Bates Motel Season 2 Episode 2: Shadow of a Doubt

*Full Spoilers Ahead*

Last week’s episode ended on a huge cliffhanger, as Bradley sought Norman’s help after she had murdered Gill. We find out this week that Norman has decided to hide Bradley in his basement until a few days time when she will catch the bus to Boston to begin a new life. Apart from the obligatory “almost caught” scene, where Norma wandered into the basement looking for Norman, Bradley’s story was halted until the final scenes. I have to say that this particular plot thread has moved rather fast, from upset child, to suicidal teenager to murderer in two episodes or so. Admittedly, four months have passed between seasons and so that could sort of explain it, but I just feel its been rushed. Anyway, that is a minor problem for me in a very good start to this second season.

Norma and Norman’s relationship, and whether Norman did actually kill Blair Watson remains at the forefront of the season and of this episode. We see Norma hilariously asking her doctor for help regarding her “sister’s” blackouts whilst the doctor was otherwise preoccupied, as well as discovering Miss Watson’s pearls and a newspaper clipping about her death under Norman’s bed (she puts them back). She seems convinced that her son is the murderer, but is fighting with it as she doesn’t want to believe it to be true. Instead it appeared in this episode that she was trying to take Norman’s (as well as her own) mind off the subject by signing them up to audition for a local musical production. This leads to a fun song on the piano with the two of them, but beneath the fun it serves to remind us just how strangely close their relationship is. They go to the auditions, and it is Norman himself who reinforces this point, storming out as the clock ticks closer to eight o’clock – the time he is supposed to be taking Bradley to the bus station to escape. He breaks down and screams at his mother, possibly realising for the first time that the grip his mother has on him is not normal.

“Mother we live together yeah, we work together, we eat every meal together, we sleep six inches away from each other with a thin wall between us, don’t you think that’s probably enough?” 

He is saying what we are all thinking, but as ever Norma turns it around and makes him feel guilty. It often seems that she only cares about herself, as when something happens with Norman it’s always about how dreadful it is for her not her son. She wants to control him, and for him to always be with her, because she doesn’t want to be alone. This shows especially when they are waiting to audition and he tells her he has a date with Emma at the movies (to cover for Bradley), but she quickly dismisses him, telling him to cancel. In the end he chooses Norma over Bradley, his mother over a girl who he’s attracted to, due to her jealousy. This will no doubt become a recurring theme. They go back into the theatre and Vera Farmiga produces a wonderful bit of acting. As she sings, you can feel the weight of what is happening building up on her, we can feel the stress she is under, and it all comes out in that awesome performance. Norman claps along but he doesn’t see the pain in his mother’s eyes that we do.

Norma was not the only one suffering though, as Dylan went on quite a journey this episode too. Sheriff Romero meets a man named Nick at Blair Watson’s grave, who turns out to be, not just her father, but the leader of the rival drug gang in the town. Dylan’s gang, now led by the erratic Zane, seem convinced Nick’s gang murdered Gill and so murder one of their men in retaliation. Dylan looks to be caught up in gang warfare which is destined to spiral out of control and result in casualties. Who will die is anyone’s guess, but my money is on at least Dylan’s partner, Remo, if not Dylan himself. As this affects the whole town, there is a possibility a wider array of characters may get caught in the crossfire.

In the end, Norman can not make it in time and so has to call his brother for help in taking Bradley. He obliges, and even though shocked she is in the basement he was smart enough to know Norman was up to something. Off they go in his truck, and upon arrival he tells her to write a suicide note. Dylan, despite his involvement in the drug business, is the show’s conscious. He represents us, as he cares for the people he meets, proven by the fact that he is willing to get involved in Norman and Bradley’s mess, and fake Bradley’s suicide, all so that they can get away scot free. He is a good man, who cares for his family and friends, and seems to be the one most fans connect too.

The third storyline tonight is Romero’s as he follows up a lead on the Blair Watson case. Samples lead them to Kyle, a junkie in the town who Romero had warned to stay away. We discover there were two samples, one unidentified, but still Romero decides to pin the murder on him. It doesn’t appear Kyle is the murderer and instead, if the show takes the predictable but probably smartest road, the other sample seems to hold the key to the death. I’m sure we will learn more in due time.

The final scene sees a man looking for Norma Bates and we discover that he is in fact her brother. This is intriguing, as he could be friend or foe. We had a similar introduction last year with Norma’s other son, Dylan, tracking her down, and he became a firm fan favourite, so we will see what happens to this man. Speaking of fan favourites (well a favourite of mine anyway!), Emma was once again limited to seconds of screen time. In fact, her only purpose seemed to be to inform the Bates’ that a man was arrested in relation to the Watson case. Here’s hoping that now Bradley is gone for the foreseeable future, Emma can take more of a lead role, like the one we saw her in during the first season.

Anyway, not quite as entertaining as the first episode, but still solid plot development, and new interesting characters in the gang warfare as well as Norma’s brother.

 

Verdict:

The story was forwarded well, with Norma and her son’s relationship as unsettling as ever. A very good start to this season.

8 out of 10.

 

Agree/Disagree? Please feel free to share your opinion in the comments section

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