Saturday SkandiKrime: Trapped 2 – episode 2

In Icelandic

After the wealth of information in the first episode, there was understandably less new in the second, as Andri and Hinrika add the murder of Finnur to their list of cases and start with the most obvious suspects, Torfi and Skuli Ketillsson: that’s right, fanatic protester Ketill’s two sons.

Even so, I was shocked when the episode ended in, subjectively, about half the time episode one had taken.

Nothing has been resolved, naturally enough, not this soon, though there are wheels within wheels in Reykjavik, to do with the controversial plant, and pressure is about to come down from on high to find a quick (and you can bet simple, uncomplicated and above all incorrect) solution to these related cases.

Forensics, in the form of Gudrun and her team, are up from the south to investigate the crime scene, which Aesgir, left on guard, foolishly unguards for long enough for Aron to cut his Dad down and potentially destroy evidence. No, not because he’s involved, though I reserve the right to suspect anyone and everyone before this is over, but because he’s a teenager who’s lost his Dad, who demands to kill his killer and is a 17 year old dickhead to boot.

It’s sheep day, when the flocks are brought down from the mountains, the high mountains and deep valleys. I miss the snowscapes, but I am still drawn to this lonely place, of rock and ridges and considerable silence. Torfi is arrested on suspicion of murder, indeed he confesses to it, but the moment he sees the cops, Skuli runs – or rather rides – for it. Rescue parties go out to search for him but he’s found a damp, dark cave for the night.

Anyway, Torfi hasn’t done it. He’s confessing to take the blame for his brother, who’s mentally challenged, and prone to violence. It’s a political murder, Finnur was a traitor. He was murdered by, probably, a bolt-gun to the head, but Torfi confesses to slitting his throat. Ketill won’t talk about it, but he holds Andri personally responsible if Skuli doesn’t come back alive. I’d have said something along the lines of Skuli having something to do with it, but then Andri’s not like that. He’s smarter than I am.

Madame Mayor, whatshername, Hafdis, with all the big ambitions who survived series 1, is still determined everything regarding the plant will go ahead uninterrupted. There’s something up with Hinrika and her ragged husband, Bardur, and it’s not just that he sympathisizes with the racists. There’s more to come from Hammer of Thor, more than just the boldly plastered ‘Traitor You Will Pay’ in red spray paint all over Hafdis’ white walls in the abrupt cliffhanger. Somebody’s watching her in the night…

Saturday SkandiKrime: Trapped 2 – episode 1

After the sheer risibility of Black Lake 2, the announcement of the long-awaited second series of the Iceland-set Trapped was greeted with whoops and hollers in one Stockport pokey little flat. Superior story-telling for at least four weeks: if the second series was only half as good as the 2014 first, I would be very satisfied indeed.

In fact, I have five weeks of delight to look forward to, as Trapped 2 eschews the recent Scandinavian trend towards eight episode series and adheres to the traditonal ten parts we came to know and love from The Killing onwards. And whilst BBC4 is showing them in the usual block of two episodes weekly, the first episode was so rich and deep, and the experience so wonderful, that I’m going to watch (and blog) only one at a time.

Last time round, Andri Olafson (Olafur Darri Olafson), detective, was the Chief of Police in a tiny, northern town, a little piece of nothing in a deep fjord. It was a place of vast whitenesses, a deeply attractive, entirely quiet place. Andri, who came from this unnamed town, had been posted there in disgrace, after failing badly on a case. But with the town cut off by blizzard and avalanche, he was left to tackle a complex murder case. Andri’s successful resolution, amidst substantial family problems, saw him regain his old post at the capitol, Reykjavik.

Four years have passed. The opening episode doesn’t waste any time: Halla, Minister for Industries, is walking with three aides in front of Parliament. She’s approached by a semi-derelict man, rough clothing, dishevelled hair, unshaven, anxious expression, red-faced. She knows him, she stops to talk to him but it’s only to tell him, not for the first time it appears, that she owes him nothing. He grabs her, holds her tight, produces a lighter. His clothes are soaked in gasoline. He sets them both alight.

It’s quick, it’s direct, it’s shocking. It’s the crime, and it’s the way into what, after only one episode, seems to be a potentially infinite web of secrets.

Andri catches the case. The man, Gisli, is Halla’s brother, her twin brother. She hasn’t had contact with the rest of the family for twenty years. He’s died. She’s severely burnt, in hospital. He, they, are from a town up north, where there are recurring protests against an industrial plant in the process of construction, as well as an obscure political sect calling itself Hammer of Thor (as you expect, they are extreme nationalists, Iceland for Icelanders, a bunch of racists). The town Gisli comes from, where all this is happening, is Andri’s old town.

Before flying up there, to be re-united with his old colleagues, the imperturbable, quiet and brilliant Hinrika (Ilmur Kristjansdottir) and the rangy, rather more negligible Aesgir (Ingvar Eggert Sigurdsson), Andri calls upon his ex-wife, Agnes, and younger daughter Perla, to let them know he’s off up north, but mainly to let us know that elder daughter Thorhildur (Elva Maria Birgisdottir), now 15, has gone to live there with her Aunt Laufey (Katla M Thorgirsdottir). Thorhildur won’t speak to either her mother or father and has a record of stealing things: a troubled teen.

