Bordertown offers a richer, deeper experience than run of the mill police procedurals like NCIS.
The show manages to go beyond the crimes themselves and shows us their impact on the victims and their families, as well as the authorities trying to bring them to justice.
In its three-season run, Bordertown has managed to produce chilling cases and serial killers while not losing focus of the character arcs of the protagonists.
1. Quick Review
Bordertown may give you the impression that it’s just another series featuring a foxy, brilliant detective who solves crime just by looking at them. In reality, it is so much more than that. The characters and cases are meticulously thought-out and developed over time.
The beautiful cinematography of the Finnish countryside offers a stark contrast to the grim and serious nature of the cases being investigated.
The personal life Kari Sorjonen (Ville Virtanen) is not just a tacky add-on. Instead, it plays a crucial role throughout the three seasons and helps shape his character.
This approach of the personal and the professional intertwined is what sets Bordertown apart from the others.
2. Is It Worth Worthing?
BordertownAir Date: October 16, 2016 Status: Finished Studio: Fisher King Productions No. of Seasons: 3 No. of Episodes: 31
Bordertown, simply called Sorjonen in Finland, after the lead detective, was a huge hit. The show garnered around a million viewers, and this caused Netflix to sit up and take notice.
Always on the lookout for fresh stories and international entries to add to its roster, the show was quickly acquired by them.
At the center of the drama is Ville Virtanen as Kari Sorjonen. An investigator for Finland’s National Bureau of Investigation, he has been up-close and personal with some of the country’s worst criminals. His wife is battling brain cancer, and the darkness that comes with the job finally becomes too much for him.
Kari moves his family to the small town of Lappeenranta, on the Finland-Russia Border. He hopes that life in this quiet town will be uneventful, and he can spend more time with his wife Paulina (Matleena Kuusniemi) and teenage daughter, Janina (Olivia Ainali).
But he quickly discovers that the small town hides secrets of his own and the crime is even more brutal and grotesque here.
The stunning cinematography which captures vast expanses of the Finnish countryside is both beautiful and useful. It transports you to a faraway land while offering a stark contrast to the grim activities taking place underneath.
Shot during a fierce winter, the swooping camera captures mountains and vast plains that hide many secrets under layers of snow. It brightens the show and is always breath-taking to watch.
The winter landscape and atmosphere of Finland adds an extra dimension to the crimes and the family relations in Bordertown. The personal loss and tragedy that befalls the character are mirrored by the howling, icy winds blowing outside.
III. Detailed Review
Bordertown has all the elements that we have come to expect from police shows and crime dramas. There are gruesome crimes in a small town filled with secrets, along with intense fighting and investigative work. But Bordertown is more family-focused, giving equal time to Kari’s ailing wife and his daughter.
The detective is a little socially awkward and misunderstood at times. But instead of being isolated, his relationship with his family keeps him in the folds of society and makes the audience connect with him.
Bordertown shows us the weight of the crimes on the associates and families of the criminals and the police. In a case that involves a drug-trafficking ring, It focuses on the teenagers of the town instead of some obscure drug mafia. All crimes are rooted in the personal and small-town feel of the show.
Another thing that sets Bordertown apart is that it does not follow the crime-of-the-week formula established by the older shows in the genre. Instead of tackling a case in a single episode like NCIS or The Mentalist, every crime in Bordertown is split up into two or three episodes.
This allows the writers to properly develop and showcase every aspect of the investigation and the toll it takes on the characters involved. Every episode picks up from the same place the previous one finished that makes the show easy to binge. It also allows you to view each case as a movie.
3. Final Thoughts
Bordertown is a great show with some new and unique takes that rejuvenate an existing genre. A masterful balance between family dynamics and criminal investigation gives us many tender and lovely moments. The show also has excellent cinematography of the landscape, that transports you to the Finnish countryside from the safety of your couch.