Episode Five, Series Two, BBC Four, 9pm

TV Review: Borgen, Plant a Tree

Tom Leece is Film and TV editor at Fourth & Main

The politicians who make up Birgitte Nyborg’s (Sidse Babett Knudsen) inner circle seem to have worse luck than the wives of Henry VIII.

So far this season among ministers good and bad we’ve had a suicide, a cerebral embolism and a stab in the back, leaving just Climate and Energy Minister and Green party leader Amir Diwan (Dar Salim) untainted and unharmed. No prizes then for guessing who comes under fire in tonight’s episode.

For the first time it’s Borgen’s flawed heroine herself, rather than the media or rival ministers, who launches an attack on a cabinet member. Birgitte wants cross-party support to implement her designs for a new Denmark, which means forging a temporary alliance with the Opposition – specifically ex-premier Lars Hesselboe (Søren Spanning) and his cronies in big business and agriculture. Amir, a man of apparent principle, refuses to get in bed with the pesticide junkies and shadowy fat cats of Denmark’s dark satanic mills.

But just as dearly departed Troels Höxenhaven had his own secrets, so it happens that Amir quietly satisfies a little known, if unlikely, predilection for vintage cars. Birgitte sees the perfect way to cow the upstart Green leader: expose the “media darling” to the public as a hypocrite whose attitude to the environment is so reprehensible that he probably harpoons bottlenose dolphins for fun.

Even Kasper (Pilou Asbæk) seems taken aback by the ruthlessness of Birgitte’s political machinations. It is probably the most Machiavellian we’ve seen the statsminister since she forced her unfaithful husband to play happy families in front of the press during last season’s finale. While we’re on the subject, her position on the home front hasn’t much improved. Daughter Laura (Freja Riemann) has clear anxiety issues that, in one of Borgen’s beloved ticking timebomb plotlines, Birgitte dismisses as typical adolescent hormones.

If only everything could be so easily explained. Kasper’s behaviour went from confused to unsettling this week during a chance meeting with Katrine (Birgitte Hjort Sørensen) that suggests the spin doctor isn’t entirely stable. There’s always been a bit of the emotionally manipulative, habitual liar in Kasper, for the most part explained by the horrors of his childhood, but here he was edging beyond the pale.

It’s not as if Katrine is in the best shape to bear her ex-boyfriend’s troubles as well as her own. Blacklisted in the aftermath of her departure from Ekspres she finds herself doomed either to host Danish chat shows or get cosy with Lars Hesselboe and his comically illiberal Liberals. It seems to be the end of the days of virtue – but wait, isn’t that former TV1 editor Torben Friis (Søren Malling) and his team, finally breaking out from their role this season as Borgen’s glorified Greek chorus?

And, just when things seemed at their most bleak and inhospitable, there’s a vision in yellow back in the halls of power. It’s all very fitting for the fifth episode; Birgitte’s at a moral crossroads, realising how far she’s strayed from the idealism of her early days and how far she’s let her family dynamic suffer in the process. It looks like things may be on the up. Amir wouldn’t like it, but Borgen’s ice could be about to thaw.

Best scene:

In a tense moment, face to face with the minister she’s conspired against, Birgitte almost overplays her hand and tips Amir off about her involvement – or does he know all along?

Best line:

“Amir, not only are you a polluter, you’re also a big fat liar.” (Michael Laugesen). Forget pioneering the video editorial – Laugesen’s bringing playground insults back into politics.

Handy Danish vocab:

Laura’s misery is our linguistic gain: she complains of being “høj” (“tall”) and “tynd” (skinny), which could also be of use in a Copenhagen coffee shop.

Magnus Watch:

“Be careful when you cross the road” is possibly the most fateful thing you can say to a flaxen bouncing boy on a jaded Danish drama, so let’s just be thankful nothing came of it.

Tom Leece is Film and TV editor at Fourth & Main

Arts and Entertainment
Martin Freeman as Lester Nygaard in the TV adaptation of 'Fargo'

Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Shakespeare in Love at the Noel Coward Theatre
theatreReview: Shakespeare in Love has moments of sheer stage poetry mixed with effervescent fun
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson stars in Hercules

Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'

Arts and Entertainment
<p>Troubled actor Robert Downey Jr cements his comeback from drug problems by bagging the lead role in Iron Man. Two further films follow</p>

Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Tycoons' text: Warren Buffett and Bill Gates both cite John Brookes' 'Business Adventures' as their favourite book

Arts and Entertainment
Panic! In The Disco's Brendon Urie performs on stage

Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game

Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Radio 4's Today programme host Evan Davis has been announced as the new face of Newsnight

Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams performing on the Main Stage at the Wireless Festival in Finsbury Park, north London

Arts and Entertainment
Carrie Mathison returns to the field in the fourth season of Showtime's Homeland

Arts and Entertainment
Crowds soak up the atmosphere at Latitude Festival

Arts and Entertainment
Meyne Wyatt and Caren Pistorus arrive for the AACTA Aawrds in Sydney, Australia

Arts and Entertainment
Rick Astley's original music video for 'Never Gonna Give You Up' has been removed from YouTube

Arts and Entertainment
Quentin Blake's 'Artists on the beach'

Artists unveils new exhibition inspired by Hastings beach

Arts and Entertainment
MusicFans were left disappointed after technical issues
Arts and Entertainment
'Girl with a Pearl Earring' by Johannes Vermeer, c. 1665
artWhat is it about the period that so enthrals novelists?
Arts and Entertainment
Into the woods: The Merry Wives of Windsor at Petersfield
theatreOpen-air productions are the cue for better box-office receipts, new audiences, more interesting artistic challenges – and a picnic
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
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

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

    Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

    Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

    The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

    Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

    Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
    German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

    Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

    Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
    BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

    BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

    The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
    Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

    Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

    Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
    How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

    Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

    Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
    Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

    Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

    Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
    10 best reed diffusers

    Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

    Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

    Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

    There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
    Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

    Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

    It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
    Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

    Screwing your way to the top?

    Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
    Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

    Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

    Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
    Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

    Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

    The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
    The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

    The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

    Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
    US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

    Meet the US Army's shooting star

    Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform