We’ve been waiting for a powerful, intense foreign TV series to arrive this year. There have been several good ones, but nothing has really made us sit up and take notice, driven us to binge…until now. The Bordertown TV series is a beautifully filmed thriller, clean and modern, with unsettling cases involving abduction, murder, and more. Nordic noir fans will be hooked instantly.
Kari Sorjonen (Ville Virtanen) falls into the mentally gifted, socially awkward detective category. There are many of those on TV, but Kari is one of the more unique, and it doesn’t (usually) come off as a gimmick. He uses particular techniques to store information in his head and reassembles those bits in a gestalt – sum greater than its parts – sort of way. Obsessed and haunted by his work, Kari takes a new position in a smaller town, planning to spend more time with his wife, Paulina (Matleena Kuusniemi), and teenage daughter, Janina (Olivia Ainali).
As it turns out, small cities in Finland near the Russian border have more crime than expected. Kari is the key member of a new serious crimes unit, and they get busy right away. The crime victims are teenage girls; there are connections to Russia and, potentially, locals in positions of power.
Though it seems this case might be series-long, it wraps up in three episodes, and a new case begins. Again, local youth are involved, and there are ties to key members of the first story. It’s a two-episode case, as are the three that follow it. Teen exploitation, adult sexuality, drug use, and animal abuse are encountered along the way. As we said, it’s dark, and some viewers may find it unsettling.
Despite the heavy subject matter and nordic noir aura, Bordertown is not particularly violent or gory, though there is blood and a few intense scenes. The series also has moments of humor. Kari is a quirky character with a supportive and understanding family. The scenes at home are lighter in tone, serving to balance out the darker parts of this series. As expected for a show like this, at some point, family members are entangled in aspects of the cases.
The Bordertown TV series was written and directed by Miikko Oikkonen. It first aired in Finland in October, 2016, under the title Sorjonen. All 11 one-hour episodes of season 1 are Netflix. Put it at the top of your TV shows list.
Since the episodes are not listed on Netflix by title, here is a guide to Bordertown, season 1. It’s worth noting that each episode begins right where the last one ended, making it easy to watch each movie length, two- or three-episode story in a single sitting.
A Doll’s House, episodes 1-3
Dragonflies, episodes 4-5
The Fury, episodes 6-7
The Lady in the Lake, episodes 8-9
The End Game, episodes 10-11
Bordertown TV series trailer
This trailer is really just the opening credits, but it gives you a feel for the visual quality of this series.