REVIEW Trom (S1 E3&4/6)

Faroese crime drama Trom got off to a good, solid start in its opening two episodes. It was absorbing without being totally edge-of-your-seat but had an interesting set of characters as well as a solid central murder mystery. Of course, being based in the Faroes Trom also – and quite understandably – exploited its incredible surroundings to good effect.

I now want to go to the Faroe Islands. But that’s by the by.

Now we’re up to the halfway stage, we’re starting to get somewhere in the case of the murdered activist, Sonja Á Heyggi.

What is Hannis up to in Trom?

Her father Hannis Martinsson is doing his best to snoop around the islands, trying to find out what happened to her and why. He sneaks back into Sonja’s sealed-off house and finds a map – so he does what any good hunter does and follows that map. In this instance, that means visiting each location Sonja marked on it, which all have something to do with local millionaire and capitalist extraordinaire, Ragnar í Rong (who we met briefly in the first episode).

Indeed, we’re being led down a road where Ragnar looms large at the end of it. It seems he owns all of the big business on the island, is the ‘benevolent’ friend of Sonja’s mother Aurora and, to boot, is in cahoots with the police chief, Karla’s stern boss. He also threatened Påll in hospital and told him to keep his mouth shut, and Sonja was investigating him, too.

And, let’s face it… his name is Ragnar í Rong, which actually sounds villainous. (He’s played by Olaf Johannessen, by the way, who’s been in ALL THE NORDIC THINGS.)

Karla in Trom

Karla having a tough time in Trom

Elsewhere, Karla is having a tough time of things.

She’s fully aware that this could be the biggest murder investigation in Faroese history, and she’s feeling the pressure. As if to demonstrate people under pressure make bad decisions, Karla has already been a bit naughty by accessing Sonja’s phone and seeing her son Gunnar is somehow implicated in the mystery (another favourite Nordic Noir trope… the implicated teenager), and then deleting CCTV footage of the two meeting one night in the street from the database. And now she has found that he’s carrying Sonja’s treasured necklace in his belongings.

But there’s a small lead in the case, exposed by the brilliant, small-but-mighty Anita – a local mechanic was found to have worked on both Påll and Sonja’s cars before the former inexplicably came off the road.

This mechanic – Bergur – is a former drug addict and dealer. Whose rehab facility did he use to dry out? Ragnar’s, of course.

We’re into the final two episodes next week, and I’m wondering if Ragnar is too obvious a villain. Could something be going on at Glisli college, a place where threats to Sonja originated from? Could Gunnar have something to do with all of this?

We’ll soon find out.

Paul Hirons

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.



REVIEW Trom (S1 E1&2/6)

Apologies, life has gotten in the way of this latest Nordic Noir, but I’m happy to say I’m catching up. And not a moment too soon.

We’ve followed the journey of Trom right from its inception, not least because it’s the first crime series to be based on the beautiful, epic and windswept Faroe Islands. And now it’s with us here in the UK, and BBC Four, which feels like a fitting home for the show… especially when you consider the likes of The Killing and The Bridge came before it.

As usual for BBC Four, the series is being played out in double-bills every Saturday night, and there’s certainly enough here to sate the Nordic Noir fans who love to tweet along on social media during broadcasts.

And the good news is that Trom has plenty to love about it and is a veritable checklist for favourite Nordic Noir tropes and themes. Moody, atmospheric scenery? Check. Obsessive main character? Check. Big-corporation skullduggery? Check. Murder? Of course there is!

Sonja á Heyggi in Trom

Who is who in Trom on BBC Four?

We’re first introduced to Sonja Á Heyggi (Helena Heðinsdóttir), a young woman and activist on the islands, who is proving to be a thorn in the side of many. She’s against whale hunting and Sonja and her pals like nothing more than to sabotage hunts, which puts her at odds with many on the islands. If you know anything about the Faroes, it’s that these small communities have whale hunting in their blood – it’s an industry as well as a deep cultural thread.

Sonja receives a message from her friend and fellow activist, Påll, a journalist who is working on something pretty big. He’s on his way to meet Sonja when his car goes off the road, injuring him to the extent that he’s placed in a medically-induced coma.

Sonja, convinced the accident is no accident, now fears for her life, especially now she’s the custodian of all of Påll’s background work on this unnamed case, which we’re told in episode two, uncovers corruption in the judicial system, big corporate business and even the police.

When Sonja goes to the police, the chief – Karla Mohr (Maria Rich) – is non-plussed about the activist and the so-called threats she has received.

And that’s when we meet our main character – international investigative journalist and Faroese native, Hannis Martinsson (Ulrich Thomsen). He has a history of bringing down corporations and exposing all manner of shady goings-on. So when he touches down in Denmark, he sees he has received a message via Facebook Messenger from Sonja, who matter-of-factly explains that she is the daughter he didn’t know he had and that she needs his help with a case she’s working on. She also mentions that she thinks she is in danger.

