Every season, the Drama After Dark team gathers ‘round the (currently virtual) conference room table to watch the latest and greatest in British dramas. This month, we’re incredibly excited to bring you coverage of MASTERPIECE’s new show Van der Valk. If you were looking for a moody, gritty mini-series that’ll make you want to abscond to Amsterdam, Van der Valk is for you. I’m here to recap the season as it happens just in case you, Dear Reader, miss an episode and haven’t yet been able to catch up on GBH Passport.
Morning. A canal. And… bicycles? We’re most decidedly not in Kansas, friends. The show opens with two dudes on bikes racing through the twisty streets of Amsterdam, pursued by some very serious police officers. At first it looks like they escape, but no: one of the dudes is, despite his European Johnny Cash ensemble, actually a lawman. I have to assume the stunt budget for this show is negligible, but it’s enough to get us a short but sweet bike fight, quickly culminating in Euro Cash handcuffing the other dude (who I think you should know is wearing a Classic Mafia Tracksuit) to a bridge. He has just enough time to catch his breath and make a cheeky quip about the weather while we process that it’s the same actor who we all just learned to hate when he played Captain Sideburns in Beecham House. Hopefully he’s ditched his evil ways along with the evil facial hair!
From the opening credits that follow, I gather that he’s probably our main man Van der Valk, but sorry VDV, I already named you Euro Cash.
But enough about him, because we’re headed to a party. I don’t personally know if the folks in Amsterdam actually throw house parties where everyone wears elaborate animal masks, or if the rest of Europe just assumes the whole place is a giant patchwork quilt of paraphilias, but either way, I have to be honest with you — because if you can’t be honest in a recap, when can you? — it looks pretty fun.
Not having fun? Euro Cash, who’s struggling through an internet date. He definitely doesn’t want to be there, and he definitely isn’t interested in revealing anything factual about himself, which leaves me wondering why he’s leading this nice lady on. Bad Boys have to be bad, I guess. He makes the giant mistake of saying he’s a quantum physicist, and to my delight, his date is a big fan of physics and goes off on a topic Euro Cash definitely doesn’t know anything about. Serves you right, bro. Thankfully, we don’t have to suffer through the rest of this awkward date, skipping ahead to Euro Cash’s less than triumphant return to his houseboat.
Across town, the animal party is still in full swing, but two of the guests have left to do a job. They’re not excited about it, but their boss has insisted, so here we are. Unfortunately, their annoying job isn’t changing the toner, or TPS reports; it’s punching some poor kid in the face and then pulling him out of his car. They came somewhat prepared, with a spare mask for the kid, but they’re definitely amature kidnappers, because while moving the car they get spotted by a different kid who just happens to be walking by and recognizes the first guy. If that wasn’t bad enough, while they’re shoving the second dude into their van, a THIRD guy comes out of his house and threatens to call the cops on them. Before he can, they just grab him too. Mondays, amiright??
This comedy of errors stops being funny pretty quickly, because we skip ahead to the next morning, and a dead body half floating in the canal. Our cop friend from yesterday is already on the scene when Euro Cash arrives, so she fills him in. It looks like it’s the second guy to get kidnapped by the Party Animals, a 20-year-old student named Milan. Why are they the only two cops on the scene? Well, everyone is still out celebrating their arrest from yesterday, which quickly becomes clear as the coroner sloppily drifts his car into the cordon, gets out, and immediately vomits. Not to worry, he’s fairly professional when they get back to the morgue, where Milan’s stern father confirms his son’s identity. Euro Cash tries to get a few answers out of dad on the way out, but stern might have been an understatement: he doesn’t know anything about Milan’s plans from last night, and he won’t say whether Milan was in a relationship.
Stern Dad: You just think my son brought this on himself somehow — you don’t know my kid!
Euro Cash: If I get to know him, I can solve this crime!
Stern Dad: Fine. Innocent! Idealistic! And just because you people live in the gutter doesn’t mean the rest of us do: I could tell the coroner was wasted, bro!
Euro Cash, ignoring the frankly fair dig at his coworker: Wait, what do you mean “idealist”?
Stern Dad: Just do your job! I’m storming off!
Back at the office, we meet the newest member of the squad, who helpfully fills us in on some details about Milan’s family; specifically, that his parents are academics who don’t like cops. Euro Cash’s cop pal, whose name is apparently Hassell, takes this info dump in stride, even skimming the proffered printouts to quickly deduce that Milan was gay. Euro Cash, not so much:
Euro Cash: First of all, why are you at my desk? Second of all:
New Guy: Ah, right — I’m Job Clooves.
New Guy: Yup. That’s really my name. I asked to transfer onto this team!