Even before Andri arrives, we are pitched into things we don’t yet understand, and relationships we have to learn. The show simply drops us into them. It doesn’t telegraph anything, doesn’t put up cue cards so we don’t have to pick it up, doesn’t tie anything up in pink ribbon, which is why I think so highly of it. Even when Andri arrives and has people introduced to him, it’s difficult to work out just who is related to who, and in what manner, because nearly everybody seems to be.

There’s Vikingur, Gisli’s son, who is gay, by the way, and works at the plant, where the impressively bearded Finnur (his father’s brother-in-law), apparently a homophobe, is warning the black-skinned Ebo to stay away from Vikingur or get deported, because he doesn’t want something revealing to Vikingur. Gisli’s ex-wife, Steinum, Vikingur’s mother, divorced him ages ago and married his brother, whilst her sister is married to Finnur, and their son Aron, aged 17, is Thorhildur’s boyfriend (and probable bedmate: there’s a wonderfully dry line from Hinrika when Andri, dubious about whether his elder daughter’s virginity is still something for her to bestow, asks what she thinks: Hinrika asks what age Andri first had sex, then warns him, if he says it was different, he was a boy, she’ll lock him up!).

Gisli doesn’t seem to have been well-liked even among his family. He was a miserable, grumpy sod who seems to have thought the world owed him something. His sheep farm had just failed, his mortgage foreclosed, his home stripped by the bailiffs. That’s enough of a cause for anyone to crack up and make a futile, suicidal gesture, but things are not so simple. Gisli was friends with another farmer, Ketill (Stein Armann Magnusson), a reactionary with about a dozen grown sons, a farmer protesting the plant, protesting governments and Mayors who spout bullshit about the plant and how it’s going to mean money for everyone, because Ketill knows it will only release poison gas to kill all their sheep and spoil all their countryside, which will be sold off to foreigners like a cheap whore (overused phrase).

In short, Ketill is the fanatics fanatic. Gisli’s sheep are all dead in the barn, killed by a boltgun, same as his dog. The inference is that Gisli did it, because he was driven crazy by his insurmountable losses, but to Ketill, Gisli was both a victim and a martyr, and the dead sheep get dumped in the town centre as evidence of how he’s right (oh, this man is always going to be right, in his own mind anyway) about the plant.

He may not be entirely wrong: the drilling is causing quite substantial earthquakes.

So there’s a lot going on, on personal and criminal levels, and just plain secrecy. Back in Reykjavik, the Prime minister does question Trausti, Andri’s old enemy, as to whether they can trust him on a case like this: we’re going to have to, Trausti sighs. It’s going to be fun watching Andri and Hinrika unpick this.

One thing that worried me was that in series 1, everything was white, and now it’s green and brown. It’s not global warming, however, but simply the Icelandic summer. Last time round, people were physically trapped. This time, it’s psychological. I am already very, very pleased.

Where have all the Skandis gone?

It’s been some time since I last had a BBC4 Saturday night EuroCrime series to blog. As November – the Month of the Drowned Dog, according to the early Ted Hughes poem of the same name – is upon us, I had been hoping for some to take us Baltic-wards, but the Beeb are continuing their current Australian-themed thrillers with another four-parter to succeed the just-concluded The Code.

So I’ve been looking around to see what prospects we have for some of our old favourites returning, using the word ‘favourite’ in its most elastic sense.

The most obvious candidate for a much-desired return would of course be The Bridge, stretching into an unprecedented fourth series. The news now is that this has been formally commissioned, though nothing is yet known about transmission dates. Creator Hans Rosenfeldt had previously said that Sofie Helin and Thure Lindhardt were ‘on board’ and that if the right idea came up, Kim Bodnia could return.

Apparently, there will only be eight episodes in series 4, which I regard with suspicion, and that it will definitely be the last as there will be no possibility of further stories after it, and yes, I interpret that the way you just have (unless Rosenfeldt plans to rip off the ending of The Killing (which has my permission to come back anytime, as does Borgen, though I know neither will). It will not directly succeed series 3, commencing eighteen months later, so the dangling plot of tracking down Henrik’s daughters won’t be featuring.

Also confirmed for a return is Iceland’s finest, Trapped, which has been confirmed as renewed with an even more complex murder mystery, to which I say “Can’t wait!”, except that for some reason its not going to appear until late 2018, so I’m going to have to.

Less welcome news is that the rather dodgy mess that is Bedrag (aka Follow the Money), starring Maverick Mess and Stoic Alf, has not only been commissioned for a second series but that said series broadcast its seventh episode (out of the traditional ten) last night in Scandinavia. This year’s subject is P2P Banking, which sounds dry as anything, so thank God we’ve got Maverick Mess’s antics to enliven things (I nearly said ‘look forward to’ but given my opinion if series 1, that would clearly be a misnomer).

I imagine we’ll be looking at that next spring, which gives me ample time to have my snarking pencil sharpened.

As predicted, there is no sign of anyone being enthusiastic about creating another series of Crimes of Passion, whilst Arne Dahl has not yet written any further A-Gruppe books to be turgidly refashioned as Arne Dahl TV programmes.

