Review: Trapped (S1 E9&10/10), Saturday 12th March, BBC4

Programme Name: Trapped - TX: 12/03/2016 - Episode: n/a (No. 9) - Picture Shows: Andri (ÓLAFUR DARRI ÓLAFFSON) - (C) RVK Studios - Photographer: Lilja Jonsdottir

(C) RVK Studios – Photographer: Lilja Jonsdottir

It was a strange day to be watching the final two, superb episodes of Trapped. Here in London it was a beautiful spring day – warm and bright, perhaps the first true day of the new season. For the most part of Trapped we watched along on dark, cold winter Saturday nights, and the almost biblical storm that engulfed the small town of Seyðisfjörður onscreen seemed to me to be perfectly timed with our own climate. Not that Britain ever has anything as bad as Iceland – certainly not down here in the southeast – and there have been countless tales of viewers reaching for blankets or turning up the heating while they watched this engrossing and enormously popular series. But it had to come to an end, and it felt with the change of seasons here and the clearer skies onscreen it might have been the perfect time to watch it. There were plenty of questions left to be answered in these two hours – did Eiríkur really have something to do with Hrafn’s death? And if so what did that mean for the Davidsson family? What had Guðni and Leifur been up to, and how were they implicated in the whole mess? Did they have a hand in killing Hrafn? And who killed Geirmundur? Thankfully, every loose end I could think of was tied up in thrilling and hugely emotional fashion.

NB: Lots of spoilers, do no read unless you’ve seen these two episodes

At times like this, when the big reveals happen – and especially, it seems, in Nordic and Scandinavian series – it’s always the little things that make you mutter, “Aha!” to yourself. And so it proved with Trapped in these final two episodes. Each one was littered with references to objects and clues that initially seemed inconsequential in previous episodes. I should know this by now – always mentally log the clues as the story develops.

There was the photograph Andri and Hinrika found in Hrafn’s office, the missing insurance document from the original fish factory fire (that killed Dagný and sent innocent Hjörtur to jail, broken-hearted), and there was the toy fire engine little Maggi talked about way back at the end of episode one, while he was being bullied by Andri’s daughter Perla. These three objects proved to be very important to the unravelling the mystery that had enveloped Seyðisfjörður.

And it turned out to be a proper unravelling, with twists and turns aplenty and stunning, new pieces of the puzzle held back for the finale. All strands of the story were handled believably and with sensitivity, adding to the melancholy and disbelief Andri and Hinrika felt as the glue that held their town together quickly evaporated.

Oh, Andri. We left this glorious, flawed, loveable man in turmoil at the end of episode eight. He found the key to Hrafn’s shed in his father-in-laws stinky trousers, and spent the first 10 minutes or so of episode nine trying to figure out what the hell to do about it. He sat at his desk staring at that key, almost shaking with incredulity at the moral dilemma he faced. Andri went so far as to stand on a jetty, contemplating throwing the key into the sea and forgetting about the whole thing. He had, after all, begun a tricky journey of reconciliation with Agnes. What would happen to him and her if he shopped her father?

Andri, of course, chose to do the right thing, and for the rest of most of episode nine the consequence of this decision was played out. And they were played out so beautifully, sadly and emotionally it was sometimes difficult to watch.

Andri went round to the house Eiríkur was working on, and as soon as the old man saw the key in Andri’s hand he exhaled the breath of a guilty man. As the story tumbled out of him – he had indeed killed Hrafn, in revenge for his part in the fire that killed his daughter eight years ago – a stovepot gurgled quietly in the background, reaching boiling point as he had finished his story. He had seen the missing insurance file, and he had seen why ‘they’ had burned down the factory – to make some money after the financial crash in 2008. ‘Their’ greed took away his daughter. He could not let them, and Hrafn, who he had gone to confront with his new-found evidence, get away with it.

The subsequent scenes were heartbreaking. Andri walked Eiríkur into the police station, to be greeted by a shocked Hinrika and Ásgeir. He then had to go and tell the family. We viewed this moment in silence, and at a distance through the living room window. It was a beautiful way of showing us how Andri delivered this shocking news – at first it was a normal family scene, with the kids at the table, and Þórhildur and Agnes getting dinner ready in the kitchen. And then Andri sheepishly muttering words we only saw mouthed until Agnes burst out of the patio door panting for breath.

She was furious with Andri and he was banished from the home. We saw the big man cry silently on his way back to the station and we all melted with him. He eventually bedded down in the next cell to his father-in-law – they were both in a prison, with different reasons and for different crimes: Andri for doing the right thing; Eiríkur for doing the wrong thing. As the shot widened, the two of them sat in adjacent cells, only a wall separating them.

So one murder solved. Two more to go.

As the quickening took place Trapped got a little more ragged in its eagerness to tie things up, but I was so emotionally bonded to the characters I didn’t really care. As they found out that Guðni, Hrafn and Leifur had formed a company called Drengur in the wake of their original fish factory fire, and ever since then had been buying up land around the fjord (to sell to the highest bidder), there was a lot of “Why didn’t we find know about that?” being muttered by Andri and Hinrika. What once started as a simple insurance fraud scam that went wrong had soon turned into a buying up, through subsidiaries, of pretty much the whole town without anyone knowing.

