Borgen: ‘The Höxenhaven effect’


Troels Hoxenhaven


This week’s double bill of Borgen was even better than last week’s. It packed more punches and heart crushing moments for our beloved PM.

This week’s double bill kicks of with an emotional undercurrent of nostalgia for the old Denmark and a desire for past love, but in the ever-progressive state of the nation and the lives of individuals, at some point we must all move on. ‘I miss the way it used to be’ says Birgitte of her current situation. Her husband, Phillip, is moving on with his new girlfriend Cecile, who (major smack in the face) just happens to be a paediatrician, and her beloved friend Bent may be unable to return to Parliament due to his illness. Birgitte’s support network is crumbling around her (as is her Government), and she’s finding it increasingly difficult to keep her personal and professional life separate.

The professional and personal also collide for Labour leader Bjørn Marrot (Flemming Sørensen). Dubbed ‘the last worker’, Marrot wants to uphold now defunct Labour values because he too misses the way things used to be. His values maybe old but his loyalty has gotten him a long way and that’s more than you can say for Troels Höxenhaven (Lars Brygmann) and the irritating Pernille Madsen (Petrine Agger). Their overly ambitious nature and vindictive attempts at character assassination are a strategic play to have Labour back in power. Once again, Birgitte is stalled from taking action on an important decision (presenting a new welfare state) because of political backstabbing. Despite Marrot’s unwieldy comments about parrots, his dress sense and his penchant for ‘Porn og Pernod’, Birgitte stands by him. Their final exchange amidst the lustrous sky was both touching and moving. It was a recapitulation of loyalty and solidarity that both characters covet and strive for professionally and personally.

Back in the fold, Katrine and Kasper are trying to avoid rekindling their romance when even viewers know that it’s inevitable, and Laugesen targets Höxenhaven. Laugesen believes that Höxenhaven is gay and ‘his ambition outweighs his loyalty’, therefore he must be the one behind the rumours on Marrot. Hanne and Katrine strongly disagree with Laugesen in yet another depiction of female solidarity between the two, and note Laugesen’s similar behaviour when in office. Is Laugesen positioning himself for a return to Parliament by refusing to discredit Marrot or is he simply homophobic?

The Höxenhaven scandal takes centre stage in the next episode entitled ‘Battle Ready’. The episode title refers to the on-going conflict between Nyborg and Höxenhaven. Höxenhaven is now the newly appointed Labour leader. He once again betrays Birgitte by engaging in prime ministerial duties when helping on a recent crisis involving Danish seamen. The media dub his ambitious political stance as ‘The Höxenhaven effect’; placing Labour back in the limelight. Historically, the Labour party ruled Denmark for many years and Höx is now positioning himself to take the power back and become Prime Minister himself. As Kasper states, ‘Hox leads by one goal.’

Behind all this, Höxenhaven has no idea that Laugesen is planning to expose his extra-marital affairs in Ekspres. However, Hanne and Katrine are working their own investigation into the source of the photographs. ‘Sisters’ are definitely doing it for themselves as they discover that Laugesen set Höxenhaven up by hiring an escort from – before you start typing, the website does not exist. I tried.

One thing that this episode does perfectly is mix comedy and tragedy. Birgitte exclaims that Höxenhaven’s antics and her husband’s girlfriend Cecile are a huge problem. She doesn’t know what to do. When Kasper tells her, ‘It’s not like you to give up without a fight’, she decides to proposition Phillip and remind him of what he’s missing. Only her declaration of them growing old together is a dream shared only by her. She is mortified – and so are we. In her confusion, she ends up sleeping with her driver, who apparently moonlights as a plumber – think Diet Coke advert meets 70s blue movies. It’s demonstrably cringe-worthy but a notch that made many Nyborg fans extremely happy! Cecile 0, Birgitte 1.

Taking on Laugesen proves more difficult a task. Birgitte threatens to expose the kind of journalist Laugesen is if he prints anything on Höxenhaven. However, Laugesen has dirt on our ‘Little Miss PC’ PM and her driver Kim. As is the formula, Birgitte tends to win these arguments but here she has made herself vulnerable to future scandal like Höxenhaven. She cannot afford to be discredited and embarrassed in front of her family and the Danish people.

You have to admit, for all the backstabbing that Birgitte has to endure she is incredibly loyal to her party members. Like the previous episode’s exchange between Birgitte and Marrot, her discussion with Höxenhaven, as well as her eulogy, is extremely compassionate. The path Höxenhaven chooses is the most tragic event in Borgen to date.

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