The Finnish Series “Bordertown” on Netflix is a Sapiosexual’s Dream
One of the best crime dramas on Netflix hails from Finland
The third season of “Bordertown” is available on Netflix. If the series ended today, viewers would crave more while imagining the possibilities if the story continued.
Kari Sorjonen, played brilliantly by Ville Virtanen, is an investigator with the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) in Helsinki, Finland. The stress of work, mixed with his idiosyncratic methods, puts tension on his home life. His wife Paulina, beautifully portrayed by Matleena Kuusniemi, has just beaten brain cancer and pleads with Kari for a lifestyle change.
Kari and Paulina, along with their daughter Janina — played with controlled power by Olivia Ainali, move to Lappeenranta, Finland. Kari joins the newly-formed Serious Crimes Unit with the intention of having dinner with his family each night.
Season 1 Recap
Kari’s quest for a quieter life doesn’t last long as a murder victim is found on shore.
As Kari begins his work, the series also follows Lena Jaakkola, played commandingly by Anu Sinisalo. Lena works for the Federal Security Service (FSB) of Russia. She is following the trail of her missing daughter, Katia, played by the captivating Lenita Susi.
Kari and Lena continue their own investigations after they meet and realize their two cases are connected. Katia is found, but Lena can’t take her back to Russia. Just before Lena left to find Katia, she had injured the son of a VIP — and that son died from his wounds.
Kari secures a job for Lena with his unit. Paulina takes a job with the mayor — a former boyfriend of hers. And Janina and Katia become friends.
The end of season one investigates a serial killer who frames Janina for murder. Though Janina is set free at the end, the serial killer gets away.
Season 2 Recap
We are introduced to a young Kari. This sets the stage for flashbacks and mind tricks that flow into the third season.
Paulina has a brain tumor. But instead of telling Kari and Janina that her illness is back, she decides to live her life the best she can without treatment.
Katia and Lena adjust to their new lives which forces them to try to have a better mother-daughter relationship. And Katia receiving a call from her father allows an entry into Lena’s past.
However, it becomes increasingly obvious that the major players on both sides of the border are intertwined. And their past sins will come out through investigations done by Kari and Lena.
At the end of the season, Kari and his family are held at gunpoint while Kari is ordered to solve a case. Lena becomes trapped on the Russian side of the border, a member of Kari’s unit gets shot, Katia shoots an intruder and the mayor’s family become more aware their shady — and possibly illegal — deals made with Russians.
Season 3 Recap
The snowy winter landscape conveys a striking difference to the first two seasons.
Paulina is back in the hospital and, with no further treatment options, is dying. Lena is still hiding in Russia. And Katia is on trial for the shooting at end of season two.
The series continues its use of flashbacks and playing tricks on Kari’s mind. The methods used seem quite realistic in conveying how our minds work, especially when stressed or grieving.
Paulina passes away and Kari starts seeing her in his mind’s eye. Kari tries to take care of Janina while going through his own grieving process.
Lena returns from Russia to testify in court on Katia’s behalf and then rejoin the team. Though there are two new faces, the series still concentrates on Kari, Lena and their daughters.
Katia is ordered by the court to do public service work for her sentence. She ends up at a place for the elderly and we often see her reading to one of the residents. It’s here that we see Katia blossoming into a shining example of survivors moving forward and the impact of positive reinforcement.
Janina, however, finds it difficult to deal with her mother’s death and her life takes a dark turn. There’s even ambiguity as to how well the mayor is taking Paulina’s death as he keeps wanting to be around Janina — to the point that it’s a little creepy. It is Janina’s struggle that pushes Kari out of his comfort zone and react more brashly than usual. The ends justify the means as he saves his daughter from hurting herself beyond repair.
This new tactic for Kari is used again to defeat the serial killer who has returned.
At the end, Katia’s hard work has paid off and she plans on heading to Helsinki to study at the university. Lena doesn’t head back to Russia because she realizes she needs to stay for Kari. Janina has gone through her grieving process and helps her father see a therapist for his visions of Paulina. And Kari realizes that the only person he truly trusts in Lena.
Why We Need “Bordertown”
The series conveys gender equality and female agency without ever directly pointing it out. Women are in positions of power without question, including when pregnant. Not only does Lena show command over her sexuality, but both Katia and Janina show that teenage women should be in control of their own bodies.
Connected to the notion of feminine power is Katia’s journey. At first, Katia’s body was used — it was a commodity. But she found a path to her own agency. Though Kari has always been good to Katia, he still was an older man who used her for investigations. During her public service work, however, Katia found an older man who didn’t want anything from her except for her to read to him. And while conversing, he would encourage her to do more, to be more and that she had to the ability to live a better life.
Also, it’s cold in Finland. Though there’s nudity in the show from brief sexual encounters and corpses, everyone is fully clothed nearly the entire series. The lack of skin conveys the cerebral aspect to the show while reinforcing the notion that one’s mind is as — or more — important than one’s body. It’s a sapiosexual’s dream.