Backstrom “Inescapable Truth” Review (Season 1 Episode 9)

Backstrom Inescapable Truth Season 1 Episode 9 06

On the latest episode, “Backstrom” and company investigated the disappearance of a rock musician while the former did some investigating of his own, insofar as to whether or not Valentine was really his son, in “Inescapable Truth.” The title had a double meaning, as, in addition to the obvious, it also eluded to the name of the band the musician belonged to, though the look of the band themselves reminded me of someone like Arcade Fire (note all the masks and the sizable number of band members) or what one thinks of when they hear the band name Animal Collective.

Adding to the fun, in a nod to Backstrom’s oft-unorthodox techniques, Niedermayer also took it upon himself to attribute different qualities to each band member, based on the token “spirit animal” masks they chose- and to assign to each band member a “spirit detective” of sorts by collating each to a member of the team. Naturally, none of the band professes to know where the missing Sebastian Serafian (Kamran Fulleylove, “Frenzy”) is, so the team goes to the last place he was seen, a swanky rehab facility. Sure enough, they find video footage of Sebastian escaping in a van.

Backstrom cynically assumes Sebastian likely headed to the nearest bar, which proves to be true, as they find video footage of the van outside the establishment. The van itself traces back to a Doctor Kobrine (Faran Tahir, “Warehouse 13”), who turns out to have likely been supplying Sebastian with drugs, though he naturally doesn’t admit to such and lawyers up. The team’s investigation of him gets the attention of assistant district attorney Kines (Benjamin Hollingsworth, “Cult”), who, it turns out, Gravely has a shrouded past of some sort with. Kines is in the process of trying to build a case against Kobrine, of which Sebastian was playing a part in as a witness against him before he disappeared.

Meanwhile, using Sebastian’s song lyrics as a guide, Niedermayer puzzles out that Sebastian might have gone to Blackstone Quarry to meditate or what have you- i.e. do drugs and hang out. Signs of a vehicle recently there prove this to be true, and after a search of the water in the quarry, the van is found, with a decidedly dead Sebastian inside. Forensics prove that he was drugged (or on drugs, at least), strangled, and then ultimately drowned when his van went over the cliff into the quarry waters. Unfortunately, the list of suspects is a mile long, thanks to the number of not only members of the band he was in, but the previous members of bands he played in, many of who hated him, as well as Kobrine- some 57 suspects in all!

Backstrom begins with Matt (Matt Ellis, “Bates Motel”), the band’s former accordionist, or as Backstrom calls it, “Satan’s squeeze-box.” Sebastian stole his girlfriend Lara (Hannah Levien, “Mega Shark vs. Mecha Shark”), who is also in the band, and the two got into an altercation about it, with Sebastian breaking his hand in the ensuing fight. However, Matt insists that the two had mended fences, with Sebastian even asking him to rejoin the band. This is confirmed by a worker at the rehab facility, who overheard Sebastian on the phone with him, and also calling various people for a ride, though he wasn’t sure which of them ultimately came to get Sebastian.

Eventually, they narrow it down to band member Mindi (Catherine Jack, “When the Ocean Met the Sky”), with whom he was secretly writing songs with on the side, supposedly unbeknownst to the rest of the band. However, she insists that, while she did pick him up, she didn’t supply him with drugs. Backstrom confronts Kobrine again, insisting that he has no interest in busting him for the drugs he supplied, and that he just wants to know who procured them from him in the first place for Sebastian. As a show of faith, Backstrom actually takes a handful of the pills they have in evidence! Kobrine admits it’s the drummer (Brent McLaren, “50 Shades of Grey”), who confirms he bought the drugs but claims he has a phobia of driving so he couldn’t have driven Sebastian out to the quarry.

At this point, it’s looking like everyone had a reason to hate Sebastian, so Backstrom gathers them all together and sizes them up in his imitable style of pretending he’s each of the band members and trying to puzzle out what their respective motives might be. He finally settles on Drew (Garrett Black, “Arrow”), the band’s second-in-command, who stood to become the band leader in Sebastian’s absence. Drew naturally balks, but when he reluctantly shows Backstrom his hands at Niedermayer’s insistence (and the rest of the band), sure enough, he has laceration marks from strangling Sebastian with a guitar string. Busted!

Though I got a kick out of all of this, for me, the best things in the episode were what was going on in the fringes of the show, as Backstrom tried to figure out once and for all if Valentine was really his son. Though convinced he is because they have the same nose- and penis! – the timeline doesn’t add up for it to be so, so Backstrom opts to go and talk to Valentine’s mother Lou (Lolita Davidovich, “Gods and Monsters”), a former hooker-turned-dental-hygienist. She confirms that Backstrom’s math is correct and that he is not the father.

This proves to be a problem when Valentine turns up half beaten to a pulp at the hands of Dante Trippi, a local fence, whose turf Valentine invaded. Valentine fought back and both ended up carted away in ambulances, so Backstrom confronts Dante and threatens to make his life miserable if he doesn’t leave Valentine alone. However, Moto points out that, if the two aren’t actually related, Backstrom is putting his career on the line by living with a known criminal. So, Backstrom goes to kick Valentine out, calling Lou to come and get him, despite their past differences. (Lou didn’t approve of his being gay.)

Valentine is up in arms about this, and Lou realizes that the two love each other in spite of everything, so she finally confesses that, while Valentine may not be his son, he is…wait for it…Backstrom’s half brother! Yep, it seems that when Lou was a prostitute, Backstrom wasn’t the only member of the family to frequent her services. Indeed, it was Backstrom’s father who himself fathered the child, much to Backstrom’s chagrin. The mystery solved, and it turning out the two are related after all, Backstrom agrees to let Valentine stay, so long as he starts paying half the rent, which he agrees to. Crisis averted!

We also learned that, speaking of prostitutes, Gravely once posed as one in an undercover operation, busting any number of people before all the cases were mysteriously dropped after one particular bust, for reasons unknown. Kines implies that, even though the mishap effectively rendered her multiple busts moot, it was all for the best. Basically, it sounds like Gravely busted the wrong person, and that Kines, rather than screwing up her career like she previously thought, saved it by virtue of protecting her from the fallout over the one bust that put her career in jeopardy. Obviously, there’s more to the story, but we will have to wait until another episode to discover it. Kines did essentially invite Gravely to dinner, and implied he would tell her then, so I imagine we’ll find out the rest of the story whenever that happens.

So, a solid episode all around, I thought. The main case was clever and interesting- loved the whole mask gambit, as well as the gentle tweaking of bands that have entirely too many members- and we got some great back-story on some of the main characters, including the unexpected revelation that Valentine was actually Backstrom’s half brother, not his son. I really like the way we’re learning more and more about Backstrom and his team, and how a lot of it is unique and unpredictable. I think it’s safe to say the show has finally won me over, despite struggling to find a steady tone early on. The team has really started to gel, and the relationship between Backstrom and Valentine remains fascinating. All in all, this is shaping up to be a truly unique and interesting show, despite the whole oft-predictable crime procedural format.

What did you think of the latest episode of “Backstrom”? Did you enjoy the main case, too? What band did the fictional band here remind you of, if any? Were you surprised that Valentine turned out to be Backstrom’s half-brother instead of his son? What do you think is going on with the Gravely storyline? What type of case would you like to see Backstrom and company tackle next? Sound off down below, and I’ll see you next week!