Netflix’s UNDERCOVER Takes Viewers on a Excessive, Ecstasy-Filled Trip


Netflix’s UNDERCOVER Takes Viewers on a Excessive, Ecstasy-Filled Trip

By Movieguide® Contributor

UNDERCOVER is a Belgian NETFLIX original series. It was created by Nico Moolenaar and stars Tim Waes, Frank Lemmens, Nazmiye Oral, and Murat Steven. Loosely based on the real-life undercover sting of Belgian drug lord Janus van Wessenbeeck, UNDERCOVER SEASON 3 follows Ferry, Wessenbeeck’s archetype, and the disgraced undercover officer who placed him in prison as they work together to infiltrate the Bulut gang and sniff out a mole in the Belgian police department.

UNDERCOVER SEASON 3 is set primarily in Limburg, a Belgian province that borders the Netherlands. Known as “the Columbia of ecstasy,” Limburg is the hub for the production, sale, and transportation of ecstasy all around the world. SEASON 3 begins with ex-undercover officer, Bob Lemmens, working as a handyman repairing houses. Faced with a lawsuit from the Belgian police department due to unsanctioned actions taken during the undercover missions in seasons 1 and 2, Lemmens has been forced to resign from the police force and is facing a potential prison sentence.

At his worksite, his ex-handler visits him and asks for his unofficial, unsanctioned help on a case he is working on in exchange for getting the charges against him dropped. His ex-handler has recently discovered that there is a mole in the Belgian police department that is leaking information to the Bulut gang, Belgian’s newest, most powerful ecstasy dealers. Lemmens agrees to work with him as he wants to be able to support his family rather than serve time in prison.

Before the Bulut gang rose to power, Ferry Bouwman was the leader in the Belgium drug trade. That is until Lemmens’ undercover work placed him in prison for years. However, unbeknownst to Lemmens, Ferry has recently been released from prison and is facing challenges in rebuilding his ecstasy business, as all his suppliers now work for Bulut. After coercing one of his old suppliers into working for him, Bouwman is escorted to an event that the Bulut’s are hosting and given a warning for attempting to tread on their turf. Lemmens, undercover at this party, sees Bouwman and takes a video of him talking to the gang. He later confronts Bouwman in his home and, after a large fight, blackmails him with the video (as his association with known criminals violates his parole). The remainder of the season follows Lemmens and Bouwman as the two men, forced to work together by circumstances, attempt to take down the Bulut gang, uncover the mole inside of the police department, and avenge the life of the undercover officer who was killed. 

UNDERCOVER SEASON 3 has a primarily humanistic, materialistic worldview. The series does not reject the existence of God, however, characters live their lives in a way that demonstrates the belief that reality consists only of what humans can see. Most of the characters in this series are involved in a black-market, illegal trade. As such, they live their lives solely for their own personal pleasure and value money and/or power above all else. While this is the primary worldview, there are traces of a moral, patriotic worldview strewn throughout. The Belgian criminal justice system desires to end the exportation of ecstasy and members of the system including undercover officers’ risk their lives to stop crime. However, undercover missions are usually messy and entail a great deal of lying and manipulation. While the overall goal of their actions is honorable, the execution is sometimes questionable.

As UNDERCOVER SEASON 3 focuses on the production and sale of ecstasy, it contains a high level of violence consistent with the illegal drug trade. Several individuals, including undercover officers, are strangled, shot, and/or killed for various reasons including failure to comply with orders, snitching, or having one’s cover blown. There are several scenes containing physical violence such as fights and beatings. Many characters carry illegal weapons and do use or threaten to use them on occasion. Ferry’s ex-wife is now a lesbian and is seen briefly kissing her new partner. There are a few brief yet mildly intense sex scenes.

There is a large amount of profanity including regular use of the “f word.” The Lord’s name is also occasionally taken in vain with words such as “g-d” and “Jesus/Jesus Christ.” Additionally, while no derogatory terms are used, most characters have a prejudice toward different nationalities based on corresponding stereotypes.  As the show is about the illegal drug trade, drugs are heavily mentioned and ecstasy pills can be seen regularly on screen. Additionally, ecstasy is seen being cooked in drug labs, but not in detail. There is regular consumption of alcohol, sometimes in excess, and frequent use of cigarettes. Season 3’s two main characters are both divorced, one is remarried with a blended family and the other’s wife is now a lesbian. Blackmail, deceit, double-crossing, and illegal activities of various kinds are prevalent throughout the series.

While UNDERCOVER SEASON 3 does contain heavy content, it is a well-produced, respectful series that accurately displays the reality of black-market business. The series has excellent camera work, talented acting, and beautiful, realistic set locations. However, it should be restated that UNDERCOVER is a Belgian series and as such is filmed in Flemish. There is an option to voice dub it over in English, however, the dubbed translation does not match that of the built-in English subtitles, making it frustrating to watch. However, if you enjoy series related to criminal justice and do not mind watching foreign films or reading subtitles, UNDERCOVER SEASON 3 is an engaging, interesting, and educational choice. 

 Because UNDERCOVER SEASON 3 contains violence, immorality, and worldview problems, MOVIEGUIDE finds the series to be excessive.