Episode Four, Series Two, BBC Four, 10pm

TV review: Borgen, Battle Ready

Tom Leece is Film and TV editor at Fourth & Main

We’ve all had one of those bad dreams. You’re the prime minister of a North European state with a clogged kitchen sink and hair that just won’t dry in time for work and bang!

The front door opens and in walks your ex-husband with the woman who’s been making Mexican food with your kids. No matter. Who, after all, could understand and ever hope to recapture the essence of that special bond you have with your own offspring? Wait a minute, what? She’s a paediatrician? She’s great with children!

It’s a nightmare tonight for Birgitte Nyborg (Sidse Babett Knudsen), hemmed in by would-be replacements on both sides. Newly anointed Labour leader and political bête noire Troels Höxenhaven (Lars Brygmann) is taking on prime ministerial airs. Cecilie (Mille Dinesen), a perfectly nice woman, seems to be positioning herself as a potential stepmother to her children. Spin doctor Kasper Juul (Pilou Asbæk) is good with political wisdom; perhaps it’s time he helped out on the home front? “I’m not big on personal advice and stuff like that”, he warns, before telling her not to give up without a fight.

This only brings Birgitte down to the murky levels of delusion where Kasper resides. Strange things happen at these depths. Soap opera attempts at seduction. Lines straight out of 70s blue movie from the man who fixes the plumbing (admittedly, it may have just been the subtitles). Chalk it up to confusing times for the prime minister but, with Kasper’s seesawing moods and Katrine’s subterfuge, which at least finally vindicates the All the President’s Men poster in her apartment, Borgen’s personal dramas were notably wild tonight. Certainly the Danish seamen held hostage by pirates had a tough time in competition.

The maritime plight plot did, however, succeed in bringing Troels and his particular brand of passive-aggressive politics into direct conflict with Birgitte. The most slippery opponent so far, played to noisome and, later, emotional effect by Lars Brygmann, the Foreign Minister brings Labour back into the limelight through his timely “Höxenhaven effect”. We knew it couldn’t last. The question this episode, following the previous hour’s shenanigans, was not so much when Troels would fall foul of being foolish enough to conduct extra-marital affairs in front of the window at a conference centre surrounded by journalists, but how.

It became clear early on that Katrine (Birgitte Hjort Sørensen) wasn’t to be the one who broke the news. Theories of her own inevitable corruption this season can surely be discounted, as it seems that Katrine’s moral compass will lead her to the closest high ground, past salaries and professional perks alike. It’s almost a shame, as her appointment as the angel of light meant that Ekspres editor Michael Laugesen was confirmed to be evil incarnate. If Peter Mygind’s performance wasn’t so charismatic then the role would almost be a caricature.

Katrine’s virtue must be catching. Staging a fake press conference to set up a one-on-one meeting with the journalist you love may be the height of romance for any spin doctor, but Kasper’s on the straight and narrow for now. His faltering step towards redemption might have been more convincing if a fresh load of his spin and misdirection hadn’t ended the episode. Instead it was a man’s reputation saved through lies and a deal done with the devil. The Nyborg nightmare continues.

Best scene:

Tip of the hat to the Borgen team for taking their most infuriatingly smug creation, putting him on a bridge at night with an old enemy, and leaving us with a sense of uneasy guilt for what we just witnessed.

Best line:

“But why the driver?” (Kasper, to Birgitte). There’s a spin-off sitcom here about two former titans of the political scene trading witticisms as they adapt to single life in the capital. Coping in Copenhagen?

Handy Danish vocab:

“Vasken er tilstoppet” (“the sink is clogged”), for all those dodgy Danish drainage needs.             

 Magnus Watch:

Did he really want dad’s new girlfriend to see his room, or was it all for an illicit few hours on the PSP? Further indications tonight that Magnus’ (Emil Poulsen) air of innocence may be studiously cultivated.

Tom Leece is Film and TV editor at Fourth & Main 

Arts and Entertainment
Loaded weapon: drugs have surprise side effects for Scarlett Johansson in Luc Besson’s ‘Lucy’
film
Arts and Entertainment
Novelist Martin Amis at The Times Cheltenham Literature Festival

books
Arts and Entertainment
Alfred Molina, left, and John Lithgow in a scene from 'Love Is Strange'

After giving gay film R-rating despite no sex or violence

film
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Williams will be given a 'meaningful remembrance' at the Emmy Awards

film
Arts and Entertainment

tv
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
'The Great British Bake Off' showcases food at its most sumptuous
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Cliff Richard performs at the Ziggo Dome in Amsterdam on 17 May 2014

music
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Educating the East End returns to Channel 4 this autumn

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch will voice Shere Khan in Andy Serkis' movie take on The Jungle Book

film
Arts and Entertainment
DJ Calvin Harris performs at the iHeartRadio Music Festival

music
Arts and Entertainment
The eyes have it: Kate Bush

music
Arts and Entertainment
From left to right: Mark Crown, DJ Locksmith and Amir Amor of Rudimental performing on stage during day one of the Wireless Festival at Perry Park, Birmingham

music
Arts and Entertainment

books
Arts and Entertainment
Tim Vine has won the funniest joke award at the Edinburgh Festival 2014

Edinburgh
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Capaldi and Chris Addison star in political comedy The Thick of IT

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Judy Murray said she

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Tim Vine has won the funniest joke award at the Edinburgh Festival 2014

edinburgh
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Paxman has admitted he is a 'one-nation Tory' and complained that Newsnight is made by idealistic '13-year-olds' who foolishly think they can 'change the world'.

Edinburgh
Arts and Entertainment
Seoul singer G-Dragon could lead the invasion as South Korea has its sights set on Western markets
music
Arts and Entertainment
Gary Lineker at the UK Premiere of 'The Hunger Games: Catching Fire'
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Bale as Batman in a scene from
film
Arts and Entertainment
Johhny Cash in 1969
musicDyess Colony, where singer grew up in Depression-era Arkansas, opens to the public
Arts and Entertainment
Army dreamers: Randy Couture, Sylvester Stallone, Dolph Lundgren and Jason Statham
film
Arts and Entertainment
The Great British Bake Off 2014 contestants
tvReview: It's not going to set the comedy world alight but it's a gentle evening watch
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

    Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

    The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
    Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

    Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

    A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
    Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

    Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

    Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
    Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

    Nick Clegg the movie

    Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
    Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

    Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

    Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
    Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

    Waxing lyrical

    Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
    Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

    Revealed (to the minute)

    The precise time when impressionism was born
    From slow-roasted to sugar-cured: how to make the most of the British tomato season

    Make the most of British tomatoes

    The British crop is at its tastiest and most abundant. Sudi Pigott shares her favourite recipes
    10 best men's skincare products

    Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

    Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf
    Malky Mackay allegations: Malky Mackay, Iain Moody and another grim day for English football

    Mackay, Moody and another grim day for English football

    The latest shocking claims do nothing to dispel the image that some in the game on these shores exist in a time warp, laments Sam Wallace
    La Liga analysis: Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

    Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

    Pete Jenson starts his preview of the Spanish season, which begins on Saturday, by explaining how Fifa’s transfer ban will affect the Catalans
    Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

    We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

    Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
    Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

    Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

    Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
    Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

    The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

    Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
    Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

    Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

    Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape