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'Borgen,' Episode 30: 'The Election'

This episode will be streaming online for two weeks from September 7 to 21. Catch episodes of "Borgen" that aren't currently streaming via our recaps here.

Previously on "Borgen"

Birgitte finally manages to provoke the beast that is Jacob Kruse. After humiliating him at an informal debate by pointing out every single Moderate policy that he's blatantly ignored or voted against during his term, she mops the floor with him during the final TV1 debate the day before the election. He loses his temper on air when she points out holes in their party's economic plan. Although tempted, Birgitte manages to accomplish this without resorting to negative campaigning. Meanwhile, Katrine and Søren have become quite hot and heavy. The two are officially an item. At TV1, Torben risks losing his job (again!) when he disobeys an executive order to rejigger their PM debate into a ridiculous game show. (Click to read the complete recap for this episode.)

This week's episode: "Election"

All good things must come to an end. And Borgen is one of them. After 30 episodes of political backstabbing glory, the show takes its final bow tonight. Like the series itself, the finale comes and goes quietly. It doesn't leave a big bang, but still makes major impact. Although it feels a tad rushed in the last 15 minutes, it succeeds overall -- coming full circle as Birgitte (Sidse Babett Knudsen) is thrust back into a position of power.

Like episode one, episode 30 opens with an election. Copenhagen is bustling with energy as the Danes rush to cast their vote. The city is littered with campaign posters and balloons. But the mood is more somber at TV1. As predicted at the end of the last episode when Torben (Søren Malling) defied executive orders to jazz up the TV1 party debate with a game show format, Torben's given the ax. The veteran journalist, who has sacrificed everything for the job, is fired without the courtesy of a thank you. What's worse? He's sacked on election day -- the most important news day of the last several years.

After maintaining her composure throughout her bout with cancer, Birgitte finally has a breakdown during this second scare. She starts yelling in the cab ride with Jeremy (Alastair Mackenzie) en route to her doctor's office. Nothing makes sense, she says, completely defeated. The former PM says she strived to make a difference in the world and improve the lives of Danes through politics, but it hasn't had an impact because nothing is just in the world. How could she possibly have a tumor again in a fair world? When she finally sees her doctor, he says there's no breast lump. What she felt was lymphatic fluid around the surgical scar. Birgitte doesn't believe him until he draws the fluid with a syringe and the lump disappears.

Once Ulrik (Thomas Levin) and Hanne (Benedikte Hansen) get wind of Torben's termination, they don't take it lying down. With their trusted editor out of the picture, Alex (Christian Tafdrup) wants to completely change the ending of their usual election night programming. He proposes calling it a night before the PM panel even ends. The two barge into the network exec's office and demand Torben's return. They say they're not going to work under the leadership of a non-journalist.

Torben gets the call that Hanne and Ulrik will quit if he doesn't cover the election mid lunch with his wife. He tells her he never loved Pia (Lisbeth Wulff). Even though he realizes he doesn't deserve it, he says he wants his wife back, his family back. And he's serious this time around. In fact, he doesn't even answer the call from TV1, his wife picks up the phone. He then tears up, insisting that he wants to go home. "I need you," Torben says. But his unbelievably reasonable wife tells him to cover the election. Smack in the middle of the stressful coverage, he tells Pia when they're alone in the control room that he loves his wife. He apparently couldn't wait until after the election to break her heart.

Birgitte, her family and the New Democrats assemble in her tiny apartment to watch the results roll in. Just like the series opener that found Birgitte riding in on a dark horse to win an unanticipated number of seats, the New Dems nab 13 seats. That's the exact amount they need to exercise any influence in parliament. Meanwhile, the Moderates have the worst result in their history -- a far cry from Birgitte's record-breaking win a few years before. The series premiere ended with her and her family walking up the steps at Christiansborg to celebrate following the announcement of the election results. She does the same this time around (clad in what looks to be the same red coat). But instead of Phillip (Mikael Birkkjær) by her side, she has Jeremy this time around. The relationship is as serious as a heart attack (or breast cancer); the English architect has made his public debut as her life partner.

Birgitte is now back to being the popular girl in parliament. Both the Liberal and Labor parties want her to join their respective coalition. In fact, each needs her to have a majority and "count to 90." The gang of party leaders sit down for a joint TV1-TV2 segment, but Svend (Ole Thestrup) is noticeably absent. Benedikte (Marie Askehave) has taken his place. The camera cuts to him outside, singing and walking down the Christiansborg stairs. He's officially left politics. It's a sad day for pigs everywhere.

Birgitte's first meeting with Thorsen (Bjarne Henriksen) and the opposition is disappointing, to say the least. They insist on keeping the same economic policy that's currently outlined in their manifesto. But Birgitte is completely against every single one of those measures. When she meets with the Labor Party leader again, he has a new game plan. Aside from Solidarity and Green, he wants the new Freedom Party to join their alliance. Even more shocking? He wants Birgitte to be PM. Take a minute to process that. This would be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to lead a historic majority government that would unite the left and the right.

Aside from the fact that Thorsen has ulterior motives (If Birgitte becomes PM, his title as party leader will be secure. If not, he might be toppled by Pernille), Birgitte is also unsure about her next move because she doesn't feel deserving of the PM post. "The electorate didn't vote to have me as their PM," she tells her trusty companion Bent (Lars Knutzon). The undying idealist approaches Hesselboe (Søren Spanning) and tells him he should be PM. After all, the Liberals secured the most seats. She agrees to join his government (with New Right) if it excludes the Moderates. Birtgitte also wants responsible economic policies with welfare reforms and green measures, as well an easing of immigration restrictions. And with that, they hatch a plan.

As the episode (with three hours of events crammed into one) comes to an end, Torben runs into Alex for the final time. He's quit the job, unexpectedly. When Alex says the experience has been fun, the journalist fires back, "Next time you want some fun, go to the fair." Katrine (Birgitte Hjort Sørensen) decides to release her inhibitions and commit to Søren, despite their age difference, their children and her past heartache. The most disappointing aspect of the episode was the lack of Kasper (Pilou Asbæk) time. Aside from an unnecessary scene with Svend in which he seems to consider entering politics, Kasper is MIA. He and Katrine don't even discuss her new boyfriend. Meanwhile, Birgitte shares her big news with Jeremy: she'll likely become foreign minister. Although the two don't discuss their future together, it seems to have a positive outlook. Both of the female protagonists' relationships are open to interpretation.

Birgitte and Katrine drive into Borgen, Birgitte's "second home," the next morning and revel that it's a great place to work. A part of me yearns for at least another season; political drama is bound to abound as she works alongside Hesselboe. But it's better to leave wanting more. Well played Adam Price, well played.

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