REVIEW: Trapped (S2 E9&10/10)

We waited three years for this second series of Trapped and now it feels as though it’s over in a heartbeat. The last two episodes had a lot to tie up and, perhaps, throw in a twist or two, so it was time to settle in and see what happens.

We start off in a heart-breaking way. Badly injured and barely hanging on, Ásgeir is dragged to his car by the killer and driven away as the urgent calls from Hínrika come in over the radio. When there is no reply they track the car and see it’s heading out of town. Racing after it they soon find it on fire. They are shocked and horrified as they put out the flames and see Ásgeir dead in the back seat.

This series has focused a lot on the glitchy interaction of the trio and to know that Ásgeir (played so well by Ingvar E. Sigurðsson) won’t be returning for the third series, is very disappointing. The balance of their different personalities has been one of the best parts of Trapped.

But still, the show must go on.

In the morning, Andri is talking to Þórhildur to get some information about the phone that is now lost. I’ll say this for scriptwriters Sigurjón Kjartansson and Clive Bradley, they are very consistent in their portrayal of this teenager. She remembers nothing of the texts. This is astonishingly ridiculous, as there is no way Þórhildur wouldn’t remember every single text. They weren’t flippant comments about the weather. At this point, the character is almost caricature. It’s truly odd as all the others are infinitely better written, and the depth of characterisation is one of the show’s real strengths. Fair play to Elva María Brigisdóttir, though, who plays the part as well as the script will allow. (Please give her something better to work with next time round.) Distressed and overcome with emotions, Andri cries quietly in the bathroom until Hínrika tells him they’re losing Ásgeir’s murderer and need to get moving. Only then does Þórhildur remember one of the texts and it puts the killer at Gísli’s funeral.

Stubborn Ketill has teamed up with the reporter and shows her where he has found barrels of toxic waste in a hole on the heath from where it leaks into the lake. He informs the police and they come to investigate. Car scenes with Andri and Hínrika must be the most frequent ones in this series, they form an intimate setting, usually with stunning background, in which to discuss personal issues or speculate about the case. Now they try to understand what made Ásgeir go to meet the killer alone. Both feel guilty but maybe, as Hínrika says, he wasn’t trying to prove anything but just doing his job. It’s a subdued conversation.

Everything points to this being waste from the plant that was recently dumped at the site. The mayor ponders, maybe the old woman was right about the curse, but Ketill scoffs that it’s nothing but typical Icelandic greed.

Andri and Hínrika continue to the plant to talk to Stefán, who they have found out is head of waste management there. He’s off sick but a worker tells them the waste is typically shipped abroad. They go to talk to Stefán at home. As they arrive a raven caws repeatedly, never a good sign. And as Tom has pointed out in comments previously, there are other indicators that Andri and Hínrika are now on the right track. (I had some bad feelings about him from the start too, but only because Arnmundur Ernst Björnsson played a neo-nazi copper in a previous series of Shetland, so not really a valid reason.) Once inside, suspicions increase as Stefán isn’t home and may have been out all night. The gun safe is ominously empty. Trapped is considered and methodical taking its time to explore the plot without feeling slow. Then there are the intermittent waves of dangerous situations or breakthrough in the case which gives a sense of urgency and pace to the narrative. It’s well balanced just what you want from a great crime drama.

Laufey, had agreed with Andri earlier that she should drive Þórhildur and Aron to Reykjavik to keep them safe. But the killer was following them waiting for his opportunity. It comes when they stop at a petrol station and we now have confirmation that Stefán is the killer when he attacks Aron and abducts Þórhildur. So here is the situation we’ve been expecting since the trailer came out, our detective’s daughter in serious danger.

Luckily there are already plenty of extra police officers in town and Trausti is also back with his SWAT team. Roadblocks come up in a hurry forcing Stefán onto small side roads.

Andri, who remarkably is still allowed on the case, and Hínrika are unsure what Stefán’s motive is or where he might go. To find out they visit his friend Víkingur. But instead it’s Ebo who has information about the toxic waste that was dumped, though he’s not keen to share it at first. Stéfan was paying Finnur to get rid of the barrels rather and when Finnur died without having paid the workers Pawel tried to get the money from Stefán directly.

With Þórhildur in harm’s way, others start talking about secrets from the past. Jórunn opens up to Hínrika and tells her that Stefán is Halla’s son who she gave up. The second domino to fall is Elín who reveals that her father was a violent sadist and Gísli killed him and with the help of Halla fed him to the pigs. Pigs eat everything, Elín says. It’s both matter of fact and poignant at the same time.

Meanwhile, the police are closing in on Stefán. Some riders have seen him trying to ford a river but getting stuck and continuing on foot with Þórhildur. The police have something to go on and a helicopter spots him at an old ski cabin in the countryside.