New Guy: Oh, neat, I see that much like my biblical namesake I get to be tested to show that Euro Cash actually gives a crap about people despite his behavior. Fun!
Hassell: Well, I for one will be a normal human and welcome you to the squad. Take that desk!
In the fancy corner office that suggests its occupant is the Big Cheese, a be-turtlenecked woman watches the news while doing some kind of PT. Euro Cash enters, and despite being told not to, gives Big Cheese’s dog a treat.
Euro Cash: I’m here to complain about my new assistant!
Big Cheese: No. He’s very good and for some reason thinks you’re cool. Just pretend it’s a reward for arresting Tracksuit Guy yesterday.
Euro Cash: Ugh, some prize!
Big Cheese: Yeah, well, fun fact: Tracksuit Guy is an anti-muslim extremist with links to the politician on the background TV in addition to being a gangster. And so NOW, that same Slimy Politician wants to meet with me because it looks like we’re targeting his followers.
Euro Cash: Wait, seriously?
Big Cheese: Yeah — the right wing press who support Slimy Politician keep spreading that little gem around. Maybe his rival will be different.
Euro Cash: If he can get elected... Slimy’s fanbase sure is persistent.
Big Cheese: Indeed. Anyway, now that we’ve had a purely expositional chat with no real-world corollaries, lets get back to the murder from this morning. Solve it without causing too much of a ruckus, ok? And be nice to Clooves!
It’s briefing time, and because apparently Euro Cash is cribbing his boss style from Regina George’s mom, we’re meeting in a bar.
The barman starts preparing coffee for everyone. Necessary: the fourth main member of the crew, who I’m calling Woodsman Cop because of his vibe and haircut, is sleeping in a booth until Hassell wakes him up. Hilariously, the briefing is joined by a scruffy looking regular, Frank, who minds his own business in the corner. Woodsman Cop tells us that Milan was a good student, and that he worked at a local coffee shop, information apparently gleaned via flirting. Before we can get more intel, Clooves runs in. Euro Cash is snotty about it, but honestly, how was he supposed to know that the briefing wouldn’t be in the briefing room? I guess as hazing goes this is pretty mild but since I’ve already reverse imprinted on Clooves, I don’t like it!
Clooves is also late because he got the phone call that we expected, but the squad didn’t: there’s another dead body. This time, it’s the third guy to get snatched, who turns out to be a cargo-broker named Daniel.
Euro Cash: Ok, Drunkie Howser: we’re gonna need autopsy results asap.
Drunkie Howser: Yeah, and I need to sleep it off! If you want fast results, stop finding bodies!
Hassell: I mean, he’s not wrong, two in a day is… not great.
Clooves, revealing himself to be a big nerd, just as I suspected: Actually, math-wise, this isn’t that unusual because of compounding exponents! Statistics! Just saying, it’s not that wild to have two guys get beaten up in the same night in a big city. They’re probably unrelated: Milan was found on the opposite side of town, and for some reason I don’t get Hassell thinks he’s gay?
Hassell: He’s a member of an underground gay club.
Clooves: Yep, ok so he’s gay; maybe he got in a fight with his lover…
Euro Cash: So gay people are more violent? Is that what you’re saying?
Clooves: NO! I’m just saying there’s literally no statistical or evidentiary reason to link the two bodies.
Euro Cash: Don’t get blinded by your nerd stuff — notice how there’s no blood anywhere?
Clooves: Oh. Right. People who get hit in the head with a bottle bleed everywhere… so he must have been killed somewhere else, brought here, and hit in the head with the bottle to make it look like a street fight?
Drunkie Howser: Looks like it!
Euro Cash: And I think something similar happened with Milan. Two bodies staged to look random? That’s no coincidence. It’s not that hard; when someone gets killed we figure it out by being as annoying as possible until we get results. Let’s track his movement.
Clooves: We have his wallet, so we know where he lives and can notify the next of kin.
Euro Cash, to Hassell: Ugh, you do it!
Hassell: Yeah, no thanks: you’re in charge, it’s your job!
Euro Cash: I sure am, so I’m delegating: you’re better at that stuff anyway. Clooves, go talk to Stern Dad, we need more info. I’m going to go get coffee and think.
Look, I know we’re supposed to find this brilliant bad boy behaviour attractive… but I’m not buying it yet. Sorry, Euro Cash! The human version of Grumpy Cat makes his way to what I initially assume is a bar but apparently is the coffee shop Milan worked at; Dunkin’ it ain’t. Euro Cash chats up the gal behind the bar, asking if Milan is in yet by pretending to be his “friend.” In a fun turn, the barista isn’t fooled for a second because Euro Cash isn’t Milan’s type. For one thing, he’s white (and Milan was into Indian blokes) and for another, Euro Cash is not gay, which she knows because he checked her out. I guess this barista hasn’t heard about bisexual people, but go off, I guess. Euro Cash tries to play it off like he’s just a chill fella, but it’s too late: she figures out that he’s a cop, so he gives up, and answers her question. Yes, Milan is in trouble: he’s dead.
