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'Borgen,' Episode 18: 'What Is Lost Inwardly Must Be Gained Outwardly -- Part Two'

Catch episodes of "Borgen" that aren't currently streaming via our recaps here.


Previously on "Borgen"

Birgitte decides to sign on as EU moderator and initiate peace talks between Africa's warring nations in Kharun. With Joachim Chrone supporting her efforts (Denmark's largest corporation has an entrepreneurship deal to build oil refineries in the country), Birgitte heads to Africa to convince the two presidents to come to Copenhagen for a peace summit. The PM enlists Amir and Bent, two of her trusted allies whose careers she played a hand in ruining, for the peace-talking efforts. Back at home, Laura has decided not to take her antidepressants. Meanwhile, Katrine and Kasper's new relationship is tested as soon as it begins. Kasper is ordered to keep the African mission a secret. When Katrine finds out that Kaspr lied to her about the PM's whereabouts, she takes it to heart, not realizing that it was a professional lie and not a personal one. She snoops through her boyfriend's briefcase and finds evidence that Birgitte is in Kharun. However, she decides against using the documents for the sake of her relationship. (Click here to read the complete recap for this episode.)



This week's episode: "What Is Lost Inwardly Must Be Won Outwardly -- Part Two"

The episode opens with an excerpt from Rudyard Kipling's famous poem "The White Man's Burden." Although written in 1899 in response to the American takeover of the Philippines after the Spanish-American War, it applies perfectly to Birgitte's (Sidse Babett Knudsen) involvement in a war that Denmark plays no role in. The PM sets off to "Take up the White Man's burden/ The savage wars of peace/ Fill full the mouth of Famine/ And bid the sickness cease." Even though the effort itself is something the old idealistic Birgitte would have taken on, the means by which she accomplishes her goals have new Birgitte written all over them.

Katrine (Birgitte Hjort Sørensen) and Kasper's (Pilou Asbæk) conversation in the first scene about journalists covering politics initially seems trite, as the duo has debated the issue at length before, but ultimately foreshadows the ending. The curious reporter wonders how the PM's office managed to suspend the international arrest warrant for North Kharun's president, Omar Al-Jahwar (Abdi Gouhad), who's wanted by the Hague Tribunal for inhumane acts committed against the people of South Kharun. "Who wants to know? My girlfriend or the reporter?" Kasper asks. He says parliament might be able to negotiate peace "if you and your colleagues back up and let us work." The one-time reporter seems to have forgotten the definition of watchdog journalism.

The negotiations go awry before they even start. Al-Jahwar wants to meet with Birgitte first, but mid way through the walk to Birgitte's office, he finds out that the oil city of Orisia is under attack -- the South has attacked the North and fighting has erupted on the border. When Birgitte confronts South Kharun's president, Jakob Lokoya (Femi Elufowoju Jr.), about the hindrance to the peace-making efforts, he says his country is merely defended its territory. Bent (Lars Knutzon) tries to convince him that the peace process is more important than securing the city and suggests that they make Orisia no man's land: the South leaves and the North doesn't enter until negotiations end. But, Al-Jahwar is less than eager to jump on board. He threatens to leave Copenhagen unless the South retreats from Orisia immediately.

Meanwhile, at TV1, Hanne (Benedikte Hansen) stumbles upon photographic evidence that Niels Mikkelsen may have blood on his hands. While browsing through pictures, the veteran journalist spots the Chrone associate and Al-Jahwar's most notorious general standing in front of a pile of dead bodies. Of course, Torben (Søren Malling) tells them not to pursue an investigation under any conditions. The girls need to focus their full attentions on the peace talks instead. So Hanne and Katrine pay Niels a house visit, naturally. Katrine asks him point blank if the massacres were a byproduct of clearing villages for oil exploration. He's too busy to answer the question and tells them he'll meet them later to talk about the matter, but never shows up.

With their peace summit on the brink of failure, Chrone (Ulf Pilgaard) comes in to save the day. He gives Birgitte intel that 40 Chinese attack helicopters are en route to North Kharun's capital. With that military equipment, the North will win the war within a few weeks (one helicopter can destroy a village in two minutes). Birgitte meets with the Chinese ambassador to talk the country out of delivering the helicopters. When the peace process collapses, which will happen as soon as the helicopters arrive at their destination, the North and the South will proceed to fight over the country's oil. China will be directly impacted when it's forced to replace seven percent of its oil consumption overnight. Secure peace now to secure cheap oil in the future, Birgitte pleads. Unfortunately, the ambassador says there's nothing he can do this late in the game.

