What I have to commend Bates Motel on more than anything (even Vera Farmiga‘s exceptional insanity) is that it doesn’t hide behind mystery to an absurd point, yet it doesn’t burn through plots too quickly. The pacing is, in a word, excellent. We’re a little more than halfway through the first season now, and we’ve already had one big mysteries explained and one major plot ended, and yet knowing the “truth,” as it were, hasn’t diminished from the experience — in fact, it has opened up new avenues for drama. Bates Motel doesn’t drive us crazy with waiting for certain revelations, but rewards our patience with small favors. Hit the jump for why you should never threaten Norma in front of Norman.
“The Truth” may be one of the most linear episodes of Bates thus far. It really flew by for me, because though we’re already six episodes in, we’re getting payoffs from arcs that began in the pilot. The Chinese girl from the manga was discovered and harbored, but while Emma wanted to involve the FBI right away, Norma gave a plausible reason why not: she was practically dead asleep, and had earned a good rest. But Norma also seemed unsure of how to deal with Zach after the revelation that he was running a sex ring with Keith Summers — the two men she loved and hated the most were really in cahoots.
Naturally, Zach shows up, finds the girl, and engages in a drawn-out shoot-out with the family before Dylan finally killed him (in a nice bait and switch moment), but the Chinese girl remains at large. And what will Shelby’s friends on the force think about another murder at the Bates Motel?
Dylan once again stepped up and took care of things, which gained him enough favor from Norma for her to explain to him about Sam’s death. Like I mentioned last week, it’s exceptionally refreshing to have characters who actually talk to each other and confide in each other to work together for a common purpose. Friends don’t make secrets, and secrets don’t make friends! It also allows the action to continue unencumbered by the fact that if two people would just have a conversation, a lot of this could be solved. It’s a testament to Bates Motel‘s fine construction that these truths can emerge, and the show goes on. Drama don’t hinge exclusively on major reveals, it’s are just enhanced by them.
By now most of us had probably guessed that Norman had in fact killed his father in a blackout rage, and it seems to be the only time it’s done him any good. The other three times we’ve seen the rage (during Keith Summers’ attack, Norman versus Dylan, and Norman attacking Shelby), he’s done little more than make a small move before getting knocked out. Norma was the one who finished killed Summers (and possibly Sam), and Dylan was the one who finished off Shelby and thwarted Norman’s attack on him before. So with possibly one exception, Norman’s rage blackouts aren’t exactly a superpower. Then again, he’s young … maybe these are just the nascent stages.
Norma and Dylan have in common is a desire to protect Norman. Dylan tries to open his eyes to Norma’s madness, but then finds out that the madness is largely Norman’s (Norma is just an opportunist). Norma pleads with Dylan to let her take care of him as she’s always done, even though getting away from her would probably be the best thing for him. At least Dylan is there for now to help them both out — if there’s any kind of a superhero on the show, it’s him.
So just because we know that Norman has rage blackouts and killed his father, we still don’t know what will happen next — who might be his next victim? Also, though Shelby is dead and the Summers murder case closed (and the belt disposed of; another Dylan triumph), the Chinese girl is still at large. Further, the corruption in the town, of which Dylan is a part (though it’s uncertain yet what part) is obviously still going on. And what ever happened to Bradley? And will Emma disobey Norma and involve the FBI? Even though plenty of truths came down in “The Truth,” there are still plenty of things we don’t yet know. Well done, Bates.
Musings and Miscellanea:
— Norma and Norman wrestling in the car was fantastic acting.
— In fact, I don’t know how Vera Farmiga keeps up that level of hysteria at all times, but I respect it. Especially because her reactions seem so normal (until they don’t, like when she was questioning Norman leaving her instead of focusing on the fact that Shelby was running around mad with a gun).
— In the side plot, which I like, Dylan confesses to the Boss Man about Ethan’s death and how he then sought justice against the perpetrator. He’s rewarded for “stepping up” (as he always does), and is now the lead in a new duo with “Reemo,” who may be a lot older than Dylan but who is his subordinate. Dylan doesn’t put on any airs with Reemo, and I can only assume that Dylan will do something soon to gain his trust and respect.
— Was Norma giving Norman the eye at the table to attack Shelby? Is she going to try and figure out how to control his blackouts?
— That poor, poor Chinese girl …
— Classic shot, Dylan walking away from the car explosion.