Tag Archives: Nyborg

BBC4…Borgen hits Season 2 and is still brilliant.

8 Jan

I have finally caught up with BBC 4′s Borgen double header opening to season 2. Second seasons are always tricky, you have had a great first season and now have a reputation to live upto, something to be compared against.

Borgen did not disappoint, it was as good as it was last season. The political drama and backstabbing flowed as thickly, and the human drama that under pinned it was superbly acted as usual.

The first episode centered around Denmark’s involvement in Afghanistan. In the opening scene  we met a young Danish soldier about to go out on reconnaissance in Helmand Province in Afghanistan.  As Politicians are wont to do Birgitte Nyborg had popped in on a ‘meet the troops’ visit. The young squadie cheekily asked for a photograph with  the Prime Minister remarking how rare it was to have “babes” around camp.

That meeting set the scene for the episode as shortly after the photograph the Taliban launched an offensive killing eight Danish soldiers including the young soldier Nyborg had met and throwing her long-held policy aim to withdraw Denmark from the war into disarray.

Nyborg was now faced with three stark choices, withdraw and hand a political victory to the Taliban as well as upset Denmark’s allies, keep the military deployment with no change and face accusations that the soldiers are being abandoned to their fate, or strengthen the deployment and face accusations that she was escalating the war and possibly fracturing the ruling coalition.

Borgen on the surface is about Birgitte Nyborg, but it is really about a journey of discovery of two women Birgitte Nyborg and Katrine Fonsmark whose fate often intertwines with Nyborg’s and the debacle in Afghanistan once again brought their fates together.

Katrine was embedded with the Danish army at the time of the attack and was witness to its aftermath. On return to Denmark her boss and arch-enemy of the Prime Minister, Michael Laugesson, wanted to use the death of the soldiers to do a hatchet job on the Prime Minister.

Katrine is reluctant to do this and instead pushes for a human interest angle by focusing on the family of a dead soldier, which by coincidence turns out to the same soldier the Prime Minister met in Afghanistan.

Borgen is so well written that sometimes you forget that you are watching a foreign import, but other times you think really? When Katrine went to interview the dead soldier’s father her cold, pushy matter of fact manner was unusual particularly given that she is supposedly one of the more empathetic characters. I suspect even the sleaziest hack from a fleet street tabloid would have been more circumspect in those circumstances.

Ultimately it is the anguish of the bereaved father that resolves the Prime Minister’s dilemma and provides Katrine with the copy she needs for her paper.  A letter from his son sent in the event of his death reveals why he served in Afghanistan, and although his Father could not rationalise the reasons, that along with political realities sways the Prime Minister to increase Denmark’s commitment to the war, and the letter also provides Katrine with the perfect copy she was after.

The reason it did was all down to 89,000 children.

In the second episode of the double-header,  the European Union was the source of Nyborg’s problems. Denmark needed to nominate a new Commissioner, straight forward proposition you might think but not in the murky world of politics. Having to make that choice also laid bare how much Nyborg’s relationship with the man who was effectively her mentor, Bent Serjo, had deteriorated.

Bent had become increasingly critical of Nyborg’s policies, and her removing him from the cabinet last season had not helped matters. After another heated argument we see her berating him for not booking appointments with just like everyone else coming to see her. As her exasperation with Bent grew, a suggestion from one of the rising stars of her party, Jacob Fruse seemed to offer the perfect solution.

Fruse a man who reminds me of Boycie from Only Fools and Horses and therefore instantly untrustworthy suggested that Bent be offered the EU commissioner’s job. Shipping him off to Brussels was just the solution Nyborg needed, but there were problems. Bent did not want to go. He eventually came round but unexpectedly at a farewell party to mark the appointment he suffered a heart attack.

It turns out that Fruse had known Bent had a previous attack but neglected to tell the Prime Minister hoping that with Bent out of the way he could take a step closer to becoming Nyborg’s eventual successor. His Machiavellian plot was uncovered and he was dispatched (or should that be exiled) to Brussels for his sins.

Off the main story arc we saw the slow lingering death of Nyborg’s marriage, a reality she was struggling to come to terms with.

The suave but troubled Kasper Juul has a new girlfriend but in an inopportune moment refers to her as Katrine and to compound matters opts to celebrate Katrine’s birthday with her forcing his girl friend to cancel plans she’d made earlier. She seemed baffingly understanding about the whole thing.

Meanwhile Katrine’s relationship with her colleague Hanne Holm strengthened as Hannah revealed the hurt of her pretty non-existent relationship with her own daughter.

Roll on episode 3!

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.