by: Hector Sanchez
It seems that these days we are unable to escape prequels. Some are good, most are bad. I’m excited to say that ‘Bates Motel’ is looking like it’ll fall into
the good category. For the purposes of this review I will solely be focusing on
the original ‘Psycho’ movie and none of its sequels.
Let’s start with what we know.
Bates Motel is a prequel of one of the biggest horror movie classics, Psycho. How
dare anyone try to touch a Hitchcock movie right? Let me tell you that so far,
the creators of the show have been doing a very fine job. Only 4 episodes in, Ba-
tes Motel has set a very creepy, unsettling tone for its series. They’ve hit the
ground running. Psycho is not only known for the iconic shower scene but, also
the relationship between Norman and his mother. Who *spoiler* turns out to be
dead. That, I feel, was the smartest (and most obvious) way to approach this prequel.
Watching Norma (Vera Farmiga) and Norman (Freddie Highmore) play off each other
is pure gold. You’re instantly sold that Norman is hopelessly devoted to his
mother and it’s fun to watch Norma subtly manipulate him. It sometimes borders
on a sort of sexual tension which turns up the creep factor to the max. Seriously,
it’s like a will they or wont they.
The creators decide to give Norman’s character an older, half brother. I typically
don’t like when established stories get tweaked but this I feel strengthens the
show. Dylan (Max Thieriot) is introduced in the second episode. He has the ‘bad
boy’ persona and clearly is not welcome. This character gives the writers room
to explore more of Norma. It will be interesting to see her pit her two sons
against each other. Especially since it’s immediately established that Dylan holds
some resentment toward her and Norman hates him for it.
Because I’m late in the game, I’ll quickly recap what’s going on.
Episode 1: “First You Dream Then You Die”
We open with Norman coming across his dead father. It’s unclear how this
happens. We cut to Norma and Norman on the road on their way to start a new life.
Norma uses the insurance money from her husbands death and purchases a run down
motel. There’s the classic manor in the background of the motel which will serve
as their home. They plan to renovate and reopen. They immediately have a visitor
in the form of Keith Summers (W. Earl Brown). He the properties previous owner
and he’s not very happy that the Bates purchased it while in foreclosure.
Norman tries to make nice but it’s clear that he does not like the situation.
On his way to school, Norman is approached by the ‘popular’ girls and invite him
to a party. Good thing he’s cute. Norma, of course, does not want him to go as
there are many things to be done at home. He sneaks out of his bedroom window
and goes anyway. It’s suggested that he is developing a crush on popular girl
Bradley (Nicole Peltz). While he’s gone, bullies his way into the home. He is
clearly drunk and begins to try to ‘show her a lesson’. She screams for Norman
to help but oops! He’s out at a party. Keith succeeds in handcuffing her to a
table and begins his assault. Norman luckily arrives early and knocks him out.
He searches for a key for the cuffs in Keith’s belt and finds none but decides
to keep the belt. Because it’s cool I guess. Norma sends him off to get a first
aid kit. While gone, Keith regains consciousness and Norma, filled with rage,
stabs him to death. The two hide his body in a motel room tub. With blood having
spilt on the carpet, Norman begins to tear it up (they’re renovating anyway right?)
and finds a sketchbook.
Inside are drawings of scantily clad women, most tied up
and even more being drugged. He hides the book as Sheriff Alex Romero (Nestor
Carbonell) and Deputy Zack Shelby (Mike Vogel) stop by to ask if the have met
Keith. They know he wasn’t too happy about the new owners and he has apparently
been gone all day so they wanted to know if he had stopped by at all. Norma is
able to send them on their way quickly (but manages to squeeze in flirtatious
glances at the hunky Deputy). They then are able to dump the body in the harbor.
The episode ends in an unknown location with a girl chained to a sink being injected
with some sort of drug.
Episode 2: “Nice Town You Picked, Norma..”
Dylan arrives in need of a place to stay. On his way to school Norman
and Bradley, see a car coming down the road. Bradley quickly recognizes it as
her fathers car. It then crashes into a nearby tree and they realize he has been
burned to death. Keith’s car is found which arises suspicion from the Sheriff.
