‘The Head’ Season 1: Recap & Ending, Explained: What Happened To Sarah Jackson Eight Years Ago On Polaris V? 

“The Head” is a 2020 release written and directed by David Pastor, Alex Pastor, and David Troncoso. Katharine O’Donnelly steals the show with her portrayal of Dr. Maggie Mitchell, complimented by equally brilliant portrayals by John Lynch as Dr. Arthur Wilde, Alexandre Willaume as Johan Berg, Richard Sammel as Erik Osterland, Tomohisa Yamashita as Aki, Laura Bach as Dr. Annika Lundqvist, Alvaro Morte as Ramon Lazaro, Sandra Andreis as Ebba Ullman, Chris Reilly as Nils, Tom Lawrence as Miles Porter, Amelia Hoy as Heather Blake, and Olga Wehrly as Dr. Sarah Jackson.


“The Head” is loosely inspired by 1982’s masterpiece “The Thing,” directed by John Carpenter and starring Hollywood heartthrob Kurt Russell. The series follows the story of a group of researchers stationed at an Antarctic Research Center dubbed Polaris VI. Things quickly went downhill as a mysterious killer began to murder them one by one for reasons unknown. 

Spoilers Ahead


Unidentified Bodies, Unexplained Questions

“The Head” Season 1 takes place inside a Scientific Research Station, “Polaris VI,” located in Antarctica, a continent that has been deprived of sunlight for more than half a year. After a summer of intense work and scientific exploration, several researchers have been leaving to feel the warmth of civilization. Those who remain at the research station will savor the chilling cold to bring the light of knowledge to the world. Six months have passed, and we learn that about three weeks ago, the station lost all contact with the outside world owing to faulty communication. Johan Berg, the commander of the station, along with the rescue team, arrive at the station only to find it abandoned, bloody, and with walls spruced up with bullet holes. At the hangar, he comes across a torched Antarctic Rover, with the other one missing. However, that’s only the tip of the iceberg, as he soon finds an unidentified body burned beyond recognition. Johan’s wife, Annika, is also one of the researchers at the station, and he worries that something tragic has befallen her. Johan orders his men to split up and check every damn corner of the station.

Johan and his men break down the kitchen door after finding it locked from the inside and encounter a scared-to-death Maggie hiding inside a kitchen cabinet. At this point, Johan and his associates believe that the men and women at the station have murdered each other but are having a hard time explaining to one another why a group of civilized and educated people went berserk. Or maybe it wasn’t them? Maybe something else killed them or made them kill each other. And the only way to get to the bottom of this is to find the ones who are not among the mountain of bodies. According to the expedition doctor, Maggie’s words aren’t making sense, as she has been suffering from a severe case of Polar T3 Syndrome, which contributes to memory loss, psychosis, and hallucinations. The group was ordered to keep her safe and isolated until the investigation team arrived at Polaris VI to take control of the situation. Johan visits the infirmary and questions his old colleague about his wife, Annika, and what really transpired at Polaris VI. Maggie’s recollection of the day she last saw Annika is very blurry, leaving Johan with no answers. What follows next is Maggie’s bone-chilling account of the last three weeks and a revelation of a secret that has been buried under the ice. 


The Killer Spills The First Blood

The expedition was Maggie’s first winter with the band of misfits, and she replaced two of the fallen scientists, Damian and Lars. The band has been down here for years, trying to find a cure to save the ailing world from climate change. Dr. Arthur Wilde is the superstar of Polaris VI, with Dr. Erik Osterland as the station’s commander. 

As per Maggie’s account, it all began with Miles, who never returned from his rounds, forcing the group to venture outside in the cold to look for him. The group comes across a pool of frozen blood, leading them to Miles’ decapitated body. The group rushes inside to call for help and is shocked after learning that the satellite is not working, and the only one among them who knows how to fix it is lying dead in the middle of nowhere. Unfortunately, Maggie’s condition worsens, causing Johan to stop his questioning in the middle. Upon further investigation, Johan also finds several letters addressed to him in Annika’s room, “begging forgiveness for the blood on her hands.” Johan loved his wife, and the duo was planning to have kids as soon as they got out of the frozen continent, but it appears he’ll have to extend his stay, thanks to recent developments. Meanwhile, Astrid has been flying around in the helicopter to locate the missing snowcat but has been forced to halt her search because of the brewing storm. Johan goes through the phones of his fallen colleagues and finds Ramon’s phone to be heavily encrypted, which is odd because why would an ordinary cook even need 256-bit encryption unless he’s hiding something? The doctor stabilizes Maggie after the stroke and reveals that she was asked to analyze Miles’ decapitated head. Upon examining the body, Maggie learns that the cause of the death is blunt force trauma, a hit to the back of the head by a heavy object and that his head had been chopped after he was killed. The trail of blood on the snow and the crystallization of the blood around his neck suggest that he was murdered outside. But who? 