Across town, Hassell, as promised, delivers the horrible news to Daniel’s wife. For some reason they’re having this conversation while Mrs. Koolen finishes her ironing, which is weirdly haunting. She tells Hassell that usually her husband would get home quite late; that evening was his weekly tennis night.
Hassell: Uh, yeah, but then why didn’t you report it when he didn’t come home?
Mrs. Koolen: I called him, and just assumed he was up to something. He always has a reason for being away.
Hassell: Did he ever mention the name Milan Bakker?
Mrs. Koolen: No, but we didn’t talk a lot.
Hassell, picking up on the weirdness just as much as we are: Well, I don’t think you should be alone, can I call someone?
Back at the coffee shop, Milan’s friend/coworker helps fill in Euro Cash in on some details; namely, that Milan was dating a fella named Kalari who lived near her (and yes, that’s the name of the first guy to get kidnapped by the Party Animals). Apparently, it was HER party that we saw earlier, and she was expecting both of them to attend. Just in case, Euro Cash also asks if she recognizes Daniel, but no luck.
At Stern Dad’s house, a resourceful Clooves uses the fact that Stern Dad is distracted by calling relatives to tell them about Milan to snoop around with aplomb. He finds campaign materials for the libral party, a MASSIVE library, and a framed picture of Milan and Kalari.
Across town, Big Cheese has an uncomfortable lunch with the Slimy Politician and his campaign staff, who super subtly point out that big operations like the one they did to bring in Tracksuit Guy are expensive. IMHO, it didn’t look all that pricey, given that we only saw two cars and Euro Cash on a bicycle in pursuit, but I’ve almost certainly seen too many Michael Bay movies so I don’t have a leg to stand on. Anyway, let the scheming commence:
Slimy Politician: Look, that gang leader was awful, but what’s even worse is that his anti-muslim ideas are getting linked to us. We would neeeever say anything like that!
Big Cheese: Sure, and especially not right before an election!
Slimy Politician: Well, obviously we don’t want any problems in our relationship with the police.
Big Cheese: I, of course, agree!
Campaign Manager: Great! I’m going to threateningly drink coffee now!
Back at headquarters, Euro Cash updates Hassell on what he learned from our barista friend. Hassell, like a good friend/good feminist, asks if the barista has a name. But alas, Euro Cash insists on focusing on the murders, and asks for an update on Koolen’s home life. Fun fact: Daniel’s tennis club membership lapsed a year ago, and his wife never actually called him. Deduction? She knew he was somewhere else and had turned a blind eye. Another fun fact? Daniel did get a call out to the cops, but he didn’t get through. Clooves joins the chat to share that while Milan was an active campaigner for the liberal party, his parents bookshelves are full of right wing political texts, and both are members of Slimy Politician’s think tank. And in case you thought this group was being professional, for once, Hassell keeps, uh, hassling Euro Cash about the cute barista until he kicks up a ruckus to wake Drunkie Howser, who’s sleeping under a blanket next to the bodies in the morgue.
Despite his moniker, Drunkie Howswer is a pretty good medical examiner (or at least a good TV facsimile). He’s found a crossover of blood, which tells us that the victims were killed near each other. They have grease and oil on their clothes, so they were in the back of a truck or a van together. Here’s where it gets interesting: Milan’s kidneys are WRECKED, but he has almost no external injuries. Daniel is much the same, though his actual cause of death was a snapped neck. We’re dealing with professionals, probably military. Milan has blood and rubber under his fingernails from scrabbling away at the Party Animal’s masks, but, as Euro Cash helpfully points out, a lot of people wear rubber outfits in Amsterdam. Luckily, Milan somehow got a rubber fang stuck under one of his nails, which points us in the direction of animal masks. He’s also got some blood in there, and it’s not his, and it’s not Daniel’s. So either there was a second killer OR a third victim.
