BACKSTROM Recap: 'Ancient, Chinese, Secret' - Give Me My Remote : Give Me My Remote

BACKSTROM Recap: ‘Ancient, Chinese, Secret’

February 26, 2015 by  

Backstrom-ep110_sc5_009_hires1Hey, BACKSTROM fans! This episode, “Ancient, Chinese, Secret,” features money, a laundry, and money laundering. There’s also a case surrounding the murder of a psychic, and this allows both the characters and the audience to see a little bit into the future, for better or worse. There’s a lot to discuss, so let’s get to it!


The episode opens as Backstrom and Moto join Almond and Niedermeyer at a crime scene, where a local Chinatown psychic has been murdered at his shop. It’s a gruesome and bloody murder, and after Niedermeyer takes the time to physically reenact a possible scenario, Backstrom just wants to clear up one thing — have all of the “psychic didn’t see it coming” jokes been done? He’d hate to repeat anything. Ha.

The victim is Davis Gu. His death was reported by his twin sister, Celia.


  • Celia Gu: She admits that unlike her brother, she has no inner psychic ability. Backstrom wonders if their fortune telling business is part of Chinese organized crime group Triad, but Celia says they are a legit operation and that she and Davis are descendants of the Tongji, a spirit medium who can communicate with those beyond the grave. When Almond asks her to ask her brother who killed him, she performs a violent ritual with a flail and then tells the detectives that her grandfather has spoken — two worlds will collide behind a red door. It turns out she has an alibi, and Nadia traces online reviews of the Gus’ business.
  • Albert Reid: The abovementioned angry reviewer is upset that Davis gave him bad romantic advice, but he quickly admits to Backstrom and Almond that another psychic, Lady Ma, told him that Davis was a fraud. But his story is less than plausible, especially because he reported being mugged at the same time Davis was murdered.
  • Margaret Ann Luttrell, aka Lady Ma: The non-Asian psychic claims she had a vision regarding Davis’s death, but she is also in possession of a missing astrology wheel from the Gus’ shop. She insists she purchased the wheel from Celia and that Davis’s ancestors were offended by his lack of desire to learn; she states that Davis was murdered by his dead grandfather.
  • Dominic Chan: Niedermeyer finds three checks for $5,000 each in Davis’s wallet, each from a local laundry service. They soon figure out that a gambling ring is taking place there and then visit the owner and learn he was an associate of Davis’s. He insists he paid him money for his excellent counsel and advice. Backstrom figures Davis and Chan were in collusion — providing financial fortunes and then directing people to Chan’s den to lose big. Chan points out that it would then be foolish to kill Davis and ruin the scam, after which he lawyers up.
  • Jimmy Fei: The young super psychic of China arrives to the police bureau just as the team realizes he may have a motive for killing Davis — after all, he is a big winner in the gambling ring. He stays one-step ahead of the team, bringing them the murder weapon and also providing each team member with a fortune to validate his abilities.

Each person reads his or her note aloud and verifies it is applicable, except for Nadia, whose foreboding fortune (combined with a change in the music) indicates she is in danger, and Backstrom, who refuses to read his at all. He returns to Jimmy and asks him if he killed Davis. His murder weapon matches the type of knife Niedermeyer thinks was used in the crime, but Niedermeyer also points out that if Jimmy is being held under suspicion for murder, he can’t be sent back to China, from where he escaped.

Valentine, previously banned from Chinatown for fraud, wants Backstrom to return a scroll for him. It turns out the scroll belongs to Dominic Chan. Valentine also identifies the murder weapon as a knife frequently replicated and sold in Chinatown shops. The replicas are cheapies, but he knows a guy in a van who sells the real deal.

Niedermeyer and Moto visit “Tiny,” a man who sells goods from the back of his van. They show him pictures of several suspects — Lady Ma, Dominic Chan, Celia, and Albert, and Tiny confirms he sold the knife to Albert.

They bring Reid in for questioning, and he insists he didn’t kill Davis. They know he owed $60,000 to Chan, so why kill Gu? But the evidence on the murder weapon is a match for Albert. And Moto looks further — he finds a piece of paperwork from Jimmy to Chan that says “You will be betrayed by your partner,” and they realize that Chan believed in the prophecy and agreed to forgive Albert’s debt if he killed Davis for him.


  • The scene between Gravely, Moto and Backstrom about ghosts, etc. was pretty funny.
  • I would pay to see Valentine as a fortune teller, and I laughed when he said he has a naturally mocking face, making it difficult to pretend to care about people.
  • I mostly liked the scene where each person read his or her fortune aloud — it gave some nice insight and was fun to see Backstrom get annoyed.


  • I believe this script was meant for later in the season. For the most part, the episode held up in terms of continuity…except for two main things:
    • The Backstrom/pedometer stuff. It’s not impossible that he has to use one now, but it was discussed SO much that it feels like there should be more to that
    • The Niedermeyer/Paquet romance. It seemed to go from 0-60 in this episode and while they are probably a nice couple, it’s somewhat jarring. If I had to place a bet, I’d say we’ll see more development between these characters in the next few episodes. But as it is, it seemed pretty intense that Nied’s fortune read that “the love of your life” has a secret. The LOVE OF HIS LIFE?!? Sorry Valentine/Niedermeyer shippers! And the way they gazed into one another’s eyes over the case facts was a little over the top. This, combined with all of Nadia’s backstory, was a LOT of plot.
  • The show struggles with using its female characters appropriately (i.e. without mansplaining everything) in the first place, and it’s nice when they actually interact with one another in friendly, smart, camaraderie-filled ways. So it was a bummer to see Nadia make fun of Gravely here, just to flirt with Niedermeyer. BOOOOO!
  • There was a lot of superfluous dialogue in this episode, especially regarding Gravely and food. It felt off and unnecessary, like a plane circling as it tries to land. Come on, writers — tighten up the scripts and land these suckers!
  • Racist jokes. Still bad.


  • I really liked the end scene of the episode, where Backstrom and Valentine discussed the case and his fortune from Jimmy. The “You will not see next Christmas” portent was appropriately alarming to Backstrom, and it was fun to see Valentine give him crap about not believing it. Backstrom’s sense of his own mortality has been a good storyline this season and likely will be what ultimately makes him want to improve his health and wellbeing. Whether this improves his unrelated penchant for racial slurs remains to be seen.

Enough from me — what did you think of this episode? Were you surprised by the killer? What do you think of Paquet and Niedermeyer’s relationship? The comments are open — speak your mind!

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