Welcome to HULU and the BBC’s new apocalypse prequel! Hard Sun is a 6 episode crime drama/”end of the world is coming” combination, from Luther creator Neil Cross, focusing on two detectives who accidentally find out about the prediction that there are only 5 years left until the sun destroys life on earth, and an MI5 agent who’s determined to keep the news under wraps and maintain normal society for as long as possible, no matter who she has to hurt to do it.
This show is obsessed with fire, death, murder, morality, and justice, as probably befits a reality where everyone is doomed to a fiery end sooner rather than later. The violence can get gratuitous and overly explicit, so consider yourself warned. The scifi concept isn’t as front and center as I’d like, but there’s enough here to make it interesting, and enough struggle within and between the characters to make them interesting.
This first season feels like the set up portion of the five year plan that the creator says he already has, the prequel to the prequel, if you will. By season 2, the news of the apocalypse won’t be able to be hidden any more and this will be a full on scifi show dealing more directly with the ramifications of the impending end. This season, the ramifications don’t feel real to most people, and the emphasis is on keeping things that way so as to avoid panic for as long as possible. This leads to intrigue, adventure, betrayal, murder, the end of some relationships and the beginning of others.
The pace of the show is uneven, and episodes 3 and 4, in particular, got bogged down in a serial murder case with too little focus on the season long story arcs. I felt like you could almost skip those episodes and be fine watching the episodes that surround them in order to focus on the more intriguing storylines.
The two main characters, DCI Charlie Hicks (Jim Sturgess) and his new partner, DI Elaine Renko (Agyness Deyn) each have troubled pasts and complications in their present personal lives. They are put together as strangers in episode 1, and immediately forced to make life changing decisions together, whether they can agree on the decisions or not. They must continue to make these decisions throughout the season, and continue working together and depending on each other, despite the fact that they have multiple opportunities and motivations to betray each other.
Daniel (Jojo Macari), Elaine’s son, is violently mentally ill, and locked in a mental ward since he attacked and tried to murder her. He is also trying to figure out both the mystery of Hard Sun and the mystery of Elaine’s life. He has his mother’s strong sense of justice, but applies it in a way that twists what can be considered acceptable punishment.
Grace Morrigan (Nikki Amuka-Bird), the intelligence agency spook who knows the most about the Hard Sun situation, remains mysterious throughout the season, acting mainly as an enemy and antagonist. Amuka-Bird is chillingly stonefaced in the role, right up until the moment it finally affects her personally. Grace and Daniel are two sides of the same coin. She wants normalcy at any cost, even lawfulness, while he wants vigilante justice at any cost, even normalcy.
Overall, I found Hard Sun worth the watch, even if it’s not a favorite. It stuck with me for days afterward, and I’d find myself thinking about the premise or the characters. There’s something here worth continuing for another season.
Grade for season= B (with hope for improvement in season 2)
Hard Sun Poster from HULU/BBC.