Sorjonen, also known as Bordertown on international markets, is a Finnish detective drama that airs on Yle TV1 and is available for streaming on Netflix.
The series focuses on Detective Inspector Kari Sorjonen (Ville Virtanen), a talented if peculiar detective that moves from Helsinki to Lappeenranta, a small town that borders with Russia, after his wife barely survives brain cancer, in order to live a more peaceful life — but things are not actually very peaceful in a town caught between two worlds.
As of 2020, three seasons have aired.
Sorjonen / Bordertown provides examples of the following tropes:
- Arch-Enemy: Lasse Maasalo. Although the show deals with many killers and lacks a Big Bad, Maasalo is Sorjonen's recurring nemesis and has an It's Personal vendetta which includes Kari.
- Brutal Honesty: Sorjonen's speech is rather blunt, whether speaking to people under his command or his superiors.
- Character Tics: Sorjonen tends to make exaggerated hand motions or tap the side of his head and such when trying to remember things using the Memory Palace trick.
- Corrupt Politician: Both Robert Degerman and Mikael Ahola are shady as fuck.
- Cowboy Cop: Sorjonen is a non-action example of this trope - often taking his investigations in seemingly strange directions based on deductions his colleagues can't understand. Much to his boss, Taina's, chagrin, he had a tendency to keep his cards close to his chest and operate beyond her authority.
- Lena is a more straight example of this trope once she joins SECRI, largely due to her history as an FSB agent. She's prepared to steal evidence, and use physical torture against witnesses, among other things, to help crack a case.
- Dark and Troubled Past: Sorjonen is a bit of a tortured soul after his years as a homicide detective in Helsinki. He's haunted by all the atrocities he was forced to witness. At one point, its revealed that he's haunted by hallucinations of all the victims who's killers he failed to bring to justice. And all that is before we get to the fact that his wife suffered from cancer and only just recovered when the series began.
- Lena Jaakkola clearly hasn't had an easy life either. She's been an FSB agent and a member of the Russian Mafia, and lived a violent life on both sides of the law. Through all this, she has struggled to raise a daughter with whom she has a troubled relationship at best.
- Decoy Protagonist: Or rather Decoy Support Cast. DC Metso, who quits at the end of the first case after being found out to be dirty.
- Defective Detective: Sorjonen is troubled by all the crime he has witnessed as a member of the Finnish National Bureau of Investigation.
- Dirty Cop:
- DC Johanna Metso. She was working with Ahola in trying to keep the heat away from the cabins where the Doll's House prostitution ring was taking place.
- DC Santeri Kaminen, who was using his informants to smuggle drugs from St. Petersburg.
- Fan Disservice: The videos SECRI find on the Doll's House girls. It's meant to be off-putting.
- Happily Adopted: For varying degrees of happily. Turns out that Lena was shot in the line of duty, and had an emergency hysterectomy in the process; later on, during a drug raid, she found Katia as a toddler, inside a cardboard box, in her real mother's apartment, who was a junkie. Lena explains to Katia that her real life mother died since.
- Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: Lena Jaakkola is quiet skilled at it. Understandable, given that she is ex-FSB.
- Mother Russia Makes You Strong:
- Lena. Particularly since she's former FSB. Upon joining SECRI, she's their most action oriented agent, and still using her unique off-the-book skills while working for SECRI.
- Katia, to a certain degree. Her life experiences have made her incredibly jaded for her age, though, she also goes to therapy because of them.
- Naughty Nuns: Close enough. One of the victims in one episode was a theology student that ran a blog on sexual experiences, had a big collection of sex toys, had a tryst with a married man, and got pregnant in the process.
- Photographic Memory: Sorta but not quite. Sorjonen uses and tries to train other members of the Serious Crime Unit in the Memory Palace technique.
- Mama Bear: Lena, Katia's Mother. It helps that she's a former member of the FSB.
- Sorjonen's wife Paulina proves to be one in the first season finale, even resorting to blackmail in an attempt to get her daughter cleared off a murder charge.
- Mayor Pain: Degerman. He'll do anything to get financial backing for his projects. Including turning a blind eye to a prostitution ring for his investors, and trying to dig up dirt on Sorjonen in order to stop him from investigating.
- Non-Action Guy:
- DC Niko, at least that's what he wishes to be, but still does competent field work.
- Sorjonen even more so than Niko for that matter.
- Nordic Noir: An example of it.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: Taina, the Lapperanta police chief and Kari's boss, tries to be one.
- Scenery Porn: As many Nordic Noir series, the scenery is gorgeous to look at.
- Sixth Ranger: Lena Jaakkola, a former Russian FSB agent, joins SECRI, in order to replace the departed DC Metso.
- Sherlock Scan: Comes with the territory for Sorjonen, given his use of the Memory Palace.
- Superhero Paradox: Lapperanta was a largely safe and crime-free town. But once veteran homicide detective Kari Sorjonen moves in to take over the town's Serious Crimes Unit, it suddenly becomes a hotbed of violent crime - sex-trafficking, drug dealing and even a serial killer. In fact, the politicians seeking to discredit Sorjonen and get the unit shut down actually seek to exploit this coincidence, claiming that Sorjonen 'brought' serious crime with him to the town. Though it could also be argued that all that stuff was already there, Sorjonen just uncovered it.
- Title Drop: The show's originally named after Det. Sorjonen, since it centers on his actions with the Finnish Police as he moves to the town away from the big city. The Netflix title comes from Lappeenranta being a border town with Russia, with St. Petersburg being just 2-3 hours away by car.