Just finished watching Borgen: Power and Glory and wanted to give a few thoughts on it.

Initially the most surprising thing about Borgen: Power and Glory is how similar it is to the 2010s series. Who's still here? The ubiquitous Søren Malling is back as a slightly rounder Torben Friis, whose story arc was the standout of series 3. Of course Nyborg is back, and looking much the same; Katrine Fønsmark returns with a more harried visage. A new actor plays Magnus, well-cast; Laura shows up as well, sadly only for a couple of brief cameos. Søren Ravn, also one of the highlights of series 3, is back as well. The themes tread familiar ground of power and negotiation in the political and personal sphere.

Of course, the show had to be updated for the 2020s. One notable absence is the open sexism in the newsroom. In the original series, TV1 newsroom cads would frequently assess female anchors candidly on their looks, unopposed by Friis. Not so here: Katrine Fonsmark now heads up TV1. One may find this a pristinely 'woke' appointment on the surface, but the wrinkle lies in her constant conflicts with her staff. Fonsmark, who was an intransigent rebel under Torben Friis's direction becomes, in effect, "the establishment", makes numerous concessions to pragmatism, and is in turn forced to question herself by young staffers. Mie's request for maternity leave echoes Katrine's similar injunction to Friis in Borgen, when she asks for permission to date Kasper. Fonsmark mishandles this, and the situation explodes in her face through social media. The tweets and messages sent by the characters appear on the screen to advance the plot, unlike the original series where these happened mainly by phone. This is only partially successful: it contributes to a pacing problem with the show.

Fonsmark feuds with the West Asian-looking star anchor, Narciza Aydin, who continually breaks agreements with interviewees in order to focus on pressing human rights issues. Fonsmark falls into the role that Friis formerly had with respect to herself, acting as a constraining force on a maverick reporter. However Narciza is presented rather unsympathetically (and don't you think her name is rather on-the-nose?) Fonsmark, on the other hand, seems to handle the situation rather badly, bulldozing through the office and nakedly asserting her authority. One wonders if the writers are pointing out that this, too, has changed, that these tactics no longer works in a modern office environment; whether, put bluntly, these entitled millenials are not respecting the chain-o'-command. Regardless, the viewer feels sorry for Fonsmark, for whom this conflict with Narciza precipitates a small-scale mental breakdown.

The figure of Asger Holm Kierkegaard is an interesting one. He is something of a nebbish, sharply dressed but lacking street-smarts, and somewhat lacking in a certain masculine strength -- witness his fear of flying and perpetual motion sickness. One wonders if he's intended to replace Kasper Juul. Juul was an archetype of toxic masculinity: promiscuous, troubled, emotionally inarticulate, and supremely square-jawed. Asger is few of these things, though arguably he is promiscuous, entering into an affair with the Greenlandic ambassador's wife. I enjoyed this plotline for its workaday nature: the affair was not glamourized, but rather presented as something ignoble, slightly sordid but still rather touching. The plotline with Tanja I largely did not follow, although Malik was a good character; shame that he had to die to progress the storyline.

Nyborg's storyline is good, though the international politics are sometimes inscrutable. The intense coalition politics of Borgen seems to be largely absent here, which makes sense plot-wise given Nyborg's status as foreign minister rather than PM, but I slightly rued its absence nonetheless. Nyborg's moments with Magnus are great fanservice for viewers of the original series. Their arguments and battles seem wholly believable. Nyborg's descent into cynical political manouevring, aided and abetted by Laugesen, also seems realistic, troubling as it is. Laugesen is well used here as the Dark Lord of spin. Magnus always had a troubled relationship with his mother, so the foreshadowing of the original series plays well here.

The show has been reworked to have an overarching plot for the whole series, rather than a "monster of the week" story structure, as the original series had. This mode is certainly de rigeur for a modern prestige TV series. However the show suffers from questionable pacing. The first 30 minutes of every hour-long episode struggles to keep the viewer's attention as it sets up the drama of the final half. There are facts, figures, and dialogue flying around as fast as the eye can see; blink and you could miss a key plot point. This was the biggest issue with the show to me. It would probably benefit from a second watch.