At school in English class, Norman is paired with a girl named Emma (Olivia Cooke)
for a project. She carries an oxygen tank and breathes through a tube. She
suggests they work at his home.
Upon arrival, Norma is clearly not happen. She obviously doesn’t like Norman to have lady company that isn’t her. She begins to grill Emma about her life and her disease. She very quickly gets to her point that Emma will probably die young. It was great watching that go down cause she was basically telling Norman ‘don’t bother, you’ll have no future with her. Dylan notices how upset this made Norma and begins to taunt her about it asking,’I wonder if she has to take that off (the tube) to make out?’ Norma is clearly not amused. Upstairs, Emma stumbles upon the sketchbook Norman finds and asks to borrow it to find out what the characters mean. We then go to Dylan who finds out that the county he is now in abide by their own rules and they go by the motto, ‘a eye for an eye’. Later, Norman and Dylan get into it after Dylan suggests
their mother is a whore. Norman tries to bash his face in but Dylan knocks him away with a punch in the face. Norma sees Normans bruised face and attempts to kick Dylan out who then threatens to talk about his father and Norma’s relationship.
The following day in Emma’s father’s shop, Emma convinces Norman that the mountain scape in the sketchbook is a real location and that they should go and try to find it. This somehow ends with a cute kiss between the two which answers Dylan’s question no, she does not need to remove the tube to make out. They stumble upon a marijuana field and are chased away by two men with guns. This episode ends with Norma driving through town and coming across a body being burned in the middle of town.
Episode 3: “What’s Wrong With Norman?”
Dylan has now got a new job. What his family doesn’t know is that it
is to protect the marijuana farm that Norman stumbled upon in the previous episode.
While in class taking a test, Norman is having fantasies of his teacher tied up
in the same manner as the girls in the sketchbook. This sketchbook clearly has
awoken the little freak in him. He then passes out. He’s taken to the hospital,
and while nothing is physically wrong, the doctor wants to keep him longer for
testing. Norma does not like this but is called away to approve of some carpet
that is being delivered. Once there, the Sherriff arrives with a search warrant.
Not being able to do anything about it, Norma leaves them to it so she can go back
and get Norman, whether the doctor likes it or not. She then fills Norman in on
what is happening a home. He freaks out because he has Keith’s utility belt stashed
under his bed. It’s obviously gone so he has to tell his mother about it. She
decides to approach the deputy who assures her there is nothing to worry about
and invites her to his home for dinner. There, the deputy confesses he found the
belt and kept it from the Sheriff to protect her. They then make out cause
well, he’s hot and she kind of owes him. Norma arrives home to Norman waiting for
her. She tells him the news and is concerned that the deputy has the belt to use
her. The next day in school, Emma is convinced that the women in the sketchbook
must be real and she wants to go to the police.
Norman snaps on her because the
last thing he wants is the police more involved in his life. Later in his bedroom
Norman sees his mother on his bed telling him to go and get the belt from the deputy.
This is all in Normans head. He proceeds to the deputies home and gets inside through
an open window. He finds himself in the basement where he discovers a passed woman
that resembles one of the women in the sketchbook tied to a radiator.
Episode 4: “Trust Me.”
Turns out, Dylan sees Norman leaving the manor and decides to follow
him. Back in the deputy’s basement, Norman tries to help the girl but realizes
there is no time as he hears the deputy coming home. Outside, Dylan tries to
distract him to give Norman some time to escape. Norman, promising to return, leaves
through a window. The woman is obviously frantic and claws at him as he escapes.
Dylan later confronts hima about it and Norman denies it all. Norman tries to go
see Emma at home but is greeted by her father. Emma is sick but her dad decides
to tell him that she has a crush on him and that he better be decent to her. Awkward.
