'Van der Valk' Episode 2 Review: Maddeningly cringy crime, narrative twists don't help plot from getting bland

With one more episode remaining of the series, we don't know how much it can do to even be deserving of the one-star we've decided to rate it


                            'Van der Valk' Episode 2 Review: Maddeningly cringy crime, narrative twists don't help plot from getting bland
Marc Warren (PBS)

Spoilers for 'Van der Valk' Episode 2 'Only in Amsterdam'

The first episode of the PBS series was titled 'Love In Amsterdam' and made us wonder if cynical Inspector Piet Van der Valk's (Marc Warren) allure would somehow save this bust of a show? We were wrong. While all is fair in most productions whether it be 18+ material or appetite ridding gore, we don't think Episode 2's combination of a Muslim woman's dead body, mysticism, a lesbian Catholic nun (Juliet Aubrey), religious erotica and a cliched break up that Lucienne Hassell (Maimie McCoy) has to deal with, did anything positive for the series. With one more episode remaining, we don't know how much it can do to even be deserving of the one-star we've decided to rate it. Just to jazz it up, there are also identical twins and casual office gossip.

We don't know if it was the blatant need to be strangely audacious or the scriptwriters decided "maddeningly cringy" as a direction for the narrative but even though there is a dead body - a classic need for a script that runs off of a crime perspective - we were still bored. Just like 'Love in Amsterdam', there has been a murder - a woman this time, and Van der Valk's and his right-hand woman Hassell have to solve the crime that will make you want to turn away. Using the help of their resident pathologist - whom we can't stand and is an alcoholic - the duo and their team start a chase that brings too much into the narrative. In the last episode, we saw political drama, vile gaslighting and manipulation destroy a premiere, this week we give you medieval drama, spiritually advanced people, and drug facilities. If all this sounds like this is not something you'd watch on a weekend night in, you're absolutely right.

Last week, we had also wondered if Van der Valk's unapologetic attitude made him Amsterdam's Horatio Caine, but yet again all we were proven this week was that while he runs on an ego high and nonchalant charisma, his new assistant, Job Cloovers (Elliot Barnes-Worrell), seems to have a knack for actual police work. While we know that Van der Valk's respect for professionalism is low (he had slept with the criminal in the last episode), we wonder why make the titular character the one reason we don't want to watch the show? We get that a character filled with a dark void brings suspense, a hostility to communal knowledge, and develops a persona that audiences can invest in, but they really missed the mark on this one. Like we said before, two hours is already too long for a crime drama procedural - two hours of uncalled for narrative twists is torture.

Episode 3 airs on Sunday, September 27, 2020, at 9 pm EST and is titled 'Death in Amsterdam'. The synopsis reads: "An eco-fashion vlogger turns up dead during his video feed. Cloovers takes a special interest in the case, which uncovers a bitter rivalry between two firms dedicated to ultra-green clothing. Piet and Dahlman confront the vengeful son of a corrupt cop that they previously put away."

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