Bates Motel Season 2 Episode 1 Review
Gone But Not Forgotten
Warning! Spoilers Ahead!
Bates is back!
Season two of “Bates Motel” (“Gone But Not Forgotten”) has begun and it suffices to say that the success during season one wasn’t simply a fluke. “Bates Motel” may be a different kind of show, but it certainly hasn’t proven to be uninteresting. The ratings numbers are a reflection of that as the season opener drew the highest ratings “Bates Motel” has seen since it has been on the air.
The transition from season one to season two can be a real challenge for shows to overcome. Writers, actors and directors alike are all settling into their own styles, learning how to work cohesively, learning from mistakes, ect. While “Bates Motel” isn’t without blunders, it had a fantastic first season and held on to an audience throughout its infancy. Now that it has weathered the storm, it seems that there is enough creative space for the writers to really thicken things up. This is a dark horse of a show that, one year ago, wasn’t expected to make it past the pilot — but it did and now with this season the story seems to be intensifying.
“Gone But Not Forgotten” still had lighter, comedic moments of absurdity (I almost lost it when Norma shouted “You’re a D***” at a city councilman) as well as darker, heavier moments when we as the audience realize that the protagonist that we are rooting for inevitably grows up to be a misogynistic serial killer.
Things jump off with Norma getting a phone call about Ms. Watson’s death. Norman doesn’t take this well and Freddy Highmore delivers yet another Norman Bates legendary cry-fest (I know Norman is a sensitive boy, but I have lost count as to how many times Norman has let out a good, long cry. Someone even suggested we do a top ten moments of Norman crying because there are so many). The scene then pulls a 180 and goes from somber to hysterical as it draws funeral attendees’ attention and creates an awkward, uncomfortable situation with Norman sobbing uncontrollably, unable to hold himself together.
This begins the mystery of whether Norman actually killed his teacher or not. There are a few different theories floating around online about what actually happened. The most obvious thing to assume is that Norman was the killer, but we all know writers don’t like to use the obvious thing when trying to keep a story compelling. My guess is that there is a twist headed our way sometime this season.
In a move to help build the hype, “Bates Motel” released an online video of Ms. Watson’s sex tape that shows that there was someone else there that night (or at least before she left for the dance). The face was purposely silhouetted so there are a multitude of theories as to what happened when Norman blacked out (if you remember when he was running in the rain, his cut was back open even after Ms. Watson had cleaned it up. Perhaps he was trying to protect Ms. Watson — that is what he was doing for his mother when he killed his father). Then there was the angry phone call Norman heard Ms. Watson have with someone named Eric, the mysterious man at Ms. Watson’s grave, or the fact that Sheriff Romero seemed to know Norman had been to her house.
Confirmation was also received regarding the woman in the letters to Bradley’s dad (who was indeed Ms. Watson). This leads to Bradley’s psychological unraveling when Dylan suggests that her father was murdered by Ms. Watson’s jealous boyfriend, Gill, for having an affair with Bradley’s father. Although Bradley’s flying off the rails was already well underway (she tried committing suicide and spent four months in a mental institution even before she was privy to the identity of her father’s killer). She then takes it upon herself to make sure that season two of “Bates Motel” begins with a bang by seducing then shooting Gill in the face.
It’s a mark of true creativity to take a story that is already so well-known and so iconic to completely new and unexpected places. “Bates Motel” alludes to its Hitchcock premise but makes no attempts to rely on it at all. It is one of the most provocative television shows on the air right now despite being a prequel to a total cornerstone of American cinema. I think that the audience will grow fonder of “Bates Motel” as the show continues to develop its own identity this season.
Truthfully, this is one of the premieres I’ve been looking forward to all year long. “Bates Motel” caught my attention in 2013 by being a show that was difficult to place in a genre, label, or even truly understand or make sense of at this point. However, I think that is what’s going to keep viewers coming back every week to watch.