The return of Van der Valk to television was one of Masterpiece's big debuts slotted for 2020. Like All Creatures Great and Small, it was a reboot of an older series fondly remembered by older viewers, though not one Masterpiece had technically been part of this first time around. Though Van der Valk could technically have been said to have rebooted twice during its 1970s and 1990s runs (only Barry Foster carried over as the titular detective over all three sets of two seasons), this time, it was with a completely new cast and 21st-century sensibility that would make it a modern hit.
However, like so many things, shutdowns and lockdowns upended plans for a quick follow-up season. By the time Season 2 debuts on Sunday, Sept. 25, it will have been almost two years to the day since the series was last on the air here in the states. Between everything that's happened from September 2020 until now, not to mention the strange elongating of time that occurred during the highly stressful periods, it's not a surprise that viewers may have forgotten quite a bit about what went down in Van der Valk Season 1.
Thankfully, the first season is only three feature-length episodes, and all three are streaming on PBS Passport, so those with the luxury of time can do a quick catch-up before the Sunday premiere. But for those who need the highlights, here's a recap of everything essential to remember about Van der Valk. The series stars Marc Warren (Beecham House) as the titular detective with Maimie McCoy (The Musketeers) as Lucienne Hassell, Van der Valk's invaluable partner. Their team includes Luke Allen-Gale as the hot-but-hapless Brad de Vries, Darrell D'Silva as perpetually-drunk-pathologist Dr. Hendrik Davie, Elliot Barnes-Worrell as the newbie Job Cloovers, and Emma Fielding as the big, cane-wielding boss, Julia Dahlman.
The first episode begins with Piet Van der Valk, already in hot water for taking down a gang leader with ties to the leading right-wing political leader, Ed de Klerk (Reinout Bussemaker), dealing with the aftermath of an incompetent kidnapping. It's Cloovers' first day, and the adventure is seen mainly through his eyes, with Van der Valk's not precisely orthodox methods, his daily briefings held in the local bar run by Cliff Palache (Mike Libanon). His sources come from the bar's primary customer, Homeless Frank (Peter van Heeringen). The case accidentally ensnares the primary liberal opponent, ensuring de Klerk, who Van dek Valk already made an enemy, will win the election.
The second episode featured the murder of a Muslim girl studying Catholic erotica and a twin switcheroo by her sister, who hoped to use it to be reaccepted at home. Cloovers played a significant part in landing the clue that cinches the case, though he has to work extra hard to get Van der Valk to notice his research and recognize how it blows a hole in the murderer's story. In more important news, Hassell and her girlfriend broke up, and she's staying on Van der Valk's houseboat, making most of the team think they're sleeping together.
The final episode of Van der Valk's first season is set in the fashion industry, giving Cloovers a leg up since he's into clothing and design. But the real drama comes from Van der Valk's old case, in which he had to turn in his mentor, Theunis Visser, for corruption, leading to a high-speed chase, where Visser ran Van der Valk's car off the road, resulting in Dahlman's permanent limp and the death of Van der Valk's wife, Arlette. Thenius' son, Willam Visser, copycats the fashion case to confuse matters and then decides to kill Van der Valk for revenge, necessitating the whole team to band together (Cloovers armed with a frying pan) to take the bad guy down.
As Season 2 picks up, the mystery of Van der Valk's past has been put to bed, and Hassell has gotten back together with her girlfriend. But Cloovers is more of a mystery than initially shown. After spending the entire season talking about his mother, living with her, and looking after her, Van der Valk looked into him and discovered Mrs. Cloovers had been dead for nine years. Meanwhile, politics is still a problem in Amsterdam; Van der Valk is still a Broody McBroodsdter whose best relationships are with sex workers, and more cases are on the way.
With Van Der Valk's new season already aired in the U.K., spoilers abound if you want them. However, it's more important to know that ITV is going all in on this series, with Season 3 already greenlit and in production, ensuring the wait between seasons next year won't be as long.
Van der Valk Season 2 will debut on most PBS stations at 9 p.m. ET on Sunday, Sept. 25, 2022, with one feature-length episode a week to follow. All three Season 2 episodes will be available via PBS Passport starting the same day for those looking to binge-watch. As always, check your local listings.