Guilty Until Proven Innocent

Eric summons everyone and informs them that an intruder might’ve killed Miles and disrupted their communications, but his theory is rejected by Arthur, who firmly believes that the killer walks among them. The men and women at Polaris VI are five thousand miles away from civilization, in a place where man isn’t supported to survive, and are always an inch away from annihilation. And the one thing that keeps them all together and breathing is unity, and turning on one another could be inviting death. Unlike Eric and the others, Annika is awfully calm and collected about the whole situation. Everyone decides to search the facility, and Maggie summons everyone after noticing Nils, hiding a sharp weapon in the snow, who also had locked everyone outside in the cold. Heather somehow manages to get inside the facility and knocks Nils down, allowing everyone to get inside. Annika has known Nils for years and trusts that he would never kill anyone, but Ramon is convinced as the latter had been accused of killing a man decades ago. In his defense, Nils revealed that he found the bloody sword hidden beyond his bookshelves and had decided to get rid of it, knowing no one would ever believe his version of the story. However, Nils is acquitted in a deplorable way, as Aki later finds him gurgling in his own blood, struggling for a mere gasp of air. 

Whoever has killed Miles and Nils has premeditated the entire event. At first, the mysterious killer murders Miles and disrupts the communication to isolate the group from the outside world, making sure they don’t call for help, thwarting his plans. Moreover, Miles’ decapitation was to send a message that the killer walks among them to strike fear among those remaining in the facility, and the somber music in the background implies that he or she has succeeded. 


Johan Finds Arthur and Begins To Suspect Maggie

Back in the present, Johan and the group follow an SOS signal from Annika originating somewhere inside “Polaris VI” using a Doppler direction finder. Sadly, Annika wasn’t there, but she had been using miniature radios to boost the signal, hoping that someone might catch their frequency and send help. Deep underground, Johan also encounters Arthur, who, after coming back to his senses, reveals that he hasn’t seen Annika and the others in a week. Arthur has been in the underground tunnels, surviving on an emergency ration, and hasn’t seen the light of day in weeks. According to Arthur, Maggi is behind all the anarchy and chaos and has been effectively masking herself under the guise of an “innocent little girl.” Arthur believes that Maggie has been hired and placed in Solaris VI to steal his research worth billions of dollars. Lars was supposed to take the job but died in a hit-and-run accident. Maggie has to kill Miles after the latter finds out about her plans and blackmails her. Arthur even advises Johan to check the recordings of the psychological evaluation to back up his claim. 

Johan is having trouble believing anyone. Maybe Arthur is behind all the deaths and is trying to manipulate Johan into believing him by using his love and vulnerability for his missing wife. Maggie was a prodigy, top of her class, and had joined the expedition because of a promise she made on her mother’s deathbed. Maggie’s mother always wanted to live an adventurous life, but she gave up on her dreams after she was diagnosed with cancer; thus, she wanted Maggie to experience the adventures; that she never could. Unlike Miles, Nils succumbed to a severed carotid artery, interrupting blood flow to the brain, and has a “V” symbol carved on his chest. Maybe this is the killer’s very own Maskirovka, a way to conceal or misdirect the truth; and make sure everyone knows that he still sits, sleeps, and eats among them. The group, scared and panicked, slowly begins to abandon the one thing that has kept them alive thus far; their unity. From Maggie and Ramon to even Aki, everyone is being blamed for murdering Miles and Nils. 


The Missing Snowcat And The Unidentified Body

Johan now knows what happened to the burned snowcat. In reality, after realizing that they won’t last a week in the facility, the group decides to travel to the Argentinian Base to seek help. However, given the scarcity of supplies, and fuel, only one could make the trip, forcing everyone to draw straws, and Ebba comes out with the shortest one. But Eric has cheated and swapped the sticks, giving Ebba a chance to escape this hell and get her away from Polaris VI. Ebba and Eric had a fling years ago, and the latter still had feelings for her. Unfortunately, the joy is short-lived as the snowcat explodes as soon as Ebba puts it in the ignition, killing her instantly. The burned body Johan found at the outset of the series belonged to Ebba. Eric snapped after Ebba’s death. Heartbroken and saddened after losing the woman he loved, Eric pulls out a gun and accidentally kills Heather after Aki and Ramon try to take control of the gun, thus explaining the bullet holes. The fired bullet passed through Maggie’s flesh and hit Heather, killing her instantly. 

Back at present, the research party finds a mysterious body, which Johan believes to be Annika’s but is relieved to learn otherwise. But who’s this mysterious someone? Given everyone from the dead to the living is accounted for, and no one is missing from Polaris VI? In reality, the body belonged to Sarah Jackson, a woman who had died years ago in Polaris V. With time running out, the remainder of the survivors, including Annika, decided to travel to Polaris V to fetch the radio back to their station to establish communication. But it won’t be easy, as Polaris V is sitting under the masses of ice after a fire broke out in the facility, melting the ice surface. However, luck is on their side, and because of global warming, the drowned facility is slowly coming to the surface. Sarah Jackson was also a scientist at Polaris V and Annika’s friend. Sarah was the only victim of the Polaris tragedy who died while saving the research. People are dying at Polaris VI, and the reason is buried in its half-sunken predecessor. 


