This article comes from Den of Geek UK.
This review contains spoilers.
Hard Sun Episode 4
Despite having improvised his super-villain disguise from a sock and a Biro (nothing erodes sinister vibes like evidence of arts and crafts), Hard Sun’s Good Samaritan Killer turned out to be a very passable TV baddie. Richard Coyle played him with the kind of unhinged intensity we’ve come to expect from pulp bad guys. With a good coat, a twinkle in his eye, a hobbyist interest in bible verse graffiti, and scant regard for the dubious hygienic practice of licking street-facing windows, he ticked every box of the thriller wrong’un.
With the neat and established structure of the hunt for an at-large killer, episode four ticked a lot of boxes too. This was by far Hard Sun’s most coherent hour, and as a result, its most exciting. There was still more going on than at your average circus (MI5, Daniel, Alex Butler’s murder…) but the apocalypse stuff was largely put on pause while Hicks and Renko focused on bringing Thomas Blackwood down.
Since we last saw him, Blackwood had moved away from from his ‘stab the nicest person in the room’ plan and embarked on a much less forgivable activity: vlogging. He filmed himself in his sock-mask (vainly, having drawn himself a little Biro chin for rugged definition) reciting such goth poetry classics as “your gluttony is a holocaust of dead infants” and “this city is an unmarked grave.”
Blackwood’s real beef though, was with Father Dennis, who was taking no end of stick for protecting the killer’s identity. Hard Sun is full of characters who are confusingly narked at their only ally or trying to protect someone who’s betrayed them. Renko’s protecting Hicks, Daniel and—it appears—the man who raped her as a teenager. Hicks is protecting his family while betraying them with his affair. He’s trying to protect Renko while selling her down the river to MI5. He may also be trying to protect Mari Butler, who seems to know more about her husband’s murder than she’s letting on. it’s all a befuddling mess of conflict and motivation. Like a solar eclipse, it’s probably best not to look directly at it for risk of frying your retinas.
Back to the chase. It was the familiar game of cat-and-mouse. Blackwood did something outrageous and evil. Renko and Hicks got miffed. Blackwood followed that up with something even more outrageous and evil. Renko and Hicks got really, really miffed. Soon, Blackwood’s outrageous acts prompted Renko and Hicks to get serious and start breaking the rules. Were they going to hand this one quietly over to Counter Terrorism? Not on your nelly, said Renko, a phrase that instantly shot her screaming into my top ten TV characters
Hicks hatched a plan to tickle Blackwood out “like a trout… unethically,” (raising suspicion over what he gets up to at the fishery of a weekend), while Renko manipulated Will Benedetti. “You played me!” protested Benedetti. “Like a Swanee whistle,” said Renko (now at number three and climbing). Until Hard Sun gave me a tough young cop who talks like a Les Dawson character, I didn’t know how badly I needed one.
The plan worked. Blackwood was first tickled, and then repeatedly lamped by Father Dennis, who meted out the fist-based punishment of a vengeful God. It all made for a very satisfying ending. The chases were exciting, the villain was scary, the fire and baseball bat scene was stomach-churning, and it was all told by director Nick Rowland through moody lighting, arty angles and cool geometrically shaped staircases.
It wasn’t all exhilaration and twonks in masks; episode four also raised philosophical questions: Do things happen for a reason? Are people animals? Is Charlie Hicks a good man? (Not to trout he isn’t.)
All that will take longer to answer than there’s time for. The end of the world is 4 years and 44 weeks away, while the end of this bonkers series is just two hours hence. As complete as this episode felt, there’s more chance of Daniel being on his way to have a nice cup of tea with his dad than there is of everything being tied up satisfactorily in that time.