sun 17/11/2019

Borgen, Series 3 Finale, BBC Four | reviews, news & interviews

Borgen, Series 3 Finale, BBC Four

Borgen, Series 3 Finale, BBC Four

Bye bye Birgitte: do take a selfie on the way out. (This review contains spoilers)

Good sidekick, bad sidekick: Sidse Babett Knudsen with Birgitte Hjort Sørensen and Alastair MackenzieBBC/DR/Mike Kollöffel

It’s been a confusing week for British fans of Borgen. As they prepared to say farewell to Birgitte Nyborg and co, their beloved statsminister’s factual avatar was trending in the global media. If you know your Borgen, Danish PM Helle Thorning-Schmidt’s selfie with a President and a Prime Minister looked more like a brilliant script idea than a pesky news item. As outlets in Denmark and beyond devoted pages of print and hours of screen time to unpicking the semiotics of the moment, you can bet series creator Adam Price kicked himself he hadn’t thought of it as a storyline.

Anyway, Birgitte Nyborg is gone, not from Danish politics but from our screens. At least she didn’t die of cancer, the third and final trial sent her way after the divorce and her daughter’s mental health thrown across her path in the two previous series. The latest scary lump turned out to be fluid syringed away with the wave of a scriptwriter's wand.

As for the politics, the denouement chose to tread a suitably Borgenish line between wish fulfilment and miserablism. The New Democrats ended up holding 13 seats and the balance of power. In a characteristic outbreak of principled thinking, Nyborg turned down the chance to seize back power in a left-wing coalition cooked up in an ill-lit colonnade and instead will be roaming the world as Lars Hesselboe’s foreign minister. It's good to imagine her out there hanging with the Hagues and Kerrys, while the absence of a fourth series ensures we will be spared the prospect of Sidse Babett Knudsen acting in English. For all her fluency, Nyborg is a much less compelling actress in English. When she had that outbreak of rage in the back of the car, you just wished it had been in Danish to make all the colours visible.

Also on the plus side, we shan’t have to suffer further exposure to the charisma void that is Nyborg’s tepid starchitect walk-on boyfriend Jeremy Welsh. Alastair Mackenzie hasn’t been given anything interesting to say, nor found an interesting way to cover up that fact. Rabbits in headlights have looked less fearful of being eaten alive than Mackenzie in scenes with Babett Knudsen (apart from in the scene pictured above). If only the scriptwriters had just brought back Philip, the turbo-hunk hubbie who brought out Nyborg’s vulnerable side, but then that was never going to happen. Also regrettably sidelined in this third series has been the avuncular and puppyishly faithful Bent Sejrø, who castigated his protégée for setting up her own party before almost instantly following her out the door. His last catalytic role was to encourage Nyborg to go solo and let the suitors from Left and Right come to her.

As for the other plotlines which required rounding up and herding over the finish line, the most satisfying of all found TV1 news producer Torben Friis finally besting his risible ratings-chaser slave-master Alex Hjort. Hjort’s fatuous plan to jazz up the election debate by sticking feminist Valkyrie Hanne Holm into a leather skirt and babydoll curls came to naught. Søren Malling (pictured left) as Torben has taken the acting honours in this third series, carefully suggesting a man struggling to keep a lid on a volcano.

And then there is Katrine Fønsmark (Birgitte Hjort Sørensen), who having tried and tested Hjort as a fuck-buddy has somewhat surprisingly found love with the New Moderates’ grizzled economics guru. Søren (Lars Mikkelsen) also happened to be the latest of several actors to tack across from The Killing (across the three series I counted six major cross-castings: do suggest more in the comments box below). It's clear that Borgen's responsible feminist agenda was to show Danish liberal women grappling with the work-life balance. But did anyone else think Katrine and Kasper Juul might have tried a little harder to stick together for their adorable little boy (who proved to be quite a performer himself)?

Of course it’s conflict that feeds drama. But as Borgen has amply proved across three emotionally literate and yet also gripping series, so does compromise.

Rabbits in headlights have looked less fearful of being eaten alive than Mackenzie in scenes with Babett Knudsen

rating

Editor Rating: 
4
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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Comments

Wasn't Birgitte leader of the New Democrats, who got 13 seats? Or was there cross-casting as part of the review? Or, being British, did I not understand all the coalition stuff???

Slip of the pen. corrected with thanks.

Borgen/Ripper Street cross over time: the BBC's crass decision to cancel Ripper Street suggests that Alex Hjort has landed a new job as the corporation's head of drama.

Ha! Very well spotted.

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