Vigil season 1 ending explained and episode 6 recap

'Vigil' Episode 6
Captain Newsome faces some tough decisions in tonight's finale. (Image credit: BBC)

Here's the ending explained for Vigil season 1 and an episode 6 recap.

DCI Amy Silva has taken us on quite a ride since she first stepped aboard HMS Vigil and millions of viewers were desperate to find out how this captivating conspiracy thriller ended. 

The six-part series was a ratings smash for BBC One and Vigil season 2 is now here.

DCI Amy Silva found herself in quite a tight spot at the end of the fifth episode and we pick up right where we left off, with the treacherous Lt. Matthew Doward calmly filling Amy's torpedo tube with water. But before he can drown her and fire her into the watery abyss, Lt Commander Adam Prentice arrives and unwittingly saves the day by draining the torpedo tube, although he has no idea Amy is trapped inside. As no one can hear Amy banging on the inside of the tube, how long will she be able to survive in there? 

Meanwhile, the Russians are using sonar buoys to try and find HMS Vigil and with no communication wire, Captain Newsome is unable to contact Navy HQ. Eeek! 

Worst things happen at sea... 

Surgeon Lt Tiffany Docherty comes to the control room to explain that Glover's condition is "deteriorating" and he will need special medication to survive. Captain Newsome outlines the precarious nature of their position and reveals that even if they were able to call for a medical evacuation, the fact they're surrounded by a fleet of enemy submarines means sending such a message would doom the vessel. It's a hammer-blow for poor Docherty as things don't look good for Glover and with him being the only other person on board who knows about Doward - they don't look good for DCI Silva either... 

Yet the situation is about to get much worse for Glover when Doward turns up to suffocate him in his sleep. It's a strange risk to take considering it seems unlikely Glover will ever regain consciousness. Doward has been stealthy as a fox with his mission so far, with no one suspecting his involvement in any of the murders, crises or reactor scrambles that have occurred so far, but is he now starting to get desperate and make silly mistakes? 

'Vigil' episode 6

Lt Commander Prentice hears banging below decks. (Image credit: BBC)

Matthew Doward unmasked... 

Back on dry land, Ben Oakley is on his way to the Chinese embassy. We don't know why Patrick Cruden's assistant didn't drop him off at the door given how important he believed his mission is, but we're grateful he didn't. How the police got there so fast when they originally thought he was going to the Russian embassy, is also slightly mystifying, but never mind. Anyway, DS Kirsten Longacre intercepts him and arrests him on suspicion of conspiracy to murder Jade Antoniak...

When she questions him it's quickly clear that Oakley isn't just a Russian stooge, but also a naive anti-nuclear campaigner. He says Peter Ingles wanted to see Russia disarm and he talked to him about that, but there's a real "gotcha" moment when DS Longacre asks him when he took the photo he has in his possession, only to reveal that she knows Jade took it. Zing! 

Yet before she can bask in the exhilaration of catching him out, Kirsten knows that photo could be crucial to the survival of those aboard HMS Vigil, including her on/off girlfriend DCI Amy Silva. Luckily Oakley cracks immediately and when DS Longacre sees the image of Doward she understands exactly what's happened and tells the Navy, but how long until Shaw can get a message to the crew about the traitor in their midst? 

'A tonne of water a second!' 

As DCI Silva lies contemplating life, death and everything in between, she remembers the Morse Code DS Longacre taught her when they were lying in bed together and starts banging away on the metal tube. Luckily one of the crew hear her and Prentice goes to check out the sound, yet Doward cottons on to what's going on springs into action. We have to say we didn't much like the cut of Prentice's jib when we first met him, but we're really coming round to him now - which as any scriptwriter will tell you, is a sure sign that he's doomed. 

Realising his ruse is probably about to be discovered, Doward heads for the bowls of the ship and opens the ballast hull valve, sending water cascading into the vessel. We're no submariners, but we're pretty sure that's bad news. But if Doward's planning to force the ship to surface, flooding it with water is surely a bad idea? Let's see. Realising the sub has been sabotaged - again - Captain Newsome calls for "Emergency Stations" - again - and tells a minion there's more than a tonne of water a second coming on to the boat. How long can Vigil survive? 

Back at Dunloch, Shaw hears sonar readings that could be HMS Vigil in distress and with five Russian subs converging on her position, he asks the Americans to send USS Delaware to help them out and make them "sh*t their uniforms". It's worth a shot. 

