'Little Bird' Recap: Episode 4
November 12, 2023
Little Bird airs Sundays at 6:00 pm on WTTW and is available to stream via the PBS app and at wttw.com. Recap the previous and following episodes.
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After the state was officially given control of three of her children, Patricia frequently left her remaining son Leo with her father Asin and drove to Regina to wander the streets looking for her other children. Leo overheard Asin tell her to pull things together and bring Leo back home; she replied that there was nothing there for her.
Leo wandered to his old home, spent time reliving memories inside, and lit it on fire.
So there is no physical building left for Esther to find when she arrives on the Long Pine Reserve in search of her past. While smoking a cigarette on the side of the road, she encounters a man who offers directions. She tells him she’s from there, but was adopted. Her name is Bezhig.
He tells her to follow him.
He sends her down a lane to a house by a lake where two children are playing outside. They get in her car and start honking the horn. A young man emerges from a shed. Bezhig introduces herself, and he is stunned. He’s her brother, Leo.
Bezhig and Leo don’t know what to say to each other, but eventually Leo’s wife comes home and hugs Bezhig when she learns who she is, telling her, “Welcome home.” Leo explains that Asin raised him because their dad, Morris, died, and Patricia eventually just disappeared.
Bezhig shows him her adoption papers, which say she was neglected, and he gets upset. It’s lies, he says; their parents loved them, and cared for them. His wife adds that everyone on the reservation was poor.
Twenty-seven kids were taken from Native families in the area by the government, and thousands more across the country. And it’s still happening – but many of the adoptees are beginning to look for their birth families.
Bezhig cries as two older people walk up: her grandfather Asin and Auntie Brigit. They both hug her. The whole family shares a meal of KFC, and they ask Bezhig about her life. The house is full of laughter and warmth.
The next day, Bezhig returns to her brother’s house to look through old family photos. Brigit gives her a photo of her parents on their wedding day. Bezhig asks if anyone knows where her mother is; Asin says that some people don’t want to be found. Bezhig also learns that her brother Niizh was her twin: her name means “one,” his “two,” because she was born first.
Bezhig falls asleep on Leo’s couch and sleeps through the night. The place feels like home to her. But she still has to return to Montreal, where she grew up. Before leaving, she tells Leo that she found their sister Dora, but it didn’t go well. He says to give it time, then gives her a braid of sweetgrass to burn for protection. She hugs him and thanks him for everything.
When Bezhig – now returning to her identity as Esther – arrives at her mother’s house in Montreal, Golda is unfriendly, still hurt by Esther’s sudden disappearance. The dress Esther wore to her engagement party is still on the floor of her room.
Esther goes to David and immediately kisses and has sex with him – although memories of her adoption intrude. When he asks her about her trip afterward, she starts kissing him again, but he tries to ask more, upsetting her into silence.
The next day, before she and David meet with a rabbi about their coming marriage, David’s mother Leah half-heartedly apologizes to Esther, asking to put the incident at the engagement party behind them.
But it’s clear that Leah can’t do so. At a shabbat dinner after the meeting – in which Esther was distracted while the rabbi asked if she and David could be truthful and feel seen for who they really are in their relationship – Leah again brings up the incident. Esther has already left the table once because of her future brother-in-law’s comment that she’ll easily find a job at a law firm because of affirmative action. Then Leah tells her she should go into aboriginal law, because she’s “one of the good ones” and could do so much to help her people.
This leads to the engagement party being brought up, and Leah reveals that she thinks she is owed an apology, since Esther listened to a private conversation and then stormed out of an expensive party. Esther leaves and gets in the car.
When David comes out after her, she explains that she doesn’t fit in, just like his mom says. She never had a family that looked like her until now, and she didn’t want to leave them. She’s not sure David’s love for her is enough.
He says he can come meet her family, visit Regina. But she’s not having it – it seems the engagement is off.
When she gets to her mother’s to find Golda sitting at the table, she asks about her sixteenth birthday. She found her adoption papers and asked about her past, but Golda got mad. Does a child end up in a newspaper if their family loved them, Golda asked. Esther never brought it up again.
But now Esther shows Golda the photo of her birth parents, telling her that they loved and wanted her. Golda took her away from her family and changed her name – the adoption officials told parents to – severing her from loving parents. Golda refuses to believe her; she has official papers that say Bezhig was neglected.
Esther says Golda expected a five-year-old to forget her family – even though Golda herself didn’t forget her own family, who were killed in the Holocaust when she was a child. Esther calls Golda, her adoptive mother, a criminal and storms out of the house.