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'Borgen,' Episode 14: 'Battle Ready'

This episode will be streaming online for two weeks from December 14 to 28. Catch episodes of "Borgen" that aren't currently streaming via our recaps here.

Previously on "Borgen"

Instead of working on the government's new welfare reform package, Birgitte's cabinet is busy at work on a smear campaign against Bjørn. The Foreign Minister is bullied for his poor verbal skills and questionable wardrobe choices then accused of using his office funds to purchase pornographic films. After his last ally in the Labor Party backstabs him, Bjørn is forced to resign. Troels takes over his post and becomes the party's new leader, just as he had planned. However, the rise to power may be short-lived. In the last few minutes of the episode, Troels is photographed engaging in a sexual act with a young man, who Laugesen seems to have hired as bait. It's only a matter of time before those photos are used as blackmail. (Click here to read the complete recap for this episode.)

This week's episode: "Battle Ready"

Tonight's episode of "Borgen" opens with a classic Niccolò Machiavelli quote from The Prince -- "If an injury has to be done to a man, it should be so severe that his vengeance need not be feared." At the onset, it seems safe to assume that either Birgitte (Sidse Babett Knudsen) or Troels (Lars Brygmann) is going to severely injure the other. But an old player flings himself back in the game, increasing the number of potential casualties with one fell swoop. You know what they say about assuming...

With Bjørn (Flemming Sørensen) out and Troels in, the Labor Party's opinion poll ratings skyrocket to their highest in five years. So the new, cocky Foreign Minister wants to exercise some power by teaming up with Birgitte to "run the show as partners." The PM agrees ... provided that one of the partners is the boss. Troels doesn't quite understand -- or perhaps chooses not to understand -- her not-to-subtle message. He then proceeds to try to take over her duties.

When a Danish cargo boat is hijacked by Somali pirates (the 120th hijacking of the year) and nine seamen are taken hostage, Troels is all over it. His no-nonsense handling of the case adds to his celebrity. In fact, the media calls the phenomenon "the Höxenhaven effect." The PM tries to fight back by using the media to her advantage as well. She calls a press conference to propose organizing an international summit about piracy. Birgitte says she "always handles the heavy part of our foreign policy." Meanwhile, Troels meets with the families of the kidnapped seamen. He then appears on TV1 to brag about it. Checkmate!

Kasper (Pilou Asbæk) visits Katrine (Birgitte Hjort Sørensen) and says he's confused about his love life. His ex tries to clear things up by telling him that they simply don't mesh together as a couple. Then Kasper opens up a can of worms, insisting that he doesn't know why they broke up. This leads to a heated argument, which leads to heated sex. Katrine tries to slap Kasper, he grabs her hand violently, then they start making out, naturally. But as he gets dressed to leave, Katrine says having sex again doesn't change anything about their relationship status.

Kasper's girlfriend drops by his office that night. Lotte questions his commitment to their relationship. He goes to work at 6:30 a.m. and come home at 2 a.m., leaving no time for them to see each other -- let alone spend quality time together. In a rare instance of complete honesty, he says he's seeing somebody else. Then proceeds to say that "somebody" is Birgitte Nyborg. He claims that it's hard for him to balance a relationship with a demanding career. Lotte starts to cry so Kasper embraces her. At this point, it's unclear whether they're on or off.

Despite Kasper's dishonesty, he's an open book compared to Laugesen (Peter Mygind). The former politician shows Katrine and Hanne (Benedikte Hansen) the compromising photos of Troels caught with his pants down. But instead of telling them he masterminded the incident, he says someone sent him the pictures anonymously. He demands that Katrine write a story based on the images. When Hanne says they can't accuse Troels of being gay, Laugesen suggests writing about him leading a double life instead (he's been married for 17 years). The two women later begin investigating their editor-in-chief, instead of Troels, when they suspect that he personally selected those pictures. Katrine sneaks into Laugesen's office to look for the photo files on his laptop. She finds the full set and spots their "trainee photographer" in the pics.

Birgitte ends up meeting Phillip's (Mikael Birkkjær) new pediatrician girlfriend unexpectedly when Phil and her come to pick up the kids one morning. Unlike before, when she was prepared to meet Cecilie (Mille Dinesen), Birgitte is a mess and the house is a mess. So much for first impressions. She sees her again that night when Magnus, who assumed his mom would still be at work, brings Cecilie to see his room and pick up his PSP. Birgitte says he can't use the electronic device on weekdays, slightly scolding Cecilie for allowing him to break her rules. It's safe to say that she's intimidated by his ex's new squeeze and is therefore being a tad too hard on her.

