‘Bordertown’ Season 3 Review: The grim narrative is brightened by stunning cinematography of Finland’s winter
The third season features a lot of winter landscape in Finland, which remains the highlight of the final season despite its repetitive and grave storytelling
This review might contain spoilers!
The Finnish crime thriller series is back, and this time it seems darker than usual. The final season of ‘Bordertown’ takes off from where it left last season and plunges right into gore and heinous crimes.
The season opens with Kari Sorjonen (Ville Virtanen) and his daughter Janina (Olivia Ainali) struggling to come to terms with Kari’s wife Pauliina’s (Matleena Kuusniemi) imminent death, as her brain tumor gets worse. Back in the police department, Lena Jaakkola (Anu Sinisalo) has gone off the grid and is hiding somewhere in Russia, while the Finland SCU (Special Crime Unit) is looking for her.
Back in Lappeeranta, Lena’s daughter Katia (Lenita Susi) is charged with the felony of carrying and shooting firearm, in an attempt to save Kari and Janina (Olivia Ainali) as seen in Season 2.
As soon as these new events start to sink in, we are presented with an all new series of gory murders, and in the middle of Kari’s attempt to solve them, his wife passes away.
Over the course of the next nine episodes, the series covers what it is known for - an array of crimes, each spanning a couple of episodes, while the stories of Kari, Janina, and Lena continue to evolve in the background.
It is almost difficult to say what takes precedence - the criminal cases or the characters’ journeys. There’s murder, suspense, Lena and Kari’s newly evolving work chemistry and the struggles of Janina and Kari to deal with Pauliina’s death, in their individual way. Overall, the third and final season appears to be much graver and depressive than the previous seasons.
However, as grim as the show’s narrative might be, the third season has a little treat in store for the audience. Most importantly, the winter visuals also help connect back to the plotlines, the characters’ emotions, and their development. And that’s why even though the narrative seems repetitive, as do the crimes, you wouldn’t be disappointed.
Just as they promised in its trailer, season 3 must be credited for its stunning cinematography, especially the visual delight of a snow-clad Finland. It’s not every day that you have the privilege to sit through ten hours of a virtual tour of Scandinavian winter.
This aspect of the final season is in stark opposite to what we had known and seen in the earlier two seasons. Unlike most Nordic noirs, the landscape in 'Bordertown' was never a part of the cinematography so far. The series was packaged as a classic crime procedural, with most of the action taking place indoors, whether in Kari’s home or the SCU office, or scenes of crimes.
Although the plot for season three was also designed to have most of the scenes indoors (because of the extreme weather), the sub plots provided for multiple opportunities to explore the wintery wonderland of Finland.
In a recent media interview, showrunner, Miikko Oikkonen said, “The winter landscape and atmosphere of season three will bring the crimes and family drama to a new epic dimension.”
And now, as you walk through the ten, hour-long episodes, it becomes clear what Oikkonen meant. For instance, in episodes 2 and 3, when Kari and his team are investigating the “Human Beast”, most of the mutilated corpses are found outdoors.
While the events might take precedence in this situation, it was clear that the crimes were committed in that particular way because no traces would be left behind in the thick blanket of snow and the there would be no witness in such harsh weather.
Even for the personal angles of the characters, especially for Kari and Janina, the intensity of the winter season accentuates their stories and their emotional journey, especially while portraying impact of the loss of a family member.
‘Bordertown’ Season 3 is currently streaming on Netflix.