“It’s as if Luther, Line of Duty and Utopia all went to the pub together, emerged several hours later, steaming, and decided to form a supergroup.”
That was pretty much my feeling at the end of this 6-part drama that was first shown in 2018. Hard Sun is 3 parts sci-fi/apocalypse, 3 parts police drama, 2-parts horror/gore, 2 parts hacktivism/computer crime and one-and-a-half parts moral/theological issues. Yes, I know that adds up to eleven-and-a-half parts; that illustrates how much is crammed into this decidedly unusual story.
This makes the plot hard to summarise, but here goes. A hacker (clearly based on Gary McKinnon) stumbles on an above-top-top-secret Goverment file. Codenamed Hard Sun, it reveals that an extinction-level event is about to happen and that the planet will become uninhabitable within five years. Naturally the government wants to suppress this news.
Then the hacker gets murdered and the memory drive containing the sole copy of the file goes missing – the genius-level hacker somehow having forgotten to make any backup copies. So everyone, including the unwitting local police, are looking for the maguffin memory drive.
The two police leads, Elaine Renko and Charlie Hicks, are both Complicated Characters With Dark Secrets. They start off loathing each other, but the storyline refuses to accommodate any opposites-attract nonsense. Although they do eventually find common ground and a grudging sort of comradeship, they still don’t like each other.
Against tremendous opposition(of course!) these two together recover the memory drive, see what’s on it and decide it shouldn’t be hidden, so some of the file contents do get out.
At this point, we suddenly fast forward four months. And everything is pretty well normal. Depite the fact that our heroes are known to be the ones that released the file, they’re still with the police, working as usual. Apart from the ‘Hard Sun’ graffitti everywhere and “Hard Sun Truthers” crawling all over the internet, everyone else seems to have forgotten about it. The explanation that “The Government” is suppressing all public discussion of the matter and spreading disinformation about it being a deliberate hoax isn’t really convincing. But it’s all fiction anyway – I can suspend my disbelief for a while longer (although it continues to get sorely tried all the way through to the end).
This is from Neil Cross, the writer of Luther, so there’s plenty of stylish violence and gore; at times, I had to fast-forward the recording. (Trigger warning – there’s LOTS of blood!) Also, there are three different serial killers, one of whom doesn’t actually kill his victims (you read that right); at least two so grotesquely evil that Stephen King would have given his writing hand to have dreamed them up.
Speaking of violence, the various bloody fights were quite unusual, in that nobody drew a gun. In a welcome change from the usual blast-holes-in-people gunplay, everybody instead pulls out an extemdable police baton and hauls away.
The ending – well, without giving any spoilers, it’s rubbish. It seems that Cross had planned a detailed six-series story arc, but the producers pulled out. So we got an ending that was a gigantic cliff-hanger, with all the plotlines hanging and no resolution.
A huge pity – despite the gore and violence. I’d have liked a second series at the very least. After this time, there’s no hope of getting the series going again, but maybe Cross will write it as a series of novels instead?