mystery that needed a specialized homicide detective. However, the terrorist attack that she investigates this time around must surely fall within the jurisdiction of the national investigative and intelligence services. Nevertheless, Silva ships out to a fictional marginally-western-inclined Middle East regime to sleuth out the deadly hijacking of military drones in season two of creator Tom Edge’s Vigil, which premieres tomorrow on Peacock.

Wudyan has made it clear to the Brits, if they do not sell advanced arms to the regime, they will turn towards Russia and China. Air Vice Marshal Marcus Grainger is happy to oblige. He organized a demo of the RAF’s latest R-PAS drones, but in an ugly twist, one of the drones goes rogue, fatally shooting seven enlisted soldiers.

Initially, the drone operator based in Scotland is blamed, but Silva (doing work better suited to MI5 or the NCA) determines the guilty operator was based in Wudyan, based on the signal amplitude. Suspicion then falls on the former Squadron Leader, until he too is murdered. Silva hates to leave behind her life and police partner DI Kirsten Longacre, especially during her advanced stage of pregnancy, but off to Wudyan she goes. It does seem rather questionable to keep a DCI assigned to a DI she is romantically involved and having a baby with, but this is Scotland.

Season one has plenty of credibility issues too, but the claustrophobic submarine greatly helped to power through them. Season two however, is just a trainwreck when it comes to believability. It is also openly hostile to the British military. Apparently, Edge and co-scripter George Aza-Selinger looked around the world, saw Assad razing Aleppo to the ground, Putin carpet-bombing Mariupol, Xi committing genocide in Xinjiang, and Iran executing a generation of young women for the crime of believing they have rights, only to conclude the greatest threat to global stability is overly hawkish RAF officers.

If you honestly believe that too, maybe you will enjoy season, because it is painfully obvious right from the start the ostensive terrorists are actually the good guys and the not-so secret bad guys are engineering a false flag operation from within the RAF. Anyone who argues that is a “spoiler” must be a complete idiot with zero intuition.

It is a shame, because there ought to a British equivalent of
NCIS, the TV franchise, not the agency. Compared to the first season, in which the Russians represent a clear and present danger, season two is a bitter disappointment. Suranne Jones is competent doing the procedural stuff as Silva and it is amusing to watch Dougray Scott sniff and sneer his way through his scenes as Grainger, but Rose Leslie’s angsty portrayal of DI Longacre grows tiresome. At least Romal Garai is cooly professional as Acting Squadron Leader Eliza Russel. Frankly, she is one of the few characters that acts like she belongs on a foreign military base.

Honestly, as grown military-dependent and military-grandson, I am really getting tired of supposed “military” thrillers that features American military personnel (or those of our close NATO allies) as the villains. The men and women serving and defending the UK deserved better treatment than what they get in season two. Even more fundamentally, there are no shocks or surprises. We see it all coming every labored step of the way. Not recommended, season two of
Vigil starts streaming tomorrow (2/15) on Peacock.