Just four episodes deep and I’m completely fixated on this creative new series. I’ve said it before, but the show is so good that I forget that I’m watching formative years of Norman Bates’ young life. Looking like the love child of Anthony Perkins and Colin Hanks, young Norman is nothing if not genuinely charming, and that helps knit the show together so well.
Last week we learned that Norman sees and hears things that aren’t really there. This bit of information has baited me into hanging on every word of dialogue this show craftily emits. Norman decides to raid Shelby’s home for Keith’s belt and find’s more than he bargained for in the young officer’s basement…or has his overactive imagination? If not for good timing and some half-brotherly love from Dylan, Shelby would have found one more basement dweller than anticipated. Of course, when Dylan confronts his little brother, Norman clams up. He has plenty of time to talk as Shelby has several scenes this week.
The next day Shelby encounters Norman and the sweat starts beading up. Convinced Shelby is going to bust him over the belt or basement, he really just offers the chance to go fishing and spend a little time with his new love interest’s son. Norman breaks down and tells Norma about the depravity he found in the basement and she’s having none of it. She reminds him, rather painfully, that he goes into a “trance” as she puts it – weaving in and out of reality. Norma spends the night at Shelby’s since their relationship is “progressing” and does a little midnight exploring. She doesn’t find anything out of the ordinary.
Norman’s fishing trip is cut short with the fishing boat discovery of Keith’s severed hand and the police shift their focus back to Norma. The Sheriff hauls her in for questioning, mentioning he has “a gift” for knowing guilt – and he knows she’s guilty. His aggression is wasted on Norma. The police found carpet fiber underneath the watch band on the severed hand and they press Norma for its whereabouts. Impossible to bullshit a bullshitter – Norma leaves without incident. Things are brewing in this murder investigation though. If you watched next week’s preview, you know just how much it escalates.
Norman is torn in a love triangle with Bradley and Emma – who knew, right? While Bradley and Norman share the loss of their fathers, Emma claims to have insight into Norman’s complex nature. Still, it’s Bradley that he shares his first kiss with, not to mention his virginity as well. Two hot girls and a mother with odd aspirations just compound Norman’s bizarre behavior and mental state. Dementedly Hitchcockian psychosexual tension has been a running theme in this series short life, giving us glimpses of the point where genuine love can devolve into obsession. So far, I have to give Bates Motel high marks. The secondary characters feel like magnifying glasses hovering above Norman, but that’s really the crux of the show – meeting the people and exploring the bubbling moments that send Norman in a murderous breakdown in Psycho. Bravo to everyone involved in this wonderful show. To me, it’s the best new series (along with The Americans on FX) since American Horror Story.
Check out a preview of next week’s new episode, Ocean View.