Sarah Jackson Didn’t Die In A Fire

The group digs through the rubble of Polaris V and ventures deep into its bowels, and Annika begins to reminisce about her time in the facility. Surviving the fire was a scary experience for everyone and hit Annika the hardest, leaving her distraught and depressed for years. She was the one who talked Sarah into accompanying her to the Antarctic. But Annika and Arthur seem to know much more than they’re putting out on the table and aren’t here to look for a radio but a suitcase. It’s possible that Annika and Arthur are responsible for Sarah’s death and have returned to bury the truth. She even advises everyone to split up, knowing well that anyone among them could be the killer, further raising suspicions. Maggie’s intuition has been screaming at her, asking her to examine Sarah’s body. The fire didn’t kill Sarah; someone else did. Sarah’s occipital bone was fractured, suggesting she was long dead before the warmth of fire even touched her. The injuries could have been post-mortem, but judging by what was unfolding around her, it appeared too big of a coincidence. Maggi also got hold of the suitcase, which contained a sweater soaked in blood. She even convinced everyone to bring Sarah’s body to the surface, so she could prove she was murdered. Annika, on the other hand, has lost her mind and has constantly been uttering Polaris V’s kitchen menu.

After reaching Polaris VI, Maggie and Aki lock themselves in the infirmary to shield themselves from the killer. However, the mysterious killer turns off the power to the facility to flush them out of the room; or kill them by hypothermia. The duo is forced to come out and are attacked by a masked killer, who’s later revealed to be Ramon. Left with no choice, Maggie kills the attacker in self-defense to save her own life. Maggie and Aki return to the infirmary and find Sarah’s body missing. Eric had held Arthur at gunpoint and planned to make him pay for what he did years ago. Maggie tries to talk Eric out of it, but Arthur seizes the opportunity and kills Eric before he can reveal what happened eight years ago on Polaris V.


‘The Head’ Season 1 Ending Explained – What Happened To Sarah Jackson Eight Years Ago On Polaris V? 

Ramon, Damian, Lars, Annika, Arthur, Eric, Abba, Nils, Miles, and Sarah were all stationed at Polaris V. Arthur was as degenerate and vile as he was brilliant, and he often used to walk over his juniors. This is a perfect example of a wolf in sheep’s clothing. He even tried to force himself on Sarah Jackson and threatened to destroy her fruitful career if she didn’t comply. Arthur isn’t someone who is impressed by a woman’s hard work and genius; he is impressed when they bend over backward for him. Sarah turns him down and dies an undeserving death. Arthur, Sarah, and Annika had been working on something that would’ve catapulted their names to the skies, and if the world found out Arthur’s deed, all the hard work and the sleepless nights would be for nothing. Annika gathers everyone and tries to label it as an accident, but Eric, after seeing Arthur’s bloody sweater, realizes that Arthur has killed her. Annika tries to convince everyone to conceal the truth, referring to the fact that no one would even touch their research if the truth were made known.

When one is locked inside a tin can with nine other individuals, one learns everything there is to know about them—the good, the bad, and the worst. And Annika used everything from detailed download history to custody battles and convinced them to become accomplices. The greed for fame and dread of losing their life’s work and kids blinded them all. In reality, they were the ones who started the fire, which resulted in the sinking of Polaris V. But one of them, Damian, grew a conscience and left Arthur’s bloody sweater inside to make sure the truth came out; when the time was right. Meanwhile, the ice has also shifted, pushing Polaris V to the surface, giving them one more chance to conceal their ill deed. Everyone who knew about that night had died, and without evidence, Arthur would just stride out of the police station, even if the truth came out. However, after all the killings, Annika realized her mistake and took the remaining snowcat to the Canadian Base; unfortunately, the snowcat broke down, and she succumbed to hypothermia. Johan finds his wife’s body and Arthur’s sweater tainted with Sarah Jackson’s blood. Arthur had tried everything in his power to keep the truth buried for eight years, but it eventually surfaced and annihilated everything he and others had worked so hard for. 


But “The Head” Season 1 was yet to reveal its biggest secret. In reality, Maggie is Sarah’s daughter and has planned the entire thing so she can have her revenge. She was the one who killed Lars so she could replace him on the Polaris V. The “V” symbol carved on Nils’ chest was just to remind everyone of what transpired eight years ago on Polaris V. Maggie also punctured the fuel line to make sure she never reached the Canadian Base. Heather, Eric, Miles, Nils, Ramon, and Abba all fell victim to Maggie’s revenge; just like Sarah fell victim to their greed. Maggie was a brilliant doctor and had been tricking everyone this entire time by showing symptoms of Polar T3 Syndrome but, in reality, having none.

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Rishabh Shandilya
Rishabh Shandilya
Rishabh considers himself a superhero who is always at work trying to save the world from boredom. In his leisure time, he loves to watch more movies and play video games and tries to write about them to entertain his readers further. Rishabh likes to call himself a dedicated fan of Haruki Murakami, whose books are an escape from his real being.

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