Bates Motel S1E6: The Truth (2013)


Summary: Norma seems to finally accept that Deputy Shelby is evil, yet she doesn’t want to go to the police as Shelby is still blackmailing her for the murder she’s guilty of (since he still as the victim’s belt that he found under Norman’s bed).  When Shelby happens upon the girl hiding out in Norma’s motel, he’s understandably upset.  And deadly.

Thoughts: We finally get to see how Norman’s father died, if we are to believe Norma’s story to Dylan (which I guess we are since we know Norman hallucinates).  It will be interesting to see how this affects Dylan, who already knows Norman has something wrong with him.  It was also a relief to have Shelby’s evil character come to an end, though we don’t know what happened to that girl.  Definitely ends on quite a cliffhanger.

Bates Motel S1E5: Ocean View (2013)


Summary: Norman helps Norma get out of jail.  Norma then seeks help from Deputy Shelby to get her murder charge dropped, but she realizes how dangerous Shelby is when Norman finds the girl he saw in Shelby’s house, the girl Shelby has been holding captive.  Meanwhile, Dylan’s crime partner is murdered in cold blood, and Dylan seeks revenge.

Thoughts: I was afraid the girl Norman saw had been one of his hallucinations, but it turns out she’s real, and Shelby is indeed quite evil.  It was interesting to see Norman and Norma’s relationship get a bit twisted as Norma blames Norman for his not being there when she was arrested.  While Norman has his obvious moments of crazy, Norma clearly has some psycho issues herself.  Not sure what Dylan’s subplot contributed to the story, but perhaps it’s setup for something.

Bates Motel S1E4: Trust Me (2013)

Summary: After Norman discovers a girl being held captive in the deputy’s house, he tells Norma.  But Norma knows Norman has hallucinations, and does not believe him.  Dylan does, and agrees to help Norman.  The deputy tries to get to know Norman better, apparently hoping for a long term relationship with his mother.  Norman and Dylan see him as evil, of course.  At the end of the episode, Dylan confronts Norma about how she treats Norman, who he must now realize is mentally disturbed, but Norma refuses to change her ways, fearing Norman will be taken away from her if she seeks professional help or tells anyone.  A severed hand is found in the lake where Norma and Norman dumped the body of the man they murdered in the first episode, and Norma is arrested for his murder.  Bum bum bum!!!

Thoughts: I don’t quite understand Dylan’s character.  He seems to change his mind too often and doesn’t seem to want anything concrete.  It makes it hard to understand his actions because I’m not sure what he’s trying to achieve.  It’s also getting annoying to see so many morally depraved characters in this show.  Norman at least now has the excuse of being mentally disturbed.  The only other character who actually seems to understand right and wrong is the sick girl, who hasn’t had much screen time and wasn’t even in this episode.  It will be interesting to see what role she will end up playing in the rest of this season.  Perhaps she will become a stakes character.  Anyway, it was interesting to see Norma arrested and to see the deputy as a more evil and manipulative character.

Bates Motel S1E3: What’s Wrong With Norman (2013)

Summary: Norman has visions and passes out in school, putting him in the hospital.  Meanwhile, the police get a search warrant and search Norma’s house for clues in regards to the man they murdered in the first episode.  After the search, Norman discovers the belt he had kept from the murdered man has been taken.  Norma whines to the deputy, who admits that he took the belt and is keeping it safe in order to protect Norma.  And, of course, Norma plays along, hoping to keep herself out of jail.

Thoughts: Overall, this was a fun episode.  Norman passing out in school seemed a rather forced and unrealistic way to get him stuck in the hospital for a while.  Why would they want to monitor him overnight if all he did was pass out but now he’s fine?  It would’ve been more interesting if they were given some clue that would foreshadow the twist at the end of the episode.  The twist at the end of the episode was the best part, as it puts an interesting twist on Norman and Norma’s strange relationship.  Now it seems that Norman’s father may have been murdered by Norman, and not Norma, while Norma’s otherwise creepy smothering affection for Norman comes from her trying to keep her son out of a mental institution.  Finally, the twist that the deputy may be even more manipulative and evil than anyone creates a strong and interesting villain.

Bates Motel S1E2: Nice Town You Picked, Norma… (2013)


Summary: Norma’s other son Dylan shows up at the motel to mooch off a living with her and Norman, doing so by subtly blackmailing Norma, implying he knows that Norma killed her husband.  Meanwhile, Norma tries to avoid suspicion for the disappearance of the man she murdered in the last episode by striking up a manipulative relationship with a deputy.  Meanwhile, Norman investigates a creepy journal he found in a motel room.

Thoughts: Whew; a lot of plots developing in this episode.  I’m worried it will be too many; I always hate the modern practice of shows that begin one subplot after another and then don’t finish them, hoping they’ll just fade away by being taken over by some other subplot or twist down the road.  It’s a lazy way to plot, and it makes things feel incomplete.

I also do not much care for the plotline of “character uncovers mysterious interesting things!” because it means the character is just exploring things with no real goal, making his decisions arbitrary and boring, making the story itself boring.  So I wasn’t all that captivated by Norman’s plotline in this episode.

Norma, on the other hand, had a much more interesting plot as she both tried to manipulate the deputy, while unsuccessfully trying to avoid being manipulated by Dylan.  She has clear goals which, though they are obviously wicked goals, make her decisions interesting.

Lastly, I enjoyed that the town itself is developing as having its own creepy secrets.  But, again, I hope the writers are (or were) careful with this, because secrets and mysteries are not interesting for their own sake, at least not for long.  The longer you tease a mystery, the less surprising you make the revelations.  Better to keep the focus on specific character goals, only subtly implying mysteries here and there.  That’s my opinion, at least.

This continues to be a fun show, and I enjoyed this episode better than the last; I’ll definitely look out for the next one.

Bates Motel S1E1: First You Dream, Then You Die (2013)


Summary: After his father dies rather mysteriously, a young man and his creepy mother move into an old motel with hopes of getting it running again.  A “prequel” series to the popular Hitchcock film Psycho.  Things don’t start out so well when the mother murders an intruder, then insists on covering it up.

Thoughts:  Been waiting for this series for a while, though I must confess that I have yet to see Psycho.  This premier episode didn’t blow me away, but it was sufficiently creepy to hold my interest throughout.  Vera Ann Farmiga does an especially good job as Norma Bates, holding a good balance between seeming normal enough and creepy and crazy enough to foreshadow her psychopathic murderous ways.  Freddie Highmore, though he still can’t quite do an American accent, does a sufficient job at being an awkward teenager slowly morphing into a creepy person himself.  While the gore was tame, I didn’t much care for the intensity or depiction of the violence.  But of course the shower scene of the original Psycho was perhaps “scandalous!” in its day, so I suppose it’s not surprising.  And American culture is just that degraded anyway.  Still, I hope the series will try to stay interesting through compelling stories more than anything else.

Some nitpicks: The motivations for the intruder and his murder seemed a bit forced.  It would’ve been interesting if he was more than just some bumbling neighbor intent on hurting them because he thinks the motel should be his.  It was a bit contrived.  Also, that cop did some of the loudest peeing I’ve ever heard on TV.  You’re not supposed to aim for the center of the bowl, you moron, you’ll get splash everywhere.  And how is it socially appropriate to even think it would be OK for you to be that loud when there are three people, including the female owner, standing right outside the door?

Overall, though, interesting show.  I’ll be interested to see the next one.