Andri and Hínrika ask Halla, who is back in town to come with them to help. In the car she completes the gruesome story the other two women started. Andy’s prediction from last week turned out to be correct. Her father raped her repeatedly and she’d lived in fear until Gísli killed him. The flashbacks are disturbing. The thought that Gísli might have told Stefán the truth sickens her. She admits that when Gísli came to her for help she refused it. This is what led to his desperate act of revenge when he had lost everything.

Arriving at the cabin we have a clear setup for a final showdown. Andri is allowed in the cabin to talk to Stefán, who is armed, while the SWAT team remains outside. So far Andri has seemed too calm considering his daughter has been kidnapped but now there is some emotion and he is asking Stefán to tell him where she is, but he refuses. Two weeks ago, you were a normal man with a normal life, Andri says in an effort to get Stefán to start talking. And he tells his side, how Finnur had taken the money because he wanted to buy Gísli’s farm and everything snowballed from there. The point of no return leading to three murders being when he found out who his parents were. He’d felt like a freak and that everyone knew it. Without it he wouldn’t have snapped.

Hínrika brings in Halla and for the second time a son is shouting at his mother in pain over having been given up. Over having apparently been deemed worthless. While emotions run high Hínrika manages to throw out Þórhildur’s jacket for the search dogs. They find her where she’d fallen, at the bottom of a slope with hands tied and mouth taped, struggling to keep her head over the cold water.

The situation in the cabin is tense and when they hear over the radio that Þórhildur is safe, Stefán puts the gun under his chin and ends it. It’s a desperate end but almost inevitable the way the plot was laid out. The family secret was a curse after all.

Hope instead rests with Víkingur and Steinunn who might mend their relationship and Elín and Aron who could find a new and happier life in Reykjavik.

Andri also has a chance to mend things with Þórhildur. It’s a sweet moment when he visits her in hospital and rests his head on the pillow next to hers and she tells him “I will be ok, and you too”.

It’s interesting to see how often they chose to link back to the events of the previous series of Trapped. Þórhildur talks about Eirikur killing Hrafn because her aunt was killed in a fire. Hjörtur’s experiences as wrongly accused and convicted effects how he reacts when Víkingur is in trouble. Trausti talks about how he feels responsible for Sigurður’s suicide. It’s very reasonable that such horrible events should leave a deep impression on people and quite natural that they resurface from time to time.

There are also many parallels between the crimes in the two series. In both cases, rape is the original crime, which leads to other immediate crimes and has further consequences years down the line when the past comes back to haunt those involved. Notably, four people; Dagný, Hrafn, Gísli and Ásgeir were all burnt alive with Hjörtur and Halla also injured.

So what do we make of this second series of Trapped?

It wasn’t quite as perfect as the first, it has to be said (perhaps because of Þórhildur’s storyline, perhaps because it was missing that central, explicit trapped theme). However, it wasn’t far off and certainly another high-quality series, with Andri and Hínrika once again proving that they’re a formidable partnership and one of the best police pairings (if not the best) on television at the moment. Add in an emotional storyline and those familiar Nordic Noir socio-economic and cultural themes and it really did deliver. Inherent in a second series is that we get to know the recurring characters better, and there was a sense we got that in this one. At the end of this series, I’m already curious who we will meet again in the third series, whether it be main or peripheral characters. Just too bad Ásgeir won’t be one of them.

Charlotte Carling





16 Comments Add yours

  1. Andy D says:

    Loved your reviews on this Charlotte. I think you got it spot on talking about the dynamics of the show being quite subdued then bouts of action or violence. I give full respect to the writers in the way they dealt with the fallout of Ásgeir’s murder. It had weight and impact. Too few crime shows give these incidences the space to be considered, and I’m so conditioned now by worse series that I thought he might have survived and the body was someone else. It’s brave to stick with a unhappy ending, and I felt this was again the case in how they dealt with Hínrika at the end. She didn’t settle for less and go back to her failing marriage, she took the harder option and forged forward. That’s real and honest writing. I agree it wasn’t vintage, but that first season was so special and is up there for me with S1 of The Killing or The Bridge as standout noir. Its a hard thing to repeat. But I’d take this any day over 99% of the rest of crime shows that repeat the same old stuff.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Charlotte Carling says:

      Thanks Andy :)

      Yes, the unhappy ending isn’t always popular but sometimes it’s the right call. I will miss Ásgeirs character when Trapped returns (and for the record, the wait starts immediately) but they did handle his demise with the gravitas it deserved.

      That moment at the end when Hínrika is all alone at her little police station after there has been so many others there in the past couple of weeks is so impactful. Especially when contrasted with Andri who is finally on speaking terms with his daughter who is safe and sound.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Andy D says:

        Yes a great scene and she was again the standout star of the show. Her frown was working overtime in these episodes.

        Liked by 3 people

      2. Charlotte Carling says:

        Agreed, she’s the star!

