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Previously on "Borgen"
Birgitte's decision to scout a non-politician (economist Søren Ravn) as the New Democrats' economic parliamentary candidate backfires when the press digs up details about his Communist past. The media's (and Katrine's) intrusion into his personal life proves too much to handle: Søren decides to withdraw his hat from the ring. In an even more tragic turn of events, Birgitte's ongoing hand cramps turn out to be stemmed from precancerous cells that her doctor discovers in her breast. The episode closes with Birgitte, scared and alone, being wheeled into an operation room to remove the category-three cells. (Click to read the complete recap for this episode.)
This week's episode: "The Fall"
With an episode titled "The Fall," you can't expect anything but gloom and doom. And rightfully so. This hour of television delivered some of the most anxiety-inducing moments I've ever watched on the small screen. Birgitte (Sidse Babett Knudsen), the one-time queen of rhetoric, crashes and burns during a live TV1 debate in a performance that's a far cry from the one she delivered in the series premiere. Her almost daily radiology appointments are keeping her away from work and draining her of the energy and sharp mental faculties required in her job.
In the opening scene, we find Birgitte getting radiation therapy all by her lonesome. Her doctor asks when she's going to stop being brave and bring her family or friends to these sessions. "It's best that I cope with this alone," she responds. The former PM has been missing crucial New Democrats Party meetings and is therefore completely out of the loop. None of her colleagues, not even Katrine (Birgitte Hjort SørensenPeter Mygind), are aware of her medical condition. And Katrine no longer knows what to tell people to explain why she's perpetually unreachable.
Birgitte faces more letdowns when the New Dems' meeting with Hesselboe (Søren Spanning) takes a disastrous turn. While negotiating the government budget, the PM says they won't be able to afford investing in green energy for another seven or eight years. Whats more? The opposition movement is growing divided, thereby losing its influencing power. Birgitte manages to track down Hans Christian (Bjarne Henriksen), but the party leader is uncooperative. She asks if the Labor Party is giving up on the green growth plan and he says, "Your party has three seats, mine has 45," not-so-subtly signalling that he now has the upper hand. "I don't work for you anymore," he declares, ending the conversation.
The next day, Hesselboe makes a special announcement at a parliamentary hearing. He calls a general election over a year earlier than expected. This throws everyone into a frenzy. Well, everyone but Birgitte, who falls asleep after her radiology appointment and doesn't hear her dozens of phone calls. Along with the politicians, TV1's reporters and editors (as Ulrik put it best) are caught with their pants down. Toben (Søren Malling) scarmbles to rework the day's programming. He's now trying to maintain a professional relationship with Pia (Lisbeth Wulff) and therefore barks 10 orders at her. Alex (Christian Tafdrup) pays the department a visit at the most inconvenient time, forcing Torben to promise him that TV1 will beat TV2 in the election coverage ratings war. But the network falls behind in the race before it even begins when TV2 books the two frontrunners, Hesselboe and Hans Christian for a presidential-style debate.
When Laura (Freja Riemann) wakes Birgitte from her ill-timed nap and notifies her about the election, she rushes to their party headquarters, completely overwhelmed by the prospect of preparing for an election in a mere 20 days. Birgitte asks Katrine to enlist Søren (Lars Mikkelsen) to help them write up a new financial plan. After some persuasion, Søren agrees to prep Birgitte for a few hours before the TV1 debate. But when he comes to the party's headquarters to lend a helping hand, Birgitte only talks to him for a few minutes, insisting that she merely needs sound bites ("simple headlines"). She doesn't want him to go into the details of their economic plan. Although she doesn't disclose her reasoning, it's obvious that she's not mentally capable of processing the information overload.
Katrine is left apologizing to Søren. "I must have misunderstood what we were trying to achieve," she says. Adding to her frustration, Katrine is forced to renege on her promise to allow TV1 to track Birgitte using GPS so their website users could know her exact whereabouts 24 hours a day. Birgitte refuses to participate for obvious reasons, but to Torben and Katrine, it's a missed opportunity for much-needed airtime for the party (every other party leader has agreed to participate). As a result, the now tough-as-nails Torben basically cuts them out of the net's election coverage.
Then comes the most cringe-worthy scene of the night: the debate. Torben, who's following Alex's advice to push the envelope ("He who invents the stories is the one they choose to watch," Alex says), tells Ulrik (Thomas Levin) to mercilessly probe Birgitte during the interview when she's unable to answer questions about finance. She misspeaks and says industry should compensate for green taxes by raising its prices up and can't answer the question about how competitiveness in the industry will be improved by higher prices. Ulrik pushes and pushes until he has her completely cornered. Birgitte doesn't have the details or statistics to back up any of her claims. Meanwhile, Alex, who's wormed his way into the control room is giddy with glee. Pia is devastated. The debate is almost unwatchable for both the audience, and Birgitte's kids, who change the channel at home.
Hanne (Benedikte Hansen) later barges into the control room after the televised special and gives Torben a stern talk. She's upset that Alex dictated editorial content and that Ulrik hit below the belt. Pia runs off crying. Torben chases after her and the two literally kiss and make up.
However, Birgitte's "downfall" has two positive consequences: Søren takes pity on the party and agrees to be their counsel, while Laura confronts her mom about why they never talk anymore (hello, season two flashback!). The latter finally forces her to open up to her kids about her surgery. That very day, she visits her doctor for radiation therapy with her children in tow. She finally has a smile on her face -- a far cry from the ending of the last episode.
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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.
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