The 1970s Van Der Valk usually opened with the detective at home, in domestic bliss, until duty calls. Not our new version. The cold open begins with the takedown of a gang leader on a bike, with Piet van Der Valk (Marc Warren) doing a Bond-esque chase scene, taking down a gang leader single-handed when partners Lucienne Hassell (Maimie McCoy) and Brad de Vries (Luke Allen-Gale) are cut off.
He then goes on a bad date (his fault) before heading home to his houseboat. The next day, we learn VDV's gang leader had ties to right-wing politician Ed de Klerk (Reinout Bussemaker), and his PR man, Tim Brouwer (Hylke van Sprundel), wants to make it go away since the election is around the corner.
VDV: You were told about the briefing, I take it?
Clooves: Yeah, I was, but I went to the Briefing Room because that's where I thought the briefing was taking place.
Committing crime is hard. Two goons meet at a costume party, a perfect excuse to be masked. Their quarry goes down without a fight. But the streets aren't empty. First, a musician walks by as they're dumping the unconscious in a van, and recognizes him. As the kidnappers attack him, someone sees the altercation and starts to call the cops. Next thing you know, there's three kidnapping victims. The following day, one is dead: the musician, Milan Bakker. He's a politics student, which Job Cloovers (Elliot Barnes-Worrell), VDV's new assistant, gleefully volunteers. VDV is displeased to discover he has an assistant, but boss Julia Dahlman (Emma Fielding) is unyielding.
Then the other extra victim turns up, Daniel Koolen. While Hassell deals with Daniel's wife Renate (Malou Gorter), Clooves questions Milan's father, Manus (Victor Lowe). In the Bakker house, Clooves finds a photo of Milan and his boyfriend, Kalari Remecker (Arian Nik). Manus works for de Klerk at his thinktank, but Milan worked for Paul Oosterhuis (Daniel Lapaine), De Klerk's liberal opponent. As for VDV, he heads to the bar where Milan worked, run by David Smit (Danny Westerweel). The waitress, Eva Meisner (Stephanie Leonidas), knew both Milan and Kalari; the costume party was at her house.
As the perpetually drunk pathologist, Hendrik Davie (Darrell D'Silva), opines professional-grade killers murdered Milan and Koolen, Clooves finds the restaurant where Koolen met with his much younger girlfriend is down the street from Kalari's flat. A search of the area turns up Kalari's car near Eva's, just as she bikes by. Eva lets Hassell and VDV in but admits she doesn't remember much of the bash. As they check her place, De Vries finds Agatha Vos (Frieda Barnhard), who calls Koolen "her regular Wednesday customer." She confirms he left just before the timestamp on his incompleted call to the cops, but she did not see him out.
Kalari's mother, Therese Remecker (Vineeta Rishi), works at Rijksmuseum. She meets VDV among the Vermeers, confirming Kalari and Milan worked for the Oosterhuis campaign. Oosterhuis grants VDV an interview and gasps to learn Milan is dead. But when asked about Kalari, he starts backpedaling on knowing them, raising VDV's hackles. VDV heads back to Manus, who breaks down, roaring Kalari "stole my son," and insisting the Remeckers were part of Oosterhuis' inner circle. But the prodding seems to have triggered something; the goons send Kalari's finger to his mother.
Hassell looks into Eva, heading to the opening of the art gallery where she works, Sub87. The bouncer is Eva's boss from the bar, Dave, who reveals protestors outside the gallery the night before the opening. Hassell assumes they were de Klerk supporters until the event's special guest turns out to be de Klerk's PR man, Tim Brouwer. When VDV calls her and she reveals where she is, he says he'll be right there. Hassell tells him not to bother, but it's a good thing he doesn't listen. A goon stabs her when she follows him out of the party and realizes he's reporting her presence to an unknown superior.
De Vries turns up Bartel Peters (Kees Boot), ex-military, and once worked for de Klerk. VDV takes his photo to Eva to see if he was a guest. She doesn't know him, but it's a good excuse for a sex scene. The next morning, VDV heads to see Therese, asking why she was obsessing on "Woman Reading a Letter." She dodges his questions, but it's obvious where the line of thinking is going, especially when he questions Claudia Oosterhuis (Frances Grey). The timelines being in Antwerp line up with Kalari's age: his father is Oosterhuis. When VDV pushes again, Therese admits someone is blackmailing Oosterhuis, with her son as bait, to drop out of the election.
VDV tracks down de Klerk and Brouwer, confronting them about Peters. Brouwer stalls, but de Klerk makes all the right noises that they'll help in any way before hastily departing. But the man Clooves turns up who rented the van picked up by surveillance cameras as driven by two guys in costume is Dave Smit. He won't talk, so they let him go with de Vries and Clooves on his tail. Peters shows up and, recognizing Clooves is tailing them, murders Smit. Meanwhile, Oosterhuis tells VDV he's contacted the AIVD, the Dutch General Intelligence and Security Service, to cut the cops out and keep the story quiet.
Not that that stops VDV once Davie confirms the same knife was used on both Smit and Hassell. VDV wonders how Peters was at the opening and yet not photographed, before realizing he must have been hired as the photographer. Since he stabbed Lucille and ran, he left behind his equipment, which is still at Sub87. There's the lens wipe, which VDV gives to Dahlamn's pup, Trojan, taking the old sniffer out to track Peters down. In the warehouse where Sub87 holds their unhung art, there are the masks from the night of the kidnapping and Kalari, still alive. But Peters eats a bullet rather than give himself up.
All this hits the papers, derailing Oosterhuis' campaign after all, and making de Klerk the de facto winner. But as Dahlman sighs, wishing they'd tied this back to de Klerk, VDV realizes there is someone involved who is still alive: Eva. She was the only person who knew Kalari was on his way to the party. He discovers Eva worked for the Oosterhuises as a nanny and was one of Paul's many affairs. When Oosterhuis dumped her, using having a lovechild to prove why he couldn't leave his wife, she plotted this as revenge. It's not political after all; it's just love in Amersterdam.