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'Borgen,' Episode 6: 'State Visit'

This episode will be streaming online for two weeks from October 19 to November 2. Catch episodes of "Borgen" that aren't currently streaming via our recaps here.

Previously on "Borgen"

Birgitte's cabinet ratified a gender equality bill that implemented quotas ensuring that women make up at least half the board members of Danish companies. The PM went head-to-head against a CEO, who threatened to move the country's largest corporation abroad if the legislation was passed. However, there was a casualty along the day. The Minister of Economic Affairs, a model-turned-minister whose sexual past made headlines, became a victim of mudslinging. Birgitte then had to fire her out of principle after learning that she lied about her education on her resume. Meanwhile, Katrine and Kasper's, as well as Birgitte and Phillip's relationships took nose dives. (Click here to read the complete recap for this episode.)

This week's episode: "State Visit"

Niccolo Machiavelli, Winston Churchill, and Mao Zedong -- one of these men is not like the others. Tonight's episode opens with the Chairman of the Communist Party of China's disturbing metaphor that "Politics is war without bloodshed. War is politics with bloodshed." Meaning, this episode is going to be bleak, honest, and unsettling. It reaffirms the show's premise that politics is not for the faint of heart. And as Birgitte (Sidse Babett Knudsen) becomes a better prime minister (more calculated and conniving), she becomes a worse wife in her husband's eyes.

Two visits challenge Birgitte's distinct lives as prime minister and wife/mother/daughter. Worlds are colliding! Her father visits the family during her first state visit. Turgisia's (a fictional Eastern European, post-Soviet state) president Alexander Grozin (Nicholas Woodeson) is coming to Denmark to assume the chairmanship of the Organization for Security Democracy and Development. His visit coincides with that of Turgisian political dissident Vladmir Baiyanov, who's invited to Copenhagen to give a poetry reading. Birgitte's dad is in town for the event.

Birgitte forgets to tell her hubby about her father's visit and he doesn't find out until hours before his arrival. He's understandably upset that there will now be one more person he needs to "pamper" in the household. When he tries to voice his concerns to his wife, she brushes him off. At this point in the show, the couple's role reversal is blatantly obvious. Birgitte wears the pants and dictates every aspect of their lives, including their topics of discussion. A woman who doesn't want to talk? Blasphemy! As she rushes off to work, a frustrated Phillip (Mikael Birkkjær) asks, "When is the PM planning on coming home today?" Him referring to Birgitte by her job title is never a good sign.

As soon as she goes to work, Birgitte learns from the Ministry of Climate and Energy Amir Dwian -- the Green Party leader -- (Dar Salim) that Grozin is going to buy one billion euros worth of wind turbines, leading an example that Russia might soon follow. "Denmark will be Europe's largest export nation of green energy," Amir says. Solidarity Party leader Anne Sophie Lindenkrone (Signe Egholm Olsen) later bursts Birgitte's bubble when she advises against passing on the OSDD chairmanship to Grozin. She gives the PM reports from Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch describing and illustrating injustices Grozin's Turgisian security service committed against minorities and other groups. "You would have joined in my project before you turned pragmatic," she tells Birgitte when the PM says her hands are tied in the matter. "You don't have to be pragmatic because you lead a party that's hovering 1% above the hurdle. I'm PM. Also for those who didn't vote for me. Remember that," Birgitte snaps back. Ouch! That must have left third-degree burn.

As she excels at her job, she drops the ball on her mommy duties. Birgitte has to talk to TV1 about Baiyanov's contentious visit so her usually incompetent personal assistant Sanne (Iben Dorner) picks her children up from school. Her kids take turns trying to get her attention during the phone interview. She tries to ignore them until she realizes that her son has wet his pants. She leaves work early to attend to him. When Phillip gets home, she learns that this is the third this month it's happened (something he had already told her that she had forgotten). Her husband says he has the accidents because he misses her. He does it to win more time with her. Before they can dissect the issue, Birgitte turns to a more pressing matter. She asks Phil if he holds shares in the energy company North Wind. "Grozin is going to place a one billion euro order with North Wind ... We cannot make a profit off my cabinet's policy," she says, forcing him to sell his shares immediately. She doesn't want there to be the slightest illusion of a conflict of interest. Her father arrives at that moment, saving her from the uncomfortable conversation.

During their awkward family dinner where her dad keeps making jabs at her husband, she gets a call that the Turgisian government wants Baiyanov arrested for terror and high treason. She tells them to write it off as a routine inquiry. After all, he's been living in exile for 10 years and Grozin has failed to extradite him on several occasions. That night during his TV1 interview with Katrine (Birgitte Hjort Sørensen), Baiyanov, who's unaware about Grozin's order, tells viewers that he's fighting for Turgisia's oppressed Sarkesian minority to become an independent democratic state. Even if that means resorting to acts of terrorism? Katrine asks. Baiyanov then offers the Mao Zedong quote the episode opened with. "If you win your war, you're remembered for being a great politician. If you lose, you're remembered for being a terrorist," he says, referring to Mao and former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir.

