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Borgen – final season. Episodes 1 and 2

Birgitte is back!

Ostensibly retired to be a business woman, Birgitte is in Hong Kong on the lecture circuit/business trips so beloved of ex politicians but there comes a point where even although everyone has moved on stands have to be taken. What cause is important enough to give up your cushy lifestyle? Well if you’re a RL politician, some are less altruistic than others.

Clicky-clacky green high heel wearing, tousled haired Birgitte tottered down Hong Kong streets clutching her overly large handbag close to her stomach. Smiling at stall holders and engaging in badinage it appeared that she had been there some time dining out on recycled jokes and local delicacies like snake. Odd that someone so used to politics would find snake so offensive to the tongue. Her British Monarch of the Glen paramour Jeremy gives us the excuse for the odd snatch of English as a sop to all the English speaking countries who now lap up the meta-narrative that is the story of a winner triumphing over adversity.

Not for Birgitte delays over the right kind of tile for a new building or rented penthouse suites which make Hong Kong and Copenhagen look their best. A leaking run down basement was a metaphor for the work that Birgitte would have to put in to transform Denmark into the new democratic ideal that she had originally swept to power espousing.

And that’s the thing about ideals – once you’ve lost them, you’ve lost yourself and Birgitte isn’t the sort to lose sight of herself.

Luckily so far she’s taking Bent, bless his little frowning head, and – one-drink-and-she’s-anybody’s – Katrine with her while managing to walk that fine line between disaffected former Moderates and Right-wingers.

We are the law, and if we don’t like it as it currently is, it is indeed our duty to change the law in question to better reflect what we think.


Borgen episodes 9 and 10

Divide and Rule

“Ten things we’ll miss about Phillip” – his nice arse made 2 of the items highlighted by the young student Freja in her farewell speech to him in front of Birgitte – who of course missed most of the rest due to an unmissable call on her mobile. Phillip had the decency to look embarrassed about the compliment and didn’t seem to spot Birgitte’s momentary absence.

Katrine and Kasper enjoyed healthy looking sandwiches in a sunny park while trying to avoid compromising their respective roles at work and skirting round the abuse he suffered as a child.

The Danes surprisingly watched promotional videos about Trident fighter planes in English despite the cost of 130 million kroner to the Danish government. One would think that a business hoping to sell weapons – or indeed anything – would have a translated version for the country considering spending considerable sums of money.

Bent spoke to Birgitte about her inability to trust the ministers she had appointed to her departments. Her micromanagement of everything means that she isn’t doing her job as PM properly. However as she looks over the paperwork on the Trident deal it becomes apparent that her husband’s new employers are involved in the deal as subcontractors. Birgitte was warned that Phillip’s new job made her hands look dirty in this deal however Phillip pointed out that he would never lift a “bloody finger” to help her again. Birgitte reverted to her earlier desire for government transparency by suggesting that all ministers show all gifts from contacts on a webpage so there was no hint of subterfuge or unfair advantage to businesses providing freebies. Phillip disappeared leaving her to look after the children while conducting a meeting with Bent. Women’s intuition went embarrassingly awry however when she went to Freja’s flat to look for her husband only to find a fair haired demi-god in her bed instead of Phillip. Phillip however had been playing away in a desire to break something. Birgitte fell in her haste to get away from his touch and looked like a battered woman, but it was a metaphor for what had happened to her spirit and faith in her husband.

Another “Killing” actor appeared out of nowhere in an interview with Katrine as defence minister Hans Christian Thorsen. The suit and glass of water couldn’t hide the earlier role of the father in Killing 1. Katrine decided to do a bit of digging about the fighter planes and was reminded by her boss that she was a presenter, not a researcher. Scotland – Glen Farlan – finally got a mention as if it was a shadowy place for backroom deals. Hunting, shooting, fishing and weapons – yes that’s a Scotland I recognise especially at a cost of 25,000 kroner per head for a hunting trip. Katrine’s digging exposed expensive personal gifts of guns worth 250,000 kroner each to the defence minister. Katrine overstepped the mark in the personal questions she asked Birgitte and is forced to take leave as a result.

At the end of the episode Phillip and Birgitte separated, at least for the night.

