The Hero’s Journey in “Trapped”

A grisly assassination attempt on a female politician forces police officer Andri Ólafsson (Ólafur Darri Ólafsson), now working in the capital, Reykjavik, back to his old neighborhood to investigate what could be a connection between the disturbing attack and some of the residents.

There, he reunites with former colleague Hinrika (Ilmur Kristjánsdóttir), who’s now the police chief. The two work to unravel a complicated and dangerous case that involves dead animals, a terrorist plot, and even more murder.

The second season of Trapped is a compelling saga of fire and ice, kicking off with a self-immolating assassination attempt on an MP in Andri’s new patch of Reykjavik. Following a trail of bad blood between perpetrator and victim has led our hero to a far-flung town tangled in family ties with a nearby power plant conspicuously hungry for foreign investment. Against this backdrop of chilly fjords, hardscrabble moors and blackened volcanic rock, season two has sometimes felt like a murder mystery set in Mordor.

Even if the gorgeous Icelandic skies have remained generally storm-free, it still seems like many of the characters are trapped, be it desperate farmers paralysed by their financial liabilities or cheap migrant workers cooped up in cramped digs. The death toll has also steadily risen despite – or perhaps because of – Andri’s northern relocation, escalating from an upsetting mass cull of livestock and a police dog mortally injured in the line of duty to two bloody murders linked to the plant. In the early running, the atmosphere remained one of dread, grasping in the dark and escalating uncertainty. Even the ground underfoot could not be trusted, thanks to lurching mini-quakes in the area triggered by industrial drilling.

Even if the gorgeous Icelandic skies have remained storm-free, it still seems like many of the characters are still trapped.

A militant nationalist group stirring up anti-immigration feeling in rural communities called the Hammer of Thor was initially dangled as the likely masterminds behind the worst misdeeds. But after foolishly kidnapping the local mayor and getting stomped on by Icelandic SWAT, the gang threat had essentially evaporated by episode five. More recently, a local elder has been banging on about a curse caused by building on enchanted rock two generations ago, and it says something about Trapped’s eldritch mood that a supernatural explanation does not seem entirely out of the question, particularly when paired with apocalyptic glimpses of a remote lakeshore choked with dead fish.

On the trail ... gentle giant Andri and no-nonsense Hinrika in Trapped.

Foreboding vistas aside, the joys of Trapped have mainly involved seeing Andri reconnect with his country cop co-workers – the no-nonsenseHinrika and scrawny goofball Ásgeir – even if his relationship with his wayward teen daughter Thorhildur remains frosty. There has also been the low-key pleasure of seeing a detective serious about community policing go about his business. He may not have a catchphrase like the similarly thoughtful Columbo’s “just one more thing” but Andri does have a tried-and-tested investigative tactic: turning up unannounced at someone’s door and when they try and wriggle out of an interrogation calmly stating “it will only take a minute” before simply planting himself there until they crumble and let him in.

Episode eight ended on an upsetting cliffhanger, with Ásgeir – nursing a wounded sense of self-worth after getting roughed up by some militant farmers – striking out alone without backup. To make things worse, he even broke a romantic date to chase down the lead and all he got for his trouble was two knife thrusts from a hooded figure in a dark alley. Who knows how the usually stoic Andri will react when he learns his friend has been attacked? As the plot threads tighten, it feels like no family secret, local lowlife or high-powered politico will be safe from this gentle giant whose sense of justice seems almost elemental.