REVIEW: Trapped (S2 E5&6/10)

As we return for our next two episodes of Trapped, the red herring brothers are now in the clear for unlikable and all but friendless Finnur’s murder, and the Hammer of Thor are no longer a threat.

Instead, the police must shift focus to solve the murder and “bear in a crisis” Andri believes the killer is local and attends Gísli’s funeral.

It’s these layers that make Trapped so engaging and engrossing. Now we’re halfway through the series, the layers are being peeled back, and we’re shifting our focus onto the families themselves at the centre of this mystery, namely those of Gísli’s and Finnur’s.

Andri and Hínrika talk to Elín to learn more about her husband. She knows others didn’t like him but does not want to connect the dots of what she is telling the police. Unconvinced that a foreman would be at much risk of breaking his arm at work, Hínrika checks with the hospital and it’s clear it was not an accident, as Elín had believed. A chat with Hjörtur, who is preparing his home for the arrival of the baby, confirms that it was Víkingur who had broken Finnur’s arm six months ago when the homophobic racist had taunted Víkingur with old stories in front of the crew who, as Hjörtur puts it, “are not from the most liberal places”. So how much bad blood was there between them? Enough for Víkingur to kill Finnur? That would maybe be too simple?

As the gravediggers had pointed out, there is a lot of bad blood in that family. Other mysteries are hinted at too, as the father had disappeared without a trace when Gísli and Halla were in their teens. Of course, it’s not unheard of that people are lost out on the mountain and never found, the landscape can be very treacherous.

Víkingur struggles to make it through the funeral service listening to his aunt’s platitudes and his mother’s sobs that to him are anything but genuine. When family and guests are gathered afterwards, it all becomes too much for him and years’ worth of anger and hurt come to the surface. He has a few choice words for them all but Halla, Ólafur and Steinunn are on top of his list. It’s a great and cathartic scene for Víkingur (and played very well by Aron Már Ólafsson) publicly shaming the hypocrisy around him and laying a firm accusation at his mother’s door of abandoning him as a young child only to move to the next farm over. She crumbles under the weight of it as he finishes “you have no child”. Words which have been a long time coming.

On the way home after the funeral, Hínrika too has come to the end of the road. Quietly and calmly, as if all out of energy, she ends her marriage. Clearly, she has felt unsupported for a long time and it must be embarrassing, as police chief, to continually have to turn a blind eye to Barður growing weed at home and smoking it in plain view for everyone to see. One has to wonder how come she has tolerated this for years. Maybe that sense of knowing what it means to be lonely. There was a rather touching scene in the first series where the subject came up briefly between her and Rögnvaldur, the man in the wheelchair on the outskirts of town. We must surmise a little because what we get with Hínrika is often just a few words and a frown.

In our podcast (listen to that here), Ilmur Kristjánsdóttir suggested that she might want to see more personal storylines for Hínrika, and here we got a bit of that. Seeing more Hínrika is always very welcome.

Ásgeir, meanwhile, is continuing along with effective police work. Having previously got Aron talking about the family cars, he follows up with the local car dealer and finds that Finnur had plenty of cash to dispose of. Pleasingly, he also keeps in touch with Guðrún who is back in Reykjavik.

Things are not going well for Ebo. With Finnur gone, he tries to get money owed for extra work from Pawel instead. What this extra work is we don’t know but it certainly won’t be anything above board and could be connected to the murder. Pawel has the upper hand and easily fobs off and humiliates Ebo. So far, his brother-in-law has suspected something, but not known about Ebo and Víkingur. The latter removes all doubts when he turns up drunk at the foreign workers’ barracks shouting for Ebo and begging him to stay with him in Iceland. While it’s easy to feel sympathy for Víkingur’s situation, his selfishness and thoughtlessness here, putting Ebo at risk and asking him to abandon his child, is just too much.

While other family members are angered by Víkingurs behaviour at the funeral, Elín shows compassion. There was a lot of truth in what he said she tells her sister as they have a moment together. But she has compassion for Halla too. She remembers. She knows. It’s alright. Hallas is shaken and for the first time there appears to be some genuine emotion in her face and not just guarded display of what might be seen to be appropriate. This isn’t any old family secret, but at the series halfway point it’s too soon to reveal to us.

The funeral yielded no lead for the police so the next day Andri and Hínrika goes to have a look at Finnur’s home. They find not only Andri’s worst nightmare, a used condom left behind by Aron and Þórhildur, but also some money that had fallen out of the bag. Now there is a definite sense of urgency and they pick up Aron and Elín for and head for the station. Elín, realising this could be a very dangerous sitiuation, suddenly displays a no-nonsense parenting style. She grabs Aron’s phone as he texts Þórhildur to hide the money. Once again there is the feeling that these kids are portrayed as just a little too naïve. At 15 and 17 they would be smart enough to give up the money once the police are onto them. Instead Þórhildur is incredulous that she needs to be questioned and keeps mum about the phone she’s found. In fact, she later agrees to a meeting with the person who is still looking for his money, putting herself at even greater risk. I’m not sure if she is meant to try to find the answer to her father’s case or she’s just hungry for extreme danger.

