Hard Sun episode 3 review: the nihilism gets a theological twist as Jim Sturgess and Agyness Deyn’s cops tackle a new killer

Richard Coyle enters the fray as a religiously-minded psychopath in the pitch-black drama. Oh yes, and the world is still going to end…

WARNING: Embargoed for publication until 00:00:01 on 16/01/2018 - Programme Name: Hard Sun - TX: n/a - Episode: n/a (No. 3) - Picture Shows: ***EMBARGOED UNTIL 16th JAN 2018*** Renko (AGYNESS DEYN), DS Herbie Sarafian (CHOOK SIBTAIN), Hicks (JIM STURGESS) - (C) Euston Films - Photographer: Hal Shinnie

Well, it’s not getting any easier, is it? Just when you think a serial killer and the end of the world is tough enough to stomach, along comes Thom Blackwood, Richard Coyle’s knife-wielding psychopath to brighten things up.

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This week’s crazy killer isn’t driven to slay because of the Hard Sun story (that was last week).

WARNING: Embargoed for publication until 00:00:01 on 16/01/2018 - Programme Name: Hard Sun - TX: n/a - Episode: n/a (No. 3) - Picture Shows: ***EMBARGOED UNTIL 16th JAN 2018*** Thom Blackwood (RICHARD COYLE) - (C) Euston Films - Photographer: Mark Johnson
Thom Blackwood (Richard Coyle)

No, this dose of nihilism had a distinctly theological flavour. Because Thom has a problem with God and the nature of evil and the reality of suffering, you see. So he takes on Good Samaritans, starting with a sweet young woman called Jamie Unwin who volunteers for a crisis helpline and whom he leaves to bleed to death on Shepherd’s Bush Green. And that’s just for starters.

Another thing Thom enjoys is scrawling graffiti around London – especially a reference to Luke 21: 25, where the Gospel writer says: “There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea.”

This really is a dark and horrible series, and one senses that things aren’t going to get much cheerier any time soon.

For one thing we finished episode three with Thom still on the loose, Hicks (Jim Sturgess) having failed to persuade his priest confessor Father Dennis (Dermot Crowley) to reveal his identity.

Thom also despatches a stranger on a bus: just at the moment it looks as though Toby Olewaio has calmed him down and taken his knife off him, Thom produced another sharp weapon and ripped his guts out.

It’s classic Neil Cross – the Luther writer who admits he enjoys frightening people, and who has a way of making you terrified just when you feel safe.

The Biblical fervour behind this latest killing spree does neatly dovetail Hard Sun’s whole apocalyptic story which is the backdrop to everything. How could a God allow his creation to be destroyed, we wonder, just as Thom wants to test the Almighty by killing nice people.

And the likely incineration of the earth by a catastrophic solar event is the kind of thing that tends to lead to some philosophical musing. Or as Will Benedetti, the journalist who broke the Hard Sun story (only for it to be discredited) says to Renko (Agyness Deyn): “Shakespeare… the Sex Pistols… no one’s ever going to sing your favourite song ever again.”

Yes, bit of a bummer that, the apocalypse. And it’s a question that prompts Renko to decide to have sex with him there and then in the car. This is a bonkers series, not short of incident.

Thom the psychopath also invokes Job, the Old Testament story of the man who questions God and finds his own patience sorely tested. In many ways the patience of viewers is being slightly tested here, as we suggested last week. We are asked to be drawn into a police procedural, knowing that the whole world is going to end and that none of it really matters.

Sturgess’s Hicks seems to have the right idea. He just wants to be allowed to be free to look after his family, including his heavily pregnant wife, in the short time everyone has left.

But how long that is depends on Renko who seems to have cracked open her other case – Hicks’s involvement in the killing of his former sidekick Butler.

Renko decides not to pursue the evidence. But in a cruel twist of the (metaphorical) knife, MI5 operative Grace Morrigan (Nikki Asuka-Bird) shows Hicks proof that she was on to him and suggests that he get rid of her once and for all. Will Hicks take Grace up on her offer to have Renko executed? Or is there another sting in the tail?

And how long will Thom be allowed to go on killing? As things stand he is still free and more than probably has poor Father Dennis (below) in his sights. As I say, bleak.

WARNING: Embargoed for publication until 00:00:01 on 16/01/2018 - Programme Name: Hard Sun - TX: n/a - Episode: n/a (No. 3) - Picture Shows: ***EMBARGOED UNTIL 16th JAN 2018*** Father Dennis Chapman (DERMOT CROWLEY) - (C) Euston Films - Photographer: Hal Shinnie
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Hard Sun continues next Saturday on BBC1