But we still didn’t know who killed Geirmundur or why. Thanks to Rögnvaldur we found out that Geirmundur drove away from an argument with Hrafn in a blue car. Andri and Hinrika’s search around the town eventually led to the discovery of the blue car, which was under a mountain of snow, which led to the discovery of a toy fire engine addressed to Maggi on the back seat, which led to a knock on María’s door, which led to Andri noticing that said door had been recently bashed in. Which led to a shocking truth.

I mentioned earlier that we should always keep an eye out for subtle clues or objects as we go along in a series, but María’s story proved that we should also keep one eye on characters on the periphery.

In an incredibly emotional interview scene, María eventually admitted that Geirmundur had raped her, this horrid incident giving her a son, Maggi. Going to Hrafn – police chief back then – for help, he did a deal with him. Start the fire at the old fish factory on behalf of his chums and leave town, never to come back, in return for immunity. But when he did return looking for his son, and attacked María in her own home she killed him in self-defence. She called Hrafn, now a work colleague, who rustled up the town’s little gang (her father Leifur, Guðni and the tragic Sigurður, who all featured in the photograph Andri and Hinrika had found in Hrafn’s office) to dispose of the body.

Only the capture of Guðni and Leifur remained. These final scenes were pure action – huge jeopardy with guns, Maggi held at knifepoint, Andri being locked in the freezer at the factory, Ásgeir being shot and Hinrika – who really came into her own – screaming at Guðni when they had finally caught him: “What has happened here? What happened in our small, quiet town? WHAT HAS HAPPENED HERE?”

With her stern face and caring nature Hinrika reminded me a bit of an Icelandic version of Happy Valley’s Catherine Cawood.

Once Guðni and Leifur were captured, we saw Joy and Nishadi go to Reykjavik to testify against Dvallin Knudsson, Hjörtur redeemed and smiling again, María taken away to process her case, while Maggi went to stay with Agnes’s sister Laufey. Eiríkur was taken away, while Hinrika and Bárður had reconciled. That just left Andri. Poor Andri. Running away from the case of the missing girl in Reykjavik, he found more than he bargained for in Seyðisfjörður. In the end Agnes and Sigvaldi took his girls to the capital with them.

He was alone again.

It’s often said in series finales that the ending isn’t satisfactory and leaves too much open, but these two episodes were just stunning in the way they wrapped up everything. I couldn’t find too much fault with them, nor the rest of the series. As police procedurals go there was plenty to enjoy and get wrapped up in, but it was the characters that really were so beautifully drawn, realised and acted. The themes of grief, family and relationships, and what happens when they fail, were hugely believable and affecting, while the ‘second story’ that Nordic dramas love so much, and what often sets them apart from the rest of the world – this time using the financial crash of 2008 as its backdrop – was weaved into the story expertly and with balance.

Ultimately Trapped was about how people react when greed takes over and spreads like a sickness until a town or a group of people become infected. But if we’ve learned anything in Trapped, it’s that if only one or two people stand up to it an antidote is never far away.

We left one of those good people, Andri, trudging along a snowy road on his own. It was hard to say goodbye.

Paul Hirons

For our review of episodes one and two, go here

For our review of episodes three and four, go here

For our review of episodes five and six, go here

For our review of episodes seven and eight, go here

For our interview with Ólafur Darri Ólafsson, go here

For our interview with Ilmur Kristjánsdóttir, go here








10 thoughts on “Review: Trapped (S1 E9&10/10), Saturday 12th March, BBC4

  1. Sarah

    Great review Paul! I, too, thought the episodes were stunning. I especially loved how so much of the earlier episodes suggested that the criminal element came from outside, yet in the end we discovered that it was local upstanding members of the community that not only made a deal with the rapist of Lefur’s daughter – him included, but sent an innocent lad to prison for a crime he didn’t commit, and initiated a fire that caused the death of a neighbour’s daughter, and did so out of greed. Then day after day, they lived in that small town with the very people whose lives they had wrecked, while knowing each other’s guilt, saying nothing.


  2. Pratul

    When I like a TV drama, I start reading the reviews. This is my way of getting involved with the storyline and the characters! You have done a wonderful job as a reviewer, Paul.

    You are absolutely right – it was hard to say goodbye to Andri, trudging along a snowy road on his own. Hope his luck turns in the second series!


    • Paul Hirons

      Hi Pratul. Thanks so much for the kind words – it was a joy to watch (well, not a joy if you see what I mean), and really great to dig into it. Glad you enjoyed the reviews.


  3. Elizabeth Macpherson

    Paul, your site has yet again made me binge (i only found you a couple of weeks ago). I have just watched ‘Trapped’ and was totally engrossed and am looking forward to the 2nd series – at least it’s a shorter wait for me ;)


    • Paul Hirons

      Nice one Elizabeth, glad you’re enjoying the site and thanks for the kind words. I envy you about Trapped – we’ve been waiting for two years!


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