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.
This is a full review of episodes 7 and 8 of Trapped so don’t read on unless you’re up to date.
Episode seven opens with the fairytale of Gutti the goat boy, his personal tragedy and how he gets trapped in a lost future. If it’s meant to evoke any sympathy or understanding in steely Halla it falls flat. “Gutti was an idiot” she says. There’s more myths and legends butting up against the everyday in these episodes as the villagers start to feel they’re cursed.
The man competing for unluckiest villager is Vikingur, stood awaiting his fate against a very suitable blood-red backdrop locked in a room in the plant to keep him safe from the angry mob. His white shirt is splattered in blood, the backdrop is a once-white sheet covered in red spray paint. Pawel was hit in the head with a nasty-looking pointed hammer and Vikingur looks extremely guilty. Pawel the Pole was running jobs with various foreign workers at the plant. Was he a mini mob boss? If so, I bet he had plenty of enemies.
Stefan, the clean-cut pal of Vikingur, rescues Ebo from yet another mob and puts him up with Hjortor and his girlfriend Soffia. Stefan can’t help but look guilty to seasoned fans of the genre – he’s so clean-cut he must be hiding something. Ebo speaks to the police to provide some context for Vikingur’s rage at Pawel and the homophobes they worked with. Lovely Asgeir’s English is beautifully spoken in this scene; he’s so kind to this terrified man.
This is a full review of episodes 5 and 6 of Trapped so don’t read on unless you’re up to date.
Welcome to a couple of subdued but pivotal episodes as we reach the halfway mark in Trapped, despite Andri admitting he’s really back at square one in the investigation. Episode five in particular is quite slow and introspective as it centers around Gisli’s funeral. It marks a break in the action and a pause in the investigation. Gisli’s gravediggers remark on his ancestor who had “bad blood which contaminates the soil” and we get our first hint of what exactly is tearing the family apart – Gisli, Halla and Elin are the three siblings whose father went missing when they were children and his body was never found.
Young Aron’s flash car was bought by his father with cash. And as Asgeir says Finnur had a fleet of cars, with not exactly a massive wage from the plant. So this is where he spent his dirty money, and the rest is stashed in the house for Aron and Thorhildur to find after his death.
Stylish Halla is burnt but unbowed and goes to her brother’s funeral. Sister Elin accuses her of doing it for the media attention and if she hadn’t managed that already just by attending she gives a speech to the congregation and is treated like a hero. This has to be very good for her long-term political career. All the villagers scrub up well for the service in the tiny church, apart from Bardur keeping his trademark wooly hat on until Hinrika jabs him in the ribs.
This is a full review of episodes 1 and 2 of Trapped so don’t read on unless you’re up to date.
Trapped Series 1 was an extraordinary bit of television, the first ever Icelandic drama broadcast on British TV. The first series was the highest rated series ever on RUV, watched by 86% of TV households in Iceland. In the UK it passed 1.2 million viewers on BBC Four. Safe to say then that series 2 has quite a bit to live up to. I’m hoping it’s worth getting excited about.
Bearded man-mountain Ólafur Darri Ólafsson reprises his role as chief police inspector Andri now back in Reykjavik when he is entrusted with an extremely high-profile case. In classic nasty Scandi style we have an immediately gripping immolation opener which is fascinating even as you recoil in horror. Gisli an impoverished sheep farmer from the Icelandic Highlands sets himself on fire in front of the government building, trying to kill the Minister of Economic Affairs who just happens to be his twin sister. Andri is back on top again – a rise so meteoric I’m surprised he doesn’t have a nosebleed. From zero to hero thanks to his hard work and persistence in Series 1. In the first five minutes he’s already chatting to Iceland’s Prime Minister who cuts right to the heart of all Scandi noir motivations – was this attack personal or political?
Vikingur (early contender for best name of the series) is Gisli’s son, working at the controversial aluminium plant up north. As in the first series we get a break from subtitles thanks to the international element here in this industry; something that right-wing Icelanders like the Hammer of Thor group are protesting against – who profits from the devastation this plant causes to their landscape and their livestock? Vikingur already has a lot on his plate before his father’s horrible suicide – he’s in a relationship with Ebo, a black colleague who seems like he’s in the country illegally.
