Bob Lemmens is back undercover. Only this time, he is not a cop and is on an off-the-books mission with a former drug lord that he’d put in jail.
Story: Out on parole, former drug kingpin Ferry Bouman is forced to partner up with the police for a sting on the Turkish family that is now controlling most of the controlled substance in town. Trouble is, he has to play along with former cop Bob Lemmens, the man who got Ferry thrown in jail. Can they put all past animosity aside and bring down the Turkish mob?
Review: It is surprising that even after three seasons and a prequel movie for one character, Undercover remains relatively underrated and is not high up on recommendation lists. If you actually go looking for press on the Dutch procedural drama, which is streaming on Netflix, it is often mentioned as one of the best crime-thriller shows on the platform, and yet, how many of us have ever heard of it before? In all honestly, I had not, and had to do a fair bit of preparation before bingeing on Season 3 today.
Undercover is a crime thriller about, well, no prizes for guessing this one - undercover police operations. Bob Lemmens (Tom Waes) is the focus of the show, who after the events of season 2 is no longer a cop and is actually being sued by the department for his actions while on the job. When a young undercover agent embedded in a Turkish drug mob is busted and killed, the department enlists Bob’s help to bring them to task. The operation, though, is off-the-books, with a veiled promise thrown in that Bob’s troubles with the department may just end if he comes through.
He’s unwilling at first, given that he’s got a semblance of a family life back on track and doesn’t want to jeopardize it, but he’s also strapped for cash and his legal bills are not helping his cause. For the job, though, he has to partner up with Ferry Bouman (Frank Lammers), the former drug lord whom he busted in season 1 and is currently out on bail. Under his parole agreement, Ferry is not to make contact with known drug dealers or get back in the business, but that’s just what is needed for this latest undercover operation. Bob is Peter Bogaert, Ferry’s new partner as the latter tries to get himself back in the business. The spiel is that Peter has access to raw material and Ferry knows one of the best cooks of ecstasy, which they can supply to the Turkish ring, run by Serkan Bulunt and his wife Leyla. These days, though, it’s more Leyla than Serkan, as the latter is in a wheelchair after a deal gone bad with Somalians, and she doesn’t trust anyone easily. So, Bob and Ferry have their work cut out for them. They not only have to overcome all personal animosity, but also put on a united front to get into Leyla’s inner circle.
At only eight episodes (two less than the earlier seasons), Undercover 3 is a gripping watch from start-to-finish. More than the crime, it’s about the characters that make it happen, like Leyla, who holds fort for her husband, and has built them an empire by skilfully laundering their ill-gotten money, or Serkan’s trusted lieutenant Timur, whose nephew Yusuf puts a bullet in an undercover agent and is then permanently silenced at Leyla’s behest. The show humanizes pretty much everyone, even the bad ones, so you are never really sure which side to root for.
Verdict: Netflix has not yet announced if Undercover will get another outing and Season 3 pretty much felt like a conclusion of sorts, with most loose ends neatly tied up. But then this is the kind of that you’d like to see more of. But then Ferry got a prequel origin story movie, so there’s a chance Bob may return too for another undercover stint.