Following the conclusion of the first episode that promised a world-changing event, the follow-up of Hard Sun reverts back to becoming a police procedural that just happens to have a slight sci-fi twist.
After DI Renko (Agyness Deyn) leaked the Hard Sun file, a major newspaper MI5 have been able to dismiss the report as a hoax and prevent mass panic. Yet there are still ramifications: DCI Hicks (Jim Sturgess) goes into hiding to protect his family and MI5 blackmail Renko to frame Hicks for murder. Added to that Hicks and Renko have to continue working as detectives with the leak of the Hard Sun file awaking all the nutters and conspiracy theorists – including one man who wants revenge against his ex-wife.
Hard Sun has been heavily marketed as a primetime show on Saturday in the UK, but considering its attempts to mix genres and its violent nature the show would be more fitting on another day. Saturday is traditionally a night for more lighter hearted shows, and another date would have been more suitable, although the series is available online on the iPlayer in the UK and is going to be released on Hulu in the USA, so it does make the point slightly moot.
The biggest crime this episode made was undercutting the ending of the first. There was a lot of intrigue and high stakes because MI5 had captured Hicks’ pregnant wife and threaten to kill her if he didn’t take action while the world is finding out that the Earth is going to suffer an extinction level event. They should have been human sacrifices, cats, and dogs living together, mass hysteria. Of course, a British TV show would have some budgetary constraints so it couldn’t show the international impact, but they could have shown something like news reports and riots in London. They could have been potential showing the impact on the world with society turning violent and nihilistic with a few people trying to keep order or the planet collectively suffering the five stages of grief.
The bulk of the episode was a crime of the week narrative, and it just happens to be more violent then you normally expect from a police procedural. In this episode, a man called Chris (Jamie Sives) snaps because of personal circumstances, and the coming apocalypse so kills his wife’s family and colleagues and kidnaps his own children. They could have been some social commentary about people just doing what they want and unleash all their violent fantasy – knowing there are no consequences. Despite the show’s attempts to link the crime to the world ending event it really could have been any crime story about a man being as sadistic as possible to his ex. Alan Moore’s Watchmen was able to convey this theme better in just one page of comic panels then a 60 minute TV episode.
The episode is at it best when it builds up of tension. This happens in the pre-title sequence when MI5 capture Hicks’ wife and tension to kill her if he doesn’t reveal the location of the Hard Sun file: something he can’t do. The other highlight was when Hicks and Renko find Chris’ hide-out and uses his ex-wife (Christine Bottomley) as a distraction – not standard police procedure but realism was thrown out the window in the first episode. The scenes in the hide-out had an atmosphere because it was set in a missy wood and the characters’ field of vision was limited. Hard Sun‘s second episode may have a thin story considering the show’s premise, but Brain Kirk and his team at least make the show visually appealing.
The second episode squanders the set-up and potential of the first episode’s ending, and as a sci-fi/apocalyptic show it is so far under-whelmed and as a police procedural is a standard affair. So far the show hasn’t been able to mesh its genres successfully.