As Birgitte (along with her entire staff) stays overnight to tackle the issue, Laura (Freja Riemann), left unattended, becomes even more self-destructive. Magnus (Emil Poulsen) catches her flushing her medication down the toilet, but Laura threatens him into submission. Magnus also finds his sister acting erratically in the middle of the night. Laura wakes up, heads to the kitchen, then proceeds to unplug all the appliances for no apparent reason. Now that she's no longer taking her antidepressants, she's clearly on the verge of a breakdown. And with Magnus too afraid of his sister's wrath to tattle, their parents probably won't find out until it's too late.

Al-Jahwar and Lokoya officially leave the negotiations and are moments away from leaving the country when the Chinese cargo ship abruptly changes course, buying Birgitte's team 36 more hours. And just like that, the North and the South return to the negotiating table. Amir (Dar Salim) and Bent get back to work trying to sweet talk the two leaders into meeting face to face and agreeing on a way to live amicably.

But this wouldn't be "Borgen" without yet another obstacle. The journalistic interference that Kasper had feared comes true. After Mikkelsen ditches Hanne and Kasper, they start to dig into his past. They suspect that he's taken on other identities in multiple countries as part of a grand mission to aid government troops in using oil exploration as an excuse for ethnic cleansing. But without any sources willing to talk on the record and without any material evidence, they have no grounds for a story. When Mikkelsen gets wind of how much they've uncovered, he offers them a bribe. He provides them evidence that North Kharun has been cheating the South out of 10 percent of its oil revenues, thereby stealing $1 billion a year, in exchange for their guarantee to completely forget about him.

Hanne and Katrine take the bait, uncharacteristically. The righteous reporter tells Kasper what she and Hanne have discovered and he pleads for her not to pursue the story. The cabinet is hours away from a peace agreement and the information will wreck the negotiations. And innocent Africans whose lives are on the line will suffer as a result. He sways Katrine's vote, but Hanne and Torben still want to run the story. The tables are now turned, with Torben crying journalist unintegrity. Torben then gets a call that the PM wants to meet with the three reporters in private.

Birgitte, whose been a firm proponent of freedom of the press during her prime ministry, asks the TV crew not to report the story. The story will ruin their efforts and the failed peace talk will result in an influx of refugees in Denmark, as well as a hunger epidemic in Kharun. The domino effect is not our responsibility, Torben says. Hanne, however, chimes in and says they won't run the piece if the PM's able to negotiate peace. Although their actions are ethically questionable (and unrealistic in the real world), their motives are commendable.

When Al-Jahwar decides to re-open oil negotiations and further stall the process, Birgitte pulls out the big guns. She does some blackmailing of her own, telling the president that she knows the North has stolen $7-8 billion in oil revenues from the South in the past five years. If he signs the peace treaty, she'll keep the information under wraps. He, of course, accepts and the warring countries finally sign an agreement. Birgitte is apparently a utilitarian at heart, opting to potentially save more lives than reveal the truth.

As Birgitte and the rest of her cabinet are celebrating their victory, the PM gets a call from her babysitter. Laura has had a breakdown. Birgitte comes home to find her nanny hugging Magnus as they both cry on the stairs. Laura has locked herself in the bathroom and is having a life-threatening anxiety attack. Birgitte kicks down the bathroom door and runs to her daughter's rescue. She calls an ambulance and Laura is rushed to the hospital and sedated. Laura's psychiatrist tells Birgitte and Phillip (Mikael Birkkjær) later that reactions can be severe if you someone stops taking their medication abruptly. "Your daughter is seriously ill. You need to make great changes in your life," he advises. Birgitte and Phillip sit in the waiting room with Magnus asleep in their laps as TV1 news runs in the background. Torben says for once, we can be proud of our Prime Minister in little Denmark as Birgitte feels less than proud of herself. She holds Phillip's hand and begins to cry. During the highest point of her career, she's reached the lowest of lows in her personal life.

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