Previously on "Borgen"
Thanks to Katrine's investigative skills, Birgitte learns that the new fighter plane her cabinet plans to purchase for their military is manufactured by a company that bribed her defense minister with lavish hunting trips. And Phillip's new firm is a subcontractor for the same manufacturer. Afraid to create the semblance of a conflict of interest, she forces her husband to resign from his new job. Phil resentfully complies. He doesn't come home for several days then admits to cheating on her upon his return -- but not with his student Freja, as Birgitte had suspected. Birgitte agrees to give TV1 an interview to reveal her cabinet's new transparency plan, but refuses to discuss her personal life. Katrine, of course, can't resist the urge to inquire about Phil's resignation. Birgitte answers like a pro, but Katrine is nevertheless fired for disobeying her boss' orders. (Click here to read the complete recap for this episode.)
This week's episode: "The First Tuesday in October"
The season finale of Borgen is a tad anticlimatic for a show fueled by suspense and political plot twist and turns. Today's ride fall short as the episode ends as it begins, with Birgitte (Sidse Babett Knudsen) husband-less and Katrine (Birgitte Hjort Sørensen) jobless. Then again, undistracted by dirty politics, is when we truly appreciate the subtle force that is Sidse Babett Knudsen, who manages to create gut-wrenching impact in her moments of solitude and sadness.
A year has passed since Birgitte took office. She's about to "open parliament" and fight for a new budget bill, but the battle is bound to be tougher than it was last year. Without a husband to turn to for moral support and without a Moderate Party majority in her cabinet, she's on shakier ground than ever. The Moderates stand to lose fives seats, while the Labor Party is expected to gain five come election day.
In an effort to avoid Phillip (and their marital woes), Birgitte holes herself up in the PM's summer estate. Bent (Lars Knutzon) comes to check up on her at Marienborg and offers some questionable words of wisdom. Her usually sage mentor advises her to put her husband's affair behind her and move on. "I don't know any happy marriages in parliament," he says. "We're great at compromising at work, but lousy at it at home." Bent, who cheated on his own wife, says an affair doesn't have to end a marriage. So Birgitte drops her pride and goes home to pick up the pieces of her broken marriage. That proves to be harder than anticipated when Phil (Mikael Birkkjær) comes home reeking of another woman. He confesses that he didn't just cheat on her once, but is in fact having an affair with the headhunter who got him the job he was forced to quit.
Meanwhile, Kasper (Pilou Asbæk) is working tirelessly to draft the opening speech the PM will deliver to parliament in a few days. Instead of music, he listens to U.S. President John F. Kennedy's inaugural address ("Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country") during his morning jog. He runs into Hanne (Benedikte Hansen) and learns that the PM has been living alone at Marienborg. Kasper alerts Birgitte that the media is hot on her heels. To throw them off her tracks, he wants her and Phil to act the part of a happy couple in an intimate TV1 interview with Katrine. This would improve the PM's public image in time for the election and get Katrine her job back. Talk about killing two birds with one stone.
Birgitte, who seems willing to do anything these days to keep her job, agrees. She and Phil discuss their relationship that night. "I miss you, but I can't find you," he says while touching the tips of her fingers. "And when I do find you, I don't always recognize you." His words are touchingly poetic, even when captioned in English (show writers Adam Price, Jeppe Gjervig Gram, and Tobias Lindholm are talented beyond belief). Phil also tells his wife that he's not upset that she's rarely home, but that she's not fully present when she is home. Birgitte proposes that they "weather the storm" instead of actually trying to tackle it. She says she'll just have to accept the fact that he seeks pleasure elsewhere. She'll look past it as long as he's discreet about the affair and participates in a TV1 interview to end speculations about their personal lives. Wait, WHAT? I can't decide if this is her most selfish or selfless act to date. In a sense, she's trying to save her marriage and her cabinet from the brink of collapse, but she's also trying to preserve her squeaky-clean image to maintain her PM post.
Katrine's TV1 return upsets all her coworkers. Torben (Søren Malling) assigns her the PM profile that Ulrik (Thomas Levin) had been trying to land since Birgitte first took office. "She has a knack for creating an intimate space for a conversation," Torben says, not telling the gang that Kasper requested Katrine as the interviewee. But he doesn't have to. His staff already knows that "Princess" Katrine gets things handed to her on a silver platter. "I wish I were dating the PM's media adviser," Ulrik says before storming off.
