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'Borgen,' Episode 4: '100 Days'

Previously on "Borgen"

After much wheeling and dealing with members of parliament, Birgitte strikes a deal with the New Right Party and negotiates a budget bill. She hires Kasper back as her spin doctor when her new media adviser, who she's accused in Laugesen's tabloid of having an affair with, crashes and burns during a TV interview. She also learns that Laugesen was the puppet master behind the Labor Party members who were refusing to vote for the new budget. Meanwhile, Katrine has an abortion. Her mom, Kasper, and Ole's wife influence (the latter more indirectly) her decision about keeping Ole's child. (Click here to read the complete recap for this episode.)

This week's episode: "100 Days"

Tonight's episode opened with a Greenlandic proverb that was a tad lost in translation: "If you hush a ghost, it grows bigger." In the show, Greenland is the ghost that's being hushed -- the problem that's been consistently ignored. "100 Days" addresses the country's autonomy within Denmark and its lack of political sovereignty.

Both Birgitte (Sidse Babett Knudsen) and Katrine (Birgitte Hjort Sørensen) tackle dilemmas endemic to their professions tonight. The PM has to decide which political ally to align itself with, while the journalist has to decide whether to pursue a story that puts her and her source's lives in danger.

It all starts with a phone call. A man calls TV1 after hours and insists on speaking to Katrine as she's heading out the door. He asks her to meet him alone in the parking lot to discuss "a matter of national security." I know what you're thinking, "is this Troels again, rehashing 'the future of the nation is at stake' speech?" No, it's another dramatic government traitor. He initially refuses to reveal his identity, but we later learn that he's Carsten Ockles, a member of the Defence Intelligence Service. He gives Katrine a scoop that can "topple the government": The United States violated Danish law by landing its CIA detainees on Danish territory sometime during Hesselboe's term.

The news could either compromise Denmark's relationship with the Unites States or with Greenland -- an autonomous country in Denmark where the detainees landed. Birgitte goes on damage control and tells the security council to buy some time with the press by changing the talking point to whether the landing ever happened and if the men photographed exiting the plane at the Danish air force base were detained legally or not. The PM refuses to take a hit because Hesselboe was "[George W.] Bush's little lap dog." Much to Katrine's shagrin, the Minister of Defense is successfully able to dodge the issue during a TV1 interview with her co-worker Ulrik Mørch (Thomas Levin), who is incapable of pushing his interviewees for answers.

Birgitte is stuck when the U.S. refuses to reveal any information about the ordeal and she's forced to meet with the premier of Greenland, Jens Enok, to discuss the matter. But the premier knows what she's going to say before she opens her mouth. Greenland has been given the same song and dance for decades so Jens knows their meeting is nothing more than a futile ritual. He knows that the PM can't apologize because doing so would cause Denmark to lose face. And the PM certainly can't confront the U.S. The three countries are locked in their positions. "Greenland is no match for Denmark, just as Denmark is no match for the U.S.," he says.

Meanwhile, Katrine receives more evidence about the CIA detainees. Carsten proves that the flight occurred and that the detainees are illegals. He gives her transcripts that show that the aircraft in question actually landed on Danish territory and that at least two of the men on board were illegal detainees (they're Afghan peasants abducted by the U.S. and considered missing by the Human Rights Watch). As he tries to prove that Denmark has turned into America's little brother, eager to "take part in their wars without demanding legitimate reason," Birgitte tries to maintain the status quo with big brother.

