If you haven’t visited Iceland, put this amazing country on your bucket list. And if you haven’t seen Trapped, put this excellent Icelandic crime drama on your binge-watch list.
A funny thing (not the ha-ha kind): When I was in Reykjavik last year, every one of the locals I spoke with hadn’t seen Trapped (Ófærð), and only a handful had heard of the series. Conversely, all of them knew Ólafur Darri Ólafsson (The Missing, Emerald City), the show’s star, and Baltasar Kormákur (Jar City, Everest), its creator, writer, and executive producer. Both are on Hollywood hot lists, so there you have it.
As for the locals I met, perhaps they are more film goers than telly watchers, because the first season of Trapped, the most expensive TV series ever produced in Iceland, was a ratings blockbuster for the country’s RÚV broadcast channel — garnering a practically unheard of 86% share for the second episode. (This means 86% of everyone watching TV during that time slot tuned into this one show.)
No series gets a share like that without being compelling, and Trapped is certainly that. Riveting, too.
The ten-part first season is an intricately woven, multi-strand story that revolves around a murder investigation in the small town of Seyðisfjörður on the east coast of Iceland.
Andri (Ólafsson), Seyðisfjörður‘s chief of police and a teddy bear of a guy, begins said investigation after local fishermen find a mutilated human torso in their nets. At about the same time, a Danish ferry captained by the shifty and uncooperative Søren Carlsen (Bjarne Henriksen, Borgen, The Killing) is pulling into port. Hmm… Was the victim one of his passengers?
There’s no love lost between Andri and his snarky Reykjavik-based colleague Trausti (Björn Hlynur Haraldsson, Fortitude, The Borgias), who is subsequently put in charge of the murder case. The thing is, a fierce blizzard is blowing in and there is no way for Trausti and his team to get to Seyðisfjörður. Nor can anyone in town get out.
For their part, Andri and his two officers — the reliable and efficient Hinrika (Ilmur Kristjánsdóttir, Virgin Mountain, Spooks and Spirits), and the long-serving yet still a bit naive Ásgeir (Ingvar Eggert Sigurðsson, Sparrows, Everest) — aren’t in a hurry to let the city team of investigators know that the suspect they’d brought in has escaped and that the torso has been stolen.
Meanwhile, there are other sorts of intrigue happening in town. Hinrika is investigating human trafficking in Seyðisfjörður while two young victims stay with her and her husband. Local officials are trying hard to persuade townspeople to sell their land in order to secure investment money from China to transform the port area (and make themselves quite wealthy, indeed). And the wheelchair-bound Rögnvaldur (Sigurður Skúlason, The Lava Field) is seeing things out his window that aren’t meant for his eyes.
There is family drama galore going on, too — between Andri, his ex-wife Agnes (Nína Dögg Filippusdóttir, Case), and her boyfriend Sigvaldi (Rúnar Freyr Gíslason, The Cliff); between Agnes’ still-grieving father Eiríkur (Þorsteinn Gunnarsson, Virgin Mountain) and Hjörtur (Baltasar Breki Samper, The Deep), who was Eiríkur’s deceased daughter’s boyfriend when she died seven years ago; and between beleaguered harbor master Sigurður (Þorsteinn Bachmann, Case), his unfaithful schoolteacher wife Aldís (Steinunn Ólína Þorsteinsdóttir, Case), and his tough geezer of a fisherman father Guðmundur (Sigurður Karlsson, Virgin Mountain).
And if all that weren’t enough, there’s also another disembodied body part, an avalanche, and numerous red herrings that both throw you off track (duh) and lead you into another thread of the web-like story.
In sum total, Trapped is brilliant from start to finish and I highly recommend it.
Trapped: Season 1 is currently streaming on Viceland in the US and Amazon Instant & Prime Video in the UK, where it has received an overall rating of 4.9 out of 5 stars to date. (Note that you must have a cable TV account in order to access the episodes on Viceland.)
A second season of Trapped has been commissioned and is expected to be released in Iceland late next year. Stay tuned for updates.
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