Warning: this article contains spoilers for episode five of BBC One’s Vigil, so do not read on unless you are fully up to date with the crime thriller…
The penultimate episode of BBC One’s Vigil left viewers all at sea this week, thanks to its horrifying cliffhanger of an ending.
After learning that coxswain Elliot Glover (Shaun Evans) was the mother of all red herrings, DCI Amy Silva (Suranne Jones) found herself locked in a torpedo tube by CPO Matthew Doward (Lorne MacFadyen) – aka HMS Vigil’s Russian spy-in-residence. And, as if that weren’t bad enough for our claustrophobic detective, it was a torpedo tube slowly filling up with water at that; cue flashbacks to that car crash trauma, obviously.
The drama didn’t end there, of course. There’s also the fact that, shortly before her death, Jackie Hamilton (Anita Vettesse) released a nerve agent in the galley stores. That the newly-redeemed Glover has most likely shared his last ever kiss with medical officer Lt Tiffany Docherty (Anjli Mohindra) thanks to that unfortunate tear in his hazmat suit. And, you know, that not-so-small detail of the Russians making good on their plans to force HMS Vigil to the surface and render her a sitting duck.
Essentially, it seems as if the end is nigh for Trident’s ill-fated HMS Vigil – and yet, somehow, this writer suspects that the submarine will be saved from the Machiavellian machinations of those oh so wicked Russkis come the finale. Amy will be released from her torpedo tube of despair. Glover will… well, he’ll probably die, let’s face facts: someone has to, after all. And Doward will be brought to justice – or killed in a suitably dramatic showdown with our underwater heroine. Choices, choices.
The one storyline that remains thoroughly unpredictable, however, is the same one that the majority of viewers and critics have seemingly forgotten or dismissed entirely.
I’m talking, of course, about Amy’s relationship with DS Kirsten Longacre (Rose Leslie).
Now, thanks to the dual timelines of Vigil, we’ve seen Amy and Kirsten meet for the very first time, bonding over a dodgy hot chocolate from a vending machine. We’ve seen them popping to their local for a proper drink and a chat, too. We’ve seen friendship blossom into romance, and romance, in turn, blossom into something stronger, deeper than even that.
All of this has been achieved via a dozen fleeting moments. Moments like, say, Kirsten reading aloud to Amy in bed, or the pair cuddling up on the sofa as they discuss music (and Morse code), or slow-dancing in Amy’s apartment, or taking a bath together in a fancy AF free-standing tub. Because, while their relationship hasn’t been at the forefront of the series, it has served as a vital connector between the drama taking place underwater and the investigation being conducted on solid ground.
Indeed, due to the very real threat of their messages being intercepted by enemy spies, it has been through Amy and Kirsten’s shared experiences and memories – their favourite books and songs – that the two officers have been able to share their evidence and findings with one another safely. The shorthand of the couple’s love for one another has become as much a part of the series as its twists, convoluted plot, and incredibly cinematic ocean shots.
Best of all, though, is the fact that, unlike so many other TV shows featuring LGBTQ+ relationships, Amy and Kirsten’s romance is treated incredibly nonchalantly: there is no big coming out moment for Amy, nor is she defined by her sexuality.
“I like you,” she tells Kirsten simply. “I will [tell you that when I’m sober]. I mean, I’ll have a headache, but I’ll still feel the same.”
Naturally, this muted approach to Vigil’s romantic storyline has won the hearts of fans, with one social media user writing: “Excellent, a gay romance/relationship that isn’t the main point of the story. 10/10 so far for Vigil.”
Another, meanwhile, added: “My gay little heart is fulfilled! Thank you, Vigil.”
But here’s the thing; these two women – who undoubtedly make each other happy, who step in to support one another at a moment’s notice, who know everything there is to know about the other – are no longer together. Their relationship ended sometime before Amy was sent aboard HMS Vigil, for reasons still unknown to viewers.
While it’s clear that their time apart has forced them to reflect on the love they still feel for one another, it remains unclear whether or not they will rekindle their romance when (and if, we suppose) they are reunited on solid ground. And it is this storyline, despite the labyrinthian mystery being spun aboard the HMS Vigil itself, that we need to see resolved before the credits roll on the show’s sixth and final episode.
As Jones herself puts it: “When we first meet Amy she’s in a place of loss, grief, guilt, and trauma from a decision she made.
“She 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. [She] makes her laugh, and just fills her life with everything she’d been missing.”
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… [I hope] both that and the criminal investigation will hopefully keep people on their toes.”
Forget, then, the torpedo tubes and Russian spies and silent enemy submarines you were gifted in Vigil’s penultimate episode. Instead, focus on the fact that, when Kirsten went to visit the parents of Amy’s late partner (and grandparents of Poppy, the little girl that Amy loves so much), she learned for the very first time that Amy wanted them to apply for joint custody of Poppy. That she dreamed of a future for them both.
Focus, too, on the fact that, whenever Amy is at her lowest, she thinks of Kirsten and the light she brought into her life. Focus on the fact that, in a world where Amy and Kirsten have found themselves unable to trust anyone, they have always had each other – even in spite of the watery expanse that physically separates them.
Finally, focus on the fact that the ever-evolving tapestry of Amy and Kirsten’s romance has quietly provided the rock-solid foundation for this BBC thriller. And then, once you’ve done all of the above, don’t you dare tell me that it wouldn’t be utterly criminal of showrunners not to resolve this relationship in the Vigil finale.
Whether it ends with a kiss, a poignant goodbye, or a Line Of Duty-esque shot of the pair donning cosy jumpers and living their best cottagecore lives (Jo Davidson-approved labrador included, obviously), we need this tied up. We need it more than Glover needs a toxic nerve gas-curing miracle, quite frankly.
Roll on Sunday night, eh?
The final episode of Vigil will air on BBC One at 9pm, Sunday 26 September.
You can read our recap of Vigil episode four here.
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.