BACKSTROM Recap: 'Bella' - Give Me My Remote : Give Me My Remote

BACKSTROM Recap: ‘Bella’

January 29, 2015 by  

Hello BACKSTROM viewers!

What did you think of this second episode, “Bella”? There was a murdered bird, literal and romantic fires, and Backstrom sort of admitted that it’s possible that sometimes he might not always technically be right…maybe. There’s more to discuss, so let’s get to it.

The episode begins at a local house fire. The team has been brought in by Samantha Orland (played by Angelique Cabral) to help investigate for arson and to determine whether or not the crime is part of a serial arsonist’s work. Immediately, we see that Backstrom has a personal history with two of the firefighters, Nick and Sam D’Agostino (played by Matt Battaglia and Eddie McClintock) — the two men bullied Backstrom when he was a child. What they consider to be good-natured hazing, he still holds a grudge over.

Gravely and Backstrom investigate inside the home, and while Gravely is horrified when Backstrom drinks some of the occupant’s liquor, Backstrom doesn’t care and makes up a lie to use in the event she has to cover for him. He also figures out there are two ignition points for the fire, including one in a ceramic lovebird.

Back at the precinct, Niedermeyer talks to the team about green flame fires and how the accelerant is used and Nadia suggests that lovebirds come in pairs, so there must be another bird out there. Niedermeyer and Gravely track down a local woman, Melinda Norburg, known for green flame fires as art, and within a few minutes of their visit, they realize she is turned on by the fire. She flirts with Peter, and he’s intrigued, but Gravely pulls him back to reality.

Backstrom becomes obsessed with the idea that firefighters, specifically Nick and Sam, are setting fires themselves in order to line their pockets with goods from the burned homes. The team tries to convince him that he has no evidence to support that, and so he decides to make his suspicions true. He convinces Nadia to falsify a warrant to investigate the firehouse. Almond and Backstrom visit the firehouse and meet Larry Dabkey, a rookie firefighter. During their investigation, they find a dead canary in Larry’s locker — a sure sign that he is being intimidated into keeping his mouth shut about something. Backstrom becomes more convinced about his firefighters as arsonists theory and decides to act further. He has a watch appraised, and then, on another visit to the firehouse, plants it on Sam, who pleads innocence even while he is arrested.

Backstrom questions Sam and then pits him against his brother, bringing up an incident from their youth regarding a girl Sam had a crush on. Later on, Larry pays Backstrom a visit on the barge (is it listed in the phone book or something??) and says that while he doesn’t think Nick and Sam are arsonists, he does know they are the types to take advantage of fires to steal. Backstrom is glad for the info and asks if he’s willing to testify. Larry says that he is and also talks about his father, a firefighter who died on duty. He wants Backstrom to take the information seriously, and implies he fears for his life. Backstrom is visibly moved by the entreaty and then has some sort of medical situation. The next scene involves him in an ambulance where he gets the paddles and is promptly tossed into a puddle.

Almond arrives with a coat and a beer, and they discuss friendship and giving Gravely a break on account of how smart and eager she is — and for the fact that she’s probably right that the D’Agostinos are thieves but not arsonists…and the arson case is what they need to be working on. The next day at the office, Backstrom begrudgingly admits that there is a possibility that he was not right. The team is shocked, but they recover and discuss the details of the arson case. Backstrom quickly realizes that the only source for the most recent fire is the paperwork from Samantha Orland—they realize she was lying and brought the team on to assist in order to cover her own tracks as the arsonist.

They decide to find her to question her, but first, Backstrom goes to the firehouse and confronts Nick and Sam, telling them that Larry is willing to testify against them. They aren’t worried about it, and tell Backstrom that what they do isn’t that big of a deal—the families are getting insurance money anyway, there is no reason not to take advantage. They offer him a cut of the action, and he replies that he wants only one thing—Bella. The brothers know what he’s talking about but have no idea where Bella could be. Eventually Sam remembers where it might be, and Backstrom smiles and leaves, already reneging on his offer to make them a deal. They tell him his behavior is why he has no friends and will die alone. Backstrom retorts that everyone dies alone, and they intimate that he definitely will because they plan to kill him. Good talk!