Euro Cash and Hassell make their way to Kalari’s apartment, while Hassell continues messing with Euro Cash about the barista. As someone who misses the incandescent natural high of mercilessly razzing one’s coworkers until they finally snap, I can’t fault her for it, especially because her brand of razzing is clearly intended to get Euro Cash to put himself out there for his own good, despite his assertion that he might not have a heart. By this point, they’ve conquered the walkup, and enter Kalari’s apartment. It’s a nice place; bright and airy, and full of posters and detritus to confirm that Kalari is also a leftist political activist. While they look for something they can use as a DNA sample, Hassell spitballs a case theory: Milan and Daniel are having an affair, Kalari finds out and rage-kills them both. Euro Cash doesn’t buy it, because this doesn’t look like the home of a trained killer. Regardless, they have to find him. Just so we all know for sure that Euro Cash really is a bad boy befitting his outfit, he explains that he thinks all politicians should be shot. And speaking of... uh… challenging political discourse, Euro Cash thinks that while Milan likely got into arguments with his parents about politics, this case isn’t just a family feud gone wrong: two campaigners going missing/getting murdered in the middle of an election has to mean something.
Back at the office, Big Cheese’s dog chills on her couch while she rips into someone in the next room. Hassell, ignoring that, asks if they oughtn’t tell Big Cheese that there might be a political connection in this case, but Euro Cash shuts it down: he was explicitly told NOT to cause a ruckus, and there’s little more ruckus-causing than connecting the case to the election. They don’t want to get pulled off the case, so Hassell is going to check out Slimy Politician’s new campaign manager while Euro Cash talks to the leftist candidate on the DL. Woodsman Cop wanders in, so it’s time for an update on whatever he was supposed to be doing. Unfortunately for him, he’s clearly been goofing off, so he gets yelled at by Euro Cash. And where is Clooves in all this? Oh, pulling an unintentional power play, like the brilliant genius I knew he was.
Clooves, you see, has set up shop in the bar/briefing room, hereafter known as the bariefing room, where he’s created some kind of odd, evidentiary bunting. Euro Cash is annoyed, but I also detect a hint of respect, so it’s a win. Clooves hasn’t been idle: he found out that yesterday Daniel left work early for a long lunch with a lady near Kalari’s apartment.
Euro Cash, determined to be unimpressed: But after lunch, he could have gone anywhere!
Clooves: OR, they could have gone back to her place for some post lunch SEX. I called the restaurant and they come in every week, are all over each other, and she lives nearby.
Euro Cash: Oh my god, why didn’t you lead with that!?
Clooves: I was impressing you with my deductions, duh!
Euro Cash: Ugh, don’t get cute. But good stalking. Now you guys figure out who that lady is.
Hassell gets a call: they’ve found Kalari’s mum, who is a big deal at the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam’s art and history museum. Euro Cash immediately perks up; apparently he’s an art lover. He bolts over to the museum using the transit time as another opportunity to call the leftist campaign. Alas, he’s put on hold again. Inside the museum, he quickly locates Kalari’s mum and asks if she knows where her son is/delivers the bad news about Milan. She takes it about as well as you’d expect, i.e. not well. Kalari and Milan were a happy couple, and she seems close with both of them. She also has seemed pretty down in the dumps even before he filled her in, so perhaps she knows more than she’s letting on.
Later, the team’s out and about doing some old-fashioned door-to-door detective work. Hassell peels off to check around the corner for Kalari’s car, and Clooves follows, hoping to get some info on Euro Cash; namely, whether he’s a giant butthead to everyone, or just Clooves.
They quickly happen upon Kalari’s car, and, in a fun twist, the cute barista from earlier. Hassell really is a good detective, because she puts two and two together just in time to keep nudging Euro Cash to ask Cute Barista out. He doesn’t take the bait — after all, they have a car to search, and some weird masks to find! But don’t worry, we’re not done with Cute Barista yet: everyone heads into her apartment, which Hassell correctly points out is a pretty nice place for a barista.
Cute Barista: Well, I’m not just a barista, I also work at an art gallery.
Cute Barista: Oh, you like art? And you actually know about it? Now I’m weirdly into you as well! We’re having an opening tonight, you should stop by!
Euro Cash: Well, I can’t, because I gotta go talk to that politician. BTW, Cute Barista, we’re going to need a list of everyone at the party!
Cute Barista: You asking for my phone number?
Euro Cash: No???
Euro Cash: Who did you invite to this thing anyway? Political folks?
Cute Barista: Ugh, no: all politicians should be shot.
Euro Cash: Some of the masks probably had fangs, right? Do you remember any of the guests in masks like that leaving around 10?
Cute Barista: LOL, no dude, it was a party, barely remember anything after like 8.
Euro Cash, kinda flirty: Oh, nice, a sloppy party: the best kind.
Euro Cash, definitely flirting now: Anyway, it’s been real, bye!
