Alice Rush reviews episode 5 of the Psycho prequel series Bates Motel…
“Ocean View” begins on a note of positivity, with Norman strutting home happily after having spent the night with Bradley, still unbeknownst to his mother’s traumatic arrest the previous night. When he and Dylan visit her at the police station, she refuses their help point blank, assuring them that all of this will blow over. The boys are not convinces, and ever the loyal son Norman uses the motel as collateral for her bail.
However, she does not react as lovingly as Norman would hope. Still bitter about him spending the night at Bradley’s, Norma begins to dig herself a hole so deep it is hard to envisage her a way out. As she pushes Norman further away – be that out of spite or jealousy, which Vera Farmiga brilliantly leaves up to the viewer to decide – Norman begins to grow closer with Dylan. It is both refreshing and unnerving to see Norman’s character go through so much personal change, as whilst we celebrate his freedom from Norma’s grip, our knowledge of what he becomes hangs over the series like the daunting neon motel sign, constantly reminding us of the horrors that are yet to come. Throughout the episode we see Norman’s resilience to his dear Mother’s behaviour slowly deteriorating and we start to truly believe Freddie Highmore’s quiet and polite Norman could possibly be capable of dark and sinister deeds.
As Norman and Norma’s relationship begins to crumble, Dylan tries to gather enough money for him and Norman to start a new life, and is given $5000 by his colleague, Ethan. Even though we are aware that this money has been acquired through illegal means, it is heart-warming to see a moment of true sentimentality between friends, as we are reminded that in Bates Motel there is no clear moral dichotomy; good and evil are bundled together, which allows the viewer a certain amount of freedom to decide for themselves who they align with. However, in true ‘Bates’ fashion, this sentimental moment does not last long, as Ethan is shot through the neck by a guy of whom we can only assume was a former colleague. This prompts Dylan to later viciously run him down as he sees him walking home late at night, an act of aggression that will no doubt come back to haunt him later on in the series.
With Norma still in a state of turmoil over the evidence against her, Shelby gallantly sweeps in, declares his love for her and steals the evidence, thus removing her completely from the picture. Sweet. However, with the image of the girl trapped in his basement still resonant in our minds, Shelby still remains an elusive and untrustworthy character, of which Norma is soon about to become all too aware. Emma and Norman team up once again to try and solve the mystery of the diary. They find Keith Summers old boat, and with it the girl from Shelby’s basement, and as they bring her back to the motel, Norma discovers them, and in turn discovers that her shining saviour is in fact a dark and dangerous criminal.
One of the most interesting aspects of Bates Motel, as I’ve said before, is the relationship development. Whilst in the first few episodes they took time to find their feet, Bates Motel is now rewarding its viewers with fully developed characters whose dynamics and power struggles provide entertaining and immersive viewing week after week. The questioning of each characters own moral code and how far they will go to protect the things they care about allows the show’s creator Anthony Cipriano and his team of writers to push each character to their limit, creating fantastical and horrifying situations that both test the characters and the audience. The show may be only half way through, but it has already provided some extremely tense yet entertaining television, which gives me high hopes for the continuation of the series.