Backstrom‘s fourth episode, “I Am A Bird Now” picks right up where we left off after Backstrom’s confidential confession to Dr. Deb about what really happened the night he caught and killed Mr. Visser. In the previous episode, Backstrom was informed by his ex-future wife, newly appointed head of the Civilian Oversight Committee, Amy Gazanian (Sarah Chalke) that he was being brought up on charges for misconduct during that shooting. Now we see him being grilled by that same lovely Amy who asserts that he shot himself to justify killing a man in cold blood. Backstrom narrowly escapes further examination by having a panic attack of epic proportions. Though Amy suspects him of faking the attack, the way the scene was delivered and shot made it clear that it was indeed a genuine attack.
While being wheeled out of the courtroom on a stretcher and accompanied by a distraught Dr. Deb, Backstrom is stolen away to a crime scene by Moto where the team finds an abandoned car and a nearby well-endowed cross-dressed male corpse on a rocky beach. Despite the gravity of the situation, some of the one liners in this crime location scene had me choking and laughing my fanny off. One of my favorites: ” Everybody hates it when a penis pops out of nowhere.” This show is really growing on me.
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What’s In a Name?
While the episode title originally sent the lyrics of Lynryd Skynyrd’s Free Bird floating through my head, several other references came to mind as the story progressed. First, “I Am A Bird Now” could have foretold Backstrom’s eventual freedom from the scrutiny he was under in regard to his questionable shooting earlier in the season. Secondly, one cannot help but see the nod to the play and major motion picture The Birdcage staring Robin Williams and Nathan Lane, whose plot focused on the lives of one gay couple. Thirdly, Backstrom inhabits the skin of several ‘birds’ (aka: women) throughout the episode as he niggles from them what they are not daring to say out loud… hence, I am a bird now. Just like Backstrom, many layers are hidden here.
I’m a Gay Blogging Stud Muffin
Backstrom immediately labels the murder a hate crime either because he really believes it or because a case such as this will take precedence over Backstrom’s own legal problems. Admittedly, Backstrom takes advantage of situations for his own benefit, but this time I don’t think so.
The victim’s aunt arrives at the station and confirms that the victim was her gay nephew, Jason Rose. Back at the crime scene Niedermayer once again provides an energetic display of his interpretation of what happened immediately preceding the murder. Niedermayer says it wasn’t a hate crime, but a calculated hit on Jason, or a calculated attack on a random victim. No matter what, it was detached and intentional, and therefore not a hate crime.
Backstrom Taints Moto
Okay, we’ve seen some behaviors in Backstrom that beg believability. Stealing and drinking liquor at a crime scene? Making blatant sexual advances on a colleague? These show tremendously poor judgement. Seriously, how did this guy make it this far without winding up in jail? And how, in the name of all that is holy, did a woman as fine as Amy Gazanian ever fall in love with such a corrupt individual?
In “I Am A Bird Now,” Backstrom suggests Moto lie on the stand about what he saw the night Visser was killed in order to get himself promoted. What? Seriously? Does Backstrom really trust his colleagues to not turn him in for these grievous liberties?
Moto, thankfully, seeks Niedermayer’s advice on what to do about his testimony for Backstrom. Unfortunately, Niedermayer’s counsel goes over Moto’s head. Later, Backstrom provides Moto with a written account of the killing from his own point of view so Moto can corroborate it. From Nadia, Moto receives the advice that he must do what his boss requests of him to do… so make the story his own and go testify for him.
Jenna Rose and the Homosexual Holy Grail
Roommate and professional fence of anything and everything, Valentine identifies an artifact found in the glove compartment of the victim as a priceless platinum-plated coke bottle which once belonged to Joan Crawford. Was robbery the motive behind the killing?
The Team Attends the Valley of the LGBT Dolls
Backstrom and the team attend the candlelight vigil for Jenna as they snoop for suspects and Jenna’s boyfriend, Marcus Lester. Valentine is of course there and we learn that he is on the list of suspects for this crime because they once ‘dated.’ Once again, Niedermayer’s sexuality is called into question and he’s used by Backstrom as a free entry pass and fawned over by Valentine in exchange for information. Niedermayer takes it all in stride rather handsomely (that’s the woman inside me speaking) but he doesn’t budge in his convictions. As a matter of fact, I can tell you that before the next three episodes are over, Niedermayer finds himself in a very heterosexual situation. I do enjoy how comfortable he is in his manhood even in the face of Backstrom and Valentine’s efforts to prove otherwise.
