After a sublime second season, the third installment of the Dutch series The Blood Pact, the third installment was due to come and much anticipated as it would also signify the show's definitive finale as the creators have explicitly stated. Frank Ketelaar, who is both the director and co-screenwriter of the series, opted for the employment of a well-used trope, the innocent protagonist who is involved in shady dealings due to his acquaintance with a career criminal, and then structured methodically each season's main storyline and sub-plots in way reminiscent of the best productions originating from Europe or the United States. The original -Dutch- title of the show is Klem which translates into English as "jammed" or "stuck", duly reflecting the situation(s) in which the protagonist, tax-officer Hugo Warmond (Barry Atsma) finds himself involved with due to his love-and-hate relationship with Marius Milner (Jacob Derwig). Marius is the father of Hugo's little daughter's best friend, thus they are initially forced to interact with the bond between them strengthening as time goes by and eventually evolving into a bromance despite their evident differences as characters.
Hugo is a mild and timid widower with two children who works in the tax office and, in general terms, minds his own business while avoiding becoming embroiled in any activity that would be considered as improper, much more illegal. Barry Atsma (Blackout, Loft) plays his role effectively and efficiently and convinces the audience with his portrayal of Hugo as an innocuous human being who, nevertheless, possesses the necessary resolve to go beyond his personal boundaries if it is to help his family or friends. Marius, on the other hand, is a seasoned outlaw whom we first meet in the first episode of season 1 as he gets released from an eight-year stint in prison for murder. While Marius is ruthless and doesn't hesitate to use violence whenever needed, his "short fuse" is one of the character's trademarks, he also has another side as we learn from the story's development. Derwig (Penoza. The Dinner) is one of the show's higher qualities as the 54-year-old Dutch actor nails the role of Marius, delivering a character marked by his own contradictions: protective towards his wife, Kitty (Georgina Verbaan) and relentless in his -most often illegal- business transactions.
Except for Hugo and Marius who are the unambiguous protagonists of the show, Kitty and the kids, Hugo's Laura (Marie-Mae van Zuilen) and little Suus (Yenthe Bos) as well as Marius and Kitty's Chrissie (Zoe Cusell) have a pivotal position within the narrative with the third season being more focused on Marius and Hugo while Kitty and the kids are more sidelined if compared with the previous two seasons. The third cycle of The Blood Pact commences with Hugo having been relieved from his duties as top-notch tax official and currently working as a freelancer with some people whose actions are suspicious such as Maurice Samuels, a wealthy real-estate agent and modern art collector. Marius's arc begins in a way that totally fits his persona as he stages a faux robbery on him and the truck that he drives around, containing a substantial amount of gold. His boss, Wim, immediately suspects Marius of having stolen the treasure which actually belongs to Wim's boss, Maurice Samuels. The despicable, in more than one ways, character of Samuels is what connects Marius and Hugo's stories in this last season and as the plot moves forwards and as we reach the midpoint, the two initially independent stories become intertwined.
The Blood Pact follows the recipe that made the show one of the most beloved -mainly among European audiences- productions from Netherlands, however the story falls flat in the end while the pacing is uneven, leading to a climax that I perceived as disappointing. Of course, the series retains the high production values and other qualities such as the capturing photography, with Amsterdam proving to be an apt terrain for a crime story to unfold due to its cloudy weather and the pedestrian walkways that may be proven treacherous for the characters of the story. It is the plot that lags behind and the comparison between this season and the previous one is inevitable, leaving the audience to perhaps assess a bit too harsh the final installment. The fact that it is the series finale should have spurred the creators to offer a bit more to the fans of the show whose standards and expectations were, sadly, not met. Around the fifth or sixth episode Hugo along with Samuels visit Malta for business and something terrible happens to the amiable Dutchman, something that allows his horrible client to blackmail him for the rest of the season's episodes. Sounds enticing, no? However the screenwriters leave this subplot underdeveloped and even the interpolation of a Biker's gang in the concluding episodes can't save the day for the show's creative team.
A note for those who loved the show and want more: there is also the 2023 movie under the same title (Klem) that attempts to tie the loose ends left in season 3 and its story picks up from where the TV series had left off. The actors and the main roles remain the same and, once again, Frank Ketelaar is the man behind the scenes both as a director and a screenwriter. I haven't been able to track the movie in any streaming platform so far, so if you have a tip, please share it in the comments below.