The net closes on Doward

Lt Commander Prentice pulls DCI Silva to safety, but Doward has already found them and looks like he means business. In the ensuing scuffle the Russian spy murders poor Prentice )': who sacrifices himself to save Amy to complete his redemption arc. Meanwhile, Doward chases Amy into a missile deck, which is still misty with bleach after the DIY decontamination Hadlow performed earlier. What follows is a tense cat-and-mouse pursuit worthy of any Hollywood blockbuster, yet elsewhere Walsh has finally restored the communication lines, meaning it's only a matter of time before the entire crew knows the truth about Doward — but will that news come in time to save DCI Silva? 

Doward demands to be taken to the control room — with a knife to Amy's throat — and demands an emergency surface. Captain Newsome agrees and the crew rush the traitor in the confusion, but how did he manage to bring the submarine towards the surface so rapidly? We don't remember it being that easy in Das Boot...

'Vigil' episode 6

DS Longacre has some searching questions for Ben Oakley. (Image credit: BBC)

'You're going to prison for a long time'

As DS Longacre questions Oakley, he explains that he arranged for Jade to meet Peter Ingles and claims he had no idea the Russian spy was planning to murder her. He claims he tried to stop him, but it was "too late" and was scared because Ingles made it look like he was his accomplice. It's a pretty weak argument and Kirsten's not having any of it. "You're going to prison for a long time" she tells him. Shame. 

What made Doward do it? 

DCI Silva considers what might have happened if Prentice hadn't heard her and tells Captain Newsome she won't dishonour him by revealing his or any other crew member's indiscretions. She says she'll report her findings on Jackie, Burke, Doward and nothing more. Elsewhere Glover is finally evacuated - presumably the USS Delaware scared the Russian submarines into staying away - and will survive the tell the tale, although we think he might be a bit selective with the details when he speaks to his family. DCI Silva is also evacuated, alongside Doward, who's off to be questioned by MI5. That's going to be a tense helicopter ride. 

In the interrogation, Doward reveals that a "old school CND guy at the peace camp" told the Russians to approach Burke, but Burke turned them down flat, so the Russians organised his murder in a bid to silence him and get Doward onto the boat. Could this "old school" guys be Oakley? ...And how did the Russians manage to discover the identities of crew members working on Britain's nuclear submarines? 

We then discover the entire Russian plot was essentially a PR stunt to discredit Trident in the run up to this parliamentary vote. But was that Russia's real aim, or was that simply the cover story they told Doward? Russia surely won't give up their attempt to weaken Britain's defences, which could be a good jumping off point for Vigil series two? ...which would presumably be called  'Vanquish' - as that's the name of the next submarine to go out on patrol. 

When asked why he decided to work for Russia, Doward refuses to answer, but what did they have over him and do they have leverage over anyone else in the Navy? Rather than throwing away the key on the Russian spy, as MI5 seem happy to do, they might need his help when things kick off again in series two. Here's hoping! 

'Vigil' Episode 6

Shaw is eager to cover-up Russia's infiltration of HMS Vigil. (Image credit: BBC)

Scandal and cover-up!

Patrick Cruden MSP and Commander Shaw share a rather frank discussion, in which the Navy man accepts that while Russia managed to put a spy on one of Britain's nuclear submarine's, the politician's part in the whole affair means he's in no position to get on his high horse. 

Shaw essentially blackmails Cruden into keeping the scandal silent in return for his silence over the MP's delay in handing over a photo that identified Doward as the Russian spy. Shaw seems very content with his work, but he might think about tightening up the Navy's security, seeing as Russian agents were swanning around trying to recruit British submariners. Just a thought! 

Meanwhile, Cruden vows to have nuclear weapons out of Scotland in his lifetime - which might not be that long, if he keeps getting involved in national security cover-ups like this.

A happy ending...

Amy asks Kirsten to come with her when she sees Poppy again for the first time, in a gesture that says more than mere words could, but then the couple share an emotional moment outside the young girl's house. We think it's safe to say they're a couple again.

Sean Marland

Sean is a Senior Feature writer for TV Times, What's On TV and TV & Satellite Week, who also writes for He's been covering the world of TV for over 15 years and in that time he's been lucky enough to interview stars like Ian McKellen, Tom Hardy and Kate Winslet. His favourite shows are I'm Alan Partridge, The Wire, People Just Do Nothing and Succession and in his spare time he enjoys drinking tea, doing crosswords and watching football.