BATES MOTEL Recap: “The Man In Number 9”

     April 30, 2013


I cannot praise Bates Motel enough for the way it weaves its storytelling (or Vera Farmiga for being Vera Farmiga).  Last week things ended dramatically and with a huge question mark about how Sheriff Romero and the local police would handle everything that went down at the Bates Motel.  Further, what kind of truth would Norma spin or try to hide before they got there?  The answer this week is: none.  Like last week where the Bates all came clean to one another, Norma finally dropped the act and put all of her faith in Sheriff Romero, telling him the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.  What came of it?  Nothing.  For now.  Hit the jump for why you should never expect stray dogs to understand commands.

bates-motel-posterRomero, who had devoted himself to bringing Norma down for most of the first episodes of the season, took the news of the truth about Keith Summers and Zach Shelby relatively quietly.  Granted, part of that was probably so that he could paint himself as a perceptive hero while Dylan, the real hero, was left with nothing but a nice breakfast and a bullet wound to show for his troubles.  Still, I have to believe that in White Pine “what is dead may never die” (to quote Game of Thrones).  Even though Romero tells them “that’s it” and that everything is clear, I doubt it is.  And that’s what’s so great about Bates Motel — it has satisfying mini-resolutions, but still twists them later in other ways to keep the drama and tension going.

Of course, the main new twist is the arrival of the strange “Mr. Abernathy,” who Norma naively convinces herself is definitely not doing anything super illegal by being really creepy and buying out an entire block of rooms on a regular schedule for secretive purposes.  The promos next week show their confrontations escalating, and I’m assuming he was a kind of sub-contractor for Keith’s sex slave ring.  Speaking of which, whatever happened to the poor Chinese girl who ran off into the woods?  Where did she end up?

For now though, the Bates are still struggling with their internal family matters, with Norma exploding petulantly at Dylan’s assertion he still plans to move out, yet continuing to rely on him like when he goes and makes sure he gets information from Abernathy (or cash, either one!)  Dylan and Norma’s relationship is still up and down, but it’s a lot steadier than it was when he first arrived in town.  I worry though that Bradley’s eyeing up of Dylan could cause problems between him and Norman if it goes any further.

bates-motel-man-in-number-9-freddie-highmoreDespite Norman throwing in that “you would know, you were with me … right?” comment when he confronted Bradley about their tryst and his feelings for her, I think we can confirm now that it did happen.  It was obvious earlier when Norman was just dreaming about her, so I have to think that the delineation of what is real and imagined for Norman will continue to not be as cryptic as we think it is.  But Norman definitely “turned” into his Norma persona after Bradley’s rejection, and I was certain that would be the end of her.  But her hug brought Norman back to himself, even though he was struck with heartache again shortly after with the death of Juno the stray dog.

Norman’s reaction to that was of course very interesting, too — he immediately wants to taxidermy the animal, but refers to what Emma’s father does as “fixing dead things.”  Is this Norman’s self-protection delusion that the “dead thing” isn’t really dead?

bates-motel-man-in-number-9-vera-farmigaBack to the Bradley issue (and I still don’t think she’ll ultimately survive), how great was Norma’s reaction to finding out all about her from Emma?  Farmiga’s Norma is such a weirdly fantastic portrayal — she’s so natural in the way she speaks, but something about her is never quite right.  If you met Norma, you might think she was a nice woman, but with a screw loose.  There is just something loopy about her, but also something fluid and comforting and something that does make you want to help her out (except for when she gets over dramatic about it).

“The Man in Number 9” has set up some new places for the show to go to end the season (in a mere three episodes!)  It’s been a fun ride with plenty left to look forward to.  And while Norman’s evolution is still the fixation, the show has done a great job with incorporating other characters we actually care about (like Dylan and Emma) as well.

Episode Rating: A

Musings and Miscellanea:

— So it seems that Romero let slip one part of truth to the town: that Norma was involved with Shelby, sure to be damaging to her given what else was involved.

bates-motel-man-in-number-9-farmiga-highmore— Norma’s sex talk was weirdly sexual in and of itself.  Also, her imagining Bradley and Norman having sex was kinda gross.

— RIP Juno, the Cujo-esque dog that turned out to be pretty sweet … but Norman, you had time to run towards the dog and shoo her off instead of beckoning her out into the road!

— Norma hiring Emma will give her a reason to stick around even though Norman is being weird towards her.

— I loved the triangle of looks when Dylan and Norman ran into Bradley.  Dylan was telegraphing, “her?  You slept with her??”

— Norman hiding his morning boner from his mom was one of those times the show does a really good job at letting teenagers act like teenagers.