Vigil on BBC One

Vigil episode 2 recap: is there more to DS Porter than meets the eye?

Posted by for TV

Warning: this article contains spoilers for episode two of BBC One’s Vigil, so do not read on unless you are fully up to date with the crime thriller…    

Tonight’s instalment of BBC One’s Vigil dropped bombshell after bombshell after bombshell. Which, to be fair, is exactly what we were all hoping for after that tense series premiere.

First things first, DCI Amy Silva (Suranne Jones) found herself in no small amount of peril when the HMS Vigil experienced a terrifying reactor failure and emergency shutdown. Thankfully, the crew were able to prevent a full-on disaster, but Gary Walsh (Daniel Portman) almost died when he became trapped in a room slowly filling with nitrogen. Which, considering his history with the recently murdered Craig Burke (Martin Compston), seems… well, it seems pretty damned suspicious. 

Up on the surface, meanwhile, DS Kirsten Longacre (Rose Leslie) is eventually allowed to leave the naval base with Burke’s secret memory stick in hand – only to be violently attacked by masked intruders later that same evening. Thankfully, they don’t manage to make off with the evidence, but we imagine that they’re the ones who go after the late Burke’s protester girlfriend, Jade (Lauren Lyle). 

You know, the same Jade that Longacre finds apparently dead in the middle of nowhere? That Jade.

Throw in an unexpected – albeit seemingly irrelevant– murder confession from Lieutenant Commander Mark Prentice (Adam James), yet another mysterious flashback, and a dodgy yellow stain (poison, not the other thing), and the second episode of Vigil has left us with even more questions than the first.

Let’s do our best to unravel them all, shall we?

What’s the deal with Gary Walsh?

Gary Walsh – the naval officer who is almost killed in the nitrogen burst – got into a fight with Burke on the mainland shortly before the latter’s death. It turns out that Burke had turned up at the wake of Gary’s younger brother, Doug, in order to apologise for giving evidence against Walsh Jr. 

Doug, you see, was dishonourably discharged from the Navy for bullying, thanks to Burke’s testimony. And, unable to cop with the disgrace, he killed himself.

Gary, naturally, wasn’t best pleased to see Burke at Dougie’s wake, and reacted violently. But things didn’t end there; it was Gary, you see, who brought heroin aboard the HMS Vigil. Heroin which he got from his other brother, Sam. And heroin which ended up smeared all over the nostrils of the late Burke (albeit not in his bloodstream or nasal passage).

Vigil on BBC One
Suranne Jones stars in BBC's Vigil.

Why, then, did Walsh bring the heroin aboard in the first place? We know he wasn’t using himself; his begrudging urine test sample makes that all too clear. Could it be, then, that he was asked by someone higher up the chain of command to do so?

Who killed Jade?

Ah Jade, we barely knew you. 

Despite Longacre’s best efforts, Jade was found dead at the end of this episode, having drowned in a pool of water conveniently close to a remote rural road. 

Now, it could be that one of her fellow Dunloch Peace Camp comrades arranged the hit; after all, they weren’t happy to see their pal speaking willingly with the police. Or it could be the work of some shadowy force within the Navy, of course. 

Or maybe…

Is DS Porter a villain in disguise?

… or maybe it was DS Porter (Reuben Joseph) who murdered Jade. 

Think about it; he was the only officer on duty when Longacre called in for help with Burke’s memory stick – and he was out eating pizza with Longacre when those shadowy thugs broke into Amy’s apartment to steal aforementioned memory stick, too. Which means, yes, he was perfectly placed to give them the head’s up that the coast was clear.

Porter, too, was the officer Longacre called for help when she learned Jade was in danger, and she even sent him an exact pin of Jade’s location, too, so he could send backup. Considering Jade believed that she had given her attacker the slip, it seems distinctly shady that they knew exactly where to find her: perhaps Porter pinged that same pin in their direction, eh?

Then again, it could just be that Porter’s completely innocent, and Longacre’s phone has been bugged by the true Machiavellian mastermind. 

Food for thought, we suppose.

What caused the bad blood between Newsome and Prentice?

In the first episode of Vigil, we assumed that Prentice and Newsome were singing from the same song sheet. This time around, however, we’re not so sure. As Prentice points out, Newsome’s command of the HMS Vigil is conditional upon his presence on the sub – one of many hints that Newsome has royally messed up somewhere in his past. 

Then again, Prentice is married to an admiral’s daughter, which suggests that this could be a simple case of nepotism at its finest. Either way, Newsome doesn’t even try to hide his glee in standing Prentice down from his position and confining him to his quarters.

