Borgen: Keeping the Peace

Katrine and Hanne














What is Lost Inwardly Must Be Won Outwardly Part 1 & 2

We have been rather spoilt of late. Each week Borgenistas, Borgenphiles or Borgenites (whatever you prefer) have been treated to a televisual tour de force whose quality improves week by week. Last week’s double-bill displayed such a high standard of episodic drama, so much so that this week’s double-bill looks rather tame in comparison. However, as always, there is still plenty to enjoy.

We’ve known for a while that Birgitte is losing respect and credibility amongst her colleagues and now The Freedom Party have slapped her with an advertising campaign that suggests she is trying to turn Denmark into a multicultural society by allowing refugees to enter the country. In her political speech in episode 1 of the series, Birgitte voiced her strong opinion for a New Denmark that would embrace multiculturalism instead of trying to avoid it. ‘It’s not up to little Denmark to sort the problems’, splutters Svend Åge, but our Little Miss PC feels a moral obligation to fulfill her early political rhetoric that is in fear of becoming empty. Of late she has not been able to pass any of her policies within Parliament so it is time to take action. She needs a win, and a good one. However, as we have learnt over the series, this doesn’t come without a price!

This week Borgen is on international relations territory trying to restore peace in Africa. North and South Kharun are at war; the South wants independence but the North is opposed. The UN is paralysed and the EU requires a mediator, but none are so forthcoming. The now highly tanned businessman Joachim Crohne – don’t forget Birgitte beat him at ‘poker’ – wants Birgitte to look into the war in Kharun. Crohne’s motives are not without personal gain. He stands to make $5 billion in profit from the country’s oil industry. He tries to guilt trip Birgitte by telling her he believed she was a visionary politician; she is but business, she states, cannot dictate policy. After much deliberation and a late night chat with Kasper, Birgitte is on board. She manages to persuade Crohne to support her in the press if the negotiations go awry. However, in order for the negotiations to be successful, Birgitte needs a first-class team behind her…

In steps Bent, or should I say ‘Uncle’ Bent, back and fighting fit after his recent ailment. You couldn’t ask for a more supportive person than Bent. He grounds Birgitte and keeps her an honest visionary, contributing some much inspired philosophical wisdom that educates one and all in the true meaning behind high-ceilings in Parliament. Birgitte also needs a Muslim-speaking negotiator, and it just so happens that Amir is the man for the job. He is initially quite reticent after previous events forced him to resign from Parliament, but this peace agreement will do wonders for Danish democracy, so he agrees on this basis. With a team in place, they head to Africa to chair the negotiations with both Presidents. To avoid media backlash, a cover story has been invented to cover their absence – Nyborg is in France meeting with their Prime Minister. It’s not the greatest cover story because Hanne Holm was able to find out that the French Prime Minister was on a state visit to Hungary just from watching the TV. Er hello Kasper. Isn’t it your job to keep up with the news?

The team get a chance to meet with both Prime Ministers and discuss the situation in Kharun. North Kharunese PM Al-Jawhar is a Cambridge educated man and he is not going to let some westernised politician come in and start spouting modern democratic ideals. However, it’s not long before Birgitte gets Al-Jawhar to see things her way. South Kharunese leader Jakob Lokoya seems disturbingly easy to persuade. He believes it’s hard to create a modern democracy, but if the two areas can agree on fair territories for their oil then this could restore the peace. All’s fair in love and war they say. Well, it’s not that easy. The two leaders agree to come to Copenhagen but the peace talks begin breaking down before they’ve even started. The South has attacked Onsia, Kharun’s most important oil city; there are forty Chinese helicopters being shipped to the North Kharun capital and to top it all off, North Kharun has cheated the South out of 10% of their oil revenues. This equates to around $1 billion per year and it’s been going on for several years. We knew this wasn’t going to be easy, but it seems like such a lot to defuse in a one-hour programme.

At home, Birgitte is still experiencing difficulties with Laura’s anxiety but they have to be put on hold due to her current political venture. Laura doesn’t want to take her happy pills anymore and in a rebellious teenage way she begins flushing the pills down the toilet or hiding them where she can. Laura’s actions are a refusal to come to terms with her illness but more than ever she craves the attention of her oft absent mother. As the episodes move on, Laura experiences higher spates of anxiety and begins unplugging electronics in the kitchen and checking the doors in the house are secure.  In a brilliant exchange between Laura and Magnus, Magnus asks: ‘Why do you keep unplugging everything?’ She’s conserving energy of course! Ok, maybe not. ‘But how come you do all this weird stuff?’ Magnus, the blonde, curly-haired darling is sworn to secrecy. Laura suffers a horrific relapse at the end of Episode 8 Birgitte, fresh from a political victory at the peace summit, has to rush home and kick down the bathroom door…in HEELS! This scene, as well as the exchange between Philip and Birgitte in the psychiatric hospital, brings the highly politicised storyline to its knees. Birgitte is forced to face the reality of Laura’s situation fully and can clearly see how much her political position is costing her family. The doctor – extra points to those who realised he is played by actor Henrik Birch aka Anders Ussing of Forbrydelsen III – says, ‘you really need to make changes in your life’. Technically, Birgitte needs to make the biggest change and his words are a way to avoid pointing the finger.

