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'Borgen,' Episode 9: 'Divide and Rule'

This episode will be streaming online for two weeks from November 9 to 23. Catch episodes of "Borgen" that aren't currently streaming via our recaps here.

Previously on "Borgen"

Kasper Juul's perfectly manufactured life came crashing down when Laugesen published a book about his time in Parliament that revealed Kasper's role in bringing down Hesselboe. What's more? His father passed away. In the most emotionally charged episode to date, we learned that Kasper's father sexually abused him as a child, prompting him to run away from home and make up stories about his parents from that day forward. Even though Katrine was furious when she realized that he stole the receipts that exposed Hesselboe's reckless spending from Ole Dahl's apartment, she showed up to Kasper's dad's funeral for moral support. Meanwhile, Birgitte and Phillip's relationship continued to take a nosedive. Phillip even accepted a job as CEO of a major electronics company without consulting his wife. (Click here to read the complete recap for this episode.)

This week's episode: "Divide and Rule"

There's no denying that Birgitte (Sidse Babett Knudsen) is a prime minister of the people. She's loved by her constituents and was elected because of her candor. But that very openness and honesty -- rare traits for any politician, especially one of her power -- also cause her to be despised by her cabinet and her family. Birgitte is stuck between a rock and a hard place when she discovers that her husband's new job could create a conflict of interest for her office. Her means of handling the situation has irrevocable consequences for both her professional and personal lives.

In light of Höxenhaven's (Lars Brygmann) unauthorized press conference to discuss the bugging of the Solidarity Party's headquarters and the press nightmare that followed Laugesen's (Peter Mygind) book release, the prime minister has taken it upon herself to approve all press releases. The ministries aren't too pleased. Her latest round of micromanagement manifests itself when Defence Minister Hans Christian Thorsen (Bjarne Henriksen) prepares to announce his selection of their military's new fighter plane. Birgitte takes one look at the hefty price tag and questions Thorsen's selection, despite the fact that he has struggled with the decision for a month and that negotiations to select the fighter have been underway for 7-8 years.

When the announcement of Denmark's new fighter plane is postponed, Katrine (Birgitte Hjort Sørensen) invites Kasper (Pilou Asbæk) to lunch to try and milk information out of him about Birgitte's iron fist. Kasper doesn't budge so the persistent journalist proceeds to question him about his father. "You didn't say a word when he was cremated," she says. Kasper admits that his dad was a small town nobody instead of a big shot military man. Katrine asks why he lied, probing her ex until he eventually snaps. "Because I hated my life with him. So I made up stories about a life I would have preferred," he yells before storming off.

Instead of focusing on her duties as PM, Birgitte takes on Thorsen's job and researches the fighters in the running for selection. She even takes the job home. At this point, she and Phillip (Mikael Birkkjær) barely speak to one another. They simply coexist. All her digging has some benefits though; she finds holes in Thorsen's argument. In fact, she learns that the primary reason for the purchase (that the expensive fighter would not be detected by radars) is moot. Birgitte meets with her cabinet to discuss the matter and decides to further postpone the approval. Not even Kasper and Bent (Lars Knutzon) can support her at this point. Her one-time mentor comes to her office to talk to her not as her Finance Minister, but as her friend. He tells her to divide and rule, allowing her appointed officials to do their jobs. If not, she will be forced to take the fall if anything goes wrong. "Be careful you don't get lost in all the details," he advises.

Then comes the bombshell. Birgitte realizes that Phillip's new company manufactures the hardware that will be used in the fighters her administration wants to buy. She rushes home to tell Phil about the discovery. It seems as though the only time she talks to her hubby these days is when she needs him to make a significant sacrifice. He informs her that his company Via Electronics is just a subcontractor for the manufacturer Triton. She doesn't trust her husband's word and calls Kasper to see whether Phil's new job could create a conflict of interest down the road. The spin doctor promises that she has nothing to worry about.

That evening, Katrine interviews Thorsen about the administration's selection of the F26 Defender. "Is it the best fighter for our pilots or the best for Danish industry?" she asks. He says it will benefit both. Seconds after she wraps up the interview, the patronizing minister says, "now you've learned a bit about fighters, little girl." Her hunch that it's suspicious for the macho military man to care about Danish industry proves to be correct when the Express runs a story (written by government watchdog Hanne) the next day about Thorsen going on six hunting trips funded by Triton. Like Birgitte, Katrine is intent on conducting her own research into the matter, much to Torben's shagrin (Søren Malling). Her boss has been trying desperately to squelch her investigative instincts for years.

Katrine calls the military's archive room when she realizes there are missing documents in the file. She's invited to the military base to look through its archives, but instead finds a panel of personnel, including the chief of defense, waiting to answer her questions. (Even in Denmark's progressive world, it's hard to believe that the military would be that eager to speak to the media.) Katrine's interview coincides with Kasper's interrogation of Thorsen. The show hits us over the head with the parallels between their identical rounds of questioning. We learn that Triton not only paid for expensive hunting expeditions during the "work trips," but for eight-course dinners as well.

