Alibi V.26 No.7 • Feb 16-22, 2017 

Idiot Box

Iceland on Viceland

“Trapped” on Viceland

Strangely, the first scripted series from Viceland revolves around neither marijuana nor skateboarding. Instead, the edgy network has imported a snowbound, Nordic-style noir out of Iceland called “Trapped.” Like much of its brethren (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, “The Bridge,” “The Killing,” “Fortitude”), “Trapped” is an icy murder mystery marked by a claustrophobic setting, a bit of international intrigue and a whole lot of snow.

The 10-episode series, imported to America by the Weinstein Company, takes us to the remote Icelandic town of Seyoisfjörour. Things get under way when a fishing boat dredges up the dismembered torso of a man. Believing the corpse may have been tossed from a passing ferry, the local chief of police locks down the port to search the boat. Unfortunately, this sets off something of an international incident. The ferry is Danish, and the captain is instantly uncooperative. Clearly, he’s got something to hide. So do a number of passengers, including a dangerous human trafficker from Eastern Europe. But do any of these things have anything to do with the grisly murder—or are they mere distractions from the big crime at the center of it all?

To make matters worse, a massive blizzard is descending on the town, cutting off roads and airports. This storm traps everyone within the town and prevents detectives from the capital city of Reykjavik from arriving to investigate. Understaffed and underprepared, Police Chief Andri (Ólfur Darri Ólafsson) is left to hunt down the killer while dealing with all the other disasters unfolding in his town. “Trapped” throws a bit of international intrigue into the mix to up the ante. Seems that some local officials are snapping up land in an attempt to build a Chinese-financed port in the town. So are we dealing with a serial killer or an international conspiracy here? Adding a touch of personal drama is the fact that Andri’s ex-wife has just shown up in town with her new fiancé. It’s amid this public and personal mess that the murderous mystery unfolds.

The acting and the characters are all rather low-key. Andri—our central crimesolver— is a beefy sad sack of a blue collar dude, and his ordinary, workaday attitude sets the tone for the rest of the show. Meanwhile, the stark, barren, snow-scoured setting adds a level of tension to the series. (The weather is as likely to off you here as the unknown killer.) The towering, volcanic hills of Iceland lend an even more primal backdrop than the icy fjords of Scandinavia. In other words: Fans of cold climate crime dramas will feel right at home with this exotic, sprawling, grimly absorbing mystery.

“Trapped” premieres Sunday, Feb. 19, 8pm, Viceland.