Previously on "Borgen"
Birgitte learns that the Solidarity Party's headquarters were bugged by the CIA in order to keep tabs on party leader Anne Sophie. However, Minister of Justice Troels, who signed off on the surveillance, gets away scot-free after leaking a six-year-old recording of Anne Sophie suggesting kidnapping Hesselboe's teens while arguably drunk during a party. With Troels now touted as a hero of Danish democracy, Birgitte is forced to keep him in her cabinet and betray her friend Anne Sophie. Meanwhile, Katrine and her new boyfriend break up after she admits to thinking she's better than him. Birgitte confronts Phillip about cheating on her with a student only to learn that he's been loyal, but is unhappy with their love-less, sex-less relationship. (Click here to read the complete recap for this episode.)
This week's episode: "The Silly Season"
Tonight's episode of "Borgen" was awfully somber for something titled "The Silly Season." Unlike any other episode this season, politics was the subscript instead of the primary focus. The multi-layered onion that is Kasper Juul (Pilou Asbæk) finally gets peeled back, revealing a core that's far less rotten than its outer shell. James Joyce once said "History is a nightmare from which I am trying to wake." Watching the spin doctor trying to awaken from his nightmare is unbearable and infuriating at moments, but inspiring nonetheless.
Kasper is dealt a double whammy within moments of each other when he learns from Sanne (Iben Dorner) that his mom called asking for him and that Laugesen (Peter Mygind) is publishing a book about his time in Parliament. Afraid that the memoir divulges details of his role in bringing down Hesselboe (Søren Spanning), he turns to Hanne (Benedikte Hansen), who he favors during press conferences, for help. She keeps mum, but Laugesen himself admits to writing about the vouchers. "You can't run away from the past," he says. The statement holds more significance than he could have ever anticipated. In usual Hesselboe fashion, he drops the bomb unapologetically ... while urinating in the restroom. The tabloid editor doesn't have a minute to spare for his one-time ally. In fact, he's so pressed for time that he doesn't bother washing his hands before leaving the restroom. The trip wasn't completely in vain though. Hanne slips Kasper a list of the 10 critics who have advanced copies of Laugesen's book.
As he's stressing about his career's potential demise, Kasper's mom pays him a surprise visit. So it's safe to assume that she didn't commit suicide when he was three years old like he told Katrine (Birgitte Hjort Sørensen). She tells him rather matter-of-factly that his father has died. Oh, she also calls him Kenneth. What the what? Who is this man we all know and hate? A rose by any other name would smell as foul ... "My name is Kasper now," he says. He initially refuses to help his mom with funeral arrangements, but says while walking away that he'll contact an undertaker. He spins a story to Sanne when he returns to the office. He says the woman who just visited him is a former senile housekeeper whose convinced she's his mother.
Speaking of unhealthy childhoods, Birgitte visits her son's school psychologist to discuss why the eight-year-old still wets himself. The PM blames herself for Magnus' arrested development. However, the psychologist says her son also pees his pants at school, suggesting that there's a more serious issue at hand. He's reacting to their home environment and not necessarily trying to get his mom's attention. He asks if Birgitte's relationship with her hubby has changed, if he's still happy. She says he's happy. Working as PM (and alongside Kasper) has really improved her lying skills.
Later that day at home, she asks Phillip (Mikael Birkkjær) if he's satisfied with life. As predicted, he insinuates that he's not. What would make him happy? A different job. He says he wants to run a company. Adding insult to injury, he admits that the last time he can remember being being happy was when a headhunter offered him a job. Birgitte says he should have taken it. She suggests sending the kids to boarding school, hiring a chef, getting an au pair, and even quitting her own job to realize his dreams, but he turns all those choices down. They decide that a career change isn't feasible at the moment.
After that depressing conversation, Birgitte decides to take a family vacation, despite (and in spite of) her permanent secretary's discouragement. Niels (Morten Kirkskov) says he doesn't even have time for a getaway. When Birgitte asks him if his wife understands, he says his present one does, but the previous two didn't. So she puts the country on "automatic pilot" and takes her brood to the PM's official summer residence in Marienborg. Birgitte carves some one-on-one time with Phil, but just when the sex-deprived couple is tries to get intimate, Magnus barges in mid-straddle. "I hear strange noises," he says Haley Joel Osment style. At least he didn't see dead people.
At this point, Kasper has gone absolutely berserk. He's been threatening critics left and right. When no one answers his phone calls, Kasper (a shoe-leather reporter at heart) hunts down one of his sources. He shows up to TV1 studios and threatens Ulrik (Thomas Levin) when he refuses to hand over his copy of Laugesen's tell-all book. After Kasper leaves in a huff, Ulrik accuses Katrine of telling her on-again, off-again beau (currently on) that he had the book. He says their relationship is negatively affecting the newsroom.
