The BBC’s most-watched new drama of 2021, Vigil – starring Suranne Jones and Rose Leslie – definitely ended on a high thanks to its nail-biting finale last night. So much so, in fact, that fans have already taken to Twitter to call for a second season.
“I have never been on the edge of my seat and looked forward to the next instalment so much before,” reads one such tweet. “Fantastic series.”
Another notes: “Thank the gods that’s over, another episode would’ve given me a brain bleed. But that’s not to say I don’t want season two. Writers? Get writing!”
And still one more begs: “Vigil has been such a ride! I hope there’s a season two somehow…”
It’s easy to see why everyone is so keen for more submarine drama; Vigil, after all, delivered chills, thrills, and everything in between. Still, though, this writer can’t help but think that a second season might be… well, that it might be a mistake. Because, while there’s no denying that this was a TV thriller to end all TV thrillers, it was so much more than just that, too.
Indeed, as Vigil creator Tom Edge explained at the BBC’s recent Bafta Q&A, the show isn’t your typical whodunnit; rather, it’s the story of one woman’s psychological journey from a place of grief and loss to love and self-acceptance.
“It is about Amy’s journey as she goes from being a land-dwelling person, whose life is quite compartmentalised into work and her relationship with the child in her life, and her emotional life over there,” said Edge.
“She works hard to keep those things apart and then she’s swallowed into the belly of the beast and taken down into this kind of underworld, placed under huge pressure, with everything that allows her to function normally stripped away from her.”
Edge added: “There are no colleagues; no databases; there’s no authority in terms of her capacity to run things. She has to go to sleep behind this tiny thin curtain; her medication runs out as the days are extended, and she’s progressively shorn of all of the things that help her in her head and feel like she can do her job professionally, and cope, and survive.”
His words echo those of Jones herself, who previously said: “What’s beautiful [about Vigil] 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.
“And so there was a relationship between Amy and Kirsten, but it stopped… [this storyline] will hopefully keep people on their toes.”
Now, Vigil viewers will be all too aware that the LGBTQ+ romance was beautifully resolved in the show’s finale; Amy finally found the courage to tell Kirsten how much she loved her, and the pair happily walked hand-in-hand into a new life together – one built on trust, honesty, and openness.
Considering how much of the show’s drama stemmed from Amy’s tortured memories, and how much of a role her separation from Kirsten played in Vigil’s slowly unfolded mystery (as mentioned before, the ever-evolving tapestry of their romance quietly provided the rock-solid foundation for this BBC thriller), it seems unlikely a second season could work. Unless, of course, it separated the pair once again – but, let’s face it, that has the potential to steer Vigil into the tricky waters of the toxic on-and-off-again couple trope so often seen on screen.
Then again, Edge previously explained that another series set on the submarine itself seemed unlikely, there’s every chance that he could return to some of the characters again in the future.
“We have probably told as many of the stories as we would wish to tell on a submarine,” he said. “[But] some of the characters that we have developed as we’ve made it, they feel like characters that we’d love to burrow into. So if there’s a will to do it from everyone else then certainly I would be up for it.”
Perhaps, then, this means that a second season of Vigil could work – albeit as a very different show to the first. It might take us onto solid ground as it explores how its (still living, obviously) characters have responded to the aftermath of the first season’s events; the political ramifications, the need to keep the scandal covered up, the ongoing emotional upheaval of all they’ve been through.
It could, too, show us how Amy and Kirsten’s new life together; how they’re balancing working and living together, the dynamics of the new family they’ve created with Poppy (Orla Russell), the natural evolution of their relationship as time progresses.
Or it could, quite possibly, offer us an entirely new case, with an entirely new cast of characters; perhaps a sort of anthology series, which focuses on the psychological impact that intense police procedural cases have upon the detectives investigating them.
Essentially, there are ways another season of Vigil could work – but it would need a lot of careful thought and consideration from the show’s writers. It’s not so cut and dry as, say, another season of Line Of Duty, which simply needs another gripping case for Jed Mercurio’s officers to solve.
With that in mind, then, we will keep an eye on the Vigil-shaped hole in our TV schedules for a wee while longer. The finale, after all, was watched by a whopping 7.1 million viewers, so it makes sense that the BBC will want to capitalise on the show’s success.
We just hope that, when they do so, they don’t lose sight of what it was that made the series so great in the first place.
You can watch all six episodes of Vigil on BBC iPlayer now.
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.