Specifically because he’s more into Bradley. Seeing how Bradley’s father is dead, she
gets needy and accepts the comfort that Norman is happily providing. Norma is
continuing to see the Deputy and Dylan catches them leaving a room after they’ve
had sex. The Deputy obviously recognizes him as the guy outside his home and now
knows he is Norma’s son. Norman later tells his mother that he went to get the belt
as per her request. She informs him that she never asked him to do that and that
he sometimes imagines things that never happens. WHAT?! Thanks mom.
she doesn’t believe him about the girl in the basement. The next time she’s at
Deputy’s home, she finds that the basement is completely empty. Norman later runs
into the Deputy in town wants to take Norman out fishing. Weird, yes. Norma later
tells him that she found nothing in the basement and that he HAS to go fishing
with him because he is helping them. The awkward fishing trip is cut short cause
the Sherriff calls him to help with the investigation. They found the body that
was dumped along with carpet fibers. The sheriff decides to try and match them
with those from the motel. Norma and Norman freak out obviously. Norman then
confesses what is going on to Dylan. Dylan promises to help. He also convinces Norman
to go and see Bradley. He goes and he gets some. Dylan tells mommy where Norman
is and she freaks out. He threatens her with the information he knows about her
and says how easy it would be to take Norman away from her. The episode ends with
her being arrested for Keith’s murder.
PHEW! Didn’t I say quick recap? Sorry guys. But now you’re caught up.
As you can tell, there’s a lot going on. Most of it I love. I like that the
producers made sure the Bates weren’t the only crazy people in town. It humanizes
them a bit more. Also, something that I wanted to save for now is that this show
is set in the present. It’s not set in the 50’s. They brought Norman into our time
which I thought was refreshing. The show still has a retro feel that still works.
They’re setting is an old house that came with the furniture. Norman’s nerdy manner
of dress coincides with his personality. In fact, the only time you know that it’s
the present time is when you see a smartphone.
I suppose my only problem with the show is that it’s not sure what audience it
wants. It has the love triangle that frankly, is a bit tired. I would prefer if
Norman were more into Emma than Bradley but I can’t wait to see how Emma will
react to Norman and Bradley bumping uglies. Then they have the whole drug farm
thing and and the women trafficking… Once they fine tune some details and tie
up a few of the story lines Bates Motel will be one of the most compelling hours
on television this Spring.
Bates Motel airs Mondays on A&E.
Bates Motel- Ocean View (1×05)
by: Hector Sanchez
“If I had an Asian sex slave, where would I hide her?” -Emma
Well ladies and gents, this weeks episode of ‘Bates Motel’ definitely did not disappoint. In the previous episode, Norman gets some from Bradley and it ends with Norma being arrested for the murder of Keith, former owner of the motel.
We start with what would be the following day. Norman is seen getting dressed after his night with a still sleeping Bradley. A spring in his step (he just had sex!) he makes his way home to find Dylan. Dylan breaks the news about Norma’s imprisonment. They go to see her and learn her bail is $100,000. That’s a lot of damn money but they also learn they can put up the motel for collateral. Norma gives them both the cold shoulder during their visit and turns them both away.
Back at home, Norman is looking for the deed to the motel when he receives a visit from Emma. She hears the news of his mother, small town and all, and came by to check on him and to offer him a place to stay. He refuses the stay as he is about to post bail so she offers him a ride to the jail bond. While they wait, Norman decides to tell Emma about the girl he found but insists she asks no questions. She of course does and as Norman puts it so cutely, she is ‘freaking out all over Italy’. He assures Emma that they will do something AFTER he makes sure his mom is okay. She then leans in and gives Norman a very awkward and, in the moment, inappropriate kiss. He awkwardly dismisses it. My heart breaks for Emma. *sigh*
Meanwhile, Dylan is out with his ‘co-worker’ Ethan and inquires about getting a loan from their shady employers. Ethan advises against it. We find out Dylan is seeking this loan because he wants to get an apartment for himself and Norman. Now, I am still unsure whether he genuinely cares for Norman or if he is just trying to stick it to Norma. Maybe it is a little of both.
Norman successfully posts bail and awaits his mother outside of the prison with flowers. Norma ignores him. She is clearly upset, much to Norman’s dismay. We then see them consulting with a lawyer. She has sound advice as to how to go about the trial but Norma does not like it. Not one bit. She does not want to go declaring self defense when there was nothing proven yet. The lawyer reminds her of the carpet fibers found and Norma points out that Keith owned the motel for years and that those fibers could have gotten there then. She storms out in a huff.
