Alice Rush reviews episode 8 of the Psycho prequel series Bates Motel….
One of the main attractions of Bates Motel is being able to delve beneath a well-known classic story and garner an insight into the possible beginnings of such a famous character as Norman Bates. Throughout the series there has been made nods to the original film, as well as filling in blanks in the characters narrative paths, such as with Mr Bates’ death. Having gained mostly positive reviews, probably due to the extremely low expectations of a continuation of the Bates story left by the previous films, it’s no surprise that the series has been commissioned for a second run. However, with all the pieces starting to fall together, it does lead to the question of where exactly the second season will go after such a decisive and tumultuous introduction.
This week’s episode, ‘A Boy and His Dog’ opens with Norman discussing taxidermy with Emma’s father, which, as most Psycho fans would know, is a real obsession of the grown up Bates. That, and a touch of homicide. As mentioned previously, the growth of Norman’s character is a main crux of the series narrative, and this episode sees him moving closer and closer to being the split personality serial killer we know him to be. Violence at school, arguments with Bradley, and, the dreaded C word, counselling will at some point no doubt tip Norman over the edge. The question just seems to be when?
Dylan’s personal storyline also feels as if it is reaching some kind of resolution, as he begins to assert his own authority more within the illegal cannabis business he is entangled with, even housing his associate’s in his unknowing mother’s motel. Though this narrative thread has been dormant for the past few episodes, it feels as if it is beginning to take shape within the broader sense of the series, with the question of who is running this business a big question mark over the show.
Not one to miss out on the action, poor Norma seems to just be stumbling into one dangerous scenario after another. Having finally gotten rid of the Shelby and Summers, Norma is trying her hardest to salvage what is left of her business. However, her business at the moment seems extremely questionable and a little creepy, as the man in room 9, Mr Abernathy, continues to unnerve her. As she follows him one night to the docks where Keith Summers kept his boat, the two engage in a tense showdown, with Abernathy making it clear that Summers was the least of her worries in comparison to him. Though she attempts to assert her authority and tells him to leave the motel, it is obvious that he is not one to be intimidated, and though he leaves obligingly, he also leaves behind something altogether grizzly in Norma’s bed for her to discover in horror in the final seconds of the episode.
The audience of Bates Motel with each passing episode is being drawn further and further into the pit of corruption that is White Pine Bay, and it seems as if the Bates may have bitten off more than they can chew with this new choice of home. Around the storyline of Norma and Norman there is a much bigger narrative arc that is emerging, an arc concerned with institutionalised corruption and blackmail. Though this season has been pretty intense with regards to storyline, there does seem to be space for the series to spread, with a lot of questions still needing to be answered and characters still being needed to explore; after all, the eponymous motel is still yet to open and Norman’s big secret is still yet to be revealed. So far the series has not disappointed when it comes to tense showdowns, and hopefully in its final two episodes it will deliver a finale to prove its true worth of a second season.