Birgitte finally meets Grozin the following day. The president skips the small talk and asks her right off the bat why Baiyanov, a "well-known terrorist," hasn't been arrested. When the PM says there's no international arrest order on him, Grozin informs her that the political activist was responsible for the bombing of Turgisia's police headquarters last month, which left six dead and 20 injured. The PM promises the president that her cabinet will look into the allegations. She asks her Minister of Justice Troels Höxenhaven (Lars Brygmann) to examine the evidence that Grozin handed her. Trigger-happy Troels says their government can arrest the suspected terrorist thanks to a new law that gives state police increased authority. Birgitte stands her shaky ground and suggests using the arrest order to scare Baiyanov into leaving the country on his own accord.

Baiyanov in turn decides to leak news of his arrest order to TV1. Katrine is about to go interview him at a restaurant when Torben (Søren Malling) gets cold feet. The BBC has just broken the news that Baiyanov's involved with the police headquarters bombing so TV1's director general is concerned about putting a potential terrorist on air. He eventually lets her conduct the interview, but says the station won't run it if the allegations against Baiyanov turn out to be true. This reintroduces the show's exploration of the meanings of freedom of speech and freedom of the press. Does Baiyanov have the right to voice his opinions on air and does TV1 have the right to broadcast that interview?

Meanwhile, Birgitte and Phillip get dolled up to go to the queen's annual gala. Birgitte allows her dad to stay an extra day and babysit without consulting with Phil. The husband and wife share a fleeting moment of tenderness when they catch sight of each other dressed to the nines. However, they aren't able to spend any quality time together at the party. Birgitte has fires to put out. Grozin ignores formalities and immediately confronts the PM at the gala. "Why has the Danish PM chosen to stand by a terrorist instead of the next chairman of the OSDD?" he asks. Adding "wind" to the fire, he threatens to withdraw his investment in Danish wind energy.

A bell rings in the background to indicate the start of the ballet performance the guests are about to watch, adding an added sense of alarm. Grozin wants Baiyanov arrested immediately. The Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs also wants him behind bars. The German chancellor is now backing the arrest. "Arrest him," she says defeated. Even though she asks for discretion, a police troop shows up to the restaurant where the activist is doing a live interview with Katrine and carries him off. In the last three years, 71 political activists have disappeared from Turgisia. "Will he be number 72?" the reporter asks on camera.

Kasper returns to parliament after the gala and tries to make out with the PM's personal assistant. The permanent secretary Niels Erik Lund (Morten Kirkskov) walks in on them and advises the bad boy not to s**t where he eats. Kasper then begins pining for Katrine. Things go downhill from there. Mistake number one: He drunk dials her. Mistake number two: He shows up to her door after she explicitly tells him to leave her alone because she's "not alone." Mistake number three: He punches Katrine's spin instructor-turned-boyfriend Benjamin, who gives him a bloody nose. Mistake number four: He tries to kiss Katrine when she steps outside to calm him down. He's rejected for the second time that night. "He's not good enough for you," Kasper pleads. Katrine seems to already know this. She was embarrassed when he showed up to her workplace to visit the previous day.

As Kasper ruins his already unstable relationship with Katrine, Brigitte tries to mend the one with her dad. He had verbally attacked her a few hours ago after he learned that she allowed his hero Baiyanov to be arrested. "I don't necessarily love all the decisions I have to make," she says. Her dad admits that he lost his lid because Brigitte's tough exterior reminded him of her mom. He confesses that he's been struggling with his divorce. In fact, he's been drinking to drown his sorrows. He makes her promise that the she and Phil will always stay together. This scene most likely foreshadows their divorce.

The next day Birgitee learns that Grozin now wants Baiyanov expedited. Amir says this means he will be executed within 24 hours. Every OSDD country, aside from France, supports Grozin's call to action. "Wind turbines aren't worth committing crime over," Amir says. "How much is a human life worth?" Bjørn (Flemming Sørensen) and Troels apparently think it's worth one billion euros in green energy investment. Feeling cornered, Birgitee agrees to sign the extradition agreement. Before the OSDD ceremony, she asks the president what exactly will happen to Baiyanov. She's not satisfied with his response that the people of Turgisia will decide that. "Why do you consider yourself a better and more democratic leader than I?" Grozin asks, growing livid with her "arrogance." He tells her to hand over Baiyanov before he signs the North Wind contract. He then has the audacity to giver her a list of journalists, including Katrine, he doesn't want present at the press conference. "My nation believes in the principle of free press and will uphold and defend this in our constitution," Birgitee says, quoting the OSDD treaty Grozin is minutes away from signing as the new chairman.

Hell hath no fury like Birgitte Nyborg Christensen scorned. He tells Kasper to tell Katrine to ask the final question. The ethical journalist initially contests it, but eventually asks the president if his investment in Danish wind technology depends on Baiyanov's arrest and handing over. He of course denies it, trapping himself into a verbal commitment. "I really appreciate your answer to the last question, because I'm not going to hand him over," Birgitee whispers before he walks off in a huff. Now that's ballsy! She makes the right choice morally, but this decision could have political repercussions. In addition to upsetting the majority of her cabinet, she just made an enemy in Turgisia and potentially all the other OSDD countries.

Birgitee gets home from a hard day at work to find Phillip heading to a hotel. Her father has decided to stay for the weekend. "I need some time alone with Phillip," she tells her dad, talking him out of extending his visit. "I need to keep the promise I gave you last night." She then tries to play nice with her hubby, serving him red wine and offering to tidy up the house. He says he knows his wife loves him, but isn't sure whether the PM does. I knew that calling her PM was bad news!

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