        That frown usually comes with an intense stare but actually it works wonders in combination with eyes-darting-about-randomly-while-deeply-contemplating-disturbing-events too.

        Liked by 2 people

  2. Tom says:

    Thanks for a great review Charlotte.

    TBH, Trapped 2 just didn’t work for me. I’m not sure why. Perhaps the plot was too complicated. Perhaps there were too many characters that looked too much alike, making it difficult to follow. (I had no idea who the woman with Ketill was, thank you for clarifying). Perhaps the characters were just not likeable enough to fully engage (I mean, what was the deal with Guðrún?). In the end, perhaps Trapped 1 was too hard an act to follow.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Charlotte Carling says:

      Thanks for commenting along the way. It was fun to see you predict correctly, half way through, who the killer was, though I couldn’t give you any kudos at the time.

      Yes, there was a lot going on. It’s a difficult balancing act, I guess, because we don’t want the answers to be too obvious so a few red herrings and other diversions will be thrown in to weave the plot together and keep us guessing.

      I didn’t have a problem with characters looking alike, but I realised quickly that I’d better write down who’s related to who in order to keep track.

      I rather liked Guðrún (barring the utlrasound incident). OK, she wasn’t warm and fuzzy but she wasn’t unfeeling either. She clearly had a difficult time at the autopsy for instance.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Sara Latham says:

      I found it very hard going, but I did stick with it. I wasn’t keen on the plot at all, it felt very clunky most of the time. I also think Hinrika stole the show and had a few great one liners. Andri was quite disappointing in this series though, but I did like the final scene – Thorhildur bereft of the dodgy make-up looked young and vulnerable (despite the role reversal going on) and Andri’s face said it all.


  3. Andy D says:

    One thing that had me thinking was if Stefan was the mastermind of the toxic waste dump and was paying everyone to facilitate the illegal work, where was he getting the money from? Was he just pocketing the difference by doing a shoddy job? Also it must have only been recently that he did so as they would have noticed the waste in the rivers. I can’t imagine he accrued millions in cash that quickly?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Charlotte Carling says:

      They didn’t really elaborate on the point of how he got into that in the first place but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was Finnur coming up with the idea but he needed Stefán to make it work. The only clue about what Stefán thought was when he disapprovingly told Þórhildur that the west routinely lets other countries deal with their waste rather than take care of it themselves. That’s still no reason to dump it in nature though, so I’m not sure what his motive is supposed to have been. Pure greed doesn’t seem to fit either.


  4. I suspect the issue of the Þórhildur and Andri relationship circles around emotional commitment. It is after she has seen him crying and distressed that she revealed the text. I admit I was almost chewing the curtains at her reticence – dumb insolence?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Charlotte Carling says:

      Could very well be. Obviously a lot is meant to have happened after the events of the first series and we can only speculate how the family was affected. By the end I was more curious about what teenage girls the scriptwriters know for them to write a character that stupid and stubborn.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That last scene between father and daughter, though. Lump in throat.


  5. bktrevino says:

    I was so bored this season. There were several things that bothered me (spoiler alert): 1. why didn’t they make a list of attendees at the Gisli’s funeral? They went to look for the killer but without a list to reference later, they could forget someone. 2. Why didn’t Aisgir leave a vm or text on Hennika or Andri’s phone when he went to meet the killer? After all, he was texting with the killer. 3. SWAT used thermal imaging when searching for Ketil’s son. Why not use it when searching for Thornhilda? Instead, they wasted time trying to get Stephan to tell them where she was. 4. How in the world could Thornhilda forget every single text? That was unbelievable. 5. If the power was out at the plant when Stephan killed Pawel and he was inside the building, how would he know that Vikkingur arrived and would be able to be a scapegoat? He would have been surprised by someone, but not have been able to see who it was. 6. Andri’s phone call to the mayor when she was abducted. Why not lead with, “we believe you may be in danger. Stay on the phone with me. Where are you?” 7. When Thornhilda is to be driven to Reykjavík, Andri leaves her with her aunt knowing a killer is after her. Why not take her to the police station and put her in a holding cell while he is working the crime? Then, have her police escorted to Reykjavík. If a killer is after my daughter, I don’t think leaving her with anyone other than police would be acceptable. Especially if I am a policeman. Oh how I wanted to enjoy this season!


  6. John says:

    Hi, I just finished watching the second season.
    I have a question: in episode 10, in the end there is Gisli’s brother who goes down the stairs and looks at a family picture: in the photo there is Gisli’s father, then Gisli, Halla, his sister (Aron’s mother) and Gisli’s brother. Who are the other people?


    1. Charlotte Carling says:

      Left to right I see; Ólafur, the mother, little Elín, the father, Halla and Gísli.


      1. Jogn says:

        I hadn’t counted the mother since she was never mentioned in the series :)


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