“Redemption in Amsterdam,” Van der Valk’s second case for Season 3, deals with the past and how it impacts the present. A horrific case from 20 years ago still haunts our titular detective, and even though the murderer confessed and has paid the price for her crime, questions remain. When the witness to that case is murdered in the present day, it seems to be connected with the controversy over returning valuable looted historical artifacts to their rightful owners.
It’s dawn in Amsterdam, but the party is still going strong until a murder spoils the mood. Museum curator Ric van der Molden (Bart van den Donker) celebrates the opening of his Indonesian artifacts exhibit, dating from The Netherlands’ colonial past, until a phone call summons and a black-clad figure takes him out. His girlfriend, Zoë Waterman (Tara Hetharia), who worked with him at the museum, is the one to discover his body. Citra and Eddie, on their way to the crime scene, make a detour to find the rest of the crew, who also spent the night partying. Van der Valk and Henrik are asleep on the deck of his boat; Lucienne is below deck with a woman whose name she can’t remember.
As usual, Henrik is the first on the scene, reporting that Ric was stabbed with a sharp, long, narrow blade “like a knife through butter.” A sword, Van der Valk suggests. Now sobering up, no one at the party has any idea of what happened, who called Ric, or why he was killed. However, Herman Zaal (Rasmus Hardiker) claims to have a professional interest as the director of the True Crime Museum and is disappointed that Citra won’t let him see the body.
Lucienne and Van der Valk visit Ric’s collection, where director Christine Philips (Jaye Griffiths) reveals following the exhibit, the plan was to return the artifacts to their rightful owners. Ric, whose area of study was the Dutch colonial period, opposed restitution, objecting it would leave museums emptied. Outside, flyers from the RAA (Restitution of Ancient Artifacts), are plastered over the entrance to the museum. Eddie and Citra interview Johann Kolen (Zoë Love Smith), director of RAA, a fiery, young advocate for restitution, who suspected that Ric had no intention of returning any artifacts; he was a racist.
Kolen has a digital alibi, she was updating RAA’s social media at the time of the murder. Eddie, always curious about Citra’s life, asks her if restitution of looted artifacts is an issue for her as a woman of Indonesian descent, but as usual, she shrugs him off. As for the phone call, it was made outside the party location, and Eddie finds a burner phone in the trash, suggesting it was a lure. A visit to the True Crime Museum finds its director, Herman, asleep in a casket. He tells them Ric loved his museum, visited often, and was fascinated with evil.
But Van der Valk has his mind elsewhere. Twenty years ago, he was sent to Rotterdam, where he worked on a case where teenager Jasmijn Brahm set fire to her family home after locking her two younger brothers inside; he was the officer who found their bodies. Jasmijn was convicted thanks to evidence from the boy next door: Our victim, Eric van der Molden. She admitted to the crime at the time, but expressed no remorse.
Van der Valk meets with Jan Kappel (Aden Gillett), also a veteran of the Brahm murder case. He doesn't believe Jasmijn could have been involved with Ric’s murder as an act of revenge, as she's now living in Groningen, about 100 miles north of Amsterdam. Jasmijn spent her time in jail studying, earning an MA in theology, with further studies in psychology and a Ph.D. in the treatment of juvenile offenders in jail. However, Van der Valk feels he must talk to her, and Jan advises him to ask his boss, Julia, to contact Jasmijn’s handler.
Julia sets up a meeting for her and Van der Valk with Jasmijn’s handler, Hanna Zuiderduin (Lu Corfield). Hanna is adamant that Jasmijn’s privacy must be respected, while both Julia and Van der Valk insist that the current murder inquiry has to take precedence. Jasmijn is now living under the name Lauren Teuling, has two small children, and is a writer and journalist. After discussing it with her husband Vincent (Alwin Pulinckx), she agrees to meet with the Amsterdam police. She tells Van der Valk that Ric wrote to her in prison and echoes Herman’s claim that he was obsessed with evil. Seeking closure, she wrote back to him, but the letter was intercepted. Hanna insists the meeting should end.
As they leave, Van der Valk has Eddie and Citra nearby to follow Jasmijn home. Lucienne and Julia, who have set up work in Cliff’s bar, discuss the case, looking at the newspaper coverage. The murders were notorious at the time, and even Cliff remembers them. But so much is unknown about the horrific case, including why teenage Jasmijn drank so heavily at such a young age. She suffered from blackouts, and it seems likely abuse was involved. She laughed as her brothers were burned to death and never expressed remorse.
Another visit to the museum reveals the current exhibit does not include any swords, although there is one belonging to a private collector, Max Langenburg (Simon Gregor), who is also a board member. (Conflict of interest right there!) However, he refused to loan it to the exhibition. Hendrik, Van der Valk, and Lucienne visit Max, who is not at all pleased about the intrusion. Hendrik finds a silver sword on the wall with what looks like blood on it and gets to work while Max complains about Ric’s persistence in trying to borrow the artifact.
The sword’s original owner was Nyi Ageng Serang (1752–1838), a legendary female warrior who fought the Dutch colonialists. Naturally, Max has no intention of returning it to Indonesia since it’s his, bought, and paid for. Hendrik tests the blood on the blade and finds it’s less than a day old. As they leave, Jan calls Van der Valk, asking him to meet at the Amsterdam Hortus, a botanical garden.
Julia accompanies Van der Valk — it’s relatively obvious she and Jan were in a relationship once upon a time — and the Hortus at night, with its tree-level walkways and minimal lighting, is absolutely the worst place to evade a stalker. (We know that; why don’t you, Jan?) When Jan hears Julia’s voice on the phone, he’s taken by surprise, just as he is attacked at gunpoint by an unknown assailant. The stalker backs him up to the railing and pushes him over as he falls to his death. Julia arrives in time for Jan to acknowledge her presence, and she holds his hand as he dies.