Survival thriller “The Head” debuted on HBO on Friday (12th June). The new series is set in the Polaris VI international polar station in Antarctica.
Directed by Jorge Dorado, the 6 hour-long episodes follow a select group of scientists from different countries that are task at maintaining the base operational during the long polar nights. Something goes wrong when the station suddenly stops communicating with the outside world.
The synopsis for “The Head” reads:
“Winter has fallen on the South Pole. The sun will soon disappear for the next six months. A small team of scientists, known as the Winterers, will remain at the Polaris VI Antarctic Research Station to continue their innovative research. Their work is crucial in the fight against climate change and they are under the command of renowned biologist Arthur Wilde. But when spring comes, summer commander Johan Berg returns to the station only to find most of the team dead or missing.
“A killer is on the loose and Annika, Johan’s wife, is missing too. If he wants to find her alive, he will have to trust Maggie, the young doctor who is profoundly shaken and apparently the sole survivor from the group… or, is there someone else who survived?”
Get to know the characters here:
1. Johann Berg (Played by Alexandre Willaume)
A genial man with a gentle character, Johan’s job as Summer Commander is not easy: running a base where dozens of people live and work in very close quarters. But it is there, on the ice, that he first met his loving wife, Annika. And as much as he loves his job, he would like for them to settle down and start raising kids. He has a hard time leaving Annika on base during the winter. When he returns and discovers the gruesome aftermath of the
crimes, and Annika missing, he will have to act quick if he wants to find Annika before it is too late.
2. Maggie Mitchell (Played by Katharine O’Donnelly)
Maggie is a brilliant, young medical doctor on her first mission to Antarctica. She exudes a certain fragility that makes people question if she has what it takes to survive a winter on the ice. She has been dropped in the middle of a crew of seasoned Winterers, people that know the ice and each other. She takes refuge in Aki, the young biologist for whom she is close to. The two will stick out for each other when the killer begins his spree. When the summer crew return, she is one of only two survivors on the base. Her story of what happened will guide Johan’s quest for his missing wife.
3. Arthur Wilde (Played by John Lynch)
Arthur is a genius and he knows it. He is one of the world’s most respected biologists. His research mission 8 years ago in Antarctica is now legendary in academic and scientific circles. He is back on the ice to finish the mission and bring light to the world in the fight against climate change once and for all, though his arrogance often gets the best of him. One of the only survivors of the Polaris VI murders, he only has his word to prove his innocence.
4. Aki Kobayashi (Played by Tomohisa Yamashita)
Aki is a young, promising biologist, new on the team and working on his PhD under Arthur’s supervision. It is his first time on the ice and he is eager to prove his worth. He and Maggie hit it off from the start. On the surface, he is a gentle soul, and he will do everything he can to protect Maggie when the killings begin. But Aki has another side to him that he tries to keep at bay. The murders will inevitably put his true and darkest character to the test.
5. Erik Osterland (Played by Richard Sammel)
Erik has been Winter Base Commander for many years. He has a military background and can be very tough, but he loves his team and will do anything to keep them safe. Especially Ebba, the love of his life who is the nurse on base with him but is also married to someone else. But he tries to protect Ebba with all his might when the murders begin.
6. Annika Lundqvist (Played by Laura Bach)
Annika is a veteran on the ice, having worked under Arthur for many years. She has been married to Johan for some time and they are deeply in love. Separating for the long winter months is not easy for them, especially for Johan, who would like to settle down and have kids. But she is a dedicated professional with a mission to complete. Her job has always come first. After all, that is how she met Johan in the first place, on the ice.
7. Ebba Ullman (Played by Sandra Andreis)
Ebba is the Polaris VI nurse. A veteran on the ice, the long months away from her family are hard on her, though she loves her job. She has managed to keep her marriage afloat, though her ongoing affair with Erik has taken its toll on them both. For her, what happens on the ice stays on the ice, but she knows that Erik’s feelings run deeper and tries to keep them in check.
8. Heather Blake (Played by Amelia Hoy)
Heather is the only American on the team, a young Computer Officer from Texas with a wild, adventurous spirit. It is her first time on the ice and she plans to make the best of it. She loves nature and extreme sports. Her job is merely a way to go out into the world and experience the best of what life can offer. She is an eternal optimist, even when the going gets chillingly tough.
9. Ramón Lazaro (Played by Álvaro Morte)
Polaris VI’s cook, Ramón is a regular in Antarctica. He is not a big fan of people, which is why he keeps returning to the ice, his safe zone. The base is his home, and the crew, his family. He mainly gets along with the crew, but his character can quickly turn under pressure. He likes to read and meditate and is a huge philosophy buff. That is how he keeps his inner demons at bay, for Ramón is hiding a deep secret. One that will haunt him when the killings begin.
10. Miles Porter (Played by Tom Lawrence)
Miles, Polaris VI’s Communications Officer, is the definition of an “ice junkie”. He has been on mission after mission for the past fifteen years. He has a hard time functioning in the civilized world. He has always been a little odd, and the years on the ice have made him even odder. One could say he wants to live and die on the ice. And when the killer starts attacking, he very well may get his way.
11. Nils Hedlund (Played by Chris Reilly)
Nils is the Polaris VI’s Technician, in charge of maintenance and repairs. He is an old pro who has done the rounds in the South Pole for years. He knows the base like no one else and he keeps it in top shape, but his drinking habit often gets in the way of his socialising. He mainly keeps to himself in order to stay out of trouble. His tough character will make him a prime suspect when the murders begin.
Check out the trailer here:
The series was shot in a two-thousand-square-meter studio in Tenerife, Spain, where the purpose-built set of the Polaris VI research station where most of the action takes place was erected, reproduced to actual scale, based on information about the layout and operation of this type of scientific facility, which enabled the show-runners to film long shots of the characters wandering around inside the station with complete authenticity.
The production crew also travelled to the rugged landscapes of Iceland to shoot the series’ exteriors, although most of the story is set inside the polar station, which provides a particular feel of encapsulation.
The series premieres on 12th June at 9pm on HBO GO and HBO (Astro Ch 411 HD).