Turning to those other European countries that have featured in the Saturday night slot, there is sadly no indication of any repeat appearances for Molina and Guerin of Disparue (The Disappearance), but I have news of great horror for you: after disappearing with only the defiant whisper of a second series, in respect of which its Wikipedia entry hasn’t been updated in over two years, Salamander has indeed been recommissioned, and imdb has it down for an opening episode on some unknown date in 2018.

If this does indeed come to pass, it will mean a five year gap from the end of series 1 which, as we all so clearly remember writer Ward Huselmans proclaiming, was “writ(ten) for big audiences”: how’d that work out for you, old bean? Needless to say, if this ever happens, and if BBC4 elects to show it, I shall be waiting, not with a snarking pencil but with a poison ink fountain pen.

Though if they bring Tine Reymer back with it, I may find it in my heart to welcome her sturdy and blue-eyed good looks.

In the meantime, I would delight in being surprised by something Skandi designed to fill in the Saturday nights remaining until Xmas. After the next Australian short, there are five Saturday nights left in 2016, the last of them being Xmas Day.

It would be a fitting conclusion.

Trapped: season 2

Earlier this year, under my Saturday ScandiCrime header, I reviewed the ten-part Icelandic series given the name, Trapped for the UK and Eire.

They say you should never quote yourself, but this (among other things) was what I had to say about the final episode:-

“I’d watch a Trapped 2 in a heartbeat, but though the Chinese port sale is still alive, and Kolbrun is still utterly determined to drive that through, and take all the money from it, I cannot see that Trapped 1 has left enough pieces unbroken, or at any rate of sufficient size, on which to stand another murder/mystery. I would be delighted to be proven lacking in sufficient imagination.”

So let the delight begin. Filming has begun on series 2, featuring the same main cast (yay!) in another ten-part story facing “an even more complex and challenging murder case”.

The drawback is that this is not expected to appear on our screens until late-2018, so that’s the next horizon to be crossed (I have for a long time been fixed on 2017 for the unexpected third season of Twin Peaks).

It’s good to have things to look forward to. When’s confirmation of The Bridge 4 coming out?

Saturday SkandiCrime: Trapped – parts 9 & 10

Once the key fell out of Eirikur’s pants last week, and Andri (somewhat unnecessarily) matched it up to the padlock that trapped Hrafn in with the fire, my thoughts began to run in straight lines, linking various pieces of the puzzle that has run through Trapped this past month.

I was all set for further twists, but there were none. The final two episodes were all about straight lines, A leading directly to B, over and over again, never crossing, never conflicting, just converging on  the one spot. The opening scene to part 1 was what it was all about, all along. What Trapped was about being was a dirty, sordid little tale of human greed, of nasty, petty self-interest, supposedly excused or justified by the Crash of 2008. As simple, as mundane as that.

And all the better for it. So many, many ramifications, all of them played out over the last fur weeks, and now coming together in one bundle of ends woven in. Two teenagers decided to sneak into a fish factory for a screw. Maybe if they’d had a bed to go to, a room in a house that allowed them their warmth, none of it would have happened.

But that’s not so. What  poor, dead Dagny, and self-hating, self-blaming Hjorter did wrong was to choose the night that Seydisfjordur’s self-appointed elite had selected for a shitty little insurance scam.

It all came out, piece by piece, step by step. From Eirikur’s immediate confession the moment Andri brought the key to him (after contemplating hurling it into the fjord). Hrafn’s admission that it was all a mistake, that it wasn’t his fault, the inevitable and fatal excuse that took Eirikur to the line and shoved him over.

Asgeir uncovering the connection between Leifur, Gudny and Hrafn in the new company that now owns the Fish Factory, not to mention several plots around town, plots the Chinese would be interested in.

Ragnvoldur’s telescope that leads Andri and Hinrika to a search for Geirmundur’s car, a blue rental, buried in the snow, untouched for a week. It was in the next street over from Maria and poor little Maggi, and there was a straight line I hadn’t foreseen until the last moment for in the back of the car was a box, wrapped in a child’s wrapping paper. Before Andri opened it, I was expecting a fire engine.

Because the late Geirmundur was Maggi’s missing father. A father by rape of Maria, a father given his freedom if he burned down a fish factory and ran to Spain. A man who partially redeemed himself, if only for a moment of a life of destruction, by pulling Hjorter out of the flames. Oh, and let’s not forget that that factory belonged to Leifur, and Leifur is Maria’s father: so much family feeling there.

The lines led inexorably on. Maria was Geirmundur’s killer, in self-defence under violent attack that was heading towards a repeated rape. The elite gathered to help her: clean the house, dismember the body, throw the bits in the fjord: Hrafn, Gudny, Leifur, Sigisdur. Only Kolbrun was left out.

So the picture was at last clear. Gudny wanted to run. Leifur wasn’t so sure, maybe it had all gone too far and they should just tell the truth. But Gudny was too far gone for that. Everyone was going to have to die to cover his traces, even Leifur, even Maggi.