Last but certainly not least are the savvy, bra-burning duo, Katrine and Hanne. They offer some much need joviality to this season, and not to mention some high-fashion statements with Hanne’s weekly show-stopping scarves. It appears that Hanne has started a trend – Amir, Katrine and Laura are seen sporting some very fine neckwear this week. Anyway, back to business. Katrine uncovers something very interesting about a man named Niels Mikkelsen. Mikkelsen is a slippery businessman associated with Crohne. He is the tour guide come African political know-it-all for Birgitte and her team. He has been photographed with Mohammed Azzezz, Al-Jawhal’s notorious general behind the murder of thousands of civilians. Digging deeper into the story, there are rumours that Government troops are using oil exploration as an excuse for ethnic cleansing, and it turns out that Niels Mikkelsen has a Dutch alias, Theo Van De Cloe. Katrine was right, all these names and information are exhausting! Torben challenges Katrine and Hanne stating that they need at least three weeks to come up with something substantial. So in true sisterly solidarity fashion, Katrine and Hanne (aka ‘two annoying bitches’) begin stirring up trouble to expose Niels Mikkelsen. However, and this is the bit that got rather confusing, Niels Mikkelsen offers the duo a different story to satisfy their investigative journalistic appetites. To reiterate, the information concerns North Kharun cheating the South. Katrine brings the information to Kasper, but he tells her to bury it because the peace summit is a great achievement for Denmark. This information results in a fantastic exchange in Parliament between Torben, Katrine, Hanne and Birgitte. Whilst silencing the story may ruin TV1’s reputation – think the free-edit on Birgitte’s private life from Season 1 – if the information about Khuran is exposed then it will have an even bigger effect on the whole nation. They agree to bury the story if fellow journalists don’t find out, but if war breaks out in Khuran they will run the story. It’s a fair deal but completely unethical. Should Niels Mikkelsen really have gotten away so easy?

Episode highlights: Every one appears to be flexing their multi-lingual skills this week; Magnus wears a vest – doesn’t he look like a mini Philip? And Torben thanks Hanne. Brilliant!


3 thoughts on “Borgen: Keeping the Peace

  1. Thanks again for a cracking review. These episodes were not quite as jaw-dropping as last week’s, perhaps, but still very powerful, particularly the ending, where Birgitte is shown weeping at the hollowness of Torben’s praise of her skills as Prime Minister on the telly, while sitting with her fractured family at the hospital.

    One thing I loved about these two episodes was the insight we got into the process of negotiation that (sometimes) secures peace in a conflict zone: the amazingly hard work and commitment it takes, the rollercoaster ups and downs, the precariousness of it all until the very final moment. I thought those things were very well portrayed. And as a woman, it was great to see Birgitte in top politician and negotiator mode. A real role model for all us working women who have to deal with tricky negotiating situations from time to time (though thankfully with significantly lower stakes!).

    And kicking down the door in heels: there is NOTHING this woman cannot do.

    I wasn’t happy about Neils M getting away either. But Hanne and Katrine had no hard proof of his involvement at that point, so they did the inevitable as journalists and swapped for the already documented embezzlement story. At least the latter helped to secure peace in the end, rather than triggering war.

    Only two more episodes to go *sob*

  2. As you can possibly notice I’ve only just stumbled upon your blog. Thank you for being able to write a coherent synopsis of a fairly complex set of story-lines.
    There was a sense of a ‘season finale’ about the episodes, so I’m quite relieved there are two more left. (There is a Season 3 according to the DR website, yippee.)
    May I compliment, the otherwise tortured, Kasper on teaching me the Danish for the word ‘Shit’?

  3. Thank you for your kind words. I had to sit down Sunday morning and re-watch the episodes and makes notes to make sure I didn’t miss anything about the plot. Considering I’m not that politically savvy, I don’t think I’ve done too bad. I will be devastated when the series ends next week and will need to find something equally as exciting to write about every week.

    rdjelliot – There is indeed a Season 3 (the final season *sob*) and we should get that here in the UK around Autumn time. There are some exciting events happening in the new season (and some frustrating).

    Thanks also for reminding me about Torben’s praise of Birgitte on the TV and her sob. I did want to mention this but after waffling so much I forgot. Therefore Mrs P. I always love your comments every week. Additional episode highlight – Kasper educating the world with his potty mouth!

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