Ethical lines get further blurred when Torben agrees to allow Kasper to edit the PM's profile package. The crafty spin doctor doesn't fail to amaze. He lies and tells Torben that they won't be doing the interview with TV1 after all because TV2 has outbid them by giving them editing rights. In his defense, Kasper (a former journalist) isn't comfortable with his own scheme and doesn't want to censor the news organization. But it was the only solution he could come up with when Birgitte got cold feet about letting cameras into her home.
After getting Katrine rehired, Kasper unintentionally gets the PM's personal assistant fired. He asks Sanne (Iben Dorner) for help with his speech after hours. And as he obsesses over the perfect rhythm of Kennedy's inauguration speech, which was written by a Dane, he makes a move on Sanne. "A politician should never speak to the head alone, but to the gut, too. And to the heart. That's where the words settle," he says while caressing her breast. He starts undressing her when the PM's permanent secretary Niels (Morten Kirkskov) walks in. This is the second time he's broken up one of their makeout sessions. Niels later fires her -- something he had been meaning to do from day one, but held off because he didn't think Birgitte would last long as PM.
Katrine shadows Birgitte at work the next day then interviews her and Phil at home. "Was the task division prepared when the election results came in?" she asks about Phil assuming homemaking duties. Birgitte says no; they figured things out as they went along. Birgitte says the most important thing is having the right person by your side. Her character is apparently as great of an actress as she is in real life. Phil presumably runs off to his mistress after dinner once the TV crew leaves. Birgitte seems frighteningly calm. In fact, she appears to be he somewhat happy about it. Well, until her daughter wonders about her dad's whereabouts. Birgitte assures her that they'll work everything out, even though they're fighting now.
But Birgitte's not able to keep that promise. Phil shows up to her office the next day and asks for a divorce. "The best thing that's ever happened to me is what you and I had. You and me," he says ever so eloquently. "But in that interview yesterday, we turned all that into a travesty. We sat there betraying it with big smiles on our faces." In the ultimate insult, Phil says their charade reminded him of Hesselboe (Søren Spanning) and his wife's palpably awkward TV1 interview from last year. He walks out before Birgitte has a chance to speak up. It's unclear whether she even wanted to protest. Instead of chasing after him or going home to talk to their kids, she calls Kasper to tell him to scrap the TV1 home interview so she doesn't look like a phony hypocrite once news of the divorce breaks. Kasper happens to be in the middle of editing the package with the TV1 crew when her call comes in. Pia (Lisbeth Wulff) tries to protest, but Torben had stupidly given Kasper full veto over the program (in writing) so there's nothing that could be done. The interview never airs.
So much for killing two birds with one stone; Kasper isn't able to save Birgitte or Katrine. Now Birgitte's marital drama will overshadow her work as PM during election season. Katrine finds out about Kasper's secret editing session from Ulrik and quits her job. More livid than ever before in her career, she storms into Torben's office and rips him a new one. "Abroad, reporters risk their lives to defend the free press," she yells. "You piss on it." He's apparently never heard of journalistic integrity.
Back in parliament, Birgitte backstabs yet another friend. This time it's her mentor Bent. The Labor Party's Pernille (Petrine Agger) and Bjørn (Flemming Sørensen) put the squeeze on her to fire Bent and give their party his Ministry of Finance position because they now have the most seats in parliament. They work with Laugesen (Peter Mygind) to smear Bent's name with Express articles about his affair, which happened ages ago. The Green Part backs Labor's request. Holding back tears, Birgitte asks her only friend in the world to resign. Pernille becomes the successor, wiggling her way into yet another position.
The PM delivers an amazing speech to open parliament the following day -- a call to action to bring everyone together. She also tells the Danes that they should be more satisfied with their lives. After all, they can't have everything. Phil and the kids congratulate her on the spectacular speech, but leave parliament immediately afterward. She's left completely alone. Borgen (a nickname for Christiansborg Palace, which houses the Danish Supreme Court, parliament, and the PM's office) is all she has now.
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Borgen is an award-winning Danish drama series about the fight for political power and the personal consequences for everyone involved.