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'Borgen,' Episode 21: 'In Denmark I Was Born'

This episode will be streaming online for two weeks from July 6 to 20. Catch episodes of "Borgen" that aren't currently streaming via our recaps here.

Previously on "Borgen"

Birgitte finds herself at a crossroads in the season two finale. After a month-long absence, she returns to her post and her cabinet members reopen the debate about whether a woman can be PM. By episode's end, she calls a general election to determine who the people of Denmark want in power. Meanwhile, Kasper and Katrine reconcile about Babygate when Kasper decides that he wants kids, after all. Phillip breaks up with his girlfriend once he realizes that he still has feelings for Birgitte. (Click here to read the complete recap for this episode.)

This week's episode: "In Denmark I Was Born"

It's only fitting that season three of "Borgen" opens with a line from Dante's "Divine Comedy": "Halfway on my journey through life I found myself in a dark wood." We're over halfway through the series and the opening of its final chapter is rather bleak. The show abruptly jumps two and a half years into the future, forcing the audience to play catch-up during the season premiere. When you're not busy making sense of the brand new character arcs, you're struggling to understand the characters' motives.

The first shocker? Birgitte (Sidse Babett Knudsen) has left politics. She lost the election for prime minister, which she called in season two's finale, and Hesselboe (Søren Spanning) is now back in power. She is now a professional lecturer. The next revelation? Birgitte has a new man in her life. While on business in Hong Kong, she beds and goes on a dinner date with one of her employees from a board she sits on. This development is pretty disappointing because season two ended on a high note for her and Philip (Mikael Birkkjær), who broke up with his girlfriend when he realized he had unresolved feelings for his ex-wife.

Katrine and Kasper (Pilou Asbæk) now have a baby boy named Gustav. It was safe to assume a child was in their future when Kasper finally jumped on board Katrine's baby train, but it was harder to anticipate that they would break up. The couple now shares custody of the toddler whose primary caregiver seems to be Katrine's mom. Katrine is in over her head as she juggles her busy career with her parenting responsibilities. She barely sees her son and when she does squeeze in quality time with him, he's either crying for his dad or his grandma. Overall, she seems unhappy with life. In addition to living in different homes, all the characters also have drastically altered appearances. Kasper looks unrecognizable with his close shave and longer hair.

With one of the main characters, Kasper, stepping back into a smaller role this season, there's airtime available for someone else to adopt a more prominent role. Torben (Søren Malling) seems to be the character who will fill that void. The journalist is about to be promoted to division manager before the superior who was going to put in a good word for him gets fired. Someone much younger gets the job instead. And he's not as lenient as his predecessor about TV1's low ratings. Torben and Kasper also now co-host a political analysis show called "Juul and Friis." With Birgitte out of office, Kasper is free to return to his first job as a journalist. However, it seems unlikely that the Kasper we know would have taken that gig.

The Moderate Party is headed in a drastically different direction with Jacob Kruse (Jens Jacob Tychsen) at its helm. He's making ideological concessions to the Freedom Party by tightening immigration laws, essentially deporting immigrants with misdemeanors. Birgitte finally decides to return to the dog-eat-dog world of politics to steer her former party back in the right direction. She stumbles upon a major roadblock when Jacob doesn't allow her to come back. "I don't see you fitting into the Moderate project now," he says. So Bent (Lars Knutzon) tells her to contest the leadership.

The next twist comes when Birgitte asks Katrine to be her new media adviser. She claims that her and Kasper's professional relationship ended when she left office so she doesn't want to work with him again. That back-story will hopefully get fleshed out later as something must have happened for her not to even consider rehiring him as her spin doctor. Katrine, who attempted in vain to work as Hesselboe's communication coordinator briefly last season, accepts.The episode makes another time leap to the Moderate Party conference one month later that will determine whether Birgitte or Jacob will be the party leader.

Although the former PM has klout, Jacob has coerced and threatened party heavyweights into supporting him. He schedules the final stage of his negotiation with the Labor Party in time for the vote, stepping out to reach a "historic financial agreement" before returning to the convention. Birgitte loses by eight votes. Just when you think the episode is going to end on a low note, a rarity in the political life of Birgitte Nyborg, it makes a turnaround. The credits roll as she browses through an abandoned property she plans on converting into the headquarters for a new political party she wants to create. That's one way of making lemonade.

Now that we're caught up on the characters' lives, next week's episode will hopefully allow us to take a breather. However, amid all the changes, the show's conflicts remain constant. Birgitte wants to make a difference in the political arena, but isn't taken seriously because of her idealism. Katrine and Kasper perpetually go back and forth between being in and out of a relationship. Torben is concerned about the network's viewership. Some original twists and turns need to be introduced this season to ensure that the series ends with a bang. Otherwise, it will have peaked at its second season.

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