Backstrom, Gravely, and Moto catch up with Orland, who is sitting in a car photographing a family. Moto takes the camera and finds ‘before’ pictures of the previous house that burned down, while Backstrom and Gravely question her about setting the fires. Orland tries to defer by asking Gravely how she can handle working with someone who hates women so much, and Gravely replies that Backstrom IS the worst, he hates everyone, not necessarily women more than men. And he really hates people who try to get away with murder. Backstrom turns on a lighter and does his “I’m you” routine, and we can clearly see that Orland is visibly moved by the sight and sense of fire as Backstrom describes how each level of fire became insufficient to meeting her “needs.” They find fire-starting tools in the trunk of her car, and that’s enough to arrest her. As Gravely takes care of that, Valentine arrives to take Backstrom away — to find Bella.

They do find Bella, and it is a kite that Backstrom made himself when he was a child. He flies it again and is happy. Valentine is impressed and asks for a turn. Backstrom turns him down, but eventually agrees to making one for him…but most importantly, he just wants Valentine to stop talking.


  •  Between Melinda, Valentine, and Nadia, Niedermeyer saw a lot of potential action in this episode. It looks like the show is setting him up as the romantic lead, which is fine, but ultimately (like we saw in this episode) requires the reduction of the full-on feel-goodery he had in the pilot. Not necessarily a bad thing, and I think he was a more credible character in this episode.
  • The Valentine and Niedermeyer scenes in the episode were very funny. VERY FUNNY!
  • Likewise, while I’m a little hazy on exactly what happened to Backstrom on the barge (was it an actual heart attack?) and not at all hazy on whether or not the EMTs treated him ethically (that’s a no), most of the subsequent scene between Backstrom and Almond on the bus stop bench was excellent.
  • I liked the way Gravely and Backstrom (and Moto) worked together to apprehend Orland — that scene was nice.



  • There were a few things in this episode that felt unearned—the knowing look between Nadia and Peter re: lovebirds found in pairs, Backstrom’s seemingly sincere “what am I doing wrong?” comment to Almond on the park bench, and the sentimental moment at the end with Backstrom and his kite. I’m not sure if episodes are being aired out of order or not, but with all three of those things, I felt like I had missed some character or plot development between the pilot and this episode.
  • The show used the scene with Larry Dabkey on the barge to tug on the emotional heartstrings and make it clear that Backstrom felt the weight of responsibility toward the younger man. That the thievery situation was resolved somewhat flippantly (so far) took a little bit away from Larry’s genuine issue.


  • The show will suffer long term if Backstrom is the one to figure out each case’s ultimate “gotcha.” We did see the team talk through this one, and it was nice to see Gravely, Backstrom, and Moto together on the apprehension of the suspect. But there needs to be more of that, otherwise there’s not a lot to distinguish the team’s skills from any other random group of street-smart people.
  • Like I said before, the end scene felt a little unearned; mostly I feel like any sort of compassion the show wants the audience to have toward Backstrom hasn’t been earned yet. The guy had an (albeit legitimate) ax to grind the entire episode, but by lying and cheating his way through the case, I wasn’t necessarily rooting for him to win/find Bella, etc. There’s a lot in the media about how Backstrom had a rough childhood and that if we keep watching, it will all be clear, and that is all fine. But when it comes to the actual episodes & canon of the show at this juncture, I didn’t have a lot of loyalty toward Backstrom “winning” against the D’Agostino bros. I wasn’t rooting against him necessarily, I just don’t care one way or the other.

Enough from me; did you like this episode more or less than the pilot? What worked for you, and what didn’t? The comments are open — speak your mind!

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One Response to “BACKSTROM Recap: ‘Bella’”

  1. Summoned by Bella on January 30th, 2015 2:11 am

    Bella the kite, brought me here! Love this television program!