At least that wasn’t to be. There was a moment of piercing clarity as Hinrika confronted the near-mad man, who held a knife to Maggi’s throat: you will never be forgiven, she said. There is no reparation, there is no way back. No pretending that this can be put right. Everything Gudny had done had taken him further and further away from all possibility of his being seen as human again, and little Hinrika, who has been the surprise package of this series, with her understated competence and directedness, made no bones about it.

Though it was, in the end, Andri’s determination to put a bullet through Gudny’s head that broke the impasse.

So much that sprung from so simple a cause, so dirtily, cheaply, greedy a cause. In a town like Seydisfjordur. Trapped outshone the convoluted and dreadful likes of Fortitude like the Sun outshines a Toc.H light bulb.

I’d watch a Trapped 2 in a heartbeat, but though the chinese port sale is still alive, and Kolbrun is still utterly determined to drive that through, and take all the money from it, I cannot see that Trapped 1 has left enough pieces unbroken, or at any rate of sufficient size, on which to stand another murder/mystery. I would be delighted to be proven lacking in sufficient imagination.

There’s more SkandiCrime next Saturday, with something called Follow the Money. The trailer looks worryingly hi-speed melodrama, but let’s not judge too soon, eh? Though I’ll be in That London next Saturday, so it’ll have to keep until the next morning.

Saturday SkandiCrime: Trapped – parts 7 & 8

So the seige of Seydisfordur has ended and Detective Trausti and his trusty team (including the press-leaking Thor) are on the scene, just in time to have a suspect handed to thm on a plate by Andri and Co. It’s an easy win, an open-and-shut case, a quick score: less than a single episode and Andri’s ex-partner in the Reykjavik Police is heading back home with a signed confession in his back pocket and said suspect, the poor, put-upon, cuckolded Sigurdur in the back seat of his helicopter. There’s only one minor problem…

Except that there are several. Trausti arrives with not only an over-inflated opinion of his own value but with a contempt for and hatred towards Andri that leads him to instantly dismiss any idea or opinion held by the man who has led this investigation for the last five days. Sigurdur is clearly undergoing some form of mental stress: he looks and acts like the victim of extreme shock, his expression that of someone who has no idea what e’s seeing, his mouth perpetually open. He can’t speak, only breathe, loudly.

To Trausti, it’s a con, theatrics, a put-on. When Andri suggests a doctor, Trausti dismisses not just the idea but the Seydisfjordur trio: the case is his and his men’s alone.

As a stopgap, Andri and Hinrika start to pursue the issue of the trafficking of the Nigerian girls, tracing the snowman-breaking to the African chef on the ferry, and getting, through him, a lead on Captain Carlsson and his ‘friend’, who is revealed as being the Engineer.

Trausti goes off to search Sigurdur’s home, dismissing the alibi his wife Aldis provided for him, seemingly with good reason, for the search turns up a chainsaw, that has not entirely been cleaned of blood. Trausti heads back to the Police Station to resume browbeating Sigurdur, who is still not speaking. There’s smething about his face though, as Trausti lead through an imagined scenario creating a motive for killing Mayor Hrafn, as if he’s listening with polite interest to something that doesn’t really concern him, whilst working something out in his head, and it’s a brilliant performance by Thorstein Bachman.

By the time Andri and Hinrika get back, Siggy has confessed, in writing and Trausti is triumphant. It’s bullshit, and we know that instantly because the confession – to two murders – is about eight straggly lines of handwriting long. Andri is bemused and contemptuous. It lacks everything, especially when it comes to Hrafn. Evidence is overlooked or ignored, motive is absent, it’s the work of an amateur, but Trausti doesn’t care: it’s a confession. He’s cracked the case in half a day, where Andri didn’t in five. One press conference in the open air and it’s helicopter back to Reykjavik with the prisoner.

Who, under the eyes of the television cameras, once the copter reaches an adequate height, springs his cuffs, yanks open the door and throws himself out of the helicopter to his death. Just one little problem…

Trausti has fucked it up completely, but he still holds himself out as being superior to Andri. After all, Andri fucked up a case in Reykjavik that resulted in a dead girl never being found, and her killer getting away with it. Trausti still thinks he’s better than Andri. After all, he got his cushy Reykjavik job through shopping his senior partner to the bosses for strongarming the wrong suspect…

Andri is seriously pissed off, enough so that the genial, loadbearer briefly takes it out on those around him, contemptuous of Hinrika for not knowing what ‘real’ police work is, dismissive of the estranged Agnes who tries to help him set up a temporary bed on the couch: the roads are clear, why hasn’t she pissed off back to Reykjavik with her new boyfriend and his kids?

But Andri being Andri, he’s soon apologising. Hinrika isn’t bothered about apologies, just about the true story. Andri admits that the last five days, genuine investigating, is the real him, not the small town Police chief. Spurred by Hinrika’s support, Andri decides to arrest Captain Carlsson, even though the idiot Trausti, in complete ignorance of what’s going on, has eleased the ferry to leave…

Still, Andri gets there first and he and Hinrika start questioning Carlsson at the station, until the fool Trausti throws his weight about, ordering Andri to a more important task: stopping Sigurdur’s widow, Aldis, from talking live to the Press and criticising the Police. The idiot even shuts down Hinrika’s questioning even as Carlsson is beinning to admit something dodgy’s going on, and that he’s only part of it out of fear.

