REVIEW: Trapped (S2 E1&2/10)

Finally. Three years after Trapped proved to be a huge hit with viewers of the Saturday-night, foreign-drama slot on BBC4, we are returning to Iceland for the long-awaited follow-up series, having already been assured by director Baltasar Kormákur that the third will arrive with less of a gap.

Plot-wise only two years have passed since we left Andri (Ólafur Darri Ólafsson) and his family in the wake of the terrible events that took place in the small northern town. It’s reasonable that they should have relocated to Reykjavík and reasonable that clearing up the case meant Andri redeemed himself from messing up that missing person case, alluded to by former colleague Trausti (Björn Hlynur Haraldsson) when we last saw them. And so he’s back with the Reykjavík police. The family is still fragmented and rebellious teen Þórhildur (Elva María Birgisdóttir) has returned north to live with her aunt Laufey and is refusing to talk to her parents.

Again, we start off with fire but this time it’s not unintentional death by arson that has unforeseen consequences years down the line. Instead, we have a brother doused in petrol setting himself alight in front of the parliament while clinging on to his twin sister, and Industry Minister, who he has not seen for years. Gísli dies and Halla (Sólveig Arnarsdóttir) suffers serious burns. It’s a spectacular statement crime, common enough in the genre but absent from Trapped thus far. This is different, but was the motive political or personal? Flyers found in his car link the perpetrator to both protests of the expansion of the geothermal power plant and the addition of a new aluminium smelting plant in the countryside near the town, as well as right extremist group Hammer of Thor. Andri is sent north to investigate further.

After reuniting with Hínrika (Ilmur Kristjánsdóttir), who is the local Police Chief, and Ásgeir (Ingvar Eggert Sigurðsson), they check out Gísli’s farm and then talk to his siblings, one of which is married to his ex-wife, obviously creating tonnes of tension between her and her son Víkingur. He works at the power plant under his uncle Finnur, who happens to be something of a homophobe and has threatened Víkingur’s closeted Ghanaian boyfriend for reasons that don’t quite seem to add up yet. What is it Finnur thinks that Ebo knows? There is more to discover here.

Meanwhile, Ásgeir has been unable to stop an aggressive mob of locals in knitted jumpers and beards, from taking Gíslis dead sheep and staging a protest outside of the town hall. Though he is clearly outnumbered and there was effectively nothing he could do, his disappointment at this inadequacy is palpable. The protestors are led by farmer Ketill who claims that the work on the new plant will release poisonous gases and kill all the sheep. Finnur and Ólafur arrive and start a fight with Ketill. When he is interviewed by Andri and Hínrika, he starts spouting comparisons between his dead friend and his heroic namesake of Gísla Saga.

What with Hínrika being annoyed with Barður for taking part in the protest and him resenting the implication that he’s not allowed his own opinion, it’s a tense time for a house guest. However, Hínrika had insisted and Andri is once again staying on someone else’s sofa temporarily with somewhat awkward evening chats. Still, he accepts the situation and has his glass of milk before bed. The British half of the screenwriting duo, Clive Bradley, originally had Andri ending the day with a glass of whisky, in these situations. Luckily, he was made to see that wasn’t the right way for this Icelandic bear of a detective.

When Finnur is found hanged, there is an obvious murder and a crime scene to process but Ásgeir is left on his own again with the boring task of waiting for forensics, while Andri and Hínrika go off searching houses and looking for likely suspects Torfi and Skúli. Aron (Stormur Jón Kormákur Baltasarsson), Finnur’s son and Þórhildur’s new boyfriend, takes the opportunity to cut down his father who until then has been left hanging. Difficult to blame him really but Guðrún arrives and isn’t pleased. But it doesn’t seem to bother her for long. On with police work and recovering evidence from rubbish bags.

Back at the cosy little police station, with its sofa straight from the 70s, Torfi is being interviewed and decides to confess to the murder of Finnur, a traitor to the country. Andri is unconvinced and sets an easy trap for him. The calm effortless interview style of both Andri and Hínrika, show that they are both in their element.

In the first series, we had a white wall of snow encapsulating the community. It was imposing and ominous. This time the landscape is different and explored a bit further. It’s beautifully shot to give a sense of the mountains stretching far with different hues of black, brown and green. It can be a dangerous place. Skúli who has evaded the police and rescue team settles on a cave for the night.

During a press conference Andri and Hínrika find out that the mayor, who doesn’t want to upset the upcoming deal with the Americans, hasn’t been upfront about protestors at the plant, but a subsequent chat with Hjörtur, who is working with security at the plant gives them the evidence they need to link the two cases. There are plenty of new characters in these two episodes and one has to pay attention to keep track of them. Therefore, it’s very pleasing when other familiar faces turn up outside of the ones we might have expected. Things seem to be looking up for Hjörtur with a little one on the way. He’s had his fair share of misfortune already, surely.

For the mayor, though, it might just be starting. She comes home to find threats and a dead chicken nailed to her garage door. A message from Skúli and Hammer of Thor.

Þórhildur is holding firm in talking to her father as little as possible. It’s not the first time Kormákur shows us troubled relationships between fathers and their rebelling daughters. The Oath, Jar City and even the first series of Trapped had Dagný and Eirikur. How far will things be pushed with Andri and Þórhildur and will she be safe? Noir detectives’ daughters frequently end up in very dangerous situations.

It seems the situation with his daughter is weighing on Andri, but he shares his concerns with Hínrika as there is a good level of trust between them. Hínrika seems quite content to work as many hours as she can and in the process avoid her strained situation at home with Barður. Though not intended, the closeness between Hínrika and Andri, appears to make Ásgeir feel a little left out. I found Ingvar E. Sigurðsson’s performance very impressive. In fact, the entire cast was impressive. Somehow, that felt like a given after the first series.

We have just started but already, accompanying the crime plot, are several important and highly relevant issues; nationalism and right extremism, the situation for immigrants and migrant workers, discrimination and homophobia, human effect on the environment. Add to those, because what is a drama without it, a dysfunctional family with many dark secrets to uncover. We’re off to a great start.

Charlotte Carling