Denmark is the midst of a fiercely contested election race, set against the backdrop of the financial crisis. With ten days to go to the election, Detective Chief Inspector Sarah Lund prepares to celebrate her 25th year in the police force and looks forward to the prospect of a new job in the force. But her relative peace is shattered when body parts are found at Copenhagen dock only hours before a scheduled visit by the prime minister.
Following the kidnapping of Robert Zeuthen’s daughter Emilie, Copenhagen Police put every effort into tracking down the perpetrator and finding the little girl. Meanwhile, the kidnapping has quickly become a hot potato in the election campaign and Prime Minister Kamper must deal with the fallout.
Following the dramatic murder of public prosecutor Peter Schultz, it becomes clear that Emilie Zeuthen’s kidnapper will stop at nothing to recover his debt. However, police remain clueless about the perpetrator’s motives. Lund and Mathias Borch try to cooperate on the case, while Lund makes a surprise reconciliatory visit to her son Mark. The prime minister’s team try to limit his public involvement in the affair of the kidnapping, but yet more troubling information emerges which will make it difficult to focus on the election campaign.
Another failed attempt to capture their man leaves Borch and Lund with a dilemma – should they obey the perpetrator’s instructions or take action in spite of his directives, thereby risking Emilie’s life? Further links to an old unresolved police case continue to emerge, shedding new light on the investigation while marring the prime minister’s political life.
The kidnapper continues to insist that he’s seeking to recover a debt. If Lund is to save Emilie’s life, it will be up to her to find out what the debt is and how it should be repaid. Following a request for Robert Zeuthen’s life in exchange for Emile’s, police set out to organise the exchange. Meanwhile, the integrity of a few high-ranking politicians is called into question, as Prime Minister Kamper takes a dramatic decision.
Police are led to the Jutland region by their investigation. Here, Borch and Lund make an eerie discovery and find themselves in danger. Back at HQ, pressure grows on Brix, as management question his judgment. Prime Minister Kamper hesitates in implementing his decision following doubts about Emilie’s fate. Ussing is found to have been harbouring a secret.
A new element turns out to play a role of great significance in the investigation. Borch and Lund have a hard time shaking off their Jutland experience, and their working relationship suffers as a result. Robert and Maja harbour hopes that Emilie may still be alive and Zeeland throw all their resources into tracking her down, as a secret is revealed from an unlikely source within the family. Police run checks on Ussing’s movements over the last couple of years.
A suspect is taken in for examination as the police try to find out more about the notebook they discovered, but things go less than smoothly. The prime minister and his close aids become the focus of police attention, as Karen is also found to be hiding a dangerous secret which could prove fatal for the government. Borch and Lund’s trip to Jutland begins to have consequences. Robert Zeuthen intensifies the hunt for his daughter, despite coming under heavy pressure from the Zeeland board. Maja takes sides. A witness turns up who may have important information about Emilie.
Sarah Lund is held back in her attempts to make headway with the investigation, but at least the perpetrator finally has a face. Will he lead police and the Zeuthens to Emilie? Prime Minister Kamper is trying to clean up his circle as he attempts to find out what happened to his son. Suspicions arise about a trusted Zeeland figure as Robert Zeuthen considers drastic action.
It’s election day and the Prime Minister has everything to gain, as long as Emilie’s fate remains uncertain. Kamper is still haunted by personal demons, and issues of loyalty from within his own ranks rear their ugly heads once again. Meanwhile, as Lund and Borch start to look ahead, police are led to an undisclosed location in a last ditch attempt to find Emilie before it’s too late. They are followed by a now dangerously tense Robert Zeuthen. Will the operation succeed in bringing the girl to safety?