Are you the kind of person who always remembers to say thank you to Alexa? Are you careful in how you describe the great and benevolent Google when you’re within earshot of a Home Hub? Have you had a good long look at your Facebook privacy settings and do you actually understand what all that nonsense means? In which case you’re already familiar with the themes of Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror, a huge worldwide Netflix success (as far as we can tell with a company notoriously cagey about releasing their viewing figures) poached with extreme prejudice (and bucket-loads of cash) from Channel 4 back in 2015. Technology is a crutch for the human race, a wedge that drives us apart and the idealism of “do no evil” is an absurd fairy story. We’re being corrupted and driven to the point of madness by our own beloved, addictive creation.
Bandersnatch doesn’t make my life easy. This review is particularly hard to write. Usually I’d give brief outline of the story and then get into the nitty gritty. But everyone’s story here is slightly different, especially the multiple possible endings. So let’s cover the very basics and see where we go from there.
Spoiler warning: details about the murderer lie below!
Mustache-twirling Belgian detective Hercule Poirot is a beloved character in literature, in cinema and on TV. Recently he’s been re-imagined as a Hollywood action hero by Kenneth Branagh in a slightly strange but ultimately well-received version of Murder on the Orient Express. So now to the BBC’s Christmas drama schedules, a big part of which has been Agatha Christie adaptations by Sarah Phelps. Over the past few years she’s brought us Ordeal by Innocence, And Then There Were None and Witness for the Prosecution. Ginger and restrained adaptations are not Phelp’s style. How do you rip up the rule book but stay true to the source material?
It turns out all you need to do is wait. The passage of time makes characters different people, more fragile and sympathetic, more human. John Malkovich portrays the great detective as a weary yesterday’s man – the ying to David Suchet’s dapper and self-important yang. He’s dismissed as just another nosy parker by the young and very serious Inspector Crome (Rupert Grint). The world has moved on since Poirot’s celebrity heyday. This is all done in an extremely heavy-handed fashion as Poirot’s retired police pal Japp literally drops dead in front of him. Alright, alright, we get it – everyone is mortal. Poor old Poirot is lonely; in desperate need of a Scooby gang – despite first appearances he’s no good at coping with life alone and forgotten.
Enter the murderer who remembers Poirot at the height of his powers and wants to play a game. By letter he tells him he’s off to kill a series of people throughout the UK whose names start with each letter of the alphabet in turn and it’s up to Poirot to figure out the connection between the seemingly random victims stop him. What an effort from the murderous mastermind to troll Poirot pre-Twitter. Think of the expense in stamps alone!
It’s New Years Day and I’m feeling charitable so this blog is brought to you in a whisper, with a cold flannel (for your forehead) and a bacon sandwich (for your mouth… if you need instructions on how to eat a sandwich, maybe don’t get out of bed yet). Read my round-up of the best Christmas telly and figure out what you want to watch on catch-up to keep the festive feelings flowing, and I’ll pop to the shops for paracetamol. Alright?
A classic tale of mismatched neighbours Andrew (Stephen Merchant, playing exactly the sort of person he always does) and Dev (Asim Chaudhry) from Bedford on a 9 hour mission to save Christmas and buy the must-have toy (Sparklehoof the Unicorn Princess) for Andrew’s daughter. Dev is the lonely chubby one, separated from his family at Christmas, and Andrew is the awkward angry intellectual, successful but bad tempered with a family who loves him for some unseen qualities. Dev teaches Andrew to be a happier man and a better father, and despite themselves they’ll be best buddies for life. Basically it’s Planes, Trains and Automobiles or Jingle All The Way for the small screen. It looks lovely with cosy camera angles suited to our suburban action heros. There’s great pacing throughout with real tension and subversive moments of mischief. Neither lead performance is all that over-the-top and their situation, while silly, seems entirely probable. An unexpected gem.