The First Tuesday in October

The final episode opened with Birgitte’s reputation floundering in opinion polls and at home as she and Phillip were leading separate lives. Kasper jogged in the rain listening to Kennedy’s famous “Ask not what…” speech which he started to plagiarise for an opening of Parliament speech for Birgitte, or at least the structure of the three stage rocket.
Sanne’s interpersonal skills started to win Birgitte over and Kasper enjoyed a furtive fumble before being interrupted by an older, wiser civil servant. Sanne had the worst week of her life when Kasper backed off but she lost her job to someone more suitable in any case.
Phillip’s bit on the side turned out to be the woman who “headhunted” him for the job he really wanted. Obviously some agencies will do anything to get their man…The offer of public marriage to Birgitte and discrete affairs for Phillip might be every man’s dream, but it wasn’t Phillip’s. Birgitte had obviously turned into a completely political animal rather than a wife. Even she however balked at the idea of being interviewed unconstrained by TV1 at a time of family crisis. Phillip asked for a divorce, “As soon as possible.”  after taking part in an engineered family interview.
Almost as soon as Phillip had flounced off Kasper had to watch Katrine leave after walking away from TV1 as the freedom of the press she believed in had been compromised.
You can’t have it all…
Predictions for series 2?
Sanne will become indispensable to Birgitte in her new role as PA at home making the most of her interpersonal skills – picking up the children, being “wife” to Birgitte.
Phillip will rise to the top of some firm which will bring him into conflict with Birgitte’s continuing role as PM. Neither will be minded to back down.
Katrine will do big investigative pieces which will bring down some sections of the government, possibly in the Labour party.
Kasper will continue to chase after unobtainable Katrine but will never be able to open up to her completely about his earlier life.

Borgen 7 & 8

See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil

Illegal monitoring of an extreme left-wing party is revealed.

When state-of-the-art surveillance equipment is found in the offices of Solidarity, initially it looks like the work of the Danish Security and Intelligence Service. Birgitte’s former friend from her protest days, Anne -Sophie, makes the most of her moment in the media sun to castigate the government. Illegal monitoring of a legal political party is a serious offence, and it quickly becomes clear that Birgitte disagrees with minister of justice Hoxenhaven – I’m not a crook – who believes that no-one is bugged without due process and cause.  Hoxenhaven calls a press conference without the prior approval of Birgitte and suggests that there is an ongoing investigation but his evidence that Anne-Sophie wanted to kidnap the Prime Minister’s children  comes from a party secretly recorded over 6 years previously. Anne – Sophie has the choice of standing up for the constitutional right that has been breached or keeping Birgitte in power for the sake of their earlier friendship but once the tape is mysteriously leaked her personal position is untenable. Hoxenhaven keeps his job but it told in no uncertain terms that he is a non-person in the government as far as Birgitte is concerned.

Birgitte’s home life suffers from her absence as a 22 year old student uses the pretext of needing help with a CV to approach her husband and suggesting they get together later. He turns down that possibility but is asleep with the children by the time she gets back home leaving her the single bed with the toy dinosaur for company. Over a sunny breakfast the children let slip that the attractive student dropped by the day before and of course, the next day when she comes home the student Freja is in the house with Phillip and the children are away for the day.  Philip reassures her that he is not having an affair but points out that she is playing at being a mother, not even knowing what Laura their daughter got for her essay.

Katrine, who has otherwise been in good spirits, must make a difficult decision. Benjamin and she have a great sex life but after 2 months is it becoming harder to keep him out of her professional life after she gets an invitation to an award ceremony with a plus 1 place. Benjamin is keen to go and so their relationship moves up a notch. Kasper scathingly points out that Benjamin is not the intellectual type that she normally goes for but they eventually manage to get back onto a professional footing although it is clear that Kasper has genuine feelings for her. Benjamin on the other hand fights with Katrine when she is shocked that he doesn’t even know who Hoxenhaven is.

Birgitte Nyborg Christensen                                                         Sidse Babett Knudsen
Michael Laugesen                                                                              Peter Mygind
Bent Sejro                                                                                              Lars Knutzon
Philip Christensen                                                                             Mikael Birkkjaer
Kasper Juul                                                                                          Pilou Asbak
Katrine Fonsmark                                                                             Birgitte Hjort Sorensen
Torben Friis                                                                                         Soren Malling
Hanne Holm                                                                                        Benedikte Hansen
Producer                                                                                             Camilla Hammerich
Writer                                                                                                   Adam Price

The Silly Season

Michael Laugesen is to publish a book containing disclosures from his years in politics.