Andri has no intention of shutting Aldis up. In fact he agrees with her: the investigation’s been a complete bodge-up and he doesn’t believe Siggy was guilty. Aldis now admits to him that, on the night of Geirmundur’s murder, Siggy did go out late on, summoned by Hrafn, and that she didn’t see him until morning, when she found him in a state of shock, refusing to tell her what’s going on.

Armed with this and some info from his friend the coroner in Reykjavik that confirms Trausti has even got the murder weapon wrong, Andri writes a report to the Police Chief in the capital. Siggy’s suicide is headline news, and the idiot is the ideal candidate for a scapegoat. And if you weren’t enjoying that enough, we are to find out that Asgeir has leaked Andri’s secret report to the Press. As a favour to Andri, our favourite TV producer will keep it quiet for a while, but now she’s twisting the knife in Trausti’s back even further, by asking whether Sigurdur fell – or was he pushed?

Suddenly, the invesrigation is not only open again, but it has a new leader: Andri.

And things are developing rapidly on the trafficking side. Carlsson, in return for protection for his family, starts to cough to the Police. His ‘friend’ is no friend, nor is he an engineer. He’s a vicious bastard, a frightener, and he hasn’t left the boat in years, either in Iceland or Denmark. And there are things going on in Seydisfjordur that the Police don’t begin to suspect.

With Reykjavik’s assistance, the ‘engineer’ is identified as a very dangerous criminal named Dvalinn (it’s pronounced Dwalin, as in The Hobbit). And now he’s left the boat and gone to the hotel to contact Gudni – who, like his friend Leifur of the fish factory, is thankful Siggy’s not going to be talking). Slightly surprisingly in a man so all-fired dangerous, he gets captured by Andri and Asgeir.

Slowly does it. Andri’s back in charge, with a lot to do, but with at least a breathing space. Agnes fills some of that breathing space by coming to apologise for how she’s treated Andri. He’s philosophical about the breakdown of their elationship, the fact that they both hurt each other, albeit unintentionally. He’s even begrudgingly admiring of boyfriend Sigvaldi, who isn’t a total dickhead and who’s behaving better than Andri could have done.

But Agnes is a mass of quivering sexual tension, which she’s not directing at Sigvaldi, although the philosophical Andri seems oblivious of it. Until she snogs him, that is, at which point Icelandic bears of men do what Icelandic bears of men do, and very whole-heartedly.

There are going to be consequences of this. I mean, Sifvaldi’s already suspicious when Agnes and Andri come home together…

In the morning, the sun’s out, everything’s thawing, it’s peaceful and quiet. Andri has his washing to do. His mother-in-law adds some things, but tells him not to wash father-in-law Eoirikur’s pants: they’re ‘reeking’ and she’s going to wash them separately, tomorrow. But as Andri is refolding them, somehing falls out of the pocket. It’s a key. A padlock key.

And it unlocks the padlock that was used to lock the door of the shed in which Mayor Hrafn burned to death…

Saturday ScandiCrime: Trapped episodes 5 & 6


Coming your way rather later than usual, on account of this having been a particularly shitty week and my having been too exhausted to focus when the latest two instalments of Trapped were first broadcast.

Perhaps it was just that I was watching in daylight for once, but the first of this week’s two episodes was surprisingly slow, nor did it do much to advance the story. Not that I’m complaining in the slightest, since it was also superb from start to finish. We left Andri, Sigurdur and his elderly Dad, Godmundur, being overwhelmed by a CGI avalanche that was not, frankly, of the best CGI. Not that this mattered either, not in the context of the aftermath, which was that the fall knocked out the powerlines, and the entire town of Siglufjordur got switched off in an instant: no light, no heat, no mobile phone signals.

This was a game-changer, and I’m only sorry that the power came back on late in episode 6, because the sense of claustrophobia, and the underlying notion that everyone in town was trapped with the murderer, was there to be ramped up.

But that’s not where the show went. True, it had Andri delivering a message to the community, in the Church, admitting that he, Hinrika and Asgeir have no answers, but promising that they will do everything to bring the culprit in, and in the meantime almost demanding that the town does not turn in upon itself in suspicion.

Instead, the majority of episode 5 concentrated on the three men in the snow. All three survived, but Godmundur had suffered a spinal injury. Whilst Sigurdur guarded him, Andri stumbled into the night, looking at the end of his tether, to seek help. In the end, this came in the form of the Ferry Doctor and a team of orange-suited helpers on jet-skis.

The conditions were hell, if hell can be constructed from snow, ice and wind. It was imperative that Godmundur not be moved, but with no form of aerial rescue remotely possible in the treacherous conditions, Andri took responsibility for getting Godmundur down. All it achieved was the old man’s death. But even in this taut, near-episode long diversion, the overall plot was served: Godmundur’s land, the vital parcel he was refusing to sell to the Chinese Conglomerate, passed into the hands of poor, pliable Sigurdur, he who is under that thumb of evil-plotting Mayor Hrafn.