The spin doctor heads from one stressful environment to the next. He visit his childhood home for the first time since running away at the age of 12. The memories flood in. We see flashbacks of Kasper's seemingly happy childhood. However, he later tells the undertaker to "burn him" when asked to choose between a burial and cremation for his dad. He opts for, making decisions on his mom's behalf, a "tomb of the unknown." So maybe his upbringing wasn't so happy after all.
The PM is forced to cancel the family canoe trip and work during her vacation when she learns that Kasper wasn't able to secure a copy of Laugesen's book. He shows up to the summer estate to discuss their spin strategy. Birgitte suggests that they tell the public that Kasper gave Laugesen Hesselboe's receipts out of moral obligation after she refused to make them public. Birgitte therefore fired him because of a moral disagreement, not because he went behind her back and released the receipts to a rival politician. "If I ever become prime minister, will you be my spin doctor?" Kasper jokes after the PM's brilliant suggestion.
Next up ... relationships unravel. AGAIN! Phillip rejects his wife's sexual advances. "You're never in the mood," Birgitte says. "Because you're never home," he counters. She then proceeds to tell her husband what every man wants to hear, that this is the first time she's wanted to have sex in a month. "And that's fantastic, and I'm sorry. I can't participate in the official program." You mean regimented sex isn't sexy? Kasper and Katrine face trouble of their own when the journalist realizes why Kasper was so eager to get his hands on the book. "It's our job to get info," Kasper says when Katrine accuses him of using her for details about the book (which she never revealed). "You tell whatever stories you need to get what you want, but you still don't get it. If you just told me the truth, I would do anything for you." This is the kindest thing she's told her ex all series long. She then turns up the TV volume to hear an interview with Hesselboe. He says he can't wrap his head around how Laugesen got hold of his wife's receipts, which he had given to Ole Dahl the evening of his death. The journalist puts two and two together. "Tell me the truth, for once Kasper," she confronts him. He admits to giving Laugesen the receipts, but gives her spin, acting as though he did it out of civil duty. "You stole them from a dead man," she says outraged before storming out.
Kasper has to go back to his mom's house the next day to help her with paperwork. He walks into his room and gets bogged down by a real-life nightmare. We find out in a traumatic flashback that he was sexually abused by his dad as a child. He recalls a particular incident when his mom went away on a trip and his father made inappropriate advances. "Let's have some fun first. When we're alone, we get to decide when we want to sleep," his father says after asking him to sleep in his bed. This is, hands down, the show's most troubling scene. But as difficult as it is to watch Kasper's father's pedofilic, incestual behavior, this scene explains every unanswered question we had about the character. The lying, the scheming, the lack of conscience suddenly seem excusable. Kasper later asks the undertaker to cremate his dad in pajamas, handing over the pair he wore on that horrid night.
Laugesen's book is released the next day. As expected, it's filled with accusations against Birgitte's ministers. Amir is apparently a womanizer, Bent had an affair with a fellow cabinet member, and Troels is gay. The PM leaves her family behind to do some damage control in parliament. She seems all too eager to get away. She tells her staff, "if we refrain from comment, it will look like idle gossip."
The next day Phil meets with a headhunter to supposedly reject a job offer, as he had discussed with his wife, but ends up accepting it instead. He's the new CEO of Via Electronics in northern Europe. When Birgitte asks why he took the job, after they had decided that it would be impossible for both of them to juggle such demanding careers, he says he took it because he wanted to. He then quietly walks over to his wife and has his way with her on the kitchen counter. Based on the expression on her face, she seemed to be the one not in the mood this time around. He made an executive decision to accept the position, reclaiming his power in the relationship and thereby regaining his masculinity and labedo.
Kasper goes on TV1 to respond to the claims made against him in Laugesen's book. He effortlessly talks his way out of trouble, explaining to Ulrik that Birgitte never fired him, but that he quit over their disagreement. Katrine later congratulates him on successfully lying to the Danish public. "You'd rather lie about everything than look yourself in the eye," she says. But Kasper doesn't put up with the (much-deserved) abuse. "You sound like a spoiled brat that has never experienced how much s**t there is in the world," he says. Whether his motive is to look himself in the eye or make Katrine feel guilty, he tells her his father died. She doesn't believe him after all the past lies about his parents.
She calls Kasper the next day to smooth things over and learns from Sanne that he went to a funeral. Kasper remembers his dad for the final time before watching his casket burn. He recalls his father telling him to keep their "relationship" a secret from his mom. He ends up attending the funeral alone; his mom is too overcome with grief to go. It's unclear whether she ever caught on to her husband's crude acts. As Kasper sits in the empty chapel, Katrine comes in quietly and takes a seat beside him. He gives him her hand. Even after all the bickering and name-calling, there's an unspoken bond between the two that seems impossible to break. In one of the show's most visually powerful scenes (even rivaling Katrine's abortion scene), the two stand side by side and fight back tears as they watch the coffin burn in a furnace. Hopefully, Kasper can finally awaken from his nightmare.
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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.