'Backstrom' Recap: Backstrom Learns the Shocking Truth About Valentine
'Backstrom' Recap: Backstrom Learns the Shocking Truth About Valentine
Catherine Cabanela
Catherine Cabanela
Contributing Writer, BuddyTV
Despite my yet-scandalized soul over Backstrom's bastardization of a 30-day sobriety chip given to him by the only woman who will ever love him in "Give 'Til It Hurts', the first ten seconds of "Inescapable Truth" had me laughing out loud at the recently-showered lieutenant's feeble attempts to dry himself with sheets of toilet paper. What's so entertainingly delicious about Backstrom is the many times throughout each episode when I find myself howling at the tidbits of outright absurdity finessed by the titular character and his team of misfit crime fighters. His comments, their facial expressions, their explanations to the Backstrom muggles. Good, inappropriate humor.

The previous episode was monumental in pealing back some layers of Backstrom's character. He outright admitted his desire to reconcile with Amy. *Gasp* She revealed that she had an alcoholic father whom she watched die after his first 30 days of sobriety. It's clear that Backstrom's addictions were part of the reason Everett's and Amy's relationship fell apart ten years ago. Amy lies and says she just wants to be friends. However, there is clearly strong chemistry between the two and their story is far from over. That's where the previous episode ended and this one picks up.

Backstrom: Not Ready for a Boy-Zilian

Following the pulpy post-drizzle mop-up I was laughing about in my intro, (Backstrom using toilet paper to dry off from a shower), is an awkward (for me) locker room-type scene in which Backstrom and Valentine stand around stark naked, shamelessly staring at each other's naughty bits. (Do guys really do that? Maybe since your bathrooms don't provide as much privacy as the ladies' do, but still. Is that usual? Perhaps this is the adult manifestation of the genital pride I've observed in my 12-year-old son which only seems to come out when his male cousins are around.) 
During this naked chat, Valentine thinks Backstrom is impressed with his manscaping, or as Val calls it, 'boyzilian'. We find out later that what stuns Backstrom isn't Val's artistic shaving, but that his privates are identical to Backstrom's own. Backstrom then wonders if Val might really be his son. Val's mother was a prostitute when he and she met when Backstrom was 18. Val's paternity is a theme throughout the episode spurring all kinds of comedic and inappropriate comments from Backstrom to his team members of both sexes. More on this later. 

Gravely's Nemesis Seeks A Missing Musician 

After Backstrom opens the day with an attempt to ask his team a penis question, Niedermayer announces that they have a case. Musician Sebastian Serafian has gone missing from his court-mandated rehab program. It turns out Serafian was a material witness in an FBI investigation of prescription drug dealer, orthopedic surgeon Dr. Alan Kobrine (Faran Tahir), whom they have been unsuccessful in charging as of yet. As such, the FBI, led by Gravely's nemesis AUA Steven Kines, wants the SCU discretely working the case. Good luck with that, Kines.

Juicy Detes on Gravely's Raunchy Past as a Whore

In the premiere, Backstrom refers to Gravely having bumped uglies with one of her johns during a sting in which she went undercover as a prostitute. Remember that? Kinda shocking for such a Pollyanna, but there you have it. Well, "Inescapable Truth" gives us a great deal more about that infamous black mark on Gravely's transcript. It turns out that this Kines feeb was the lead on the infamous case where Gravely helped him nail 24 johns. However, for reasons Gravely was never privy to, the video recording of the final transaction went inexplicably dark, destroying the credibility of the entire operation. All those dicks, er, I mean johns, went free as a result and the force had to eat a lot of crow. 

Kines let Gravely take all the blame for that colossal clusterf*ck. Hence, Gravely says she hates this guy and is determined to get revenge on him by nabbing Dr. Kobrine for murdering the missing musician before Kines can get him for drugs. This girl is a rotweiler in poodle clothing, I tell you. I love this feisty side of her. By the end of the episode we learn there is much more to the story, though we will have to wait to hear the rest in a future episode.

