Episode Two, Series Two, BBC Four, 10pm

TV review: Borgen, In Brussels, No One Can Hear You Scream

Tom Leece is Film and TV editor at Fourth & Main 

"How brilliant to have a Prime Minister who speaks fluent French." Minister Jacob Kruse (Jens Jacob Tychsen) may be a sycophantic bore but he does have a point. In the season’s second episode, polyglot Birgitte Nyborg (Sidse Babett Knudsen) is on the hunt for a politician to serve as Denmark’s new EU commissioner. Naturally she takes the opportunity to flaunt her Francophone stylings, chalking up another mastered language next to that flawless English. Is there anything she can’t do?

Deputy party leader Bent Sejrø (Lars Knutzon) seems to think so, laying into Birgitte for surrounding herself with yes-men. Ever since Bent warned his protégé in season one that she should be ready to sacrifice friendships if they jeopardised her government, the party grandee has been marked out for his own eventual downfall.

Moving on from the weighty politics of the season premiere, Borgen focuses here on the failing relationship between Birgitte and her former mentor, with the appointment of an EU commissioner a dramatic sideshow. The question it poses is whether the Prime Minister can admit her guilt and reconnect with the man she was forced to cast out.

It all makes for an emotional episode, as Bent stumbles around all (forgive the pun) bent out of shape, trying to rebuild burnt bridges. Knutzon and Knudsen (now there’s a Danish law firm just waiting to happen) have great chemistry, and the clashes between them are the episode’s high points.

New arrival Jacob Kruse, on the other hand, is that little bit too repulsive to convince. “He’s young and full of initiative,” Birgitte tells Kasper. “He’s a fan and a follower,” her spin doctor retorts. Borgen does enjoy a good foreshadowing, and when Kruse slopes in moments later oozing more slime than a sweaty mollusc Birgitte’s judgement is called immediately into question.

That’s sort of the point though, and whenever Birgitte can’t work out the right thing to do Katrine Fønsmark (Birgitte Hjort Sørensen) is there to personify moral rectitude. When senior journalist Hanne Holm’s (Benedikte Hansen) alcohol abuse worsens, her plight mirrors Bent’s as the senior professional into whom it’d be easier to stick the boot.

"Drink yourself to death for all I care," snarls Ekspres editor Michael Laugesen (Peter Mygind), "but don’t embarrass my paper." Katrine, even if she feels like a failure at 31 (after all, she's only been an anchor for a major news channel and a war correspondent...), is having none of it. Her loyalty to Hanne breathes some warmth into the chilly Nordic air.

Of course Kasper (Pilou Asbæk) contributes to this litany of personal struggles. Carting his unresolved feelings for Katrine around with the rest of his extensive baggage, the spin doctor is keen to duck out of commitments to Lotte (Rikke Lylloff). It seemed a shame to miss what looked to be his storyline’s big moment but then again Borgen is often happy to pass over certain events, and this episode was no different.

One moment Bent is in Birgitte’s kitchen about to have a heart-to-heart, and then cut: she’s sitting alone, deep in thought. In the end the clockwork precision made the slower paced sequences involving the older politician all the more powerful. It reminds us just how adept the writers are at switching between the professional and the personal, even if their characters can’t always do the same.

Best scene:

A whole host of Birgitte/Bent moments to choose from, but the point at which the prime minister is rehearsing hollow rhetoric about their close friendship while he watches in shocked silence managed to be both poignant and bleakly comic.

Best line:

“No one wants to read about the EU. It’s too complicated and unsexy.” (Michael Laugesen). He may be a heartless demagogue but at least he’s got an eye for the elephant in every newspaper’s editor room.

Handy Danish vocab:

Whatever Kasper was singing didn’t sound much like the Danish for happy birthday (“tillykke til dig”), so we’ll stick with the equally relevant “flersprogethed” (“multilingualism”).

Magnus Watch:

Despite breaking his mother’s heart it was a bonanza for Magnus (Emil Poulsen) if we’re honest; stern lessons in coaster etiquette, the mother lode of Donald Duck comics, and an angelic request to bring comfort to the sick. As if that wasn’t enough, he got his ears syringed – an off-screen event not greatly missed.

Tom Leece is Film and TV editor at Fourth & Main

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
Arts and Entertainment
Arctic Monkeys headline this year's Reading and Leeds festivals, but there's a whole host of other bands to check out too
music
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
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
Arts and Entertainment
Umar Ahmed and Kiran Sonia Sawar in ‘My Name Is...’
Theatre
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
    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
    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
    eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

    eBay's enduring appeal

    The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
    Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

    'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

    Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
    Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

    Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

    Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention