Tag Archives: Kasper

BBC4…Borgen – Has Birgitte Nyborg finally crossed to the dark side?

20 Jan

Ok I am not going to beat around the bush here but last night Borgen was some of the best TV I have watched in a long time, the final scene with Kasper Juul (Pilou Asbæk) was a tour de force, an award-winning portrayal of a man with a deeply scarred soul.

In season One a secret was shared with the viewers about Kasper Juul, a deep dark secret of his sexual abuse by his father. A vile abuse in a lonely home somewhere deep in Denmark. We came to learn that what seemed to be the arrogant swagger of a workaholic Lothario who prowled the corridors of power at the Borgen was a cover to hide a deeply ingrained emotional trauma.

This week more was revealed about the nature of that trauma, we learnt that it wasn’t just his father who had raped him, but he was shared like some weekly prize amongst his father’s peadophiliac poker buddies. We saw the emotional blackmail used by his father to hide his vile crimes from Kasper’s mum. We were however still the only ones who have shared these horrific memories with Kasper. Katrine, Lotte and Birgitte, all the women in his life had no idea till this episode.

Katrine was the closest to the truth but still so far till tonight. In an emotional scene Kasper retrieved the only possession he seemed to have, a collection of bits and pieces from his parents house including a VHS video and newspaper clippings. After a heated argument with Lotte his current girlfriend, as once again Kasper failure to commit unravels a relationship, he storms out of her flat.

It seems at this point he comes to some sort of epiphany, that he needs to share the burden he has carried all his life with some one else. He hands the collection of his memories to Katrine at her flat and walks away. Reading through the clips and watching the video she suddenly begins to understand all the layers Kasper had been hiding behind, the lies about his family in the South of France, the fear of commitment. She sees the pain, loneliness and despair Kasper had lived with.

The moment Kasper and Katrine meet again no words need to be spoken. We now all knew.

While Kasper was unburdening his soul Birgitte burdens were getting heavier and the idealism of season one was being replaced a much darker cynicism. A cynicism which she is quick to embrace but whose outcomes she struggles to control. We see how quickly she throws her long term ally Amir Dwian, the Green Party Leader, to the baying Press hounds when she leaks his love of a petrol guzzling vintage car to press, sparking a frenzy to expose the hypocrisy of his position.

She does this to force his hand into agreeing to some government legislation, but in doing so precipitated the end of Amir’s political career, the Green Party leaving the coalition and transforming her government into a minority one.

One the home front we see that being single mother and Prime Minister of a medium sized western European nation is not a recommended career progression. Her children, especially her daughter Laura are feeling the strain but Birgitte can’t see it.

She believes she is on a mission borne out of idealism but is this still the case or is it as the opening quote suggests “Much that passes as idealism is a disguised love of power. ”

One a side not the deliciously odious Svend Åge Saltum is given a lot of airtime and he rises admirably to his role as the pantomime villain of the piece (at least for now).

BBC4…Borgen gets seriously Machiavellian.

13 Jan

“If an injury has to be done to a man it should be so severe that his vengeance need not be feared” – Machiavelli

This was the opening quote in the credits of the second episode of yesterday’s Borgen double-header but it could apply to either of the two back to back episodes, and really when you think about it to the whole season as Borgen is getting very Machiavellian.

In Season One Birgitte Nyborg was breath of fresh air, a reformer, a political outsider with principled stands seeking to put the good ship SS Denmark back on course. Gradually though the dark princes of political arts began once again to weave their webs of deceit and lies and have begun to ensnare Nyborg. The two episodes contained two coup d’etat’s, one long, drawn out and carefully plotted. The other sharp and instant, with fatal consequences.

On the political front both episodes centred around the Labour Party, Nyborg’s partners in the coalition.

In the first episode we witness the slow lingering political regicide of Bjørn Marrot the Labour Party Leader and Foreign Minister. This tale has echoes of the change the UK’s Labour Party has gone through. Marrot was old school, an apprentice welder who had worked his way to the upper echelon’s of the Labour Party, his failing though was for what he had in political conviction he lacked in political finesse, he could almost have been former Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott. He simply was not ‘New’ Labour.

The party was being taken over by sharp suited career politicians, symbolised by the justice Minister, Troels Höxenhaven and they were keen for a party in their mold.

The plot started of with a series of leaks to the press about gaffes by Marrot, an interview with the BBC in English where he mixed his metaphors and created a new one – “Don’t shoot the parrot’, not knowing what a black tie dinner meant, and leaks about porn and mini bar drinks charged to the foreign ministry.

The moment of execution was left to the day of a seaside  cabinet summit that Nyborg had called to agree major changes to Denmark’s welfare state. One change in particular, early retirement seemed to be causing dissent in the Labour Party.

Nyborg needed unanimity from the cabinet in order to push through a controversial legislation, but every time Marrot thought he had got a Labour position he was being briefed against by party insiders.

At the summit it came to a head when Höxenhaven and his colleague Pernille Madsen openly disagreed with him. Marrot turned to his long-term ally Defence Minister Hans Christian Thorsen for support, and in a telling moment that support did not come.

Marrot exploded in rage at his supposed colleagues, but the deed was done and  a simple “e tu Thorsen” probably would have served.

The summit was cancelled and out of the embers of Marrot’s Leadership emerged the new Labour  leader a suave, smiling Höxenhaven.

The Princes of political dark arts however were not done. In season one current Ekspres newspaper editor Michael Laugesen was the head of the Labour party and his fall from grace was aided by Höxenhaven, a treachery he had not forgiven or forgotten. Laugesen was also an ally of Marrot all sufficient reason for him to have more than a passing interest in the turmoil in the Labour party.

Laugesen however is not a man who waits for things to happen, he makes things happen. There had long been whispers that Höxenhaven had a penchant for young men despite his marriage of 16 years and this was to prove to be the weapon of choice for Laugesen. He embedded a rent boy in the media team he had sent to cover the cabinet summit with a view to ensnaring Höxenhaven. It worked.

His original plan was to publish an expose written by Katrine Fønsmark in the newspaper, but both her and her editor Hanne Holm had reservations about how relevant an expose on a cabinet minister’s sexuality was. Laugesen argued that the issue was about trust but they remain unconvinced. As the saying goes if you got to do a job properly, you have got to do it yourself.

Cue a late night meeting between Laugesen and Höxenhaven in which copies of the pictures were handed over. I never liked the Höxenhaven character he seemed spineless and untrustworthy but at that moment when he realised everything, his personal and professional life was about to crash down around him, you would have to sympathise.

Shattered, Höxenhaven meets up with Nyborg to tender his resignation and the next day is found dead. He committed suicide using tables Nyborg kept in her office.

In a little moment that again shows the erosion of her wholesomeness, Nyborg agrees to have the source of the tablets covered up. A harmless coverup one might say, but it starts soemwhere.

Outside the political arena Birgitte gets to meet the new woman in ex-husband Philip’s life, Cecile Toft, Amazonian blonde, blue eyes, expert Mexican food cook and a pediatrician what’s not to like if you’re Philip and wants not to dislike if you are Birgitte.

The reality that her marriage is truly over pushes Birgitte into a moment of extreme emotional fragility and straight into the arms and bed of her chauffeur a moment of weakness that would come back to hunt her. I am not sure if it was intentional but the scene where the chauffeur is fixing her plumbing when she entices him is the ultimate parody of a 70′s porn film.

Katrine and Kasper Juul’s never quite ended relationship flickers back into life as they engage in a romantic tryst first at the cabinet summit and later back at Katrine’s flat but there is too much baggage from before and Kasper’s realises (or at least I think he does) that it is not going to work with Katrine. He is not ready to open up to her in the way she wants.

In a desperate move he announces he is cutting off all professional contact with her, but not before Katrine hands him one last bombshell, evidence that Laugesen set Höxenhaven up.

Nyborg confronts Laugesen with the information and demands change in the attitude of his paper to her government, relaxed and smarmy as ever Laugesen brings up ger romantic dalliance with her chauffeur. 1-0 to Laugesen methinks.

