Bates Motel 1.09 Review

Bates-Motel-Episode-1.09-Underwater-Promotional-Photos-2-595-slogo-d1f8c6132589e53362dac5355a15c7aaTonight’s episode, “Underwater,” tried to prepare us for what is to come in next week’s finale by furthering Norma’s dive into insanity while bringing her son along for the ride.

First, here’s what happened in the episode:

Norma decides to sell the motel and move because she can’t stand how crazy things have been getting in this town. She calls it “face-dive-off-a-cliff” crazy, which makes sense because she basically moved into the worst possible town. In addition, she has pot-smoking drug dealers pitching up tent in her motel and they just don’t care about anything — because they are high. While this is going on, she also has Jake Abernathy from last week still harassing her to give him something that he needs — which is completely unclear to what it actually is that he is looking for. We find out at the end of the episode that he needs the 150,000 dollars that the deceased Zack Shelby owed him, and now it’s up to Norma to pay it because that makes sense. Finally, for the icing on the psychotic cake, Norman screams to her that she is crazy when she says that they are moving undoubtedly rooting the words inside her wounded mind.

Norman is doing wonderfully in school. He’s getting a 4.0 for the semester — because apparently high schools run by semesters — and his teacher, Miss Watson, wants him to publish his creative essay. They have an editing session and he thinks that it’s a great idea. Norman probably loves the somewhat normal attention from an adult female in his life. However, earlier in the episode he did have a lucid dream about drowning a sleeping-in-bathtub Bradley and enjoying it. When he wakes up he is clearly reflecting on what just happened and probably thinking about why it felt so good. Later, he researches what this could mean and falls under the suspicious eyes of his brother who asks him if he would ever want to hurt someone else. Norman responds by saying that he would never want to hurt anyone, showing that maybe future Norman might have justifiable reasons for killing. Finally, when his mother can’t sleep in her own room because she is scared, Norman agrees to let her stay in his room for the night. But he did not expect for her to want him to stay in the same twin sized bed as him and get perfectly uncomfortable. They reflect on how they did this when he was a child simultaneously creating a scene for audiences to delve deeper into the not-so-hidden sexual innuendos of their relationship.

Dylan is still working with pot, and his mother probably knows it, but doesn’t say anything. At work it appears that he is eager to climb the drugged ladder of business and get to the top. He asks for a desk and receives one of the other guys’ desks that angered the boss. Later, Bradley asks him to sneak her into her dad’s old office so she can pack up some things, including finding a gold pocket watch from her childhood. But when she goes into his desk, she finds love letters from a woman named “B” and flees the room. The two have a moment out on the docks where they hug and further their impending relationship.

Emma has taken a job at the motel and her first assignment is to clear out everything from the office except for the property deeds. While she is doing this, the group of people staying at the hotel begin smoking pot, which Norma doesn’t like. Emma asks them to stop, and they do when she says that she could lose her job. They respond by apologizing with a “pot cupcake” which she eats (intentionally or unintentionally is unclear). Feeling like she is being watched, Emma goes to the house and tells Norma who realizes that she is high and tries to sober her up.

bates-motel-season-1-photos-pictures-012And finally introduced as a thicker character, Miss Watson shares some of her back story when Norman says that they shouldn’t publish his book. She says that she knows what it’s like to come from a darker childhood. Miss Watson tells Norman that Norma will never know if they publish the book. When she says this, she gets physically close to Norman suggesting that there might be more things that Norma might not need to know about.

The cliffhanger of the episode is when Norma gets into her car, after being let down that the motel will not go up for sale, and Jake Abernathy appears from behind. He classically brings his hand around the back of the car seat, covers Norma’s mouth and demands that she brings him the money he needs or else he will kill her sons and then her.

Norma has been one downward spiral of crazy, which was expected. However, she hasn’t reached the bottom yet. More things keep happening to her and Norma continues to swim through the murky waters week after week. Vera Farmiga plays her growing insanity perfectly and the private moments with this character show it. Tonight, while Jake Abernathy is explaining to Norma what she must do, there is a second where her eyes turn dead and her expression is flat. Norma is giving up, slowly. This might be how we eventually reach her death, which is somewhere in the future of this series. The only time we see Norma as a normal person is when she is interacting with Emma. When Emma comes up to the house high, Norma snaps out of her crazy antics and helps the girl. This suggests that if Norma had girls that maybe she might have been slightly less crazy than she is today.

bm_12142012_jl_11900Norman, beginning as a kid of a crazy mother, is starting to appear as a stand-alone insane character. He dreams of killing Bradley, the first time we see him taking the life of another woman — a blonde woman, nonetheless. And this is before he knows that his brother has a crush on the girl that he probably still likes and is obsessing over. His actions are becoming more about his wants and needs over his mother’s, although not all of them are. When they are talking about moving, he demands that they stay here instead of doing whatever he is mother says that they will do. Soon he will become an independent psycho with individualized thoughts. Cue the screeching shower music. 

Next week is the finale. Bates Motel has proved that hashing into retired film characters might not be a bad idea — if you have the right cast and the right amount of effort for the series, which this show does. Expect to see the cast at September’s Primetime Emmy Awards.

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