Deeper wrinkles, different themes, but Borgen still feels good

Johanne Louise Schmidt as Prime Minister Signe Kragh in season 4 of Borgen.Image Mike Kollöffel / Netflix

‘Times are changing’, says Niels Erik Lund, right-hand man of the Danish Prime Minister, somewhere halfway through the first episode of the latest season of Secure† At least he says ‘nye tider‘, which doesn’t sound at all like you think nye tider should sound like, but more like neu-til† Lund (as far as we know not related to Sarah) tells Birgitte Nyborg who, as we all remembered after the final episode of season 3, is no longer prime minister, but foreign minister. The premier in the new season of Secure is Signe Kragh, a woman about ten years younger than Nyborg. So you could call Kragh the new Birgitte Nyborg and Birgitte Nyborg the new – wait, maybe this is going a little too fast.

Times change. We were living in an uncluttered Netflix-less world when Nyborg and his associates came on the scene in 2010. Together with The KillingForbrydelsenSarah Lund, the jersey, Troels Hartmann) formed Secure a turning point in how we experienced and consumed television. The hypnotic Danish gibberish, the intricate plots, the great acting and that strange, secure feeling you can experience when you watch people who rarely smile and still have to go outside under the most dire circumstances, made the viewer want more – and that also got. Another season of Secure, and another one. Also The Killing continued the success and in their wake followed, among others The Bridge and The Legacy† Denmark was the new Hollywood.

But Secure and The Killing did more than put Denmark firmly on the map as a producer of high-quality television drama. They were at the beginning of what would soon be called the new Golden Age of television. Series, you heard more and more often, are the new films. TV is the new cinema. Why try to squeeze another story into an hour and a half or two, when you can spread it out over ten hours – and people need that too? The term binge watching made its appearance and not much later we were able to stuff ourselves with unlimited movies and series with a subscription to Netflix. Secure was the standard-bearer of that revolution, it changed the status quo, as the young Birgitte Nyborg changed Danish politics. And just before the scandi fatigue set in, left Secure the scene after three seasons.

Image from Borgen.  Image Mike Kollöffel / Netflix

Image from Borgen.Image Mike Kollöffel / Netflix

Now, almost ten years later, the Netherlands has more streaming services than churches. Disney+, Amazon Prime, NPO Plus, Videoland, HBO Max, Apple TV, Viaplay, Ziggo Movies & Series, NLZiet, Pathe Thuis, Cinemember, Cinetree, Lumière and by the time you have finished this sentence there will probably be one or two more came to. The range of films, series, documentaries and reality pulp is as vast as it is cluttered. Not everything is good – much is unlovingly produced uniformity – but there are undeniably many more high-quality series than ten years ago. How does Securewhich once paved the way over which the streaming circus now thunders, standing in the year 2022?

Excellent, it seems based on the first three episodes. In any case, writer Adam Price has done everything he can to love Secure to make another current, relevant series that can keep up with the times. As foreign minister, Birgitte Nyborg faces a complicated problem: a huge oil field is discovered in Greenland. Greenland wants to use those billions to finally gain independence (it belongs administratively to Denmark), but Nyborg, as foreign minister responsible for Greenland’s policy, thinks the environment and climate goals are more important.

Moreover, the planned oil extraction also seems to involve interference from Russia, which is also at war with Ukraine in the series. Nyborg’s son Magnus has grown up to be a grumpy teenager and rambunctious climate activist who steals a truckload of pigs and releases them. And then there’s Katrine Fønsmark, the former journalist who appeared in the final season of Secure for the party New Democrats Nyborg’s right-hand man. She has left politics and is the new editor-in-chief of the news channel TV1, that everything is about boosting the viewing figures.

The cheerful, progressive Birgitte ‘hej hej’ Nyborg is once again made difficult from all sides. And then she also has to give political accountability to the woman ten years her junior who has taken her place – as prime minister, but also as the rising star of Danish politics.

Of course, all that wrestling, scheming and intrigue is again traditionally accompanied by the comforting Danish murmurs; the grave, pale faces; throats that are excessively scraped and a carefully chosen one here and there hold that kaeft (which is best translated as ‘damn it’). The themes have changed, the wrinkles in the faces a little deeper, the proportions shifted, but in a way it feels as if Birgitte Nyborg and the hair have never been gone. Of course they are. And that’s a good thing, because otherwise the reunion would never have been so pleasant.

Spin doctor

One face not to be seen in the new season of Secure is that of spin doctor Kasper Juul, played by Pilou Asbæk. After the first three seasons of Secure Asbæk played roles in, among others, the series Game of Thrones and the movies Lucy and Ben Hur† He is currently shooting for the movie Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom† It is still unclear exactly what role he will play, but probably not that of spin doctor.

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