What made episode 5 shine even more was that so much of its dangers and strictures was contrasted, in alternating scenes, with the local teenagers breaking into the swimming pool and having a candlelight pool party. Scarred Hjortur was dragged in by a couple of girls and, by implication, got his end away with the blonde one, though his attention remained fixed on young Johanna, niece to the unfortunate Dagny and wielder of a pretty mean bikini. Johanna even slipped off into the showers for some Icelandic snogging with one lad who, assuming she was into the kinky stuff, tied one of her hands. For a moment, it looked like sinister stuff might occur but some stern repetitions of ‘Untie me’ was all that was needed to quell the lad’s progress.

And meanwhile, little Hinrika – who is becoming a more formidable character by the episode, the more so for the deliberate choice of a non-beauty actress in a leading role – sat out events, cut off by the avalanche at Ragnvoldur’s cabin, keeping him company in the dark and learning several interesting things from his accounts of his telescopic voyeurism, including news of a public argument between Mayor Hrafn and Geirmundur, he of the purloined torso.

Yes, the compass needle of crime is swinging definitely in the direction of the ex-Chief of Police. Which is why it came as a bit of a shock when, in the closing minutes of the episode, someone known to our wife-beating Mayor but not to us fetched him a couple of hefty ones with a spade, sloshed good liquor all over the place, set it alight and then padlocked the suspect in his shed, to burn to death under the watchful eyes of the widow Kolbrun.

So episode 6 saw things back on track. Andri, despite no apparent sleep in at least 48 hours, soldiers on manfully, lumbering towards the truth. Little pieces of plot bubbled to the surface in his slow wake. Marie, unmarried mother of fatherless Maggi, seems particularly upset at Hrafn’s death: is she mourning a father figure, or is there a baser reason why Maggi’s father doesn’t come to visit him?

Agnes’ concern for her ex-husband grows to the point of a hug in the churchyard, witnessed by elder daughter Thorhildur, who accuses her of still loving Daddy. Even her elder sister, Laufey, is critical of her for running out on her marriage. Just what lies behind that?

Asgeir clears the pool of miscreants. He finds the Swiss Bruno Weisman, the missing passenger who was originally thought to be torso-boy but of more importance he finds the German tourists’ missing camera, and on it an accidental shot of Geirmundur arguing with someone else: Sigurdur.

Whilst the power is being restored, the winds ease sufficiently to enable the Reykjavik Forensics Squad fly in by helicopter, under the command of Andri’s antagonist, Detective Tressi. They land in the square, just as a chase comes to an end.

For Andri and Hinrika, visiting Sigurdur, have found Lrifur and Gudni just leaving, a pair who seemed concerned about Sigurdur’s reliability after his Dad’s death. And right they are too: no sooner is Siggi confronted with the film of his quarrel with Geirmundur than he throws a wobbler, leaps into his car and shoots off.

The chase is on. Thanks to Rognvaldur, our Police trio discover that Sigurdur has headed off into the fjord, with a rifle. Using the little police jet-boat, they shoot off into the middle of that magnificent scenery, board his boat and overpower him. Siggi’s been messing with the hold hatch. When Andri and Asgeir lift it, there is incriminating evidence within: a headless and limbless torso with multiple stab wounds…

Oh dear. Oh very very dear.

Saturday ScandiCrime: Trapped – Parts 3 & 4

An old friend and a new

As if proof were needed after the first two episodes, a second week establishes that Trapped is more than worthy to follow in the footsteps of The Killing and The Bridge. Like the former, this Icelandic series is as much concerned with the consequences of crime, the often long-standing consequences on the survivors. Though it wouldn’t surprise me to see it ultimately rolled into the overarching plot that you can just feel is rising to the surface, Dagny’s death in the fish factory fire seven years ago is still playing itself out across a lot of the characters, including Andri, the Chief of Police in the snow-bound port of Sigjusfjordur.

To begin with, episode 3 very quickly wraps up the dangling threads of last week. The girls (Andri’s daughters) find Maggi, the little boy, in the snowstorm. Agnes (Andri’s estranged wife) finds them. Andri finds them all and brings them in out of the cold. Come the morning – and that place is stunning to look at in daylight – he and Hinrika release Aesgir from the police cell and go looking for the missing Lithuanian tracker, who has crashed the stolen police car and broken his fool neck.

This is a very handy bit of deck-clearing  for a cool, quiet Sunday-set episode, which gently shifts the plot forward in a couple of gentle directions. First, Aesgir – who is now set up as Sigjusfjordur’s resident Police geek – identifies the photos of the stolen torso as having been uploaded from Hjortur’s phone: you know, Hjortur, Dagny’s partner in sex, drugs, but not death.

Hjortur is immediately brought in, which the entire town seems to regard as only to be expected, and which Eirikur, Dagny’s Dad, Andri’s father-in-law and the one member of the familiy who is still unable to live with her loss, sees as justice. His anger towards Hjortur, a part of which washes towards eldest granddaughter, Johanna, who has spoken kindly to and of Hjortur, disrupts the family’s otherwise still Sunday.