The situation leads to some tension when Andri is frustrated over Hínrika having let Þórhildur go. Hínrika calls Andri out about his behaviour with a gem of a quote: You can’t just stomp around like a bear in an existential crisis!

Classic Hínrika, telling it like it is.

With the money were papers that lead Andri and Hínrika to speculate that Finnur might have been trying to buy Gísli’s land to turn a quick profit. Not surprising on Finnur’s part, as greed was his driving force, but what would the motive be for Gísli to attack his sister? What had she done? The initial question still needs an answer. Was it political or personal?

Ketill, who had been warning about the environmental impact from the drilling at the plant, suddenly seems to have tangible evidence for his claim when he finds dead birds on the mountain. He is convinced his son got sick from poisoned water and Hínrika orders tests to be carried out. It’s interesting how we see this character in a different light as the plot progresses. Ketill has gone from vitriolic protester, to concerned father at hospital trying to help Hínrika get answers from his son and now they have a better understanding even when he’s back to his cause with passion.

At the plant, Ebo once again asks for his money and Pawel and his vile friends threaten him and are about to attack him but Ebo manages to escape and with Stefán’s help goes to see his boyfriend. Hearing about what happened, Víkingur storms off to the plant to confront Pawel before Ebo can stop him. We know this can’t end well.

There is a power cut at the plant and Hjörtur goes to check out what has happened. He finds Pawel dead by a welding station with the flame still burning. It appears menacing somehow. Hjörtur arms himself with a spanner and quickly follows the sounds of someone running from the scene. At the end of a red-lit corridor, that resembles something out Red October, Hjörtur suddenly stands face to face with a blood-soaked Víkingur. With that cliff-hanger we are surely meant to wonder if the obvious solution is also the right one. It doesn’t look good for Víkingur.

So we have some different strands in play here, with the overriding question of how are they all linked? Whatever the reason (and some of our eagle-eyed readers have been suggesting there are links to some of the Icelandic Sagas), there are familiar forces, specific to Nordic Noir and, especially, Trapped: socio-political machinations, an existential study of identity and culture, and, when it all comes down to it, family.

There is always a good ebb and flow within the pace of a well-crafted story to build excitement and draw you in. Trapped does the job beautifully and is thoroughly engaging and moreish, and as the layers begin to peel back it’s becoming ever more engrossing.

Charlotte Carling



10 Comments Add yours

  1. Andy D says:

    Loving your reviews Charlotte. I wish Hínrika would call me a big grizzly bear! These were easily the best two episodes so far, it always works best in that small scale of family drama. I thought the funeral and wake were especially well constructed. My best guess now is Gísli helped Halla cover up the murder of their father, who was presumably abusive. Hence her owing him. Þórhildur continues to infuriate me. Even Aron seemed to wake up to reality this time but she is still acting like the world is against her. One thing is clear though, the assumption was Pawel was the texter but with him dead I imagine it is somebody else stalking the poor girl. I’ve enjoyed Ketill’s character arc so far but he is a big fan of dumping dead animals in public places isn’t he?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Charlotte Carling says:

      Thank you :) Yes, the small scale definitely invites you in as a viewer. Here of course we have the family drama, but also the very small community where everybody knows everybody and there is that element of social control which always is accompanied by the need to evade it.

      Your guess is not at all an implausable scenario given the hints from yesterday’s episodes.

      Aron did finally seem to understand the gravity of what was going on. That’s reasonable and I agree that it is infuriating that Þórhildur is meant to be so stubborn in her rebellion that she seemingly can’t understand the danger she is in. Just hand over the bloody phone already!!

      Yes, Ketill does have that propencity. Well it got the message through in no time at all this time so it’s effective at least, if not very nice.
      One detail that I thought was particularly spot on with Ketill, was his water combed hair at the funeral. Everybody smartens up for a funeral, but that was rather specific, I thought. Like he was trying to rein in his gruffness for a couple of hours.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Andy D says:

        Interesting point on Ketill trying to be smart for a change. Both him and Gisli share that similar history of raising boys without a mother, seperated by death or divorce. As always these shows are all about families and the struggles they undergo.


  2. Tom says:

    Going by the rule that the person with the least camera time is the culprit, my money’s on Stefán.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Charlotte Carling says:

      Plot twist – it’s the vicar!


  3. I’ve been struggling to remember the Norse Saga storylines. There are definitely parallels all the way through the series: the burning is a reference to Njall, surely, and the Gisli family, well Egil’s Saga, and the references to having come from a farm in the West points to Egil.

    I’m not as conversant as I should be with the Sagas. Truth is I do not enjoy reading them – more a chore than pleasure.


    1. Charlotte Carling says:

      I’ll admit I haven’t read a saga for a good long while and I don’t remember specifics. I found it very interesting how two people were burnt alive in the first series and it’s the first thing we see in this series. Whether there is an intended reference to Njal’s saga, I don’t know.


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