Outside, Clooves and Woodsman Cop stop a nice young lady on a bicycle to ask about Daniel. She recognizes his picture immediately. Hassell tells Euro Cash that the lab just confirmed that it was Kalari’s blood on Milan’s hand: he was almost certainly the third person in the vehicle. Clooves calls them over, but Euro Cash, too cool for school, saunters off and misses the update from Bicycle Lady, which is that she’s a law student who pays for classes through sex work, including a standing weekly appointment with Daniel. Woodsman Cop is… eager to find out more about her rates. Euro Cash dismissively wanders through, tells the team to look for CCTV, and leaves for his meeting with Leftist Politician.
Leftist Politician is wearing a cute sweater and playing with his kids when the squad arrives, so basically he’s a living campaign ad. I immediately think he’s up to something, but that’s probably because he plays disaster friend Dave in Catastrophe. Hassell shares the bad news about his campaign staff, and he’s blandly upset. Euro Cash isn’t remotely messing around, and suggests that the guys’ allegiance to Leftist Politician might be to blame for their troubles: after all, the opposition are extremists.
Leftist Politician: Yeah but what does that have to do with anything?
Euro Cash: Uh, Harold, they’re lesbians. And as you know, the conservatives aren't super down with the LGBTQ community.
Leftist Politician: Oh, I didn’t realize they were a couple. I didn’t really know them all that well.
Euro Cash: Then why did you agree to meet with me? When I first called the office, I couldn’t get anywhere, but when I mentioned their names, you were suddenly available.
Leftist Politician: I mean, like I said, they’re valued campaigners.
Euro Cash: Cut the crap — why did you meet with me?
Leftist Politician: You’re cops, I’m trying to be helpful.
Euro Cash: Helpful, or controlling?
They leave soon after, and Hassell is annoyed at Euro Cash for being a rude snotty jerk. As much as I hate to agree with Euro Cash, I think he’s right: Leftist Politician is hiding something, which becomes even clearer when Euro Cash reveals that Leftist Politician somehow knew Hassell’s name, even though she wasn’t originally coming to the meeting.
Next up on the unpleasant tour of Amsterdam, Euro Cash and Hassell stop by Stern Dad’s house to ask some more questions. He’s not pleased, but he lets them in. Stern Dad confirms that he has different political ideas than his son. In fact, he thinks dictatorship is the right solution.
He’s pretty intense, and says that he hopes he has some enemies, or he’s not expressing his views properly. He’s also in denial about Milan’s relationship with Kalari, and only agrees to discuss it when Euro Cash makes it clear that they need details to solve the case. Stern Dad tells them that Kalari isn’t just on Leftist Politician’s campaign team: he’s part of the inner circle. Information gleaned, Euro Cash and Hassell leave: him, to go home and pretend he doesn’t want to go look at Cute Barista’s weird art show, and her to go to the gallery opening and wing-man him against his will — or maybe, if we’re lucky, to scoop Cute Barista up for herself.
OH (Amster)DAMN, we’re finally catching back up with the Party Animals, who are walking through a creepy empty warehouse with their masks firmly on (an example to us all, if they weren’t kidnapping murderers) confirming my suspicion that Kalari is still alive. Things are about to get a whole lot more painful for him, because the Party Animals have shears and are doing the gross kidnapper thing of removing a digit as proof of life. They send it to his mom in what looks suspiciously like an altoid tin. Gross.
Across town, Hassell has dressed up in a sick blazer and some shades for the gallery opening. She starts by trying to flirt her way in, but she’s not on the list and the door guy is a rule follower, especially since their last event was broken up by protesters. Lucky for Hassell, she has a badge and isn’t above flashing it, making her way inside for some modern art and free sparkling wine. She isn’t alone in enjoying some art: on his boat, Euro Cash is looking at a picture of the painting Kalari’s mum was admiring earlier, and at the gallery, a special guest has arrived: Slimy Politician’s Campaign Manager. Hassell, of course, finds him a bit suspicious, even more so because he’s got a large cut on his chin. She leaves, and promptly walks by a huge dude talking on the phone.
Huge Creepy Guy: Oh, yeah, there’s some lady cop here sniffing around, but don’t worry, we’ve got Kalari contained.
Hassell, for some reason following the guy into an alley and confronting him: Police! What did you just say?
It goes just about as well as you think: Huge Creepy Guy has a knife, and he doesn’t hesitate to stab Hassell. She gets a call out to Euro Cash, who arrives in time to tell her that if she dies he’s going to do a horrible job informing her family, and bundles her into an ambulance. Big Cheese arrives as Hassell leaves, working off the correct assumption that she must have found a lead, and this wasn’t some random stabbing. Euro Cash breaks down and tells Big Cheese about the Liberal Politician connection, and she, as he predicted, tells him to be cool so they don’t catch even more crap from Slimy Politician.
Big Cheese: Wait, so the third victim — does he have a political affiliation?
Euro Cash: No, wrong place at the wrong time.
Big Cheese: Well that’s sloppy. Also, speaking of wrong place at the wrong time, Hassell getting stabbed isn’t your fault.
Euro Cash agrees with his words, but his face says it all: he blames himself, and heads back to headquarters so the whole team can hunker down for a crime-solving montage. Apparently all it takes for Woodsman Cop to focus up is for someone to get stabbed, and he’s got some info on the types of guys who would be able to inflict the injuries on their victims. The suspects are members of a fringe right wing nationalist group who are fans of Slimy Politician. Euro Cash tells the team to investigate these guys and have results by morning, and steamrolls their protests by telling them anything is possible in Amsterdam. He, meanwhile, will be seeing if any of these fellas happened to attend Cute Barista’s party.
Cute Barista invites him in for a drink and a charged conversation, but she doesn’t recognize any of the guys. She IS willing to answer some more questions: more specifically, does she know Kalari’s mum (yes, a bit), does she think Vermeer is boring (yes, a bit), and would she like to dominate Euro Cash in more than just this conversation (yes, very much). Evidently the feeling is mutual, and apparently there are no rules about not hooking up with interview subjects, so we don’t see Euro Cash until the next morning.
Hassell is apparently out of the woods enough to badger Euro Cash about letting her out of the hospital and into the field. I bet she’d be even peppier if she knew what went down in the last scene, but since Euro Cash is taking this phone call in the art gallery run by their victim’s mum, he evidently decides that discretion is the better part of valour. Why is he there? To talk about that Vermeer.
Someone’s been studying their art history: based on the painting, which evokes a sense of loss, Euro Cash has come to the conclusion that Kalari’s mum knows something about his disappearance that she isn’t telling him. We know Euro Cash is right, because of the minty fresh finger, but she demurs. Euro Cash pushes: he knows Kalari is important to Leftist Politician, and he thinks Kalari’s mum is protecting someone. She still doesn’t say anything, so he leaves, and puts Clooves on the case to investigate Kalari’s missing father.
At the office, Woodsman Cop confirms that one of the murder suspects left the army and used to be head of security for Creepy Politician. He left because of “stress.” Woodsman Cop is assigned to go find out more, but not before Euro Cash calls him out for stealing snacks from his desk. Woodsman Cop thinks he’s about to get in trouble, but, well, he's been snacking on dog treats.
Speaking of dogs, Clooves found security footage of a van being driven by the Party Animal in the dog mask. The registration is blurred, but the tech team is working on it. Before they can get too into the conversation, Hassell calls to tell Euro Cash that she’s checked out of the hospital. He’s pissed, but because they’re evidently besties (they have each other in their phones as Him and Her which is weird but cute), he picks her up and lets her crash at his place. She tells him everything she found out, but still doesn’t get an assignment other than relaxing, which is, predictably, met with derision.
Euro Cash heads over the Leftist Politician’s house again, and asks to speak to his wife. She casually reveals that they have five kids, and asks after the campaigners. No news, but we finally get to the real reason for Euro Cash’s visit: to confirm that she and her husband lived in Antwerp at the same time as Kalari’s mum. Being an up-and-coming politician’s love child seems like a pretty solid reason to be kidnapped, TBH; Euro Cash might be onto something here. Potential infidelity seed planted, Euro Cash takes his leave. Across town, Kalari’s mum calls Leftist Politician, begging him to come over. She is, understandably, freaking out! He tells her to trust him and then hangs up on her, which is just not on.
Over at the bariefing room (yes, I’m sticking with that name even though it’s terrible to type, fight me), the guys look through pictures from the gallery show. They notice that the group is much more homogenous than you’d typically expect for a progressive gallery, and Euro Cash shares Hassell’s note about Campaign Manager’s weird face cut and tells the guys to try and figure out which gallery patron he was. From the corner, Frank, the same scruffy regular from before, brings over a newspaper with a picture of Campaign Manager to help, earning himself a free breakfast of champions (i.e. eggs and 2 beers).
Woodsman Cop is sent to stalk Campaign Manager, whilst Clooves and Euro Cash follow up on the latest info from the tech team: the guy who leased the van just happens to work at the coffee shop AND the gallery with Cute Barista. Clooves goes ‘round back in case he runs, which turns out to be a good call, because he bolts just as soon as Euro Cash bypasses Cute Barista to talk to him.
