Follow TV Tropes


Series / The Head

Go To

The Head is a 2020 English-language Psychological Thriller Mini Series produced by the Spanish production company The Mediapro Studio and directed by Jorge Dorado.

The series is set in an Antarctic Research station, Polaris VI. As the Antarctic winter begins, with the sun disappearing for six months, most of the staff leave while a small skeleton crew remain for the dark winter months to continue their research, under the leadership of renowned biologist Arthur Wilde. But when the winter ends, the base's summer commander Johan Berg returns to find the entire winter crew dead or missing. Among the missing is his wife Annika. To find Annika, and uncover what happened at Polaris VI and who was responsible for the killings, Johan must reply on Maggie, the traumatized young doctor who is apparently the Sole Survivor of the crew.


This series provides examples of:

  • Absence Makes the Heart Go Yonder: Reference is made to an "ice wife", a woman to have an affair with during during the six months they spend isolated from the rest of the world, including their spouses. In this case Ebba's affair with Erik.
  • Accidental Murder:
    • The death of Sarah Jackson at Polaris V nearly a decade ago was due to Arthur Wilde pushing her, causing her to fatally injure her head against a table, when she refused his advances. The crew covered it up by setting the base on fire, making her death look like an accident.
    • Heather's death during the events on Polaris VI was also this. She is hit by a random bullet fired wildly by a half-mad Erik.
  • Air-Vent Passageway: One of the Winterers gets drunk and locks the others outside in the Antarctic winter. Someone has the idea of getting inside via the vent used to remove the exhaust from the emergency generator. The problem is the person concerned has to strip off their bulky winter gear down to their skivvies and, before they freeze to death, squeeze painfully through the ice-cold metal vent. Fortunately once they're through this gap they land in a service tunnel and can walk the rest of the way.
  • Advertisement:
  • Apologetic Attacker: Maggie's boyfriend Aki comes across her cutting a hole in the fuel line of the Snowcat, so she stabs him to death during a Deadly Hug while sobbing, "I'm sorry!" At the end a hallucination of Aki asks Maggie if she really is sorry. She doesn't answer.
  • Blackmail: It's not revealed what Ramon's secret is that enabled Annika to coerce him into silence, but he's implied to have child porn on an encrypted cell phone. She also threatens to expose the affair of Ebba and Erik.
  • Borrowed Biometric Bypass: In episode two, the investigation team are shown pressing several mobile phones against the fingers of each corpse until they find the right fingerprint to unlock them. The one phone this doesn't work on turns out to have high-level encryption, further adding to the mystery.
  • Driven to Suicide:
    • A former member of the Polaris V expedition jumps off a building after making a phone call to Annika. It's later revealed he told Sarah's daughters the truth about her death and the coverup, as well as giving them her bloody sweater as evidence. In his phone call to Annika he (falsely) claims he left this evidence in the ruins of the Polaris V, so she'll be haunted by the fear that it may be recovered some day.
    • Arthur tries to hang himself, but Johan stops him because he wants to see him tried for murder.
  • Eerie Arctic Research Station: Polaris VI once the killings start, and the previous research station Polaris V, now a burnt-out and icebound wreck.
  • External Combustion: As the satellite radio has been sabotaged, the only way to get help is to drive a Snowcat 270 miles in mid-winter to another station. The Snowcat is packed full of fuel cans and someone gets in and presses the ignition button twice with no effect, but the third time the Snowcat bursts into flame burning them to death. Naturally no-one thinks this was an accident.
  • Framing the Guilty Party: Arthur is ultimately blamed for all the murders committed on Polaris VI, with Johan and the authorities assuming he did it to cover up his years earlier Accidental Murder of Sarah Jackson. In reality, the only person Arthur killed on Polaris VI was Erik, arguably in self-defense - the real murderer was Maggie, who fudged certain details of her testimony to make Arthur look guilty.
  • Happy Flashback: The montage of the psychological evaluation of the future winterers, given that the audience has seen them all turning on each other in mutual suspicion.
  • How We Got Here: The series begins with Johan and the summer crew arriving at Polaris VI and discovering the killing spree that occurred there. Their interrogation of the Sole Survivor Maggie leads into flashbacks that reveal how the events at the base unfolded.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Jerk:
    • Even though she helped cover up Arthur's murder of Sarah, Johan takes comfort in the thought that his wife Annika did a Redemption Equals Death by taking Sarah Jackson's bloody sweater with her in the Snowcat so it would be found—except Maggie actually planted the sweater there without her knowledge. Furthermore the fact that Annika saw Sarah being sexually harassed by Arthur just before the murder, and made no attempt to intervene, implies she brought Sarah on the expedition so she'd take the brunt of Arthur's behaviour.
    • As well as killing those responsible for covering up her mother's murder, Maggie also murders Aki—who had nothing to do with the crime—when he stumbles across her committing Vehicular Sabotage, and got a place on the expedition by killing her predecessor with a hit-and-run accident.
  • Job Title: The series is titled The Head, referring to the protagonist Johan's status as the head of the summer crew at Polaris VI.
  • Karma Houdini: In the end, Maggie gets away with all the murders she committed at Polaris VI, blaming them on Arthur.
  • Mysterious Antarctica: In this case a murder-mystery, but the scifi version is lampshaded by the winterers watching The Thing (1982) before everything goes to hell, and producing a hammy horror home video.
  • Obfuscating Insanity: Arthur accuses Maggie of being the killer, claiming that she's only faking the amnesia from Polar T3 Syndrome. When she gets on the helicopter to return home Maggie's hands stop trembling and we get a Once More, with Clarity! reveal that she's actually the killer, though as she then hallucinates one of her victims it's left ambiguous as to whether she really did go crazy.
  • Polar Madness: Polar T3 Syndrome.
  • The Radio Dies First: The radio operator is the first murder victim, found decapitated out on the ice. When the others go to call for help, they find the satellite radio has been sabotaged and of course the radio operator was the only one with the skill to repair it.
  • Self-Surgery: After the doctor gets hit by a bullet that went through the intended victim, she has to advise the others how to patch her up, using only a local anesthetic as she can't be drugged during the operation.
  • Stylistic Suck: In the middle of the murder investigation, there's a moment of levity when Johan plays a video left on one of the victim's mobile phones, showing them making a cliched horror movie with everyone stumbling over their lines and hamming it up intensely.
  • Ten Little Murder Victims: The premise of the flashbacks. Someone from among the winter crew of Polaris VI is picking off the others one by one.
  • Trauma-Induced Amnesia: Maggie is suffering from this when Johan finds her. Her gradual recovery of her memories serves as the Framing Device for us to learn what happened at Polaris VI through flashbacks.
  • Unreliable Narrator: Johan is concerned that Maggie might be this, especially when Arthur Wilde is found alive and claims that Maggie was the killer. In the end, Maggie does turn out to be this, as she is the killer. While most of her narration was true, she did lie about details like how she found Sarah Jackson's sweater, or how Aki was killed, to cover her own tracks.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Annika sees herself as this—being willing to cover up Arthur Wilde's Accidental Murder of Sarah Jackson at Polaris V and coercing her crew members into supporting her because she believes that their work is vital to saving the world from climate change. Though, as several crew members point out to her, her real motivation is to protect her scientific career.
  • You Killed My Father: Maggie is ultimately revealed to be Sarah Jackson's daughter, who set out to kill the Polaris crew-members who covered up her mother's murder, and expose Arthur Wilde as her murderer.