BBC4…Nordic Noir TV Fans..Borgen is back for Season 2

5 Jan

It is the depths of winter, the days are short and the nights long, what better time for our seasonal dip in the latest dark haunting drama from Scandinavia. Season 2 of Borgen is back on BBC4 on Saturdays at 9pm.

If you loved ‘The Killing’ (Forbrydelsen) couldn’t wait for your daily fix of ‘The Bridge’ (Broen) and find ‘Wallander’ unmissable then your are almost already a fan of ‘Borgen’. For those who aren’t here is a quick synospis of Season 1 from wikipedia.

With Danish elections to begin soon, Birgitte Nyborg, leader of the Moderate Party is interviewed by Katrine Fønsmark, a journalist for the broadcaster TV1. Both women are unknowingly connected by Nyborg’s media advisor, Kasper Juul, who is also Katrine’s ex-boyfriend. Katrine has been having an affair with Ole Dahl, the communications chief for Prime Minister Lars Hesselboe.

When Dahl dies of a heart attack whilst in bed with Katrine, she panics and contacts Kasper for help. While removing evidence from Dahl’s flat, Kasper comes across sales receipts showing that Hesselboe has made expensive personal purchases using his official credit card. He offers these to Nyborg as a possible bargaining chip for use in the upcoming general election. When Nyborg declines, Kasper gives it to opposition leader Michael Laugesen. After Laugesen reveals the information in a television debate, Nyborg deduces the source and fires Kasper.

Laugesen’s action backfires, however, and many voters reject both him and Hesselboe in favour of the minority parties, including the Moderates. This puts Nyborg in the running for prime minister, a development even she didn’t expect. Although the obvious choice for the office, Nyborg faces condescension and chauvinism from other party leaders, but is buoyed up by the support of her deputy, Bent Sejrø.

Laugesen refuses to support her as leader of a coalition government, but is undermined by his own resentful colleagues, who leak information that leads to his own resignation as party leader. With delicate navigation Nyborg is thus able to form a centre-left coalition government with the Labour and Green Parties, along with support from the far-left Solidarity Party. Laugesen is appointed head of the Ekspres tabloid newspaper, and uses his new position to become the government’s fiercest critic.

Nyborg continues to rely on Bent and her husband Philip for help making her premiership a success. She appoints a new P.R. assistant to replace Kasper, but he quickly proves disastrous during a TV interview with Laugesen. Nyborg re-hires Kasper, who is still troubled by his break-up with Katrine. Kasper learns from Katrine that she became pregnant by Dahl and had an abortion, becoming heartbroken when she begins a short relationship with her fitness instructor. He faces more problems when Laugesen writes a memoir revealing details about the personal lives of several politicians, including Kasper’s role in exposing Hesselboe’s receipts. Katrine realises that he took them from Dahl’s apartment and angrily confronts him.

Nyborg and Kasper manipulate the facts and dismiss Laugesen’s book as “gossip”.
As the parliament prepares to convene, Kasper struggles to write Nyborg’s opening speech. He half-heartedly flirts with Nyborg’s personal secretary, Sanne, who loses her job as a result. Meanwhile, Philip, unhappy with his own position, finally loses faith in his marriage with Nyborg when he is forced to resign as the CEO of a major electronics company to avoid a conflict of interest; he begins an affair with a recruitment consultant. Nyborg attempts to disguise their marital crisis by agreeing to a television documentary about her official and personal life, but calls it off when Philip, unable to stand the subterfuge, insists on a divorce. Katrine, learning that Kasper has obtained editorial control over the programme, resigns from her job with at TV1.

A poor showing in the polls results in Nyborg’s Labour allies approaching her to get a bigger share of Cabinet seats. They focus on Bent, who is obliged to resign as finance minister to make room for a Labour politician. Nyborg’s opening speech is a resounding success, but she is close to an emotional breakdown as the season ends.

The Bridge is in my opinion lighter than its compatriots being as it is focused on the politics, but it does have so fairly heavy emotional moments and definitely worth a watch.