Bates Motel: Is It Worth Tuning In Anymore?

07
May
2014

 

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Monday night saw Bates Motel wrap up its second season on A&E. Several story lines were wrapped up while a few questions were created. Such as, who will control the marijuana game now? Does Dylan trust Norma again? Will Sheriff Romero keep looking out for the Bates family? Is Emma sticking around, or has she been driven away like others? To add to the questions fans might have about the show going forward, I realized I also had a burning question while watching season 2: should I keep watching this show? The reason this question was rolling around in my head is because while watching the second season I often found myself bored or just not able to care about the storylines. When I was watching the first season on Netflix I was mostly intrigued and interested with everything going on. The plots were captivating and I was excited for each new episode. The second season however didn’t quite grab me, and just like with Justified (I gave up on the FX show after 3 seasons), I feel like I will stop watching altogether. In this article I’ll review the season 2 finale, go over the strengths and weaknesses of the show, and come up with a final verdict.

 

First, let’s recap the second season finale “The Immutable Truth”. The drug war that Dylan (Max Thieriot) is involved in came to a head. He ends up running into Sheriff Romero (Nestor Carbonell) and both go on a search for Norman (Freddie Highmore) while Romero looks into Nick Ford’s (Michael O’Neill) death. They end up finding Norman and free him from the box that Ford’s men put him in as a payback against the Bates family for Dylan siding with Zane Morgan (Michael Eklund), Norma not helping out Ford, and Norman killing Ford’s daughter Blair Watson (Keegan Connor Tracy). Then Dylan and Romero decide to end the drug war once and for all by luring Zane to his sister’s house, using her as bait. Zane comes over, his sister slices him, he kills her, and then Romero kills Zane. With both drug bosses dead, it seems like the marijuana game which has been a force in White Pine Bay, Oregon has been silenced for the time being. Meanwhile Norma (Vera Farmiga) is helping Norman recover from the trauma he suffered after the kidnapping. Even though Norma is trying her best to be supportive, Norman continues to ask her about his blackouts and what he has really done. They get into a screaming match. Later Norma finds Norman in the woods with a gun, and he’s just about had enough with not knowing the truth. Norma finally reveals to Norman that he killed his father after his father attacked Norma. After a way-too-long mother/son lip kiss, Norman comes to the realization that he killed Blair Watson after he had sex with her. Norma wants to move to Canada to start their lives over again, but Dylan convinces her to stay, and instead Norman goes with his family and Sheriff Romero to take a lie detector test. While hooked up, Norman is asked if he killed Blair Watson. Before he can answer, he envisions his mother sitting next to him. The imaginary Norma tells Norman that it wasn’t him that killed Blair, it was her. Also that they need to keep it a secret. Norman listens to his own imagination. He denies killing Blair, and because he fully believes it was Norma who did it, he passes the lie detector test. The real Norma celebrates when she finds out, and the episode ends with the camera slowly zooming in on a deranged Norman.

 

The final episode was good. It was a way to transition from the drug wars of the first couple seasons, and sets up future craziness from Norman. The final scene was truly memorable. It was a great way to link the show to the 1960 film it is based on, and give reasons why Norman will continue murdering people. He will more than likely continue imagining Norma tell him to kill people, and eventually others will discover this. I assume there will be more girls in Norman’s life, since for some reason every chick in that town at one point wants a piece of him. Norma will continue bringing people into her life just to have her own paranoia and family baggage drive them away. Dylan will have to decide what’s next, and Caleb (Kenny Johnson), who is Norma’s brother and Dylan’s father/uncle will more than likely return. The season 2 finale did set up a lot of potential for the future.

 

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But still, the question for me remains: should I continue watching the show? The show has a lot of good going for it now, but fans had to wade through a lot of pointless plot lines to get to this point. I mean honestly, did anyone care about Norma and her conflict with the town’s government? Did anyone care about the play Norman and Norma were involved in? I get that part of it was to introduce Norma to Nick Ford, and to introduce Norman and Cody (Paloma Kwiatkowski), but it still felt like pointless filler. And besides the Cody character was only temporary, appearing in just a few episodes. Speaking of filler, I feel like most of the drug war story lines are uninteresting and don’t seem to fit a show like this. Obviously it gives the Dylan character something to do, and it has at times intertwined with the Norman/Norma dynamic, but overall it just feels awkward. When I first heard about a show that is sort of a contemporary prequel to Psycho, I never thought half the show would be about gangsters killing each other over drugs. Whenever that part of the show comes on, I feel like I’m watching a terrible Breaking Bad/Sons of Anarchy rip-off. It just doesn’t fit the show. It should be more about Norman and Norma, not forgettable and bland gangster characters.

 

Speaking of Norman and Norma, the show has its biggest strengths in its two main characters. Norma especially was very well cast, as academy award nominee Vera Farmiga was given the role. She’s done very well so far playing the paranoid and overly protective mother, even being nominated last year for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series. She’s very intense on the show and has really made the character come to life. As for Norman, Freddie Highmore had big shoes to fill left by Anthony Perkins who was brilliant in Hitchcock’s take on Psycho. Freddie has done well. His awkwardness seems natural, and when Norman goes into blackout mode Freddie does well to come across as… wait for it…. psycho (pun intended). The dynamic between both characters is often captivating, and leaves you wanting more interaction between the crazy mother and son duo. When it comes to the two main characters the show has done a remarkable job, and it has led to interesting television.

 

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In summary, when I watch Bates Motel I feel like I’m watching two different shows taking up the same time slot. On one hand you have the show we were all sold on. A show about a crazy family that tries to fit in while hiding their past. A show about murder, deception, and lies. A show that chronicles the beginning of one of media’s most notorious murders. Then there is the show about people growing weed in fields and random people shooting each other and trying to be tough guys. That is the show I could care less about. Honestly I would rather A&E do a crossover episode where the guys from Duck Dynasty spend a weekend away at the Bates Motel, rather than sitting through another lame drug story line.

 

I still feel some emotional attachment to the show, which is why I will more than likely be tuning in for season 3 (which A&E announced on April 7th). Hopefully there are changes to the show. I hope Dylan is used more as a calm figure being mixed into the Norman/Norma dynamic. Now that the drug bosses are all dead, hopefully that part of the show will be scrapped together. Finally, I hope any future love interests of Norman and Norma are more intriguing and help drive their strange relationship. If things like this or better take place in the third season, then the show can truly reach its potential.