Whilst Eirikur is fulminating about Hjortur, Andri is questioning him over the photos, including those of Johanna. Now it’s become personal. Andri persists in talking to Hjortur, even after he’s ordered to keep his beard out of things by Reykjavik, whilst Hjortur’s sullenness and inability to explain even to himself why he has taken them slowly grows into an admission of deep loss. He was badly burned trying to save Dagny, was dragged outside by some unknown person. He thinks of her every day, believes he should have died with her. Seeing Johanna makes him feel as if Dagny is still alive.

It’s slow, but it’s painful, but brilliantly played as it is, it’s nothing to the scene in episode 4 when Andri brings Eirikur to Hjortur’s room. Eirikur has never spoken to the boy before, never forgiven, not even for one second, but he begins his own healing by talking of his baby girl. Hjortur, though silent, struggles to keep his self-control, reliving Dagny’s existence in Eirikur’s every word about her, as the two come to some sort of understanding without words that both have suffered crippling losses.

It’s flawlessly written, and made all the more heartfelt by the two actors, old and young, and I wish that I thought for one second that British TV could produce something this raw and real, but then I watched the utterly ridiculous Fortitude, didn’t I, so I know we can’t. Yeuch. Bitter taste at even the mention, let’s not profane Trapped by bringing it up again.

Back at the overt plot, the frustrated Andri may not be able to question anyone but he can start a search of the shoreline. The torso may have been pilfered, but there are at least five other sections of the poor victim out there somewhere, and hopefully discoverable.

So Hinrika’s cheerfully dope-smoking hubby goes out on his boat into the fjord, with a diver and comes back with one of those bits. It’s an arm, with part of a jacket, or maybe jeans in the binliner with it. Unfortunately, there’s a bar receipt dated three days ago, before the Ferry arrived: he victim wasn’t on the boat after all.

And neither was the murderer.

The investigation swings into another direction in episode 4, with Trausti in Reykjavik grudgingly allowing Andri to keep plodding on until Forensics can finally get there. The plot, like a rich soup, thickens. Thanks to the all-talented sketch artist Aesgir, the stranded MP Fridrik (who’d drunk the other Bloody Mary on the bar receipt) helps the local team to identify the victim as a local bad boy, not known to have been back in town, whose file has unaccountably disappeared. And Mayor Harfn, ex-Police Chief, is being very dismissive about that fact.

It’s all getting very wierd. Hafrn’s still all for the port scheme, and pressing harbour master Sigurdur to press his recalcitrant Dad to sell up and make everybody rich. Agnes, who’s a Reykjavik lawyer when she’s not trapped in town seems to be asking some awkward questions about how this will actually work out in practice that Hafrn isn’t (he’s to busy insulting, beating and at least semi-raping his wife because she hasn’t got a hot dinner on the table for him).

Sigurdur’s dad hasn’t got much time for his rather weasel-like son (who’s own wife is enthusiastically shagging a toy boy whilst the tourists sheltering at the school are either asleep or playing video games). Apart from his cheerful refusal to countenance change, Gotmundur’s main concerns are skinning, beheading and gutting a dead reindeer onscreen, with no thought had for dubious tummies, not to mention the prospect of an avalanche burying the town once it all warms up a bit.

The Press coerce the victim’s name out of Trausti’s sidekick. On the Ferry, Captain Carlsen (I knew he looked familiar, it’s the superb Bjarne Henriksen, Theis Birk Larsen from The Killing 1, hurrah!) The Captain’s all set to leave now they’re obviously cleared, but his dodgy sidekick is having none of it: not without their cargo of hot Nigerian girls they’re not.

Add in Hinrika’s finding the Lithuanian’s phone and discovering the only two Icelandic numbers he’s called are cheap pay as you go phones. One was bought by the Hotel owner, though he’s denying it flatly (and he’s straight onto his proper phone the moment Hinrika leaves). The other is the old man with the beard and the telescope (and a wheelchair as we also discover this week) who’s spying on Hinrika’s house where Bardur is laughing with the elder Nigerian girl).

Before that conversation can get even more creepy than it already is, an explosion occurs. It’s Godmundur, blowing up a part of the snowscape to stop it enveloping the town. Andri and Sigurdur are trying to stop him but Godmundur knows what he’s doing. Like a firebreak, his artificial avalanche will fall away from the town. He knows what he’s doing. He gets it right. Until another large chunk of snow gets loose, right above Godmundur, Sigurdur and our bear-like hero Andri…

So while we wait for next Saturday night, here’s a shout-out to the principal cast, Olafur Darri Olafsson as Andri, Ilmur Kristjansdottir as Hinrika and Ingvar Eggert Sigurdsson as Aesgir. not to mention many fine others too numerous to copy slowly and carefully. Roll on Saturday next.

Saturday SkandiCrime: Trapped – Parts 1 & 2

BBC4’s fascination with Scandinavian crime dramas continues unabated, and I’m more than willing to encourage it. Even those that slip beneath the plimsoll line of quality (I’m looking at you, Crimes of Passion, and you, Arne Dahl) are still interesting for what they reveal to us of another country, and another culture. The latest series to hit Saturday night at 9.00pm, with that chunky double-bill, is Trapped, which is our first exposure to Icelandic television.