Rehab Proves Too Much For Backstrom 
Gravely and Backstrom head to the swanky rehab where Backstrom is more irritable and inappropriate than usual. The rehab director comes right out tells the lieutenant that he has addiction issues. Hey, maybe we're going to get somewhere in regard to Strommer's (cough, cough) 'challenges' during this episode? Fat chance on that as well, but this episode does serve to put in place the resources for Backstrom to access when the time comes. The director does make the comment that addiction is not a joke; it's a disease. Perhaps that attitude of grace will worm its way into Backstrom's subconsciousness. But will it do any good? And can that happen by episode 13?

Leaving Shangri-La, Backstrom and Gravely hit the closest bar and uncover footage of Sebastian being picked up in a red van by a faceless woman. The license plate on the van leads back to, you guessed it, Dr. Alan Kobrine, who professes he gave it to one of his patients for no good reason. Interesting. 
The Very Late Sebastian is Found

Fingerprints on the van belong to 57 people, but my boyfriend Niedermayer examines the lyrics to the songs Sebastian wrote in search of forensic clues and, with the help of Paquet, (whom he spontaneously kisses surprising them both), they locate the Black Stone Quarry. The whole team goes to the quarry where there are traces of a vehicle having gone over a cliff into to reservoir. They retrieve the red van and find Sebastian shoved inside it.

Backstrom determines that someone at rehab had to have let Sebastian use a phone to arrange his escape ride and to invite Satan's squeezebox player back into the band. The noncommittal rehab guy fingers band member Mindi Grundig as the girl who occassionally gave rides to Sebastian when he took off from rehab. Sebastian had plied Mindi with promises of co-writing songs when in actuality he was using her to get out so he could get high. Mindi, however, wasn't the driver for Sebastian's final getaway. 

At this point, they don't think Kobrine killed Sebastian anymore. Besides, the feebs have had him under surveillance 24/7. They think whomever procured the drugs for him and drove the getaway van was the doer, so now they have to get Kobrine to spill on the identity of his buyer. Later those drugs are found in a common area at the commune. 

You Can Tell A Lot About a Man's Penis By the Shape of His Nose

The B plot of "Inescapable Truth" is woven throughout. At one point Backstrom asks Valentine what he knows about his father. Val reports that all his mom said was that Papa Valentine was a client, a genius and a total dick. Backstrom finds this disheartening, because it describes himself perfectly. 

Then Backstrom asks Niedermayer about the uniqueness of penises. Niedermayer admits he's always thought Backstrom's and Val's noses looked alike and that he assumed they were father and son. Backstrom admits that there is a physical possibility that they could be related, but that the timing is all wrong. He has to admit though, that Niedermayer may have a valid point about noses, penises and paternity. Shite. 

Backstrom Reminisces With Mama Valentine

Finally, Everett visits Val's mother, Louise 'Born-Again-Dental-Hygienist' Finster (Lolita Davidovich) and they reminisce. They originally met when Backstrom was an 18-year-old virgin. Apparently the two got on like a house on fire for quite a while. And we have another piece of the Backstrom puzzle. Interesting.

He questions why she brought Valentine to live with Backstrom after his traumatic rape and torture experience all those years ago. Her explanation is that she knew Backstrom would not let her down. He finally asks her if Valentine is his son. She says no, and it rings true, but it's clear there's much more to the story, which we later learn is a shocker.

Backstrom Throws Himself On His Sword Oxycodone

Gravely and Backstrom force Kines to reveal where Kobrine is at that moment so they can confront him. They chase Kobrine across the the back nine in a golf cart where he's in the middle of a round of golf. Backstrom, once alone with Kobrine tries to get him to admit who he sold the drugs to. Backstrom has the confiscated bag of Oxycodone with him and threatens to charge Kobrine with selling it to him if he doesn't cough up his buyer's name. While Backstrom is threatening Kobrine, he takes out several pills and threatens him by eating some pills. I still don't understand why Backstrom ate the pills. Finally, Kobrine indicates that he may have sold the drugs to the band's drummer.

Backstrom Resized Band Members.jpg
The Double Feint BOLO

By the time they get the drummer under the bright lights Backstrom is four sheets to the wind, which Almond assures Kines is an act and part of Backstrom's interrogation strategy. Finally, the drummer explains that he has a driving phobia and he couldn't have driven out to meet Sebastian. He did, however, get the drugs from Kobrine. 

