Bordertown: The Mural Murders is a sequel to a Finland Crime Series, Bordertown. The Nordic Noir series introduced us to a peculiar but phenomenal police detective, Kari Sorjonen. He solves serious crimes like Sherlock Holmes, but Kari is not a hero; instead, he is the epitome of a flawed protagonist.
In the series, Kari suffers from HFA and Savant syndrome. His unmatchable memory and crime-solving capabilities bring him to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI). Kari started working in Bordertown, Lappeenranta, South Karelia, Finland, where he helped the department catch a notorious serial killer, Lasse Maasalo, who became Kari’s perfect nemesis.
Bordertown: The Mural Murders follow the incidents after the arrest of Lasse Maasalo. Based on an online poll, a new serial killer in town begins targeting society’s miscreants. The police seek Kari’s help to capture the Mural Murderer, also known as the Judge. The killer believes he is serving justice by picking out the rotten apples.
‘Bordertown: The Mural Murders’ Plot Summary
A hooded person drains blood from a dead body in a shady slaughterhouse. He uses it to paint a mural of Lasse Maasalo’s face on a wall near the rail yard. He even leaves Maasalo’s famous line, “Let’s make the world a better place.” Maasalo said these words in court during his trial after he confessed to 11 murders, 18 manslaughters, and involvement in 3 murders.
The following day, inspector Tuomas Heikkinen visits Kari Sorjonen, who had admitted himself to a mental institution after arresting Maasalo. Heikkinen informs Kari about the mural and bottle of blood left by the killer at the police station. He even tells Kari about an anonymous online poll created to find out the most brutal felons in Finland who deserve punishment. At the top of the list is Samu Martikainen, suspected of sexually abusing 34 children. Heikkinen reports that Samu’s blood has been used in the mural, but his body hasn’t been found yet. And the killer has already kidnapped 3 out of the top 5 suspected felons in the poll and will probably kill them if Kari doesn’t help.
Initially, Kari refuses to help. He scrutinizes Samu’s blood reports and figures out that the killer used Methitural to sedate his victim. It was the same drug that Maasalo used on his victims. Hence, as soon as Kari gets certain about Maasalo’s involvement in the brutal murders, he decides to help the police catch the Mural Murderer.
Who was The Mural Murder?
Kari spotted the name Katia Jaakkola on the 9th spot in the poll list. Katia was Detective Lena Jaakkola’s daughter, Kari’s close friend who worked for FSB. Hence, to help Katia, Kari decided to stop the killer before he or she could reach her.
Kari sent his daughter Janina to Riihimäki prison, where Maasalo served a life sentence. At that point, Maasalo hinted to Janina that he did know who killed Samu Martikainen, but he would only reveal it publicly during Janina’s lecture. In short, Maasalo wanted to attend a personal interview at Janina’s college.
In the meantime, Kari found out about the slaughterhouse, Roimu Meat, where Samu was killed, and soon his old friend Lena Jaakkola visited him. Lena told Kari that she followed the man who dropped the blood bottle at the police station. With the help of the intel, the police arrested Timo Lauermaa, who worked at Roimu Meat. After an intense interview, Kari concluded that Timo was just an accomplice to the murder and couldn’t be the mastermind behind it. Samu abused Timo after his Aunt Ulla married Samu when Timo was just six years old.
The police found another mural along with the dead body of the second suspect, Anders Wesselius, a treacherous stockbroker. The killer had left evidence to frame Lena Jaakkola of these brutal murders, and even she had been kidnapping suspected victims intending to save them. However, Kari wasn’t thinking straight and got trapped in the killer’s ploy.
Finally, after a series of hits and misses, Kari deduced that his nemesis, Lasse Maasalo, orchestrated the brutal crimes. From the prison, Maasalo contacted 42-year-old Henri Tervamaa through a single email inbox. They communicated through mail written in the draft box, which was later deleted. Because no emails were sent, the police had no records of it. After the lecture, Mastermind Maasalo mentioned the crucial evidence to Kari, saying, “The interesting things are between the lines. Like in drafts. “
‘Bordertown The Mural Murders’ Ending Explained
After Kari unraveled the secret communication channel, he used it to find The Mural Murder, Henri Tervamaa’s location. He contacted Henri through Maasalo’s mail id and found out his address. Kari informed the police that Henri had taken Katia Jaakkola to a house in Ingå. The police infiltrated the house and saved Katia’s life. They also arrested Henri, but that wasn’t the tale’s end.
Through the entire scheme, Maasalo created an opportunity for himself to leave the prison so that he could trick the police and run away. He compelled Kari and Janina to invite him to the college lecture, and on his way back to the prison, Maasalo escaped.
Kari remembered his last conversation with Maasalo, in which he stated that a serial killer always goes back to his first victim. For Maasalo, his first murder took place in Seppo Paltemaa, in Lappeenranta. Kari was confident that he would find his nemesis there, and thus, without wasting any moment, he left the station.
In Seppo Paltemaa, Maasalo had planned to cross the ocean border and reach Russia to live a new life as a free man. But before he could set his foot on the boat, Kari intervened. At the beginning of the film, Maasalo explains to Janina that her father isn’t capable of evil. Hence, at the end, when Kari pointed a gun at him, Maasalo was confident that Kari wouldn’t shoot or kill a man. If he did so, Kari would lose his morals and himself forever. But in the end, Kari did lose himself. He shot Maasalo and killed him.
After Maasalo’s death, Kari threw away the gun to hide the evidence and took Maasalo’s body to the middle of the ocean, and cuffed it to a bag full of stones to drown it. Hence, Kari wiped off Maasalo’s existence. But at the back of his head, Kari knew what horrors awaited him. He wouldn’t be able to forgive himself for the crime committed that day.
In the narrative, Maasalo openly spoke about killing evildoers in society to make the world a better place. He lived by these strict principles and influenced the Judge to do so. During the lecture, Maasalo pointed out that the way Kari caught him proved that a person could be manipulated into breaking their own limits and morals.
Maybe because Kari stepped out of his moral conduct to catch his nemesis, his conscience weighed him down. It toyed with his mental sanity so much that he was compelled to get himself admitted to a mental institution.
And it was the second time when Maasalo pushed Kari to break the rules. To stop the evil, Kari became evil himself. Now the thin line that distinguished Kari from Maasalo faded out. In the end, Kari adopted his nemesis’s principles and killed an evil doer to make society better. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that Maasalo’s ideology didn’t die that day. Instead, it was adopted by Kari.
This enmity between Kari and Maasalo has been explored repeatedly in different characters, where the protagonist often ends up following the footsteps of their arch-enemy. Famous examples include Batman and the Joker, and Sherlock Holmes, and Professor Moriarty.
Bordertown: The Mural Murders is a 2021 Nordic Crime Noir directed by Juuso Syrjä. It is streaming on Netflix.