television -> Bates Motel Season 2 Episode 2 Review

Bates Motel Season 2 Episode 2 Review

"Shadow of a Doubt"


Warning!  Spoilers Ahead!


The more we learn about Bates Motel, the less we know.  It was a crazy and consequential turn of events as the big story began to emerge in “Shadow of a Doubt."

This week, goodbyes were said to a regular cast member (so long, Bradley!) and introductions were made to a new character in Norma’s brother, Caleb Calhoun, (played by Kenny Johnson from The Shield, Dexter and Sons of Anarchy).  This could definitely lead to trouble for the Bates family considering Norma confessed that her brother used to sexually abuse her in the season one finale.  One can only imagine where the story goes once Norma is reunited with her estranged sibling (according to the episode three previews that have been released, Norma’s brother becomes an ally in the quest to stop the construction of the bypass that would surely put Norma’s motel out of business).

There is a war that has been sparked between the two crime syndicates in White Pine Bay (all thanks to Bradley’s murder of Gil in the previous episode).  Things seem to be heating up with a new boss brought in to replace the now deceased Gil Turner.  Zane (the brother of the “big boss”) is that new boss and is apparently a born loser unfit to lead the faction (Remo told Dylan the reason he went to prison was for driving 95 mph while transporting a huge shipment of marijuana).  He wastes no time in murdering a member of the Ford family in retaliation for a murder they had nothing to do with which will undoubtedly fuel the fire.

The fight between the drug business Dylan is associated with and the Ford Family seems to be the driving force for the season 2 plot. The point of convergence has shifted to the power struggle between Dylan’s crew and the mysterious “Ford Family” (which is apparently run by Ms. Watson’s father, Nick Ford, who was also the unknown man at the deceased teacher’s grave).  Things may get bad for Norman’s older brother with his new incompetent boss, Zane.  It stands to reason that Dylan’s crew won’t fair too well as long the replacement boss is at the helm and making illogical and asinine decisions.

The dots are connected with Ms. Watson when it is revealed that she was a sex addict with “daddy issues” (judging from his conversation with Sheriff Romero, her father, Nick Ford, was fully aware of it).  What happened to Ms. Watson continues to be a giant question mark that I’m sure will be answered by the finale.

Norman met his future love interest this week (according to the previews of season two) while buying Bradley’s supplies for her bus ticket out of White Pine Bay.  He then gets a little Fight Club-philosophical on her — “Dying… once we’re born, that’s what we’re all doing, right?” (“In the Tibetan philosophy, Sylvia Plath sense of the word, we’re all dying”).  –Fight Club

Norma’s idea to audition for a musical (“South Pacific”) is clearly a way for her to strengthen the bond with her son and try to connect with a more innocent time that predates the traumatic events that have occurred since Norman murdered his father.  I thought the juxtaposition of Norma getting Norman to gleefully sing “Mr. Sandman” while Bradley sat on the stairs knowing her life was virtually over was a real nice touch.

It wouldn’t be a week of Bates Motel if we didn’t get some crying action from Norman — and of course, Norman delivered.  Norman turned on the waterworks during the audition when he got into an argument with his mother about forcing him to do it.  Norma may be more stable than Norman, but she is not without her issues as well.  She was so eager to believe Norman’s horribly unbelievable explanation for possessing Ms. Watson’s pearls despite an overwhelming amount of red flags screaming otherwise.  (“I probably found the pearls at the dance and picked them up to turn into the lost and found at school”).  I don’t know if Vera Farmiga’s singing scene was audibly enhanced or not, but wow she can belt it out.  She sang “Maybe This Time” from the musical, Cabaret, and it was absolutely spectacular.

I found the moment when Norma and Norman received the news of someone else being charged in the murder of Blair Watson particularly humorous.  Norma smiling and hugging her son as if she won the lottery got a pretty good chuckle out of me because it's not how a normal person would act upon hearing news of that sort.  The combination of drama and comedy in Bates Motel is one of its most appealing attributes.  The show has a great ability to jump from morbidity to comedy.

The mystery of what exactly makes Sheriff Romero tick is still anybody’s guess.  A criminal with a badge or a man of justice?  Romero seemed to have qualities of both and this week the former was put on display as he calmly charged a man with the murder of Blair Watson when he knew for a fact he didn’t commit the crime — and all in the name of furthering whatever agenda or scheme he is cooking up.

Every week, Bates Motel viewers grow more and more fond of this psychopath in the making, Norman Bates.  It will be fascinating to see how they send him from a sensitive, caring teenage boy to the murderous villain we all know from Psycho.  The way he helped Bradley out after she treated him so badly was nothing short of admirable.  He asked for nothing in return and really had no reason to want to help her at all after what she did to him. 

When he successfully has Dylan get her to the bus out of town, Dylan comes home and gives Norman a note from Bradley.  The Note reads:  “Norman, you are the best person I have ever known.”  This is what I’m really starting to like about Bates Motel — showing the audience that in life, not all things are completely black and white.  We all know that Norman becomes a killer, but now we know that he once was a chivalrous, kind individual who would do anything to help a friend in a bad place.  As he reads the note, the camera pans out to the infamous house behind the Bates Motel with Norma staring from the window on the second floor (an obvious homage to the original psycho and a foreshadow of things to come further down the road).

Keywords: Bates Motel, Shadow of a Doubt, A and E, Norman Bates, Psycho
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