Valentine Gets the Poo Kicked Out of Him

Mid interrogation, Moto tells Backstrom that Valentine has been horrifically assaulted by a known bad ass, Dante Trippi, the scary electronics dealer whose territory Valentine had been poaching. Backstrom takes off like a bat out of hell to be with Valentine. When Backstrom gets there, Valentine is a bloody mess and an emotional wreck. Trippi had jumped him, but Val did the unthinkable: he fought back with a vengeance and did a fair amount of his own damage to the gang leader. Fencer? 

Backstrom Opens a Can of Whupass on Trippi

Seeing Valentine's pain, Backstrom is incensed and on fire. He gets time alone with Trippi in the ambulance and shoves his badge into the man's broken mouth and spits a vile threat at him. He says Val is family and if anything happens to him, Trippi is a dead man. And he means it. It's an intense scene skillfully delivered by Wilson. And, bingo, we now know Backstrom's soft spot -- the one thing worth fighting for -- it's Valentine. Maybe Valentine is the key to Backstrom getting his life back together? 

Moto Warns Backstrom to Cut Valentine Loose

Moto has an impassioned talk with Backstrom, warning him to cut the kid loose if he isn't family because he's a cop and Val is a criminal. Val's ties to Trippi are an insurmountable problem for Backstrom. Moto says by keeping Val around, he's giving him a false sense of security, which will either get Valentine killed or ruin Backstrom himself. Backstrom gets it, but is visibly pained. 

Was the Murder a Group Activity?

Back to square one, Backstrom has the team go with him to the band's commune or collecite or whatever it is they call their place. Using an analogy Niedermayer had made earlier, comparing the band to their SCU unit, Backstom analyses the whole group. Each of his team members comment humorously after he uses them as an example. Finally, Backstrom divines that the second-in-command is the one who wants to kill the leader. In the analogy, Backstrom is Sebastian, the leader with an addictive personality and Niedermayer is the second-in-command who wants to kill Backstrom and take his place. Could this be foreshadowing of some kind? Everyone else had a comment to make after Backstrom said his piece about their feelings toward him while Niedermayer remained silent. 

Then the Other Shoe Drops: Valentine is Backstrom's Brother

Back at the barge, Mama Louise waits with Backstrom. All of Valentine's belongings have been packed into duffle bags by the time he gets back from the hospital. Backstrom tells the younger man -- the boy with the same penis and nose as himself -- that he has to move out and go live with his mom until he can find a place of his own. And my heart drops into my feet. The Valentine-Backstrom dynamic is one of the best parts of the show. It is the perfect vehicle for illuminating the generous(?) and affectionate(?) side of our despicable, titular character. Having Val move out doesn't make sense to me in a logistical way either. If Val is unprotected, Trippi will surely kill him dead, dead, dead. So what's the deal? Then the other shoe, (of salvation), drops.

Louise finally explains that Backstrom and Valentine are related, but as siblings, not father and son. Louise had sex with Backstrom's satan-spawned dad a long time after Backstrom and Louise were no longer seeing each other. "That's why you two are so good for each other," she explains before she leaves without Valentine. Backstrom, of course, lets Valentine stay -- temporarily, he says -- which he seems relieved about. And now the truth is out. 

Backstrom Is No Ordinary Crime Procedural

Backstrom is extraordinary in how it doles out these tantalizing crumbs over the course of ten weeks. There's something about this show that I haven't been able to put my finger on until this week. It's not actually a crime series. In fact, it's not a series at all. It's one big messy psychological thriller spread out into 13 parts. The story is so rich and the characters' neuroses so fascinating, that every episode blurs into the next like Monet's waterlilies. I'm not kidding. The story is one long strand, the end of which I await excitedly and fear anxiously because I don't want it to end until everything is revealed ... and then I want it to go even further.

Synopses for the coming episodes tease that Trippi reappears in Backstrom and Valentine's life and Val's lies get in the way of Backstrom's murder investigation. Tune in next for "Love Is a Rose And You Better Not Pick it."

Backstrom airs Thursdays at 9pm on FOX.

(Images courtesy of FOX)