It is summer, and not much is going on in parliament. Yet when Michael Laugesen announces that he has written a book Exit with Hanne – to be released in a few days – containing disclosures of all sorts from his years in politics, the fan looks a bit dirty. Kasper is forced to deal with people and events from his past which he has fought to put behind him. His mother turns up at work to tell him that his father is dead. She calls him Kenneth and asks for his help with the funeral. He makes it clear that he left home when he was 12 and has no intention of going back. He does go back to organise the small funeral he wants with an unmarked grave and his memories come flooding back. It is obvious that Kasper has been abused by his father and that is why he wants him cremated (burned) in the pyjamas he wore at the time.

Katrine puts two and two together while she is waiting for Kasper at his office and works out that Kasper took the receipts and gave them to Laugesen after finding them in Katrine’s flat on the night Ole died. She is, however, the only one who goes with him to the funeral of his father.

After meeting with an expert to discuss her son wetting his pants, Birgitte realises she must make an effort to win back her family life and spontaneously plans a holiday for the whole family. They go to the official country retreat where dinner is pork in a creamy sauce at six on the dot whether they want it or not. Champagne and the children being looked after by the housekeeper highlights the fact that Phillip is now no longer in the mood just because there is a window of opportunity. He misses having his wife around all the time so that they can have spontaneous sex. Phillip is headhunted by a big company and he says yes, getting his mojo back in the process of telling Birgitte. Her eyes look dead however as she contemplates all the implications of his decision.

Borgen episodes 5 and 6

Men Who Love Women continued last week’s theme of women and power in Danish society. The attractive female business minister, who is denigrated by being called “Clit”, is proposing a bill to force Danish companies to have gender equality on company boards. She is lusted over by men and her position is lusted over by Perinille the equality minister who thinks this should have been her opportunity.

Meanwhile, Katrine begins to fall for her spin instructor who wants her to live a healthier life, much to Kaspar’s disgust.

Kaspar misreads the signals and attempts to kiss the business minister and when he goes to meet Katrine on her early morning run bearing coffee he is astounded to see Katrine lean in for a kiss with her trainer.

At the end of the episode Birgitte has called the bluff of the most powerful business leader in Denmark and won her equality for women in exchange for an extension on green taxes being introduced for his businesses. Too bad her husband is too exhausted to respond to her amorous advances when she finally gets home.

Birgitte discusses pragmatism and the fact that the role of the Prime Minister is to act  on behalf of all the citizens of their country and not just those who voted for them with the female leader of a smaller party – how novel! Her family concerns centre around her son’s difficulty with going to the toilet on time and her long held shares in a company that is about to make a huge profit due to a government change of policy. She keeps herself out of trouble by making her husband sell the shares before they go through the roof. Due to the international visit of a Turgistani dissident much of this episode is in English and it seems that the Danes would think nothing of switching to fluent English when necessary – how shameful for us that we do not have similar skills as a nation. Birgitte’s father comes for a visit and stays on when the babysitter lets her down at the last minute. Phillip does not look delighted. Her father’s drinking is an issue, which he says is due to his depression at his divorce which was the worst thing that ever happened to him. Birgitte promises she will never divorce but his drinking is a wedge between Phillip and Birgitte and an issue that Birgitte is reluctant to handle head on. However Phillip and Birgitte are back on track by the end of the episode.

The president of Turgisia, Grozin, is on a State visit to Denmark and is absolutely enraged that “Mrs Prime Minister” won’t extradite the dissident to face terrorism charges back home as the evidence is not robust enough. The president makes threats to remove his offer of a billion euros into Denmark’s wind energy firm. The dissident Bayanov is arrested “discretely” on live TV pending the police investigation into Grozin’s claims enraging Birgitte and her left-wing father. Is Bayanov’s head worth  a billion euros to Denmark? Should Denmark overlook the human right’s abuses under Grozin’s leadership? A free press is something to be quashed as far as Grozin is concerned so Kaspar gives Katrine a final killer question to ask.

Sanne dances with Kaspar at the end of the theatre night and when they are spotted by a government adviser Kaspar is advised “don’t shit where you eat.” but they do look good together.

Birgitte and her husband Phillip dress up to the nines to go to the State visit meeting in the theatre. A borrowed diamond dress ring is particularly attractive. Birgitte’s father sarkily says they look as if they are dressed up for the church wedding they never had.

Katrine’s relationship with her spin instructor (the bike kind not the political kind) develops enough for him to drop by her flat and her to stop work to “entertain” him. Kaspar can barely contain his jealousy of Mr Fitness, Benjamin. He provokes an argument and Benjamin smashes Kaspar showing a previously unseen violent side. Katrine says that she will not see Kaspar in private anymore.

