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TV Review: Borgen – “100 Days”

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Link TV’s Borgen continues with “100 Days.” Katrine (Birgitte Hjort Sørensen) gets some information from a leak within the military that the U.S. is using Thule Air Base in Greenland as a stop off while transporting illegal detainees. Katrine breaks the story on air. This is terrible timing for Nyborg (Sidse Babett Kundsen), looking for a positive to play up after one hundred days in office. But with characteristic tenacity, she not only visits Greenland, but takes up some of their causes as well. With the help of Kasper (Johan Philip Asbæk), she also manages to ride the case out of the media spotlight. Unfortunately, as Katrine learns there is still more to explore, her contact dies, possibly murdered.

The title “100 Days” is not a straight translation of the episode’s original title, “Op til kamp.” Instead, it appears Borgen wishes to play up the 100 Day milestone, a major landmark for any new leader in the U.S., to an American audience. Nyborg discusses her own 100 Day legacy, but is more concerned with the crisis at hand, and only resolves the image issue with happy circumstance. Kasper, on the other hand, is much more cynical. As unsexy as Greenland is, he’ll take it as a win, as Nyborg won’t let the conversation drift towards something else anyway.

Up until now in Borgen, Nyborg only deals with political crisis within the squabbling parties that make up Parliament. But in “100 Days,” she is faced with a real international incident. She weathers the storm quite well, not letting the pressure of the situation push her off of message, nor shirking from dealing with the media coverage. She looks at every angle of the situation, and finds the deeper meaning behind the problem. She is learning to play the game a little, allowing herself to lie during an interview. But her intentions seem to be to calm the situation, rather than just to save face.

While lesser politicians send Intelligence officers to search Katrine’s apartment and press charges against the news program and the employees involved, Nyborg upholds the image of free speech. She doesn’t try to save the journalists from the law, but she doesn’t seek revenge on them for doing their jobs, either. Does this mean Nyborg isn’t quite as concerned with her ideals any longer? Is the office changing her? Or does she have to choose her battles, with free speech not being something she considers worthy of her immediate attention, at least not yet? Either way, she does show leadership, but doesn’t go quite as far in the name of justice as an idealist might wish she would.

Katrine is actually proving quite adept at handling tough situations, as well. With much of episodes two and three concerning her grief over losing her lover, “100 Days” gives her the chance to show her professional mettle. She stands up for her source and for the story, caring about her contact, and doing everything she can to help. When her boss, Torben Friis (Søren Malling), backs down, she pushes him, though not going as far as to lose her job over it. This shows intelligence as well as bravery. Thankfully, former colleague Hanne Holm (Benedikte Hansen), finally impressed with Katrine, is able to help out, promoting the story in other news outlets until the police have no choice but to drop their case, as there will be too many people to prosecute.

There are some interesting parallels in this episode of Borgen, with characters comparing Denmark’s relationship to Greenland with the United States’s relationship with Denmark. In both situations, a much more powerful country runs over the wants and wishes of a small power, with no regard for those it affects. Nyborg is noble enough to want to do something about Greenland, but the U.S., especially the CIA, are seen as bad people. If only the writers of the series could realize that many, many Americans share the Danes’ opinions about President Bush and his policies, and the treatment by our military and government towards other nations. It’s not a universal attitude.

Interestingly, though the “American President” is mentioned a number of times in “100 Days,” only Bush is called out by name, and only once. Obama is not mentioned, so it’s unclear what the characters think of the current leadership. Along those lines, it could be pointed out that Nyborg having to clean up her predecessor’s mess can be compared to Obama cleaning up Bush’s. But Borgen doesn’t stop to examine that aspect.

Borgen airs Saturdays at 9:30 p.m. ET, 6:30 p.m. PT, on Link TV. The episodes are also available at http://LinkTV.org/Borgen for up to two weeks after air date, for those that do not get Link TV.

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About JeromeWetzelTV

Jerome writes TV reviews for BlogCritics.org and Seat42F.com, as well as fiction. He is a frequent guest on two podcasts, Let's Talk TV with Barbara Barnett and The Good, the Bad, & the Geeky. All of his work can be found on his website, jeromewetzel.com