Alice Rush reviews episode 7 of the Psycho prequel series Bates Motel…
After last week’s violent confrontation, ‘The Man In Number 9’ gets off to a slow start, with Sheriff Romero explaining to the Bates’ just how they are going to spin this whole saga to the public. Though Dylan is outraged at this blatant cover up, Norma and Norman relish the idea that everything is finally behind them, or so they think.
The fresh start might not exactly be as fresh as Norma was hoping. Upon trying to promote her hotel she discovers that word does really get around in a small town, and everyone is aware of the nasty business that has been happening at the motel. Just as she’s about to give up hope, a man shows up asking about his standing room reservation he has when Keith Summers owned the motel. Though overjoyed at some business finally, Dylan is wary of this man and his intentions with the room, and by the end of the episode when he asks Norma if he can rent out all of the rooms once a month for his “work colleagues”, it seems as if the dodgy dealings of Keith Summer have been far from laid to rest.
The whole episode has a very domesticated feel to it, which is actually a welcome comfort after such violent previous episodes. Norman even befriends a dog he finds trapped under their house. This calming down of tension allows the relationships are developed further and new narratives to be introduced, albeit arguably late in the series.
Whilst Emma and Norma continue to bond, Norman and Bradley seem to be moving further away, a factor which starts to grate on an already emotionally unstable Norman. Throughout this series one of the most interesting aspects to watch has been Norman’s deteriorating sanity, a gradual emotional transformation played extremely effectively by the young Freddy Highmore. Whilst at the beginning of the series he was a somewhat innocent and awkward youngster, we have seen him grow into a much more threatening character, and this is once again emphasised further within this episode.
Though the series has enough conflict within it to stand on its own two feet, fans of Psycho will have no doubt been grinning widely to themselves at every link that is being made to the original story within the new series, and in this episode we first get a glimpse of Norman’s ‘Mother’ syndrome. After being rejected by Bradley he walks away into the night, quoting Norma’s exact warning words to him and nearly slipping into one of his violent blackouts. Though he doesn’t hurt Bradley, the audience is left without no doubt that he could have killed her in that exact moment. Here we start to see the true psycho form within Norman, especially when he expresses his desire to have his dead dog stuffed. As he stares past the camera in the final shot of the episode, we are heavily reminded of Anthony Perkins’ dark, killer eyes from the original film, and the audience is left uneasy at what will happen next to push Norman Bates over the edge.
Though a very tame episode compared to last week, ‘The Man In Number 9’ still effectively keeps the audience interested as it picks up on narrative strands that had been put on hold in previous episodes. Though some may question the resolution of a huge narrative arc before the series is over, it seems that the writers still have many ideas and tricks up their sleeve. Even so, you can’t help but wonder, after such an exciting and violent storyline with such an explosive ending, where can Bates Motel go from here?