*Full Spoilers Ahead*
So after the conclusion of last week’s episode, Bradley is gone for the foreseeable future at least. Her arc certainly seemed rushed, but at least its ending has now opened up space for other stories to grow and develop in the upcoming weeks. Most notable is the emergence of Caleb, Norma’s brother, who proved to be a huge disruption to the Bates family this week.
All seemed fine when Dylan let Caleb into the house, but once Norma returned, all hell broke loose. The pure terror on her face was astonishing, and she screamed at him as she threw him out of the house. In typical Norma fashion she did not want to talk to anyone about it, and instead turned her focus elsewhere. In fact, she even managed to make a friend! Christine, a woman who was at last episode’s council meeting, took Norma under her wing in a sense, and introduced her to her friends. Norma seemed genuinely thrilled, as it was one of the only positive things to have happened to her in quite a while. It was a taste of the normal life, which unfortunately would not last. This was an interesting development as it added even more depth to Norma’s character, but time will tell whether Christine is an important addition to the story. Norma now has a love interest in George, Christine’s brother, and even organised a meeting with the late Blair Watson’s father, Nick Ford, regarding the new bypass. This links all of the characters together nicely, which of course only adds to the number of people at risk of getting caught in the collateral damage of the weed industry (and also Norman!).
Speaking of the weed industry that fuels the town, there was little development on that front this week, with the only important happening being the erratic Zane vowing to continue the gang warfare. This will clearly have some endgame in a later episode, so I think it was the right move to have the focus more on other things this week, but nevertheless show a little of the industry in order to keep it fresh in the viewer’s mind. This may just be the most important storyline in the long run of this season as it seems all major characters are involved in one way or another.
Dylan’s focus this week was therefore on Caleb. He took to him immediately, and without telling Norma, the two met up to talk. It appeared that Caleb was the father figure that Dylan had always wanted, even offering to take him fishing. The big reveal at the end of the episode was still a huge shock. It took the show in a disturbing direction which may possibly explain why Norma is such a strange, unstable woman. What the moment also reinforced subtly was Norman’s relentless, unhealthy obsession with ‘protecting’ his mother. Norma was the one who pushed Dylan, and yet Norman jumped on and began beating up Dylan. The fury he unleashed, despite his mother being in little to no danger (Dylan would not harm Norma), was unsettling.
Before the big finale, Norman’s story took a back seat but was still a rather entertaining addition. Cody, the girl from the shop checkout last week returned and befriended Norman. The two then bumped into each other at a memorial held for Bradley on the beach. This led to possibly the funniest moment of the season so far. Cody sat on and kissed her friend Philip whilst Norman sat next to them feeling extremely awkward, only for Philip to reach out and grab Norman’s leg. The look of confusion on Norman’s face was hilarious. He did walk Cody home however, who explained that Philip was just a friend who in fact probably liked Norman. Arriving at Cody’s home it was obvious that their are problems in her own life which have not been fully explained yet. She seems to be a bit of a wildchild, which is obviously the polar opposite of Norman. The relationship is therefore rather cliche but it worked this week. Let’s hope that this is more than Norman simply having his own version of a manic dream pixie girl, and instead can maybe shock the viewers and have a huge impact on the overarching storylines.
A third (fourth if you count Dylan/Caleb) friendship bloomed this week between Emma and the ‘cupcake boy’ who got her stoned in the first season. With Bradley’s disappearance there was finally time to give Emma a storyline, but if this week’s episode is anything to go by its nothing to get excited about. Emma, feeling guilty about never liking Bradley, organised a memorial on the beach. Everyone who arrived however, had little interest in mourning and instead drank alcohol and took drugs. Emma saw her ‘cupcake boy’ selling weed and went to confront him. She clearly decided to give up on the failed memorial and instead had a bit too much to drink with her new friend. It was rather funny to watch, and it was nice to see the guy being genuinely nice, but it feels as if the only reason for this new relationship is to keep Emma on the show.
I like how the show is giving others such as Norma and Dylan, characters who the fans are invested in, big storylines and even taking centre stage every now and again instead of Norman. They are as much a part of Norman’s descent into madness as Norman himself is in a way. The introduction of new characters was a mixed bag this week, with Caleb being a standout, but Cody, ‘cupcake boy’, and even Christine (who seems a strange addition in the long run), not really settling in very well. It was not a bad episode, and there are certainly many storylines to get excited about, but this did not feel up to the same standard as the first season.
The central story of Norma, Dylan and Caleb was great with the big reveal only increasing the intrigue, but everything else was hit and miss.
7.25 out of 10.
Agree/Disagree? Please feel free to share your opinion in the comments section