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'Little Bird' Recap: Episode 5

Daniel Hautzinger
Bezhig and Adele seen standing facing each other in an office through a window
Bezhig again confronts Adele in search of information about her birth family. Credit: Steve Ackerman

Little Bird airs Sundays at 6:00 pm on WTTW and is available to stream via the PBS app and at Recap the previous and following episodes. 
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“You don’t seem well,” the social worker Adele tells Bezhig when she again visits Adele’s government office in the hope of information about her birth family. Bezhig is staying in a messy motel room in Regina, lying in bed and smoking cigarettes all day. A cleaning lady working there can tell she’s in distress just by looking at her, and asks if there is anyone she can call for Bezhig.

Bezhig doesn’t think there is. She isn’t talking to her adoptive family in Montreal, and she doesn’t really know the birth family she has rediscovered in Saskatchewan.

Lost, she decides to search out the rest of her birth family. She’s much less polite to Adele this time around, demanding to know where her twin brother, Niizh, and her mother, Patricia, are. Adele says she could lose her job for revealing anything, but tells her that Niizh was adopted by a family that lived on a farm in North Dakota. She drove him down himself. She doesn’t know anything about Patricia.

Adele’s conflicting feelings about her role in the separation of children from their families have finally gotten to her, after all these years; she’s trying to get a different job. She tells Bezhig she’s sorry.

Bezhig uses the information from Adele to get the address of Niizh’s adoptive family from the telephone operator and drives down to North Dakota to visit.

A young woman greets her at the farm. She was Niizh’s sister, of sorts, but hasn’t seen him since he left the farm when he turned 16. He’s in a band now; he sent the family a cassette of his music, which Bezhig can have.

Niizh was more of a hired hand than a family member, the woman explains, realizing now that he must have been very lonely. She barely interacted with him; he didn’t even sleep in the house with the family. Instead, he had a small, poorly appointed room out in the barn.

As Bezhig leaves the farm, she puts on Niizh’s cassette in the car and smiles as she listens to it.

She then returns to her brother Leo’s house and excitedly plays it for him and his wife, Yvonne. Leo recognizes a snatch of one song as a tune their mother used to sing to them. Bezhig calls a phone number for a manager listed on the cassette and learns that Niizh’s band, Native Son, is coming to Canada in a few weeks to play a show at a hotel bar. Bezhig decides to go, and she and Yvonne urge Leo to attend as well. Leo is nervous, not having left home since he had kids, but he reluctantly agrees.

Bezhig and Leo meet Niizh at the bar during a break in his set. When he’s done playing, Bezhig gets drunk with him and his bandmates, while Leo sits alone – he doesn’t drink. Niizh does cocaine; Bezhig starts to dance with a guy. Leo pulls her away to go to bed. She vomits in the parking lot.

The next morning, Bezhig and Leo visit Niizh’s motel room to say goodbye and find it in a rough state. Bezhig apologizes, and Niizh gets upset, thinking they are judging him. Leo tries to get Bezhig to leave, Niizh pulls him from behind, and Leo surprises himself by throwing a punch. The two estranged brothers brawl as Bezhig screams. Leo eventually pins Niizh and then gets up and hustles Bezhig away.

In the car, he tells Bezhig that he has spent his life trying to protect his family from drink and drugs and chaos like that. He says that Niizh clearly doesn’t want them around, but Bezhig wants to go back, so he returns her to the motel, against his better instincts.

She knocks on Niizh’s door, alone, and apologizes. He lets her in, and they’re silent together for a long while. Eventually he asks her to go bowling with him. He keeps ordering beers for both of them as they bowl, and they notice that they have the same smile. She asks him to let her join him on tour, and he gets irritated – she’s not made for that life. She’s still bossy, just like she was a kid. When he later says that he knows he’s a “shithead,” she jokes that that’s the main thing she remembers about him as a kid.

They continue drinking into the night, switching to hard alcohol. Bezhig tells him she saw the farm in North Dakota, saying that he didn’t deserve such living quarters. He says he tries not to think about the past – that farm was better than most of the others. In one foster home, there was a woman who constantly hit him. He was only 6. He starts to hyperventilate, takes another swig of liquor, and Bezhig gives him a hug.

They sleep next to each other in his motel room.

She wakes up early the next morning to catch a bus back to Leo and accidentally wakes Niizh while writing a note for him. He says a terse bye from bed, then dismisses her when she offers to get a different bus and stay longer. Just go, he tells her. He cries after she leaves.

When Bezhig gets back to Leo’s house that afternoon, she eagerly shares the story of her time with Niizh, until she sees Leo and Yvonne looking solemn. They just got a call from Niizh’s manager: he’s dead. The manager found him in his motel room and got him to the hospital, but it was too late. He overdosed.

Bezhig breaks down, asking if it was an accident. No one answers.

She uses Leo’s phone and makes a call while sobbing. “I need you to come,” she says.

Later, a taxi pulls up to the house. Bezhig’s adoptive mother Golda gets out, and Leo shows her to a room where Bezhig is lying on the bed. Golda immediately curls up next to her daughter and holds her as she sobs.