This review contains spoilers.
In Greek mythology, Cronus (father of thunder god Zeus, brother of pastry god Cronut) castrated his father with a sickle and cast his testicles into the sea. In episode five of Hard Sun, young Daniel took an ice-pick to the winkle of his father Noah Underhill – rapist, night-time jogger and, judging by his running gear, extra from 1982’s Tron. We don’t know whether Daniel had any plans for his dad’s testicles, but I wouldn’t put it past him. The child, as Hicks put it with characteristic sensitivity, is mad.
That’s as specific a diagnosis of Daniel’s mental health as Hard Sun is currently willing to make. Daniel’s condition is difficult to pin down. He has periods of lucidity interspersed with bouts of frenzied violence. He’s firmly anti-rape, but beats up women. He’s capable enough to abscond from hospital, commit a murder and dispose of incriminating evidence, but also stupid enough to lie low by sauntering across the Jubilee Bridge and hanging out in the shadow of the Oxo Tower.
He’s all that behind the kind of arresting face (Jojo Macari’s) that, if you thought you couldn’t be seen, you’d stare at on the bus just to find out how it all fits together.
Daniel’s contradictions are Hard Sun’s contradictions. Like his character, this show is exaggerated and unanchored in reality, legging it from one high-intensity action scene to the next without much sense of an overall plan. It has a welcome eye both for unusual detail (the bug-eyed alien murder hoodie, the ice-pick…) and for the sort of diverting dialogue we’re not used to seeing in a pulp thriller.
Renko’s boss DCS Bell (Derek Riddell), for instance, must be the first grumpy Scot on TV to exclaim “bazinga” then drop a Penn and Teller reference while dressing down a colleague. Then there’s Keith with his wing-wangs, and Grace with her ten from Len, Hicks with his wanker tanker and an MI5 agent holding a gun to Renko while undermining her tough talk with an incongruous bobble hat and the word “teatime”. Not to forget the frankly unforgettable scene of Hicks speeding Daniel to A&E for a shot of Naloxone and keeping him conscious by screaming a ribald drinking song louder than rows eight to ten of a Friday afternoon Ryanair flight from Stansted to Prague.
As eventful as ever (Renko got tasered. Hicks got dumped), episode five at least benefitted from the focus of the search for Daniel, and from the zit-popping relief of Renko and Hicks finally coming clean with each other. Praise be. No more lies, and no more car journeys spent giving each other suspicious side-eye as if tracking the source of a fart.
After a tense phone call in which hostilities came to a head (“I will end you”/ “That’s big words, Charlie.”), the team is back together and everything is now out in the open. Renko knows Hicks was working with MI5. Hicks knows where Renko hid the flash drive. She knows he knows Daniel is Noah’s murderer. He knows she knows about his affair with Mari Butler. And finally, she knows—and we know—that he did indeed kill Alex Butler.
Why? That’s one for next week’s finale.
Read Louisa’s review of the previous episode here.