At the vigil, Backstrom flashes the platinum artifact around to see if it draws interest. A crossdresser identifies Jenna’s wife who admits (s)he knew he had other physical dalliances, but loved him anyway.
How Does Backstrom Do That?
While confronting Marcus Backstrom does his little “I am a …. ” and asserts that Marcus and Jenna were planning to adopt a baby. How he came to this conclusion is beyond me. Can he possibly have that much natural emotional intelligence despite his egregious flaws as a human being? If the whole idea is to create a character so heinous that his turn-around will be extraordinary and unbelievable, then they are succeeding. I have no doubt that there are characters in the real world who are like this — truth is much, much stranger than fiction — but this character seems to defy the unspoken contract between the writers and the audience that the good guy is supposed to be believably redeemable. At this point, other than the fact that Backstrom is truly and devastatingly traumatized by something from his past, we have yet to see why this cop shouldn’t be thrown away with no chance for parole.
A Vintage Grievance
Backstrom and Almond visit the married attorneys who were helping Jenna and Marcus with their legal adoption. Backstrom does his thing again and accuses the wife of having a very old grievance against someone Jenna reminded her of. Come to find out, he’s right. The attorney wife admits to having a fling with Jenna. What? Why was she interested in a gay man? I don’t get it.
The Bible Versus Niedermayer
Almond, the weekend pastor, overhears Nadia’s advice to Moto and advises him to do the right thing. He points out that The Bible says not to bear false witness. Moto counters with a history of keeping his nose clean which has gotten him no where professionally. Still, Almond stands his ground. One can’t help but hear the message in this exchange: Is it possible to get ahead while walking the straight and narrow? Is this the basis for Backstrom’s philosophy of life being illustrated in this young cop’s situation?
Heterosapien No More
Backstrom finds out from Valentine (whose suspect line of discovery didn’t go anywhere) that Valentine provided the platinum phallus to Jenna to keep him/her quiet about one of his extremely closeted lovers.
Moto Goes on the Stand
As Moto heads into the court room, we see Dr. Deb urging Backstrom to come clean to the oversight committee so as to regain control over his own failing health. Backstrom is truly worried. This character is different from any other we’ve seen on TV in the recent past. I hope for that reason alone, and the reason that this guy is such an enormous mystery, FOX will see fit to keeping Backstrom on our screens for many more episodes to come.
We never hear Moto’s testimony, but when Backstrom is back in front of the committee we find out that the charges have been dropped due to whatever Moto said. And here Backstrom was about to bare his soul… or was he? The time has past; we will never know.
A Love Connection for Backstrom
I still contend that there is great chemistry between Backstrom and his ex future wife, Amy. After she excuses him from the audience with the oversight committee, they share a moment outside the courtroom. They spar companionably about how well they know when the other is lying, Backstrom insists the killing was justified. We learn that this is the first time in his career that he killed a man. He admits to having screwed things up in the situation in question, but that the killing was justified. In thinking back, I agree with him. It may have not been by the book, but it was justified.
Before they part, Amy asks Everett if he misses her. Hanging palpably in the air is his unspoken response, “Every day of my life.” At least, that’s what I heard. IN actuality, though, he says, “Absolutely not,” which we learned in the premiere means “Absolutely yes.” Interesting. There is such great chemistry between these two. Do you hear me, Backstrom fairies (fairies = all the people behind the making of the show)? Bring her back. Frequently. #Please
Nadia uncovers a stalker who had been frequenting Jenna’s blog immediately before her death. The stalker ends up being a redneck ex military man with sniper capabilities. Using his own brand of magic and some very effective prompting from Gravely, Backstrom identifies that this hillbilly was hired by someone to kill Jenna. Who was it? The husband of the female lawyer Jenna was having the affair with. Case closed.
The Body Makes a Decision the Conscious Mind Refuses
That phrase appears several times in “I’m A Bird Now.” What does it mean? Everything and nothing. It’s one of those statements you have to think about for a while. Me, I’m still thinking about it. For Backstrom, it seems to mean that you can’t fight who you are. What does that tell you about what’s still to come on Backstrom? It tells me there’s a rich tapestry we have only begun to unravel.
Backstrom airs on Thursdays at 9pm on FOX.
(Images courtesy of FOX)