The chief of defense, who's apparently much too naive for his post, accidenly slips up, saying that nothing covert happened at Glen Farlan -- an estate in Scotland where the meetings were held. After some digging, Katrine finds that the Chief and Minister of Defense received hunting rifles from Triton to essentially bribe them into choosing the fighter they manufacture. Torben seems less than impressed by the scoop. He tells Katrine that she should be happy he's "not chewing [her] out for investigative journalism." Later that night, Thorsen defends his actions in a second on-air interview with Katrine. He says receiving gifts comes with the job and that the gun belongs to the ministry, not him. When Katrine points out the fact that it was engraved with his name, he says he returned it as soon as he found out. He had actually given it back that very day to cover his tracks. "The little girl learned a bit about shotguns today," Katrine tells the minister as he walks off after the interview. You go, girl!

The PM is understandably furious as she learns about the latest revelation of Thorsen's corruption. However, she can't fire the minister because doing so would be admitting his fault and calling into question their fighter purchase. And when it rains, it pours. Kasper tells Birgitte that the press is now out for blood. If the media realizes that Phil works for a Triton subcontractor, her squeaky clean image as PM will be tarnished. Birgitte goes home to a typhoon. "I'm terribly sorry, but you can't take that job," she tells her increasingly impatient husband. Birgitte forgets to take her PM hat off when she enters their house, making demands, as she would at work, instead of asking, as a wife would do. "I already took the job!" he yells. But Birgitte doesn't care. A company he works for simply can't profit off a decision her cabinet makes. Adding insult to injury, Birgitte hands him a press release Kasper wrote for Via Electronics to send out about Phil's resignation. Pushed into a corner, Phil has no choice but to agree to quit. "But don't f**king count on me lifting another finger for you," he yells before storming out and disappearing for a few days. This is the second time that she had asked him to make a professional sacrifice to prevent the appearance of a conflict of interest. She had already forced him to sell the shares he held in an energy company that was going to receive a huge investment thanks to her cabinet's new policy.

Brent pays Birgitte a house visit the next day. The PM has decided to pursue a plan for openness in which all cabinet diaries, travel itineraries, and meetings minutes will be made public. "The cabinet will be furious, including me," the Finance Minister says. However, he's genuinely more concerned about her well-being. He catches sight of the unkempt house and asks where Phil is. Birgitte doesn't know. His friends don't even know where he is. That night, her jealousy gets the best of her and she storms into Phillip's student Freja's apartment and pulls back the curtain around her bed, expecting to find her husband there. She discovers someone else naked in bed instead, humiliating herself in front of her security guards and Freja.

Back at TV1, Katrine receives the Via Electronics press release and puts two and two together. She realizes that Birgitte's government transparency is affecting her personal life; the Defense Minister's mess has had consequences for the PM's husband. Torben allows her to pursue that angle during her upcoming interview with the PM, as long as Birgitte agrees in advance to discuss her personal life. Birgitte, of course, refuses to. Later that day, Birgitte picks up the kids from school (a huge responsibility that is now on her plate) and returns home to find her long lost husband. The good news ends there. Phil says he talked to Freja and knows about Birgitte's late-night visit to her dorm. Birgitte tries to justify her actions. She says she went crazy and thought he was sleeping with someone else. "I was," he responds -- just not Freja. After an awkward moment of silence, he reaches for her shaky hand. Birgitte pulls away and accidentally trips, cutting her eye and forehead on some glass. The bruise somehow looks identical to fist mark.

Birgitte doesn't have time to clean herself up or take in the horrendous news because she has to rush to her TV1 interview. After some heavy makeup and camera rearrangement (she's only shot from the unbruised side of her face), she comes face to face with Katrine, who no doubt suspects that Phil knocked her out. The rebellious journalist then defies her boss' orders and her agreement with the PM to not mention Phil's resignation from the new job. Katrine takes off her earpiece and fires away, asking about Birgitte's husband's sacrifice. "My husband and I aren't above other citizens in this country," she responds as eloquently as she spoke during the PM debate.

Despite the success of the interview, Toben is fuming. He says that the PM's office will surely formally complain to the station director. He's sick of Katrine defying orders. He's sick of her superiority complex. He's sick of her. Torben orders the young reporter to take a month off and think about whether she wants to be a part of the TV1 news team.

The situation with Birgitte is just as grim. Phil calls her to say that one of them should sleep elsewhere for the night. "Why won't you talk to me?" she pleads. "Because we don't talk, Birgitte. That's was something we used to do." They end the conversation in silence. Birgitte asks her driver to take her to the PM country estate. The usually tough as nails PM breaks down and weeps in the car. There are just some storms that can't be weathered.

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