“I don’t need to lock you in, do I?” he asks smilingly. 

Does anyone else have Glover pegged as a very bad man?

Oh sure, Glover (Shaun Evans) is there to hold Amy’s hand when she suffers a traumatic flashback. And, yes, he’s the one who finds the bloodstained sweater linking Prentice to Burke’s death. Still, though, we can’t help but think that there’s something supremely shady about this guy.

“In terms of Glover’s personal life, there’s not a lot I can say without ruining a few twists for you, but it’s safe to say he’s got a secret,” teases Evans of his character. 

Now, we know that the coxswain has a wife and child. We know that he’s expected to spend at least 90 days upon the sub, potentially even 180. And we know, too, that he was the one due to discipline Burke before his mysterious death got in the way. 

It could all be a Glover-shaped coincidence, we suppose, but we have a feeling that there’s more to it than that. So be sure to keep your eyes on this one, yeah?

Who poisoned Burke? And why?

Prentice’s big murder confession turns out to be one big red herring, because, while he may have thought that he killed Burke with one single punch, but a suspicious yellow stain on Burke’s missing fleece quickly catches Amy’s attention. 

Urgently, she asks Prentice to tell her how Burke looked when he last saw him.

“He was comatose but still twitching,” he tells her. “Obviously he couldn’t breathe. He was sweating, his nose was streaming… and then he died before I could even think what to do. I didn’t hit him that hard.”

As (mis)fortune would have it, someone else on the sub is experiencing those exact same symptoms: Adams (Tom Gill). As in, yes, the same crewman who tried to resuscitate Burke using mouth-to-mouth.

Clearly, Amy tells Glover, someone poisoned Burke. And, just as clearly, they have inadvertently poisoned Adams in the process, too. But who on earth would have done such a thing?

Well, Vigil writer Tom Edge promises that the true villain will be entirely unexpected, saying: “In creating the show’s antagonist I again thought about these submarines – how they remain hidden, trying to evade detection, but always hold within them the capacity for sudden violence.”

Anyone else got their money on Glover still?

Will Amy and Longacre get a happy ending?

“When we first meet Amy she’s in a place of loss, grief, guilt, and trauma from a decision she made,” says Jones of her character. “You learn more about that as the series goes on. Amy is coping – she has all the things in place to have her life functioning, but whether she is enjoying her life is another thing. And work has taken over. And then she meets Kirsten, and Kirsten brings life and soul and brightness back into her life. 

“Kirsten makes her laugh, and just fills her life with everything she’d been missing. Only she’s a woman, and that confuses Amy.”

Jones continues: “What’s beautiful is we have the complexity of a woman who has fallen for another human being and now has to realign who and what she thought she was. I guess she’s also struggling with what other people will think of that new relationship. I did some research and spoke to a lot of women, and it can be a really tricky time for someone who has previously been straight, to adapt to those new feelings and to understand them. And so there was a relationship between Amy and Kirsten, but it stopped.

“When we first meet Kirsten and Amy they’re in a state of anger and confusion. There’s a lot going on in this piece! Both that and the criminal investigation will hopefully keep people on their toes.”

What will the ‘purity’ password reveal on Burke’s secret memory stick?

In the first episode, Longacre discovered a key piece of evidence in Burke’s room – stashed inside a plastic chair was a memory stick that includes several password-protected files and one video of Burke addressing the camera in a very intriguing fashion.

“Off the top of my head, there’s 20 different ways you could kill Vigil’s crew single-handed,” he says. “And nobody talks about it. Not the skipper, not the top brass – they only want silence. There’s corruption and fear, there’s men who are being killed and the world still have no idea. See we look like a crew, and that’s all that matters to them. I’ve had some of them come at me, they’ll come at me again, I know that. But they’ve left me dead under two miles of water, well here I am – I’ve got things to tell you.”

Now, our tenacious Longacre has the password to all those encrypted files. And, considering someone sent armed thugs to retrieve it from her, we just know that they’re going to contain some seriously juicy information.

What, though? We guess we’ll have to wait until the next episode to find out.

The next episode of Vigil will air Sunday 4 September, 9pm on BBC One. 

Read our recap of Vigil episode one.

Sign up for the latest news and must-read features from Stylist, so you don't miss out on the conversation.

By entering my email I agree to Stylist’s Privacy Policy

Images: BBC

Share this article

Kayleigh Dray

Kayleigh Dray is Stylist’s digital editor-at-large. Her specialist topics include comic books, films, TV and feminism. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends.

Recommended by Kayleigh Dray