Borgen episodes 3 and 4

Bent Sejrø Lars Knutzon Finance Minister (Moderate Party)
Bjørn Marrot Flemming Sørensen Foreign Minister (Labour Party)
Birgitte Nyborg Christensen Sidse Babett Knudsen Moderate Party Leader
Hanne Holm Benedikte Hansen TV1 Journalist
Hans Christian Kongsmark Bjarne Henriksen Defence Minister
Kasper Juul Pilou Asbæk Communications Chief for Birgitte Nyborg
Katrine Fønsmark Birgitte Hjort Sørensen TV1 Presenter
Lars Hesselboe Søren Spanning Leader of the Liberal Party / Prime Minister at the start of the series
Lisbeth Hesselboe Ida Dwinger Lars Hesselboe’s wife
Michael Laugesen Peter Mygind Labour Party Leader
Niels Erik Lund Morten Kirkskov Prime Minister’s Permanent Secretary
Ole Dahl Claus Riis Østergaard Communications Chief for Lars Hesselboe
Philip Christensen Mikael Birkkjær Lecturer at Copenhagen Business School (Married to Birgitte Nyborg)
Pia Munk Lisbeth Wulff TV1 Editor
Svend Åge Saltum Ole Thestrup Freedom Party Leader
Tanja Patricia Schumann TV1 Makeup-artist
Torben Friis Søren Malling TV1 Editor in Chief
Troels Höxenhaven Lars Brygmann Justice Minister and Labour Party Deputy Leader
Ulrik Mørch Thomas Levin TV1 Journalist
Yvonne Kjær Jannie Faurschou New Right Leader

Above is the cast list because catching the names of the characters is sometimes difficult.

Plot for these two episodes: – Two Worker’s Party MPs release a press statement that they will defy the party whip using the well known argument that the poor in Denmark are their priority, not the poor in Africa however they are really making political rumblings for a back-room deal on a new motorway and more importantly trying to make Birgitte’s position untenable paving the way for the old prime minister to return to power. This throws Birgitte’s majority into disarray.  Kasper’s history with Billie Piper lookalike Katrine means she chooses to have sex with him but she later tells him that she is having a baby by Ole.  Katrine is seen throwing up into a bucket offstage between reports on her news programme.  Her mother advises her to have an abortion when she goes to the family farm for Christmas. A confrontation with Ole’s widow in the graveyard further adds to her levels of stress. She has various flashbacks about her relationship with Kasper. Katrine has an abortion and hardens her heart.

Birgitte’s budget woes are resolved over a cup of tea with the female leader of the New Right party.

In episode 4  Katrine is given photographic proof that the CIA have Muslim prisoners at Thule air base, Greenland which is said to be Danish territory. Katrine’s source gives her further information and she has an early morning visit from 2 men who want to take her in for questioning but retreat when she films them on her mobile. Her source, when under pressure, declines to be interviewed on TV and dies in his flat apparently of a heart attack.

There is a lovely moment of Birgitte’s marital bliss where she and her husband’s moment of romance is interrupted by their son knocking on the door because he wants some crisps. Afterwards Birgitte unromantically suggests she and her husband schedule in two days a week for sex. Her husband is slightly amused but bemused. When talking to the military about strategy, one of them says “Yes mummy” out of her hearing and it shows that casual sexism as alive and well in Denmark to go with their blatant racism.



Birgitte Nyborg is the central character in this political thriller about the first would-be female Danish Prime Minister. At first it seems odd that Denmark has sunshine after watching 2 series of The Killing, but Denmark looks attractive on screen, as do the rather nifty lampshades in the interior shots.

The death of Ole in episode one gives the incumbent Prime Minster’s opponents access to documents that make it appear that he has used State funds to fund his wife’s excesses. This, and Nyborg’s decision to wear a purple satin dress on the political debate while being  honest about what her party stands for  gives Birgitte and her party a boost at the polls which puts real power in their grasp for the first time. Nyborg’s naivety means that her political opponents run rings around her with various offers of power which are of course not real power at all. Episode 2 ends with her smartening up enough to negotiate her way into being Prime Minister of a coalition government. An equally important female character is Katrine, the young ambitious blonde journalist who was with Ole when he died. She finds out at the end of the episode that she is pregnant.

A more entertaining review is here:

and more details here:

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