This is a full review of episodes 9 and 10 of Trapped so don’t read on unless you’re up to date.
This series of Trapped has been more about fire than ice, but despite how it all began with Gisli’s self-immolation in such a public space I was not prepared for the horrific car fire at the start of episode 9. I was in denial. There’s no way hat Asgeir could be dead, stabbed by the killer intent on stealing back the mobile phone and covering his tracks. He’s not stopped that easily; he can survive a few stab wounds. But then a car is found on fire as the killer slinks away in the darkness.
I was banking on a TV miracle, right up until his autopsy (“That’s not Asgeir – he had a distinctive rabbit tattoo on his lower thigh! This is some other convenient dead body with terrible stab wounds!”). Only then, like Andri, Hinrika and poor Gudrun I had to admit he really was gone. The grief of his colleagues was so raw and real, especially Andri who immediately blamed himself. Watching the big guy crumble was too much to bear especially because he had to hide away in his bathroom to cry privately. And the new feeling of empty space in the police station where Asgeir should have been was a neat way to show something has changed forever without the need for words. There’s no relief until Asgeir’s killer is caught. And despite what Andri tells his boss, we know he’s not alright to continue leading this investigation but we admire his resolve and we want him to see it through.
A quick word here about Bardur. He’s not all that useless really. He brings clothes to the mortuary for Asgeir’s body guilelessly assuming he’ll need them in his open casket. He is lovely to Gudrun, horrified to learn that she had to observe Asgeir’s post mortem, but still gets a telling off he doesn’t deserve. He’s got so much more emotional intelligence than the rest of the main characters and it’s charming to see him doing his best for his friend.
Vikingur, now free to go, finally explains he tried to pull the hammer out of Pawel’s head. He was certainly angry enough to kill him after Pawel tried to rape Ebo, but he was beaten to it. Vikingur loves Ebo, but Ebo is pushing him away. He’s a ball of fear, worried about life in Ghana and how life in Iceland doesn’t really seem much safer. His choice is already made – he’s going home to his children.
Forty barrels of toxic waste hidden out on the hillside seems like something worth killing over. Ketill sums it up in a typically direct fashion, sweeping aside the fears of cursed land from last week’s episodes “There’s no curse. The name for it is greed – typical Icelandic greed.” And who exactly is the head of waste disposal at the plant? Why, it’s Vikingur’s squeaky-clean pal Stefan! He called in sick on the day the police come calling but strangely isn’t at home either. He’s on the road to Reykjavik with murder on his mind and a couple of guns for company.
So it falls to Aunty Laufey to keep Thorhildur and Aron safe on a cross-country drive to Reykjavik followed by a sinister dark-coloured van. This was a woman who couldn’t even stop Thorhildur sneaking out of the house, nevermind defend her from a ruthless killer. Laufey’s road trip is a series of disasters, starting with shrimp sandwiches and ending with Stefan’s high-risk and brutal attack on Aron in a very public place. One protector down, one distracted and Thorhildur is carried unconscious from the building.
As I held my breath through the last minutes of episode 9 I was very grateful to BBC4 for airing their Scandi Noir as double bills. I can’t imagine waiting a week at this cliffhanger moment!
The recap for episode 10 handily reminds us that Stefan’s mother got him the job at the plant. There’s a lot of powerful political women in this story. Who is she? This episode has a lot of flashbacks neatly filling in the gaps. As Andri and Hinrika suspected Finnur and Gisli were fighting over his land, as greedy Finnur wanted the geothermal mining rights rights. Ebo finally comes clean about dumping the toxic waste; Finnur and then Pawel were supposed to be paying the foreign workers for this extra illegal off-the-books job. It looks like Finnur was happy to keep that money, then tried to double cross Stefan and ended up at the serious end of a bolt gun in his own barn. The money is what Aron and Thorhildur then find in the house.
Stefan’s Mum is Jorunn, a mousy-looking woman who we glimpsed briefly as Halla was giving money to in her car. Jorunn doesn’t defen Stefan to his frantic wife – maybe she thinks he’s quite capable of murder. Quickly we learn that he is Halla’s son, by incest. The missing father so often talked about in ominous tones was actually killed by Gisli and Halla while they were children. The youngest daughter Erin watched them beat him to death and feed him to his own pigs. To me it sounds like he got exactly what he deserved. Halla’s owning the truth in the back of the police car is riveting. She escaped to Reykjavik to have baby Stefan but says he looked just like his father “I knew I had to give him away or else I would have hurt him”. She gave him to Jorunn thinking he would be loved but she could never warm to him and he was stuck. Stefan was never loved and then Gisli, having kept the secret for so long, decided to tell him about his real parentage. This rage and horror at who he is flips a switch in his head and makes him a murderer.
It’s heartwarming that Andri’s wife still has faith in him. “Of course” she says, of course you’ll catch Stefan and get Thorhildur safe when actually of course he should be off the case. Instead he and every cop in Iceland is off into the countryside to hunt Stefan down. Is it me or are the hillsides changed from ruggedly beautiful to claustrophobic and menacing?
It seems Stefan is keeping Thorhildur alive as a bargaining tool but also to teaset about Andri. “A good policeman but a bad father” laughs Stefan “what a cliche!”. Stefan is many things, but in this case he’s exactly right. But a cop show, even one of this calibre needs to be very careful in dropping the c-bomb especially in the lead up to an armed stand-off. Poor Thorhildur doesn’t even make it to the last location, accidentally dropped down a cliff in the run to the abandoned ski lodge. Stefan’s only hostage is himself which isn’t exactly what he planned.
In a far-fetched conclusion to the chase the SWAT team are relegated to the sidelines and Andri, then Hinrika and Halla insist on putting themselves in harms way, all unarmed. It’s quite difficult to suspend disbelief on this. Andri is not a trained negotiator and clearly far too close to the case. He’s a heroic lead but he’s not Bruce Willis or Liam Neeson and I expect more from the writers of Trapped than I do from Hollywood action movies. It’s a relief when Stefan takes his own life as the actions of the police would have almost certainly jeopardised any fair trial.
These final episodes have been completely absorbing and I’ve been on the edge of my seat throughout, but despite the mysteries solved, and Thorhildur being saved in the nick of time it wasn’t a very satisfying conclusion. Maybe I’m just being picky but I think the last ten minutes was lacking something – it all happened too quickly, without much emotional depth. Thorhildur, returned to the safety of her family, has a renewed faith in her father “I’ll be alright. You will too” but as viewers we don’t get to see the healing process start. We just have to trust that our heroes will be ok and we’ll catch up with them again in series 3, which is happily already in production.