After members of the Danish Defence Intelligence Service pose as police officers and come knocking on Katrine's door the next morning to find out the identity of her anonymous source, she realizes the severity of the situation. In fact, at that very moment, Troels (Lars Brygmann) tells Birgitte, Kasper (Pilou Asbæk), and the cabinet that the police will be charging TV1 for reporting on confidential information stolen from the military. "But arresting reporters is lousy PR!" yells Kasper. "Worried about your little girlfriend?" asks Troels. And even though Birgitte objects to the police intervention, officers later barge into the TV1 studio and prohibit further distribution of confidential material. The gang initially laughs off the threat then realizes that Torben (Søren Malling) doesn't want to rock the already shaky boat. He says they can't publish the transcripts or show the pictures Katrine obtained from Carsten while they're being investigated. Katrine immediately runs to Hanne (Benedikte Hansen), who she was supposed to interview about the air force base where the detainees were taken, to inform her that her boss has "put a lid on it" because of orders from above. "Gee, Friis. I didn't know your model came without balls," Hanne tells Torben. However, Katrine is still allowed to reference the evidence (without showing it) during her interview with the PM. Birgitte breaks the news, which she learned earlier from Kasper, that a technical problem forced the U.S. plane to land in Greenland. Planes that perform security lendings are exempt from Danish territorial laws and not checked upon arrival.

Just when Katrine had already lost hope in her boss, her profession, and her government, she's driven further off the edge. Someone breaks into her apartment and hacks into her computer to steal the confidential information she had received from Carsten. At this point, Katrine even begins to question Kasper and asks him if he invited her out to dinner in order to send someone into her home. She finally hears some good news when Hanne visits her the next day. She's used her friends in high places to report on the police's obstruction of freedom on the press, pressuring them to drop the TV1 case.

Katrine is allowed to continue reporting on the story. Carsten agrees to reveal his identity on air and divulge everything he knows about the "forced landing" -- a cover up used for multiple similar landings by the U.S. But he doesn't show up for the interview. The Danish Defence Intelligence Service learns his identity (probably from hacking Katrine's computer) and blackmails him. The Intelligence threatens to charge him for breach of confidentiality and reveal details from his dark past, which includes a rape charge. He commits suicide in order to save his reputation and prevent his family from getting involved. Torben gives Katrine the opportunity to report on his death and tell the story about their meeting, but she decides not to. She doesn't want him to be defamed or hurt his family with the information. "He'll be dishonored, dead or alive," she says. She thereby chooses to protect her source, who's already passed away, instead of furthering her own career.

However, his death isn't in vain. Feeling guilty about the U.S. cover up, Birgitte takes a trip to Greenland to offer them an explanation for her actions. She's greeted by a completely different Jens than the one who visited her a few days ago. "I can put on a happy face when I visit you, but I tell it like it is when you visit me," he says. Never mind the fact that Denmark had an entire town displaced in Greenland in order to build the air force where the CIA detainees landed, but he says their country has also been pushed aside for hundreds of years. He begs Birgitte to allow them to govern themselves at least to a certain extent. "It's hard for us to give you increased self-rule when nepotism, trade blinders, and corruption abound here," she says.

Birgitte decides to extend her trip to learn more about the country. She finds out that 20 percent of Greenland's youth commit suicide. Jens says that the nation will soon die out if its people aren't given back their self-respect. On the plane ride back home, Birgitte tells Kasper that she wants to talk to the Americans, no doubt to reprimand them for the detainee ordeal (the U.S. president later cancels his trip to Denmark). When he questions her decision to upset the natural order, she says "You sell our politics. I make them. Get it?" He apparently hasn't learn his lesson, even after being fired. An emotional Birgitte later describes her conflicting opinions of the country to her husband. "It was magnificent. It was depressing. It was ugly. I think it's the most beautiful place I've ever seen, all rolled into one."

Thanks to Birgitte, Greenland is finally given a voice in its security matters and foreign affairs. For the first time in its history, the country leads the negotiations over the expansion of American control of the air force base on its territory. As with much of the series, this story line is based on real world events. In reality, the Greenland passed a referendum in 2008 supporting greater autonomy. The episode comes full circle and ends with a phone ring. Katerine ignores it at first then dashes to answer the call. She's evidently still hungry for news, despite her earlier journalistic conflicts.

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