Alice Rush reviews episode 6 of the Psycho prequel series Bates Motel….
After last week saw Norma finally come face to face with Shelby’s basement girl, this week’s episode looks to be a tension filled treat, especially due to its sinister name: ‘The Truth’.
The episode begins with Norman asserting to his mother that they will make Shelby pay for what he’s done, but in the ‘right’ now. As if anything in Bates Motel is ever done the ‘right’ now. In parallel with this, Dylan is seen covering his tracks from the previous episodes and torching the car with which he mowed down Ethan’s killer in. With every episode we see the family get dragged further and further into this town of deceit, and it seems as if Dylan is finally shaping up to be of great importance to a show which has, so far, rather heavily revolved around two characters.
As Dylan and Norman raid Shelby’s boat in an attempt to find the incriminating belt, Dylan tries to grill his brother on how his father died. Already it seems that this episode is careening us towards a big reveal, as Norman stutters that it was just an accident. Dylan, however, so convinced of Norma’s guilt asserts that he has to get away from her. With every passing episode Norman, and by extension the viewer, is seemed to be given another reason to doubt his mother’s trust, however, as viewers of Bates will know by now, not everything is as it appears. Whilst the boys find and dispose of the belt, slimy Shelby turns up looking for some time alone with Norma in her motel. Unfortunately for her, his basement girl has woken up and is taking a shower in her motel room, a scene unashamedly tipping the hat to Hitchcock himself. Though she tries to stop him from finding her, the girl bursts out of her room and runs away into the woods with a panicked Shelby hot on her case.
He’s not gone for long however, as he returns just after the boys do, taking the family hostage. The tense situation coupled with Shelby’s hitting of Norma causes Norman to have another strange episode and tackle him to the ground, getting knocked out in the process. Dylan and Shelby then engage in a gun fight across the house as Norma drags Norman outside to the car, desperate to get away. As three bullets are fired from inside the house, Norma and the audience wait on tenterhooks as we try to deduce which of the men has made it out alive. A solitary body staggers from the house and down the steps and towards the car where Norma and Norman reside, and it is revealed to be a heavily wounded Shelby, who then collapses and dies, with Dylan rushing down the stairs behind him.
It is a beautiful moment amongst a scene of such horror, as Norma rushes out of the car and embraces Dylan strongly, exactly like a mother would, and for the first time since the beginning of the series it feels as if the family is finally united. However, in true Bates style nothing is every truly resolved without something else being complicated further. With Norman sat in the car in some kind of trance, Dylan finally questions Norma on what really is going on. With nowhere else to run, Norma drops the (arguable) bombshell: Norman killed his father when he went into one of his psychotic episodes.
Some viewers may have seen this coming, some may not, but it feels like the series is starting to come full circle with its predecessor, with the character of Norman really taking shape as the psychotic murderer popular culture knows him to be. It’s a testament to the writers of the show that the sympathies of the audience so far have swung equally between both Norman and Norma, and this reveal only serves to emphasise the idea that right and wrong may be subjective after all. But with the police siren wailing at the end of the episode and no teaser as to what’s in store for next week, the audience is left to wonder just what is to become of the Bates family in town that is notoriously unforgiving.