A cold and bitter welcome to my new Saturday night drama obsession, in the coveted Euro drama slot on BBC4. This is Trapped, a murder mystery, police procedural type-drama: the first Icelandic drama on British tv – dark, cold and wintery. There’s been a gruesome murder, Andri the local cop with serious family problems has to save the day and a terrifying storm is setting in.
From the start the weather looks authentic – not a single flake of fake snow. I genuinely wondered if the producers had waited for a real storm to begin filming. But commenters on the internet who live quite a bit further north than me have pointed out it looks like summer with the characters running around with no hats on. A tell-tale giveaway, if you know what you’re looking for.
The location is stunning – a natural locked room. The small port town enclosed by high cliffs on all sides that the camera lingers over. We’re out in the wilds but it’s still claustrophobic. With the ferry embargoed, the storm setting in and the mountain pass closed and there is (pause for dramatic emphasis) no… way… out! How long will it take for the atmosphere to turn from moody and nervous to out-and-out horror? I’m excited to find out, unless we’re in for an Icelandic Fortitude, a show which promised so much (yay Stanley Tucci!) but ended in a *ahem* mammoth amount of confusion. Hopefully Trapped is a sci-fi nonsense free zone. As we saw the massive ferry approach the town I couldn’t help thinking of Jaws, and the march (swim?) of a slow moving inevitable threat.
Icelandic is a stranger sounding language than the Dutch or Swedish we got used to watching The Bridge and The Killing. Mr H said it sounded like a certain famous penguin, prompting the question what language did Pingu actually speak? A little light Googling reveals it was nonsense, aka Pinguinese, and originally spoken by a famous Italian voice actor Carlo Bonomi.
Speaking of language, Trapped skips around a lot and moves into English much more frequently than any other Euro drama I’ve seen. We know we’re dealing with Danes and Icelanders – would they us English as common language? Or is this because the programme makers knew they’d have lots of international interest, and the break in subtitles is kind on the English eyeballs.
I love that the bad guys especially seem to speak excellent English. Maybe the classic British bad guy trope is alive and well in the Lithuanian people-trafficker and obstructive ferry Captain (oh Theis from The Killing – what have you become?!).
I suspect that Andri’s daughters are probably excellent English speakers too, as so far they’re the villains of the piece. Thoroughly nasty little bullies, but he loves them. I’m surprised Andri isn’t delighted with his ex-wife’s plan to ship the kids off south but of course clever kids never show their true colours to doting papa.
I’m intrigued about Andri’s past and how his life fits together with that of moustachioed Reykjavik cop Traushi who seems to be a total dick. What’s the history with Andri and his wife? I’ve got a feeling Andri was expelled from the Reykjavik police and sent north in shame, but why?
And what about this big business plan for the port town. Is it a land grab? The banking crisis of 2008 is mentioned a couple of times, and it’s clear the towns people are cynical and suspicious. How long will the town’s residents put up with these stranded ferry passengers? I’m guessing tension will arise pretty quickly, especially as other sketchy locals are revealed, like motorbike-riding Hjörtur from the pre-credits who probably didn’t kill his lovely girlfriend.
If the idea of a night in front of another bleak drama warms your cockles and a slow speed campervan chase through Bedford Falls is something that now I’ve mentioned you have to see, then catch up with Trapped on BBC iPlayer. Do it quickly and reward yourself with two more episodes on Saturday 20th February at 9pm.