Bordertown (Sorjonen) comes from Finland. It’s a mystery series featuring a genius detective named Kari Sorjonen (Ville Virtanen). He has a new job as head of a Special Crimes Unit.
In Finnish, the series is named for the lead detective Sorjonen. In English, the name Bordertown comes from the location of the town Lappeenranta in Finland. It’s very close to the Russian border. Another import I reviewed from Finland, Deadwind (Karppi), did the same trick with the title character’s name.
There are two seasons of this intriguing series on Netflix with a third season in the works. This review is only about season 1.
Ville Virtanen plays Sorjonen as odd and full of strange mannerisms. My personal feeling was that he was mildly autistic. He had an unusual way of thinking, which made him great at solving crimes but difficult for the people in his family and his coworkers to understand and communicate with.
Sorjonen’s wife Pauliina (Matleena Kuusniemi) and daughter Janina (Olivia Ainali) moved from Helsinki to this smaller town with him. The plan was that he would have more time for them in a smaller police department.
Pauliina was recovering from a brain tumor. Even so, she wanted to find a job and be productive again.
Janina was a good teenager. She wanted more attention from her father, and she worried about her mother’s health, but wasn’t disruptive in the family the way some teens are.
The Bordertown Police
The most important of the cops, at least to me, was kickass Lena Jaakkola (Anu Sinisalo). She was new in the area, like the Sorjonen family. She’d worked in Russia. She was tough. She knew how to go undercover, and she understood Sorjonen. They were frequently partners when crimes were investigated.
Lena had a daughter, Katia (Lenita Susi), who was the same age as Janina. The two became friends. These two have interesting subplots throughout, one of which ends with the climactic final crime.
Others in the police department included the boss Taina (Kristiina Halttu) and another investigator Niko (Ilkka Villi). Niko did his best to learn from his new colleague, but couldn’t master Sorjonen’s way of thinking. Coroners, politicians, doctors, other cops, and a plethora of bad guys filled out the cast.
Each crime took multiple episodes. There were 11 episodes in season 1. The characters I’ve mentioned evolved and grew through the episodes, but the bad guys changed. “The Doll’s House” episodes dealt with abused and kidnapped young women. “Dragonflies” was about imported designer drugs from Russia. “The Fury” was about fighting dogs and abused women. (There are abused women and abused dogs everywhere!) “The Lady in the Lake” was about a woman found in – guess where – a lake. “The End Game” starts with a murdered man (finally, a man). The last crime grew suspenseful because Janina was accused of the murder.
Even though each crime had more than one episode to work through, I sometimes felt bits were left out. There were gaps in the action – not often, but in a mystery where everything is a factor you notice things like that.
I liked the subtle foreshadowing. Even very early in the season, hints and clues about things that might happen several episodes later were planted.
The series is in Finnish with some Russian and English in the mix. There was some nudity, especially the many corpses in this noir drama. The settings and cinematography were outstanding.
Season 1 takes place in summer, but according to this article (in Finnish) season 3 will be set in winter. That should be equally interesting in terms of cinematography.
There were a couple of cliffhangers and surprises at the end of season 1, but Netflix has season 2 already lined up, so you can forge ahead with your binge.
Watch the trailer
Have you watched season 1 of Bordertown (Sorjonen)? What did you think of it?