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'Van der Valk' Recap: Season 3 Episode 3

Daniel Hautzinger
Hendrik, Van der Valk, and Lucienne look over a railing
The team investigates the murder of a museum curator by a possibly antique sword. Credit: Company Pictures, NL Films & A3MI

Van der Valk airs Sundays at 9:00 pm and is available to stream via the PBS app and Recap the previous and following episodes.
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Eddie and Citra are integrated into the team enough now that they get to undergo the ritual of waking Van der Valk on his houseboat after a hard night of drinking. Hendrik and Lucienne are there, too, the latter with a woman whose name she can’t remember. They’re all ready to spring into action at the scene of a murder, however, despite their hangovers. Van der Valk and then Lucienne both ignore calls from Van der Valk’s ex Lena on the way. 

Ric van der Molden was a curator at the Culturmuseum whose girlfriend Zoe Waterman had thrown him a party at her apartment to celebrate the opening of his new exhibition, “Colonialism and Restitution.” Ric went to the basement to take a phone call around 5:30 am and was found dead by Zoe only twelve minutes later when she went to look for him. He was stabbed, probably by a sword. The basement was only accessible from the building, so he must have been killed by someone at the party or in another apartment. Two people were seen on CCTV leaving the building around the time Ric was murdered. Zoe doesn’t recognize them.

Ric was opposed to returning some of the museum’s artifacts to their countries of origins, because he thought it would lead to the emptying out of museums’ collections. Zoe hadn’t been dating him long, but she held a different view, and was the opposite of him in many ways. An organization called Restitution of Ancient Artifacts opposed the exhibition, spreading leaflets and graffiti against it.

The sole person behind the organization, Johanna Kolen, tells Eddie and Citra that she disliked Ric because he continually came up with excuses for the museum not to return artifacts. Zoe tried to help Ric understand Johanna’s viewpoint. Johanna thought Ric’s exhibition was a sham. And she had Ric’s phone number.

The phone that called Ric before he died was unregistered, but it is traced to a public trash can. Citra and Eddie pick it up.

Meanwhile, Van der Valk learns that Ric’s real name was Eric—important because he is from Rotterdam, and Van der Valk worked a case twenty years ago there that involved an Eric van der Molden as his key witness. They’re the same person.

Ric was best friends with two brothers who were his neighbors in Rotterdam. When he was 12, they were killed and then their house was burned down. Their older sister Jasmijn Brahm, who was 16, was convicted for the murders, in large part on the basis of a statement from Ric. He said she got angry when her brothers smashed her bird egg collection. Other neighbors heard her threaten her brothers, then go off and get drunk. She apparently used her brothers’ favorite toy to set fire to the house and locked them in. Ric claimed she laughed while she did it. She never denied any of it, although Van der Valk points out she said she couldn’t remember anything.

Jasmijn was held up as an example of pure evil in the press, and Van der Valk and Dahlman’s old colleague Jan still believes it, as he tells Van der Valk when they meet. He has followed Jasmijn’s trajectory closely, having never been able to get over the case. She got degrees in theology and psychology in prison and eventually published a Ph.D thesis on the treatment of juvenile offenders before being released early. She now lives under protection and a new name.

The case was an important one for Van der Valk, as Dahlman explains: it was the first time he went against the grain. There were calls to reinstate the death penalty for Jasmijn; Van der Valk resisted. Van der Valk and Jan were the ones to find the burned bodies of the boys. Dahlman herself didn’t work the case, but she has some sort of complicated relationship to Jan. 

Hendrik determines that Ric was killed by a very sharp silver blade with a wooden hilt. Turns out Ric wanted a rare Indonesian sword for his exhibition but couldn’t get it; its owner, the collector Max Langenburg, wouldn’t lend it, even though he’s on the museum’s board. He didn’t buy it to share it.

Max’s house is full of artifacts, including his prized sword. The sword belonged to a legendary Indonesian female freedom fighter from around the turn of the eighteenth century. He says the sword hasn’t left his house since he bought it, and he has security, but Hendrik finds traces of blood on it that he suspects are more recent than 250 years old. He takes a sample for testing.

Eddie and Citra visit one of the party guests, Herman Zaal, who evinced a morbid fascination with the details of Ric’s death. Herman runs a true crime museum and knows the details of Jasmijn Brahm’s case well. But he says Ric sought him out, not the other way around. Ric was fascinated by evil and loved Herman’s museum.

Van der Valk and Dahlman meet with Jasmijn’s handler, Hanna Zuiderduin, to try to arrange a meeting. Hanna is protective of Jasmijn, and insists that Jasmijn couldn’t have committed the crime; Hanna knows her too well. She suggests that Van der Valk’s work on the original case might affect his objectivity, and insists that he plays by the rules. But she agrees to speak with Jasmijn and her husband—they have two kids now, and reside in Amsterdam. Jasmijn now lives under the name Lauren Teuling and is a journalist.

Lauren’s husband wants to protect her privacy, but she herself agrees to meet with the police: she has nothing to hide. When she does meet Lucienne and Van der Valk with Hanna, she explains that she hasn’t seen Ric since twenty years ago. He did write to her in prison, asking why she killed her brothers, but she later learned that her response was intercepted. It never got to him.

When the interview wraps up, Hanna says that any further contact must be through her. But Van der Valk sets Eddie and Citra to follow them and see where Lauren lives.

Jan calls Van der Valk and asks to meet him immediately at a greenhouse. Van der Valk tries to slip away, but Dahlman insists on coming with him. Jan calls again while they’re on the way, and says that he thinks somebody is after him. He’s interrupted, and then there’s a yell. When Van der Valk and Dahlman arrive, Jan is on the ground, pushed off a catwalk. He tells Van der Valk to look after “her”—perhaps meaning Dahlman, perhaps meaning his wife and daughters, perhaps meaning Lauren. Then he dies.