Here’s the deal with the van: it belongs to the gallery, and Suspect Barista claims someone else probably just borrowed it. He also shrugs off having a set of keys. He tries to get cute when Euro Cash asks if he likes fancy parties, but Euro Cash isn’t really into cute: he needs real details on what mask Suspect Barista wore to the party, when he left, and whether he knows Big Scary Suspect or Campaign Manager. Suspect Barista doesn’t say anything, but he makes a smug jerk face I don’t like.
After that unhelpful convo, Euro Cash tracks down Campaign Manager to make it clear that he’s pissed about what happened to Hassell and to ask a couple of questions, including where he got that fetching facial wound. Campaign Manager claims he got caught in the crossfire between some anarchists protesting at the gallery and some of Slimy Politician’s dudes. But why would anarchists attack an art gallery? For the fun, apparently! Campaign Manager brings over Slimy Politician, so Euro Cash can ask if he knows where Big Scary Suspect is after leaving the campaign. Slimy Politician claims not to know where Big Scary Suspect is, and disavows him, but I don’t buy it, and neither does Euro Cash. I’m starting to see why he doesn’t like politicians; all of these guys kind of suck.
Next stop? The morgue! Drunkie Howser lets Euro Cash know that Hassell was very lucky vis a vis wound placement, and that while he can’t be certain about the length of the blade due to skin tension, it has a distinctive serration. The upshot? Probably a military knife. Also, while Suspect Barista’s DNA is all over the van, it would be if he drives it regularly: there’s nothing that proves he had contact with the victims. Euro Cash leaves, hopefully to find some work for Hassell to do before she and her big Saggitarius energy lose it and sneak off his houseboat.
Interrogation time: Euro Cash tells Suspect Barista that he’s pretty sure he was the driver on the night, which makes him an accessory to murder, even if he didn’t do the actual killing part. Euro Cash also guesses (correctly) that Daniel and Milan were mistakes; collateral damage in what should have been the relatively straightforward kidnapping of Kalari. He doesn’t think it’s Suspect Barista’s fault: Big Scary Suspect is unhinged and, well, scary. Wouldn’t it be a shame if Suspect Barista took the blame for Big Scary Suspect’s mistake? It’s a good gambit, but it doesn’t work: Suspect Barista correctly deduces that Euro Cash and Co. have nothing on him.
Without direct evidence, it’s time for everyone’s favorite crime show standby: the white board with a map. The team gathers ‘round to talk about something odd: why was Milan’s body dumped on the opposite side of town from Daniel’s? Since they’ve assumed (correctly) that Kalari is still alive, they make the deduction that the kidnappers were taking him somewhere; maybe, somewhere past where Milan was found. There are lots of abandoned buildings in that area, which could be perfect for stashing someone, so they send some folks over to poke around and plan to release Suspect Barista and have someone follow him.
Meanwhile, Euro Cash heads over to Kalari’s mum’s house; at this point, we’ve all figured out that Leftist Politician is probably Kalari’s dad, and Euro Cash needs all the cards on the table. Kalari’s mum isn’t interested in talking about this subject — because she was told not to go to the police? Because it’s a super personal and touchy subject? Because Euro Cash is kind of a jerk? Who can say! Regardless, Euro Cash keeps pushing until she reveals that Kalari doesn’t know who his dad is, and that the kidnappers have demanded that Leftist Politician pull out of the election or they’ll reveal his secret, which even in animal-mask partyin’ Amsterdam is a career-ender. Leftist Politician won’t give in to the blackmail, but is that because he’s principled, or because he doesn’t want to have to come clean to his wife? I bet you can guess what politician-hating Euro Cash thinks! Kalari’s mum is worried that if she doesn’t comply, they’ll kill her son (fair) but Euro Cash keeps pushing her for more details. It’s aggressive, but it works, because she finally tells him about the minty fresh finger.
Across town, Woodsman Cop and Clooves follow Suspect Barista around on the subway, eventually reporting that he’s going into a public, open air urinal (wow, imagine *that* in the good old USofA, huh?) where he meets none other than Big Scary Suspect. Big Scary Suspect is unhinged, but he’s way better at the crime stuff, because his first question is whether Suspect Barista was followed. He doesn’t think so, but Big Scary Suspect checks, and tells Suspect Barista to meet him in a nearby alley. I’m pretty sure Big Scary Suspect clocks Clooves, because his attempt to look like he’s just talking a weird selfie and NOT watching two dudes in a public urinal basically looks like this:
Woodsman Cop and Clooves pursue, but they’re not fast enough: after briefly losing sight of the suspects, they find Suspect Barista is floating face down in the canal.