In the car ride home, Norman tells her that she is being unreasonable, that she is not doing anything to help herself. Then Norma turns on the guilt trip. “Why does it matter? You do not care about me. You went out and you got laid that night that I was crying in my room worried sick about all of this. About what could happen. About me being taken away from you. About being put in jail. YOU WENT OUT AND YOU GOT LAID!” Norman tears up and tries to explain himself. He spills the beans about Dylan encouraging him to go out. That of course does not help the situation. She then blames Dylan and Norman comes to his defense. Norma pulls over and lets him know exactly why she’s so upset (aside from the sex having). She is upset because Norman let Dylan in. He let him in on their secret. Norman defends himself by admitting that he needed someone to talk to. That sometimes she scared him. In response, she makes him get out of the car and walk the 10 miles home.
Thankfully, it’s Dylan to the rescue. He happens to be driving by and picks
Norman up. We are treated to a display of brotherly love. Norman seems to be genuinely enjoying himself with Dylan as they ride home. It’s a tender moment and it is very welcome as it’s about to get messy.
Dylan later meets with Ethan. While in his pick-up, Ethan offers Dylan the loan he asked about so that he can get the apartment he wants. Awww! Dylan has a friend! Oh wait no, a junkie just shot Ethan through the neck. Now, I assume this junkie is a ‘client’ of Ethan’s who owed him money which is why he shot him in the neck. Dylan rushes him to a hospital but doesn’t stick around for very long because there was really no way for him to explain the situation.
Meanwhile, Deputy Zack and Norma meet in secret. Zack asked her there to tell her that they need to cool down a bit until the issue with the murder is taken care of. Norma of course, assumes this is a break up and decides to leave. Zack stops her and professes his love for her. He then tells her the ‘hell’ he has gone through since she has been locked up and promises to think of something to get her off. His genius plan? He removes the incriminating carpet fiber from evidence.
Later that evening, Dylan spots the junkie that shot Ethan and runs him down with his car. Not very smart. That will surely bite him in the ass later. Or maybe his ’employers’ will reward him. I don’t know where exactly this storyline is going
The next day, Norma gets the all clear from the lawyer from earlier. She connects the dots and realizes the Deputy was behind it. She shares the news with Norman and well, he does not take this well. “So Mr. Wonderful saves the day again. What’s he gonna make you do for him this time?” Now, let’s keep in mind that Norman DID find a woman tied up in the Deputy’s basement but, in this scene he comes off as a jealous lover. Much like Norma when she was guilting him for having sex. Norman storms off. Luckily Emma happens to be pulling up. Our little resident Nancy Drew has been doing some investigating and utters the quote that starts this review. Turns out, Keith owned a boat. Now, if one had to stash a sex slave some-where that is not your home, the boat of a murdered person is the perfect place. This is this time Norman decides to tell Emma about sleeping with Bradley. Emma insists that it was just a ‘hook-up’ that it didn’t mean anything. Norman thinks otherwise and Emma ends the conversation by asking if she’s changed her relationship status. She has not.
Norman and Emma later break into the boat and find our sex slave! They bring her to an empty room at the motel to try and calm her down. Norma stumbles in on them. Norman explains who the girl is and he seems pretty smug about it. Especially since Norma did not believe him to begin with. She, of course, is in deep denial. She runs off to find a photo of Zach and the Asian girl confirms that he is in fact the one who has been keeping her captive. AAAAANNNDDDD! End episode!
Now, throughout this whole episode, Norman has been trying to get a hold of
Bradley. THE WHOLE TIME! There’s even a sad/cute voicemail Norman leaves her.Between the texts and calls, there is absolutely no word from Bradley. So, there’s the obvious thought? She may be playing the role of popular bitch and is now done with Norman. Or there is my theory. I think she’s dead. Norman is prone to black outs after all. He could have killed her in the heat of the moment. Or he may have forced himself on her which explains why she wouldn’t want to talk to him. Or, both things happened.
Whatever the case, we’re now left with Norman having convinced his mother that the Deputy is not what he seems. While that’s a win for him, they need to tread lightly because the Deputy happens to now be in possession of the evidence that would put Norma away again.
I can not wait until next week!
Side-note: I would like to know where Norman gets all of his sweaters. Seriously.
I want every single one of them.
‘Bates Motel’ airs Mondays on A&E.
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