Armed with all of his head-scrambling information – and wanting to find out if she is indeed his daughter – he hops on a plane and goes back to his homeland.

He’s too late.

In a matter of hours, Sonja is found dead, facedown in the shallow tide.

Hannis Martinsson in Trom

Hannis is on the case in Trom

So we have several things in play here – the trope of a person going back to their homeland, and therefore rubbing up against a past they’d rather forget, a murder mystery, and we get to know Hannis, a driven and, some would argue, selfish, man – perhaps even a touch enigmatic – who is great at investigation but really bad at inter-personal relationships. He’s taciturn, furrowed-of-brow and not an easy person to like, but he’s our protagonist and the eye through which we follow this case.

Driven by guilt and his natural instinct to investigate stories, it’s not long before he’s picking up where his daughter left off.

Another person who’s feeling the strain (and the guilt) is police chief Karla. A case like this needs help from Denmark, but so far she’s refusing to comply. After all, she’s the one who dismissed Sonja as a bit of a crackpot.

After episode two, with the story set up, little twists were beginning to be introduced (not least Karla resorted to scanning Sonja’s DEAD FACE in the morgue in order to gain access to her phone). Hannis, too, is finding crumbs of information as he starts to stick his nose in.

All of this is set on the stunning Faroes. The pace of this drama – certainly in these opening two episodes – is quite slow, but what hooks you in is the verdant, green scenery, the epic mountains and the islands’ customs and characters (I’m pretty sure there’s some product placement in here, too). The bars, the industry, the gorgeous wooden houses, the people and the language (although a lot of people in this seem to be speaking Danish). Let’s face it when you see a character credit for ‘seaweed farmer’ in the closing credits, you know you’re not in Kansas anymore.

A good, solid and very absorbing start.

Paul Hirons

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

The 10 Best Crime Dramas This Week (Monday 18th – Sunday 24th July)

It’s pretty much as you were this week, although – in a flash – we’re saying goodbye to both Trom and The Control Room. We do, however, welcome in a four-part Channel 5 thriller, Witness Number 3. Enjoy!

S1 E4/6

In the aftermath of a prison riot, Jimmy and Larry find themselves with time to learn more about each other.
Friday 22nd July, Apple+ TV

S1 E5&6/6

Hannis devises a new plan to expose the police investigation. Karla finally gets a breakthrough in the case, which can change everything.
Saturday 23rd July, 9pm, BBC Four

S1 E2&3/3

Gabe is blackmailed into further criminal behaviour by Anthony, who offers to keep his secret if he delivers a parcel to Kelvingrove museum. In order to escape the nightmare of the present, Gabe has to confront his past, reflecting on the events surrounding his mother’s funeral.
Monday 18th and Tuesday 19th July, 9pm, BBC One

4 Witness Number 3 *NEW UK PREMIERE SERIES*
S1 E1-4/4

Single mum and hairdresser Jodie Packer witnesses something seemingly innocuous, but soon finds herself as the significant witness in a murder enquiry and facing a campaign of intimidation. As Jodie’s paranoia grows, a local gang mounts a terrifying threat against her and her young son Kyle. 
Monday 18th – Thursday 21st July, 9pm, Channel 5

5 Murder In Provence *NEW UK PREMIERE EPISODE*
S1 E2/3

Now working as a consultant for the police, Marine helps Antoine and Helene investigate the death of an aristocrat found dead at his crumbling chateau, but just when the team think that they’ve got their suspects nailed, another body is found.
Sunday 24th July, 8pm, ITV

6 Rig 45: Murder At Sea *NEW UK PREMIERE EPISODE*
S1 E5/6

The crew splits up into two separate teams, both suspecting each other. Each hour is a struggle to survive, but it remains to be seen how far all concerned are willing to go.
Friday 22nd July, 9pm, More4

S1 E5/8

With a gang member now dead, war is brewing. As Bea looks for answers, Snake uncovers the trio’s dealings. 
Tuesday 19th July, 9pm, Sky Atlantic

8 Miss Scarlet and the Duke *NEW UK PREMIERE EPISODE* *LAST IN SERIES*
S2 E6/6

While Eliza and the Duke struggle around the edges of their relationship, private investigator Nash is shot just as Eliza agrees to work with him.
Tuesday 19th July, 9pm, Alibi

S5 E3&4/10

Teddy’s return causes tension, forcing Jerome and Louie to negotiate with Skully.
Tuesday 19th July, 10pm, BBC Three

S1 E1-10/10

Lupe is a Mexican girl whose life takes an unexpected turn when she learns of the death of her father, El Faraón. Lupe decides to leave her native Mexico behind to travel to Cartagena to attend the funeral. She quickly realises that nothing there is what it seems and decides to enter a music contest to be close to her father and investigate his suspicious death.
Wednesday 20th July, Disney Plus