Euro Cash takes the minty fresh finger off to Drunkie Howser, and asks him to find out everything he can about both the minty digit and the dead suspect. Then, he goes to intimidate Leftist Politician into being actually helpful re: his son’s kidnapping. Despite everything, Leftist Politician is mostly worried about discretion. He’s notified the secret service, because he’s sure it’s a politically motivated kidnapping, and because he’s trying to edge Euro Cash out of the mix — he even got the Big Cheese to order Euro Cash off the case. Unfortunately for him, Euro Cash isn’t just going to give up that easily, as evidenced by his choice to ignore the Big Cheese’s phone call.
Back at headquarters, the crew reveals their unfortunately rather sparse leads. They can’t narrow down where Kalari is being kept with CCTV, and Drunkie Howser can only confirm that the shears used to cut off the minty fresh finger were metal. Euro Cash realises that those same shears might be used in a gallery, which prompts him to figure out that they might be looking for an art storage facility. Also of note: the knife used to kill Suspect Barista was almost certainly the same knife used to stab Hassell, meaning that Big Scary Suspect was almost definitely at the art show. But they don’t have any pictures of him at the show, which means he must have been the photographer.
They head to the gallery to confront the gallery owner, who confirms that they now specialize in right wing art, hence the anarchist protests. They don’t have an address on the Big Scary Suspect/Murderous Photographer/Party Animal, which is rather inconvenient. Another inconvenient thing? Big Cheese has deputised Clooves to bring Euro Cash to heel, but in a move that isn’t actually all that surprising, Clooves stays loyal to Euro Cash, and not Big Cheese. They pressure the gallery owner to show them BSS/MP/PA’s stuff, finding a lens cloth inside his photo case. That’s all Euro Cash needs: he sneaks back into the office to “borrow” Big Cheese’s dog, who happens to be a trained sniffer dog, and they all head out into the field.
Woodsman Cop calls for backup (probably a good idea since BSS/MP/PA is, as I’ve noted, big, scary, and murderous) and then follow the dog all the way into the storage facility where, at that very moment, he’s seconds away from cutting off another one of Kalari’s fingers. He hears them coming, and everyone pulls guns. Just as you might expect, Euro Cash tries to talk him down and find out who he’s working for, but like all extremists, BSS/MP/PA isn’t in the business of betraying the cause, and shoots himself rather than giving up his boss.
Later that day, the group heads to the bariefing room, where they watch Leftist Politician leave the race on the TV. Why? Because the whole “secret love child” thing got out, and, as predicted, his political run is scuppered. Drunkie Howser bemoans that they may have just increased the chances that Slimy Politician wins. Big Cheese and her hero dog enter, seemingly only so Big Cheese can read Euro Cash the riot act, but only lightly, since he did, annoyingly, save the day, at least for Kalari. She’s not super happy that we still don’t know who was pulling the strings, but that’s life.
Or is it? Euro Cash heads back to Cute Barista’s house, seemingly for another hookup. But he’s wondering why she never mentioned that Suspect Barista was at her party.
Cute Barista: Oh lol, I probably just forgot!
Euro Cash: Yeah except there’s something bothering me... how did the Party Animals know to wait outside for Kalari? He only called one person that night — you.
Cute Barista: And?
Euro Cash: And, we figured out that you were the Leftist Politician’s nanny AND his wife’s niece! He cheated on your aunt… TWICE. Once with Kalari’s mum, and once... with YOU.
Euro Cash: And when he didn’t leave his wife for you, you had your revenge. You won, you must feel great!
Cute Barista: Not really! He seduced me and promised me the world!
Euro Cash: Yikes bro. And then you tortured Kalari AND his mum; you literally delivered his minty fresh finger to her to mess with her, why?
Cute Barista: Because she’s weak and put up with being second best. And also because Leftist Politician wouldn’t leave his wife for me because of her. She’s the worst.
Euro Cash: Don’t you at least feel bad about all the innocent people who died as part of our bonkers plot?
Cute Barista: I mean, I didn’t mean for them to get hurt... Anyway, can I seduce you enough to get out of this?
Later that day, Euro Cash and Hassell go for a sail, which is relatively easy to do if your house is a boat.
Hassell: So… did you hook up with Cute Barista?
Hassell: Yeah, except it kind of is if you had sex with a suspect.
Euro Cash: I wouldn’t dare. Anyway, YOU were the one who pushed me at her!
Hassell: Well you’ve had terrible taste in women for years, I was helping you. I, on the other hand, am fine.
Euro Cash: Well at least someone is. To the sea!
And with that, they sail into the sunset. Will we ever figure out why Euro Cash is such a grumpy loner? Will my faves Clooves and Hassell get more screen time, as they clearly deserve? Will Big Cheese’s hero dog get the treats and walkies HE clearly deserves? We’ll have to come back next week to find out!