The following day, the PM meets with Troels to muzzle him once and for all. She tries to explain that it's best to solve the hijacking problem on an international level. Birgitte sternly tells him not to promise the seamen's families anything else. "Why? It's a foreign policy issue," he insists, apparently not having heard a word she uttered. "You hold the government responsible for the fate of the Danish ships this way," she says. Troels blatantly ignores her. He makes another appearance on TV1 and contradicts the PM's official stance. "If it were up to me, I'd involve the authorities," he tells viewers.

Birgitte races back to parliament in the middle of the night to vent to the only person willing to listen, Kasper. "The PM can't have a foreign minister who disobeys a direct order," she yells. She says she should have fired him when he disobeyed her the first time (during the Solidarity Party's bugging incident), but Kasper and Bent talked her out if it. She's never been so enraged, not even when she found out Phillip was having an affair. Kasper attempts to calm her down. He says she can't fire him now. Doing so could break up the government as Troels leads the largest party in parliament.

If she felt threatened by Troels' actions before, she becomes utterly vulnerable the next day when he tells her, flat out, "I want to be PM." He says the Labor Party will inevitably regain its long-standing title as Denmark's leader; the Moderates only won the election because of Laugesen's stupidity.

Speaking of Laugesen's stupidity, Katrine and Hanne learn that the photographer he hired to cover the welfare summit is actually a gay escort. They eventually decide to confront their boss. "I won't even mention how appalling I find your journalistic methods," Hanne tells Laugesen, as Katrine had told her boss Torben the previous year. Laugesen admits to setting up the photo op, but justifies it as his journalistic duty. After all, what if terrorists had gotten a hold of the information before them? "It's not our duty to smear a minister to keep him from being blackmailed," Katrine counters. The two then quit. "You've got some nerve to quit -- a washed-out old drunk like you," Laugesen yells after Hanne. First TV1 and now the Express? These ladies are burning down a whole lot of bridges.

With her professional life on shaky ground, Birgitte (following Kasper's advice to not give up without a fight), decides to find some balance in her personal life. She invites Phillip over to win him back. She says they're going through a rough patch, but can overcome it and grow old together. "I don't understand ... what kind of reality are you living in?" he asks. After all, they're divorced. They split up over a year ago. Things get from bad to worse when Phil leaves. The PM's personal driver, Kim, comes to drop off some paperwork for her to sign. And to get over Phil, she gets under Kim. The PM, of course, regrets her decision to sleep with her driver once she wakes up from her drunken stupor the next morning. She tells Kasper about the incident and the spin doctor is forced to transfer him to another ministry.

Now back to reality, Birgitte must decide what to do about the hijacking crisis. The missing Danish boat is spotted; it's being guarded by a group of young pirates. Troels wants to take immediate military action, but the PM wants the navy to confirm that all the seamen are aboard before acting with force. Once she learns that the captives are still on the ship, she gives the order to send in men for the rescue.

Troels is walking on cloud nine until he meets with his one-time leader Laugesen. "Only a coward topples his own," Laugesen says (referring to Troels backstabbing him to gain power) before showing him the pictures of his late-night rendezvous. The Express is going to publish the photos within the next two days, Laugesen warns him. The unshakable Troels is now shaking like a leaf.

Before warning his family, Troels tells Birgitte about the predicament. He hands in his resignation. Oh, how the mighty have fallen! The tough bulldog, who was barking ferociously just hours ago, is now a whimpering puppy. Birgitte also completely changes her demeanor. She was ready to wage war, but now feels nothing but sympathy. She tells him he can become a pioneer and turn the situation to his advantage if he goes public with the information now. "I'll back you up all the way," Birgitte says. Unfortunately, it's not enough. He steals sleeping pills from Birgitte's office medicine cabinet when she leaves. He later overdoses and is found dead in his car the next morning.

Katrine, whom Kasper wants to cut ties with in order to save his relationship with Lotte, tells him about Laugesen's involvement in Troels' suicide. Birgitte therefore calls a meeting with the former politician. She proposes a deal -- if he doesn't run stories about Troels' homosexuality, she won't disclose information about his complicity in the death. He also tells him to think twice about smearing her government. Laugesen is unfazed. "I'm aware that your love life is on the rocks. So, it's nice to be on intimate terms with one's driver," he says. He knows that she "seduced" Kim, then fired him. Laugesen apparently keeps tabs on everyone. "Leave your knives in the drawer and I'll do the same," he says, shutting her up. If you play with fire (with Laugesen), you're gonna get burned.

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KCET site editor, movie over-analyzer, TV binge-watcher.
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