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'Van der Valk' Recap: Season 3 Episode 5

Daniel Hautzinger
Van der Valk talks to a man whose back is to the camera in a large room
Van der Valk is called to a castle where a magic ritual is taking place—along with a murder. 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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Van der Valk and Lucienne arrive at a castle on the outskirts of Amsterdam, where a murder has been reported. They find a group of people linking hands on one floor and a locked door upstairs. That’s where the murder has taken place, according to Valentijn Meijer. He was part of the circle downstairs, but left and went outside to call the police when he heard shouting from the upstairs room. Hans Lansing, the only one with a key to the room, wouldn’t let Valentijn or Katya Alsteen interrupt once they got nervous. The agreement was that the door wouldn’t be opened until the morning, no matter what.

The detectives make Hans break that agreement, and find Nik Delacorte dead on the floor with his eyes gouged out. Isaak Engelhart is in a corner with blood on his hands. There’s a ring of candles in sand, with goat hoofprints in the sand, and incense in the corner. Isaak says Belphegor did it.

The whole group is known as Sanguis Lunae: the Order of the Blood Moon. They’re a secret society that tries to invoke demons and do other magic rituals. Valentijn thought they were relatively benign, until tonight.

Isaak and Nik were trying to summon the demon Belphegor. The room they were in was locked from the outside, the windows nailed shut, with no other entrance. Isaak is obviously the likely murderer, but he has suffered some mental breakdown and is sent to a psychiatric hospital—coincidentally, given that Nik was a psychiatrist and Isaak a brain surgeon.

Hendrik doesn’t believe Isaak is responsible, however, even though his fingerprints are all over the ritual dagger used to kill Nik, given that he was holding it during the summoning. There’s no trace of viscera from Nik’s eyes on Isaak, and none on Nik’s hands, either, so he couldn’t have gouged his eyes out himself. Someone—or something—else was in the room.

Nik’s wife is shocked by news of her husband’s death, and of his involvement in such a society. She suspected a possible affair—their marriage wasn’t the best—but not that. Her hand is bandaged, she says from cutting it while cleaning up a glass one of her children had dropped.

Nik’s office has odd amulets and ingredients strewn throughout it, and there’s a dead cat on the carpet next to “666” written in blood. Hendrik later determines that the cat died of old age, elsewhere, and the blood is not from the animal. The scene is staged to look like a sacrifice.

Hendrik was a regular at a place where Nik also drank, and knows that Nik drank a lot. When he died, he had alcohol and a whole cocktail of other drugs in his system. He also has a “magic square” tattooed on his back: five Latin words in a grid that is a palindrome.

It’s supposed to serve as protection from demons, who supposedly can’t read backwards, Hans tells the detectives. He’s a tattoo artist himself, and also owns a nightclub. All of the main members of the order had magic square tattoos—so why didn’t Nik’s wife know from his tattoo that he was into magic?

Katya isn’t actually a member of the order. She’s Isaak’s granddaughter, and now regrets her involvement.  She’s visiting Isaak at the hospital when the detectives arrive. He’s sedated and speaking mostly gibberish, including the Latin words of the magic square. He tries to draw a protective circle around everyone as they talk.

Then suddenly he starts making sense. “He’s a liar, a cheat,” he says, describing how the wine started to vibrate during the ritual and he saw a face in the incense. Nik had left the protective circle and he tried to call him back in, but then blacked out until Van der Valk and Lucienne arrived. He sensed some other presence first. Angelique, Hecate’s agent on Earth, was attacking. He shares an address for her.

Van der Valk and Lucienne visit. It’s the site of a business called Karma Rousa, after the proprietor Angelique Rousa. She offers meditation, divination, things like that. She explains that Hecate is a maligned but potent goddess. She knew and disapproved of the “old-school” Nik and Isaak; she is popular on social media.

Angelique suddenly starts detailing a distressing childhood memory of Lucienne’s.

Lucienne, upset, leaves. She doesn’t want to talk about it.

Hans confronts Angelique later, asking if she messed with the disastrous ritual. She laughs, saying she has bigger things to focus on, and tells Hans that now he can be the order’s leader, with Nik and Isaak out of the way.

Some seven people have left the order in the past year, but one stands out: Mila Manderfeld, who used to work at Hans’ nightclub and was a patient of both Nik and Isaak. She hasn’t left the country, but her bank accounts haven’t been used in about nine months.

Hendrik and Citra visit Hans’ club, where members of the order have gathered to mourn Nik. They explain that Mila didn’t fit in to the order well and they don’t remember much about her, although she was having an affair with Nik. They didn’t know she was his patient.

The detectives discover old building plans for the castle where the ritual took place that show a door they didn’t see. Van der Valk and Eddie investigate and discover there is a hidden door in the bar that leads through passages and rooms to a hidden door in the ritual room. Goat hooves and some electronic equipment—perhaps to make wine in a wineglass vibrate, as Isaak saw—are found in the passages.

There’s some sort of organic matter on the inside of the hidden door to the ritual room—traces of Nik’s eyeballs? The door opens behind where Nik and Isaak were performing their ritual, so someone could have snuck in behind them, perhaps costumed like a demon.

At the hospital, Isaak smashes his head against a wall until he bleeds, then writes with his blood on the wall and mirror. When an orderly comes in to check on him, he stabs the nurse with a syringe he has stolen and flees.