Shadow Lines

Shadow Lines – a Finnish Spy Story!

Helsinki of the 1950s was the focal point of the Cold War. The US and the USSR had different ambitions for Finland. The US wanted a clearly pro-western government and the Soviets ultimate goal was annexation or installation of a puppet government. Shadow Lines tells the story of a secret intelligence team. Its mission  – to preserve this small Nordic nation’s independence from both powers. This is a perfect background for a Finnish spy story.

Series 1

In 1944, the Finns had leased Porkkala to the USSR for fifty years.  The leased territory was strategically located at the narrowest point of the Gulf of Finland and less than an hour from Helsinki. The Soviets had moved quickly to build a huge  military complex at Porkkala. It had two airbases  and a seaport for its navy. In 1955, the Finns wanted the Soviets out.  Finnish prime-minister, Urho Kekkonen, and the USSR’s First Secretary, Nikita Khrushchev , are deep into negotiations. Khrushchev on the left, Kekkonen on the write, circa 1956.

The KGB and the Russian military didn’t want negotiations to succeed. On the other hand, the US and CIA want to see Porkkala returned to Finland, they don’t want Kekkonen to be president. He is seen as too close to the USSR and he promotes “active neutrality”. The active neutrality policy allowed Finland to remain capitalist, democratic, and sovereign while existing in the shadow of the Soviet Union. 

The Finnish Security Intelligence Service (“FIST”) takes on the KGB and the CIA to make sure that Finland gets what it wants without selling out to either party. Kekknonen succeeds striking a conditional deal with Khrushchev – conditional on him being elected president of Finland. Then FIST has to stymie a US plan to either “buy” the presidential election or assassinate Kekkonen.

Series 2

Karelian Territory

Kekkonen has struck a deal for the return of Porkkala. Displaced Finnish Karelians want more. They want the return of the USSR-occupied Karelia, historically a province of Finland. However, part of it was lost  to the Soviets in World War II. The Karelians are ready to do anything for the opportunity to fight for their “homeland”. To do so, they plan a “false flag operation” to draw the USSR into a war with Finland. But FIST cannot let this happen. 

All very topical 

Sergey Lavrov

Today, Russia is flexing its military muscle to scare the Baltic states and threaten the Ukraine. All very scary and reminiscent of the Cold War era. Consider this recent excerpt from Monocle:

“A letter sent by Russia’s foreign minister Sergey Lavrov to the governments of Finland and its Nordic neighbours has triggered unpleasant memories in Helsinki. In it, Lavrov asks Finland for commitments “not to strengthen its security at the expense of the security of others”; in other words, not to join Nato. While Helsinki’s official reaction to the letter has been controlled – emphasising its vague nature, its other recipients and stressing the need for an EU-wide response – the Finnish media has been less circumspect. Many commentators have drawn parallels with the cold war, when Moscow would regularly pressure Helsinki into decisions through the use of epistolary intimidation. Thankfully, due to EU membership and economic prosperity, Finland is in a far stronger position than back then. But the resumption of Soviet-era tactics does not bode well for rising tensions in the region.” 

The Monocle Minute of February 3, 2022


Based loosely, on fact, Shadow Lines provides a glimpse into the threats of the Cold War. While it is fictional, it has educational value for those with no memory of the Cuban missile crisis or disarmament talks! Nuclear attack drills at schools! Or even an un-unified Germany.

Good actors, compelling story lines, action, suspense! Watch Shadow Lines – a Finnish Spy story!

We watched on Sundance Now! I am sorry about the lack of a great visual to introduce the following clip but if you click on it, you will be rewarded:

Shadow Lines Trailer

Lisbon – A City on the Rise?

March 7, 2023

Lisbon’s seven hills and waterfront make it visually spectacular. The second oldest capital in Europe, the city has energy. Busy streets and squares, full restaurants, and vibrant night life – the city pulsates. And, the population seems young. All signs of a city on the rise? Earthquake A 1755 earthquake destroyed 85% of the city […]

Cities and Towns, The Affordable Housing Problem

February 8, 2023

People living on the street have come to symbolize the global housing crisis but they are only the tip of the iceberg. While the examples of Finland and Houston demonstrate a focussed plan pursued diligently can resolve the housing situation for the chronically homeless, addressing the affordable housing problem is much more complex.  Defining Affordability […]

I Love to Dance

January 29, 2023

I love to dance. This is not something new for me. I can’t remember when I didn’t like to move to the music. My first memories of watching others dance come from my childhood in Cape Breton where I would watch the adults square dance. Then, there were the step dancers who would often accompany […]

Cities and Towns 8, A City is About People

January 19, 2023

Kings Cross, once a thriving industrial and transport centre in London, was effectively closed  off  to the public by the end of the 20th century.   Then in 1996, the decision was made to move the British terminus for the Channel Tunnel Rail Link from Waterloo to St-Pancras. The landowner saw a re-development opportunity for […]

NEOM - the Wall

Cities and Towns 7, Cities and Towns Evolve

January 8, 2023

I have postulated that cities and towns evolve. That towns and villages first grow in areas where the basics to support life were plentiful. Typically, that means good agricultural land and good access to water. Other valuable considerations include safety, and resilience. The bonus – access to trade routes.  Walt Disney and the Fully Formed […]

Christmas Poem 2022

December 22, 2022

A Visit from Saint Nicholas A Poem by Jonathan Potter – December 2022 ‘Twas the first mask-free Christmas, when all through the stores  The vaccinated children were spewing their spores;The shoppers were eagerly starting to riotAs the introverts longed for some quarantine quiet. The public healthcare workers were tracing the pathOf the flu and RSV, […]