Bates Motel: Gone but Not Forgotten


By Ashley Binion (@ashleybinion)

“Welcome to the world ladies! There are axe murderers and whores stuffed under every rug!”  In one monologue by Norma Bates, Bates Motel was ready to reopen for season two.

Warning: Spoilers ahead.

The freshman series ended with a cliffhanger to die for. (See what I did there.)  And the crazy shenanigans of the Bates family, which we have all come to love, didn’t skip a beat and continued on in the premiere episode.

Up until Norma’s outburst at the city council meeting, the premiere was largely uneventful. With a four month time jump, the writers had to get the audience up to speed on how everyone has managed since Ms. Watson’s death and Bradley’s attempted suicide.

It was shocking to see the motel thriving. Even in Psycho, the motel never really prospered. But it’s needed to give the owners reals stakes to try and save their hotel from the bypass.

Speaking of the bypass, Norma’s crazy outburst at the city council meeting was the highlight of the episode. Vera Farmiga blows me away every time. She plays the motel owner so beautifully. It really is like watching a piece of art being made in front of your eyes. She can make you sympathize with the character one minute then have you busting out with laughter the next.

The driving force of the series continues to be the Norma and Norman relationship. Of course Bates Motel wouldn’t be Bates Motel without some Freudian and Oedipal overtones. At points, it’s so uncomfortable to watch you just can’t help but pay closer attention to Farmiga and Freddie Highmore’s acting choices. It’s too riveting to look away.

I commend the series for keeping Ms. Watson’s murder an ongoing mystery. It would have been too on the nose to present the killer in the returning episode. By leaving it open it keeps the possibility alive that someone else could have murdered Ms. Watson. With that, the writers gave the audience a representative on the canvas in Sherriff Romero. He, along with the audience, is trying to figure out who murdered the teacher. Oh, and the scene between himself and Norma was so awesomely awkward, they are frenemies now and they don’t know how to deal with it.

In season one Bradley’s character was the least likable on the canvas. Don’t get me wrong, the actress Nicola Peltz has the chops , which was evident in “Gone but Not Forgotten,” but the material just wasn’t there in the first season. But, it seems as though the writers might have fixed “the Bradley problem.”

In this episode, Bradley went from the typical flirty popular girl in the freshman season, to a darker more interesting character. I approve of angsty Bradley. She has a purpose on the canvas instead of just trying to avoid Norman. That scene in her bedroom with Norman was so awkwardly entertaining and she even brought out a twinge of sarcasm. Even though her second to last scene was predictable, it wasn’t any less shocking. Even more shocking, that final scene.

There were some nice nods to Psycho, such as Norman watching a movie on the ‘50s era television set and his continued taxidermy practice.

My only major complaint is that there was not enough Emma. She was in two scenes in the first ten minutes then she was gone. Seriously, what’s that about?

What did you think of the season two premiere? Did you dig Bradley’s character development as much as I did?

Rating: 4 out of 5

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