BACKSTROM Recap: 'I Am a Bird Now' - Give Me My Remote : Give Me My Remote

BACKSTROM Recap: ‘I Am a Bird Now’

February 12, 2015 by  

Hey BACKSTROM fans! The show is getting into the swing of things, and this episode, “I Am a Bird Now,” dealt with issues of gender expression, the way romantic or platonic couples lie to one another, and whether being good has anything to do with the rules. There’s a lot to discuss, so let’s get to it.


The episode begins at the committee hearing and as Amy (played again by guest star Sarah Chalke) is laying out all of the charges against Backstrom, he has a medical situation. Throughout the episode, he continues to avoid testifying, and he also pressures Moto into falsifying an eyewitness account of the night he shot Visser.

We see Moto deal with this by talking it through with Nadia, Niedermeyer, and Almond, and we also see relationship development between Backstrom and Amy, as they bicker and banter, primarily about the way he was never able to lie to her without her knowing it.


The team is tapped to solve the case of a man, Jason Rose, who was found on a beach near an abandoned classic car. The cause of death is a bullet wound, and Jason is found in a woman’s wig and dress, and throughout the episode, the team analyzes his various sexual and platonic relationships with men and women to find out why he was killed…and why he had a valuable silver bottle worth over $20,000 in the glove compartment of his car. Backstrom declares the murder a “hate crime against the gays,” even though Gravely points out that it’s not “the gays” and Niedermeyer points out that cross-dressing doesn’t indicate sexuality. But Backstrom doesn’t care—he just needs a high profile case to get him out of testifying to the civilian oversight committee.

Jason’s aunt visit’s the precinct and tells the team that Jason referred to himself as pansexual, had started a blog as Jenna Rose, and was highly sexually active in his youth but had recently settled down into a relationship with a man named Marcus.

Suspects Include:

  • Marcus Lester, Jason’s partner. He knew Jason wasn’t faithful but tells the team that between sexual fidelity and emotional fidelity, the latter is more important, and he had that with Jason. He also admits he and Jason were planning to adopt a baby.
  • Mr. and Mrs. Han, two lawyers Jason and Marcus were using to help assist with the baby adoption. Backstrom and Almond find vintage dress clothes in their closet and wonder if Jason was trying to appropriate Mrs. Han’s life. Mr. Han doesn’t think Marcus could have killed Jason, but Mrs. Han says that everyone has a dark side. Backstrom (via Almond in preacher mode) also gets Mrs. Han to admit she had an affair with Jason.
  • Valentine. When, at a vigil for Jenna Rose, he comes up on the suspect list as someone who was involved with the black market purchase of the silver bottle, Backstrom has to confess to Niedermeyer and Gravely that Valentine is his informant and tenant, and he has to convince Valentine that he needs to know the truth about what he knows about Jason. Valentine admits he and Jason had sex but that he definitely didn’t kill him.
  • David Kettering, a wealthy man who wanted to purchase the silver bottle for himself.

Nadia traces Jason’s computer and Jenna’s blog for frequent visitors or any other patterns. Niedermeyer works the crime scene to figure out how Jason was shot, and he determines it was the work of a calculated killer, like a sniper. If the killer just wanted the silver bottle, why shoot Jason when he ran away?

Backstrom brings David in for questioning, and David admits that Jason was his protégé. When Backstrom alludes that Jason was a prettier woman than David, we see the other man grow bitter, and he says it’s because a “Japanese lawyer bitch” was paying for Jason’s things. Backstrom (and the audience) realize he means Mrs. Han. Backstrom antagonizes David (unnecessarily) until he leaps over the table and tries to choke him, at which point Gravely and Niedermeyer come in and arrest David for assaulting an officer.

Later, Nadia tells Backstrom she found a recent bout of heavy traffic to Jenna’s blog from an ex-military man named Wayne Combs, who served a previous sentence for assaulting a gay soldier.

Backstrom brings Wayne in for questioning, and after verbally pressuring him, realizes that he didn’t kill Jason because he was a woman, he killed Jason because he was paid to. Gravely enters the room and shows Wayne several photos of possible clients: Marcus, David, Valentine are all negative. Gravely wants to give up and asks Backstrom who would want to kill Jenna? Backstrom realizes that Henry Han would want Jenna/Jason dead for having an affair with his wife. Wayne admits Henry is the one who hired him, and the team goes to the Han residence to arrest him.


  • I liked how Almond wanted to hear about Jason’s life as Jenna because it gave them insight into why he may have died as Jenna.
  • The overall theme of being able to lie (and get away with it) in relationships or situations was nicely played. I didn’t necessarily agree with how every person handled his/her situation (looking at you, Moto), but the character relationships and the case flowed nicely together under the theme. I especially liked the scene with Moto and Niedermeyer. It will be good to see more interactions between different characters in the future (hopefully).
  • Backstrom and Valentine remind me a lot of Harry and Thomas from “The Dresden Files” books. Neither one is a wizard or vampire (that we know of!), and I don’t want to spoil the books either, but it is fun to see these two characters interact.


  • I think maybe this episode (and last week’s) were really meant to air before Bella. It would explain many of the issues I had with Bella — specifically things that felt unearned like Backstrom’s health issues (now known as panic attacks). The episode order isn’t a deal breaker (and ultimately not the show’s fault — I think the networks decide episode order), but it felt weird to see things like Niedermeyer and Valentine “meet” in this episode when they already had a scene together in Bella, etc.
  • I don’t mind a little ambiguity of character, or the idea that the truth is out there, even if it doesn’t necessarily have an eyewitness. However, since we (the audience) DID see Backstrom shoot himself in the situation with Visser, we can strongly suspect that Moto lied about it to the civilian oversight committee. Backstrom treats Moto like garbage, and Almond was completely right to warn him against perjuring himself. So it was a bummer to see Moto take Backstrom’s side and then basically brag about it, when it’s clear Backstrom doesn’t care about him at all. To me it makes both characters (and the show) less credible.


  • Backstrom is a pretty terrible person, and belligerently so. The show has written itself into a corner I think. On the one hand, they want the audience to believe that beneath all the gruff is a good person, but there is very little to suggest that. And too much remediation too quickly will result in a bland character. From the sexist, bigoted comments to the way he treats most people, it’s fairly painful to watch most of the time, whichever ‘facet’ of the character we are getting. Ironically, some of the suspects in several episodes also have latent personality issues, and the show is hypocritical in wanting us to root for Backstrom to overcome his while he caustically exposes the issues of suspects in the cases — as if he deserves redemption while others don’t. I don’t know how the show overcomes this without rebooting the series. But it’s necessary because, like above re: Moto, the other characters lose credibility too when he treats them badly and they go along with it.
  • Having said all of that, I really do like the Backstrom/Amy relationship and would love to see more of it.

Enough from me—what did you like or not like about this episode? The comments are open; speak your mind!

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