Trapped is set in a small fishing port, set around a natural bay, on the Icelandic coast, north of Reykjavik. It’s remote, it’s wintry, it’s surrounded by mountains draped in snow, it’s impossible to look at this and not think of Fortitude. Thankfully, it’s also impossible to look at this and not think how great it is that they’re not trying to sell some fucking stupid story in the middle of all this treacherous beauty, because Trapped had me on that first tracking shot of the motorbike with the two teenagers, racing through will terrain, down into town, and on into each other’s naked arms.

Hjortur (forget the accents) provides Dagny with a high degree of oral pleasure before excusing himself to go down two lights of stairs, using a cigarette lighter for illumination, in order to take a piss. Unfortunately, the building turns out to be on fire, and Dagny, sleeping it off, doesn’t wake in time to get out.

The show then jumps seven years into the future and to a completely different set of characters. Well, not entirely. This is the family home of Dagny’s parents, which they share with one of Dagny’s sisters, not to mention Andri and his two daughters. Andri, a rotund, bearded bear of a bloke, but a gentle placid man, is the local Chief of Police. His separated wife, Agnes, another of Dagny’s sisters, is coming to stay for the weekend, to see the two daughters. Andri does not yet know that she’s bringing her new man, Sigvaldi, with her.

But that’s the least of Andri’s problems. The ferry is due in, and when I say ferry, I mean cruise ship size: this is coming from Copenhagen. Unfortunately, as the ferry honks its way towards the dock, its wash washes something into the nets of a fishing boat. It is a dead body. At least, we hope it’s dead, given that it has neither a head, nor arms, nor legs: identification is not going to be easy.

We will see a lot of that body, indeed we virtually get a tour of every severed point, though the camera chastely stays away from what I assume must be very shrivelled genitals.

It’s a murder, which small places like this port don’t get. It’s also Raykjavik’s case, in the form of Detective Trausti and his Forensics team, ordering Andri to keep everybody on board the ferry, stop it from leaving before they get there, but otherwise keep his big fat face out of it. There is some as yet unexplained reason why Andri and Trausti get on like oil and water, which  adds spice to the fact that the Ferry Captain is being coldly and deliberately uncooperative (he turns off the heating and shoves the passengers onto the docking ramp, intent on causing a chaos that lets our prime suspect – a Lithuanian Mafia man trafficking two Nigerian sisters into Iceland and raping the elder one – get onto the island).

But the major problem, and the key to the series, is that a snowstorm is blowing up. And it’s a real storm, with acres of snow blowing (either that or special effects have just taken a leap into the uncanny). The port’s cut off. Trausti and his Forensic team can’t get here. Which means Andri is going to have to do this one alone, with the assistance of three uninspiring assistants.

The Fortitude connection is deepened by the fact that there’s a big scheme going on to develop the town and make everybody rich, in these times of economic collapse, by developing the port into a world-class affair to be sold to a Chinese Corporation. Yes, I know it sounds daft, but it appears that Iceland is halfway between America and China, via the Arctic route (which, thanks to global warming, is a lot less ice-choked these days).

Oh dear, spectacular, town-rescuing commercial venture at delicate stage, sudden appearance of dead body, Mayor getting involved, everyone can see a low-flying cliche coming in to land but, in a delightful touch, the Mayor turns out to be ex-Police and wants the job done properly, without the use of any carpets and brushes.

So far, after two episodes, the plot hasn’t developed very far. The body has probably been identified, the Lithuanian is probably the killer, but big bear Andri is, again refreshingly, confessing to almost everyone that he doesn’t know. Worse is to come. Hjortur’s back in town, acting all mysterious, after seven years away and he seems to have had a fight with a Swiss passenger, who is the suspect body.

And he’s certainly acting suspicious, and that’s before he breaks into the fish factory where the headless torso is being preserved in the freezer. Not long after, photos of the torso from multiple angles are uploaded onto the internet and when Andri and Hinrika get to the factory, the torso’s been stolen. Meanwhile, the handcuffed Lithuanian has beaten up Aesgir, locked him in the police cell, and buggered off into the snow.

But this is not the cliffhanger on which part 2 ends, no, that is rather more domestic. We have already seen, in part 1, Andri’s sweet, bouncy daughters being vicious, malicious bullies to little Maggi (Magnusson?), a cute but forlorn redheaded little boy at school who they’re taunting over not having a father. For some reason, in part 2 Maggi is brought round to Andri’s house to play with eight-year old Perla, who promptly behaves utterly shittily to him. Maggi gets up and walks out of the room. when Perla follows, she finds the door to outside, and the rising snowstorm, is open. Unable to tell any grown-ups because she’s not prepared to admit her responsibility, she gets her twelve-year old sister, Thorhildur, to go out into the snow to hunt for Maggi.

This is no weather for children to be out in, white-out conditions with wind and snow blowing. It’s no weather for adults to be out in and there’s four of them desperately hunting for the kids, plus Andri abandoning the missing torso. unfortunately, it looks like the adult who might have found them is going to be Lithuanian…

This is more than good enough for me for now, and I’d stick around for the mountains and the snow and the storm, even if the story was naff. Until I find out differently, I’m going to assume Trapped will run for the traditional Scandinavian ten episodes, two each Saturday, so I’ll see you here for the next month, alright?