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
Billie Piper as Brona in Penny Dreadful
tvReview: It’s business as usual in Victorian London. Let’s hope that changes as we get further into the new series spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
No Offence
tvReview: No Offence has characters who are larger than life and yet somehow completely true to life at the same time spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
The Queen (Kristin Scott Thomas) in The Audience
theatreReview: Stephen Daldry's direction is crisp in perfectly-timed revival
Arts and Entertainment

Will Poulter will play the shape-shifting monsterfilm
Arts and Entertainment

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

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

    General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

    Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

    He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
    General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

    On the margins

    From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
    Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

    'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

    Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
    Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

    Why patients must rely less on doctors

    Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
    Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

    Flesh in Venice

    Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
    11 best anti-ageing day creams

    11 best anti-ageing day creams

    Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
    Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

    Juventus vs Real Madrid

    Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
    Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

    Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

    Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power