SERIES REVIEW Entrapped

Andri and Hinrika are back!

As long-time readers we know I hold Trapped in the highest regard. Series one was one of the best crime dramas of the past decade (it won our Crime Drama Of The Year in 2016), introducing us to one of the best police partnerships of recent times and to the magical, other-worldly realm of Iceland. It really is a special place, and for us to see it and experience it onscreen is something we should forever be in Trapped’s debt for.

Indeed, because of Trapped I visited the island several times and experienced the incredible city of Reykjavik and its people, its TV people and its crime novelists first hand. I’ve met friends for life over there and it really is as great as it looks onscreen.

Another reason that Trapped caught on in the UK was because of where and when it was broadcast. Lest we forget, we’d recently had The Killing and The Bridge in the Saturday-night, foreign-drama slot on BBC Four. That slot really became a must-watch, and something tangible to look forward to every week. Online communities even grew around this collective experience, members of which discussed characters and plot points. It really was people’s Saturday-night thing.

Fast forward almost a decade and BBC Four is, sadly, on the wane, and other outlets have outpaced it. Because of all this, Trapped seems and feels synonymous with BBC Four to me, so when it was announced that series three was to be renamed Entrapped and would appear on Netflix, there was a sigh of disappointment.

You can’t blame Icelandic broadcaster RÚV or the team behind the show – they have to take the money where they can, and plainly Netflix was a willing and able partner going forward.

However, Netflix has taken its time releasing this and on the grapevine I’d heard that this series – essentially series three of Trapped – wasn’t all that great. This was concerning because of the reverence I hold it in.

And another element to be wary of… Netflix has taken the original eight episodes and cut them down into six. Again, red flags.

But there I was in episode one, just luxuriating in the fact that the likes of Andri, Hinrika and co back were on our screens again. The gang was back together (and by gang I also mean British writer Clive Bradley and creator/showrunners Baltasar Kormákur and Sigurjón Kjartansson), so surely it couldn’t be all that bad.

It starts with that incredible, iconic music from Hildur Guðnadóttir, and then a trip back up north, and a religious/pagan sect/commune worshiping in a lush, green field overlooking the ocean. It’s a gorgeous scene, in line with Iceland’s innate links to the land, spirituality and mythology. My only concern as we entered this world was that we’d seen it all before in Nordic Noirs – religion and religious ‘families’ seem to be a real thing in Scandinavia and the Nordic countries, and certainly within crime drama, some of which have explored the dynamics within these environments.

We meet family leader Oddur (who, for a religious leader, isn’t actually all that charismatic) and headstrong member Ívar (Jóhann Kristóffer Stefánsson) who clashes with the leader of a visiting motorcycle gang called Gunnar (Haraldur Ari Stefánsson). Later that night, Ívar has his face smashed in with a hammer.

And then we go to Reykjavík, where Andri (hello again old friend) picks up his ex-father-in-law Eiríkur from prison (remember series two?). We find out that Agnes and his kids are now in Sweden and they’re divorced, so essentially Andri is on his own and lumbering through his life in the financial crime division in the nation’s capital. However, when Trausti gets in touch and tells him that the victim of the murder up north is someone from his past, Andri is absolutely insistent he must go back and join up with Hinrika to sort this out.

Why? We’re shown flashbacks from seven years before, where Andri (and Trausti) is interrogating a young Ívar about the disappearance of his girlfriend, Lena. He gets so angry he beats him up, and we learn that these heavy-arm tactics destroyed Ívar’s life. He escaped to the religious family for a new life and never forgave Andri. Nor did Ívar’s parents, either.

Furthermore, Lena had never been found.

So far, so good, although we were going through some of this backstory at a rate of knots and some of it was a) hard to believe (Andri beating up a suspect just like that?), and b) for such an important part of the story it was going so quickly it wasn’t really sticking.

Back in the present day, Andri took Eiríkur back up north to a retirement home (not sure why) and soon enough he joined up with old pal Hinrika (hello again old friend), which gladdned the heart and put a huge smile on my face, especially as he walked into the old police station and embraced. As I mentioned before, they’re such a great team – hulking Andri with his quiet ways but always an anger simmering beneath the surface; and Hinrika, magnificently-browed, calm and hyper-pragmatic (we learned that she had got back together Bárður and taken on his sister’s son… quite the family unit).

We also got some nice tributes to dear, much-missed Ásgeir.

Back to the plot. As soon as Andri went back up north you really felt like it was game on – an intriguing murder mystery was in play, a cold case, two juxtaposing, warring factions, lots of family beefs (Oddur’s son was Gunnar, the apparent leader of the biker gang).

But that’s went things went awry when it really should have escalated.

Throughout this series, the key focus of Trapped – that of the investigative partnership of Andri and Hinrika – seemed to be pushed into the background a little. Along for the ride came Trausti, who didn’t really serve much of a purpose accept to huff and puff petulantly (as is his wont) and dilute Andri and Hinrika’s relationship onscreen time.

Another reason was the plot.

Onto the island from Denmark came a bigger biker gang, led by Danish Hopper (Thomas Bo Larsson), Gunnar’s uncle. From that moment on Entrapped spent too much time – most of the rest of the series, in fact – on building him up as the Big Bad and the characters around him. In fact, let’s talk about biker gangs and Scandinavian/Nordic culture. They’re a real thing over there, but not so much in the UK. They do not instil the same kind of fear or fascination in the UK and in this day and age feel a bit naff and cliched. If this was the 1980s, sure, but the 2020s?

All that being said, we got some subplots involving an undercover drugs deal, the women of the gang being shocked and abhorred by Hopper’s methods of iron-fist violence (you just knew that one of them would give him up in the end) and the introduction of police chief Sonja (Svandís Dóra Einarsdóttir), who Andri strikes up a bit of a relationship with. (I actually liked Sonja as a character – especially her disdain for Trausti – and she fitted in well.)

There was some good stuff in here, and Ólafur Darri Ólafsson and Ilmur Kristjánsdóttir are just so brilliant in their roles it was impossible to completely dislike it. How could I when I love this series so much? However, it did test the patience for long periods, especially as we got deeper into the biker gang story.

That story strand was resolved in the penultimate episode, so we only got 40-odd minutes to resolve Ívar’s murder and Lena’s disappearance, which were the most interesting elements of the plot. In fact, I’d argue that you could have gotten rid of the whole biker gang/drugs plot completely – it was just full of people, ultimately, you didn’t really care about – and focused on the intriguing, dark cold case.

So Entrapped was, in the end, disappointing. A great shame because we know how good this show can be. You could tell and feel that eight episodes had been slashed up and hammered into six (a shoehorned meeting between Andri and his mother served absolutely no purpose, for instance… it was full of scenes that left you scratching your head a bit in terms of depth and continuity), and the ending felt rushed and not quite right, so I’m not quite sure what Netflix was playing at there.

And yet, with all that being said… I really want more stories featuring Andri and Hinrika down the line, and Iceland for that matter, because they’re two of the very best and we all know that when it’s on its game, it’s a fantastic series.

Paul Hirons

Rating: 3 out of 5.

READ MORE: ALL OUR NEWS AND REVIEWS OF TRAPPED

Entrapped can be streamed on Netflix in the UK

Advertisement

6 Comments Add yours

  1. Charlotte Carling says:

    Yes, it’s very odd that Netflix should choose to cut about 80 minutes of this series. Presumably they are helping fund the series because it’s something they believe in and have seen how well the series did previously, so why scrap 1/4 of it?

    Regarding the biker gang situation, yes, as a plot point, and especially with British eyes, it may seem quite naff. Though of course, it’s still a current problem in Nordic society today. It’s not even a month ago that the leader of Satudarah’s subdivision “Assassins” was in fact assassinated in a shopping centre in Malmö, and a female passerby injured.
    So far, I think the use of biker gangs in Nordic TV-series worked the best in Innan vi dör (Before We Die).
    One thing I think affected that part of the plot in Entrapped is Thomas Bo Larsen being cast as Danish Hopper. He is a wonderful actor, but didn’t feel right in this role.

    While I think it’s fine to leave Trapped where it is after S3, like you, Paul, I would also love to see more of Andri and Hínrika, they are such extraordinary characters, so beautifully and on point played by Ólafur Darri Ólafsson and Ilmur Kristjánsdóttir. Though, of course Kormákur would have to change his mind about this being the final series, and
    Kjartansson and Bradley have to find their way back to a plot closer in tone and quality to that of the first series. Admittedly a difficult task as it was about as close to perfection as you can get and also arrived with impeccable timing as a breath of fresh air after the stories of spectacularly planned and excecuted revenge killings that we saw from Scandinavia in the preceding years. For the main plot of Trapped there was instead an initial crime but the things that followed were more out of desperation and attempting not to get caught. This element of things continuing to spin out of control, together with the extreme but believable human reactions to horrible situations, is in my opinion, what makes the first series so great.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Triviatic says:

    For me, a good murder mystery should have a minimum of two things- (a)interesting characters and (b)the resolution to be as flawless as possible with minimum logical lapses.

    Season 1 and 2 of Trapped scored high on both these counts. Season 1 shone even more because, among many things, it had a galaxy of interesting characters.

    Season 3 failed miserably on the first count. Barring Andri and Hinrika, there was hardly any character that was particularly interesting. What made things worse was that thanks to the utter shallowness of the biker sub-plot and the separate drug investigation, the most interesting characters- Andri and Hinrika- had very little to do except wait, watch, and see if someone made a mistake or a confession.

    That said, I thought the reveal in Season 3 was brilliantly conceived. Not only did it give an explosive and plausible resolution to the murders, it also gave a gut-punch in how it altered what everyone assumed about Andri.

    Like

  3. Great blog Paul and excellent comments Charlotte. I just finished watching it too and although I agree with some of your points I still enjoyed it. I felt 8 episodes would have been better. We needed to spend more time with Andri and Henrika (particularly Henrika) and a bit less time with the bikers. I still feel like I want more from the show and felt the sense of place was still strong along with the photography (that’s a big thing for me when I watch Nordic Noir shows) but it could have been even more so. There were quite a lot of Reykjavik scenes; I didn’t feel that sense of isolation quite as much as in previous series and that took a little bit of the shine off Entrapped for me. I am pretty sure the naming of Danish Hopper is the best joke of the year so far however. I am still laughing at that.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Charlotte Carling says:

      Being a bit nerdy, I compared the two versions (not entirely, but a few episodes) and I really don’t see the point of the Netflix cut. Some scenes are missing altogether but mainly they’ve just cut bits out of each scene. It’s as if the scenes aren’t allowed to take their time to build up atmosphere, tension or whatever mood is called for. Instead the flow is disrupted and cuts end up being quite abrupt. They’ve also messed with the order of the scenes, I suppose the new episodes still need to appear to have planned endings.
      Not being entirely drawn in by the crime plot, I too wanted to spend more time with Andri and Hínrika, even Trausti, so I’m very much not in favour of the shortened dialogues.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. To my eternal shame, I hadn’t realised that there was a series 2, let alone 3.

    Given the strength of your review, I think I will resume watching there instead.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.