Bordertown is a 2016 Finnish series about a small town on the border of Finland and Russia.
5 out of 10 stars. I found parts of this series fascinating because the laws and life there is very different than here, but it was also very dark with mostly crimes toward women and children. I found the protagonist unsympathetic and a bully. The countryside is beautiful.
There are three seasons to this series. I watched all three which totals 31 episodes and 31 hours. So it is watchable if you’re doing something else.
In the opening season, we meet a Finnish detective named Kari Sarjonen. Kari has a unique gift in memorizing details and sifting through them to solve crimes much faster than ordinary people. It’s actually quite bizarre. I think the filmmakers are trying to say he has Asperger’s. In the first episode he tries to solve the murder of a young woman who worked as a call girl who let herself be drugged unconscious then raped. This call girl got another girl into the same pedophile ring and she’s been kidnapped (Katya). Katya’s mother is Lena, a tough Russian FSB (formerly KGB) agent. Lena eventually comes to work for Kari and Katya becomes friends with Kari’s daughter Janina. Most of the storylines revolve around Kari, Lena, Janina, or Katya. One or two episodes revolve around Kari’s wife Paulina who works for the Dagerman family, millionaires who are linked to several crimes.
The good thing about this series is that there’s a lot of it–31 episodes–and the Finnish countryside is gorgeous. The bad side is that many episodes are poorly written. If the writers didn’t know how to write their way out of a complicated storyilne they simply abruptly end the episode with the suspect in custody and no explanation for how he got there. That is quite infuriating, especially when it’s a story arc spanning several episodes.
I’m not a fan of Kari’s character. He seems to be an emotional cripple with a severe case of Asperger’s and a massive ego. I also hated his daughter Janina’s character. For a child who’s had a privileged upbringing, her rage is seriously misplaced. My favorite character is Lena, but in seasons 2 and 3 they made her out to be a bad mother which I didn’t like and was completely out of character.
6 out of 10 stars. If they hired an actual writer for the series it would be much more engaging. But the scenery and look into Finnish and Russian culture kept me watching. Can you imagine the European Union determining whether or not your homicide squad got funding? That’s a terrifying thought, maybe even worse than the crimes.
Here’s another reviewers’ review of the first season.
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