HBO Max’s The Head is Chilling Escapist TV | Television / Streaming

The setup of “The Head” is fantastic for anyone who enjoys remote, one-off mysteries (which I admit is an easy sell for yours). Besides the flashbacks, all six episodes take place in Antarctica, mostly at a research station called Polaris VI. It opens up with everyone in a good mood even though they’re about to go their separate ways. The sun will soon be gone for six consecutive months, meaning there will be a limited team at the station for the season known as the Winterers, who will continue research into stopping global warming led by a renowned biologist. named Arthur Wilde (John Lyncher). Months later, Summer Commander Johan Berg (Alexandre Willaume) returns to the station to find an absolute nightmare: blood on the ground, bullet holes in a wall when there were no weapons to the station, and the bodies of his friends and colleagues. Johan’s wife Annika (Laura Bach) is missing, and he must unravel what happened at Polaris VI with the help of the only survivor, Maggie (Katharine O’Donnelly), but his memory is uneven and possibly unreliable. And then they discover that they may not be alone.

“The Head” addresses its “The Thing” lineage early on by asking the crew to perform the annual tradition of watching it at the station, but it’s not that kind of horror series. Oh, that’s horrible – I’m not going to spoil why it’s called ‘The Head’, but you can imagine – but it’s more about survival and human cruelty to man than of external forces. Creators David & Alex Pastor and David Troncoso cleverly interconnect between the current investigation of what happened and flashbacks that fill in the details but raise more and more questions along the way. Willaume is a strong foreground man, capturing the multiple layers of Johan, a man whose main goal is to understand what happened to his wife (and if she might still be alive), but also has to worry of what happened on Polaris. VI could recur. It’s a mystery series mixed in with a survival story at the same time, like someone investigating a crime scene while maybe still active. It gives “The Head” a unique tension and sense of danger. And O’Donnelly is even better, serving as the play’s narrator, but raising enough questions about her motives and reliability to keep her enigmatic.

I’m not sure all of the answers from the latter half of the six-episode season add up satisfactorily, especially a shocking twist taped for the ending, but there’s enough to admire about the entire production that we forgive them for not sticking the landing. It’s a fun, escape-genre TV with enough unexpected twists to keep disbelief hanging just trying to keep up with every new reveal. And who can’t understand losing their mind a little in an isolated state during the numbing cold of winter right now?

All season examined.

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