Bates Motel Season 1 Review “What’s Wrong With Norman”

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One of my favorite new shows returned tonight as Bates Motel aired their third and possibly best episode with “What’s Wrong With Norman”. Tonight’s installment not only gives us a better look at Norman’s disturbed psyche, but we see exactly what kind of job Dylan signed up for and what kind of trouble Norma Bates might be getting into.

Our first big event tonight was Norman blacking out while he was at school, as he had his most vivid and disturbing fantasy yet as he actually pictured Ms. Watson all tied up like one of the girls in his journal. It’s one thing to look at drawings of girls in a journal as you flick your flashlight on and off again like he did last week, but now he’s made the considerable leap to picturing a real life person that he knows being tortured. Some might argue that Norman’s slipping into madness is being quickened quite a bit, as he’s making considerable leaps in craziness from episode to episode, but I guess they need to shove a lot of character development into only 10 episodes.

Norma has her own problems to deal with, as she agrees to a date with officer Shelby in a clear effort to try to sabotage the investigation that Sheriff Romero has going against her. It’s difficult to feel bad for Shelby for being duped into helping her, though, as he’s just as corrupt of a cop as the rest of the townspeople of White Pine Bay (More on that later). It really does make you feel bad for Norma seeing how she basically has to give up her body to men to get what she wants, and it’s even more sad when you realize that it’s clearly not the first time she’s had to do this.

So it turns out that Dylan’s shady job offer from last episode was, big surprise, at the pot farm from last episode! It wasn’t altogether surprising that he’s working for the big criminal enterprise that’s keeping White Pine Bay afloat, but it was a little goofy that we just found out about this organization at the end of the last episode. It was a bit too convenient that Dylan would be working for these guys so quickly, but Max Thieriot’s performance is good enough to heighten the accelerated storyline that he’s involved in. Dylan’s character has been done a million times on TV shows, but there’s something about Max Thieriot’s portrayal that makes it all the more interesting.

Meanwhile, Norman’s little love triangle is still going strong. I really do like both Bradley and Emma, but this romance sub-plot feels a little unimportant compared to all of the death, drug dealing, and human trafficking that we’re dealing with outside of Norman’s high school.

Norman continues slipping even further into madness as he has a vision of his mom telling him to get Keith’s belt back from Deputy Shelby. You can argue that he was perhaps just having a dream, but still. You’d think he’d wake up and snap out of it before he actually went through with breaking into a police officers home to steal his trophy back.

There were a couple confusing things about Norman’s decisions this week. First of all, what was the point of him stealing back his belt? Deputy Shelby and Norma were the only ones who knew that the belt was stolen from the Bates’ home, so if it’s mysteriously stolen from Shelby’s house, wouldn’t he immediately suspect that Norman stole it back? It was also a little lame that Norman was so uncomfortable and upset at his mom for dating Shelby to try to cover up his stolen belt. Maybe if you didn’t have to keep a trophy from your first kill then you wouldn’t be in this position!

It does say a lot about Freddie Highmore’s performance that you feel genuinely bad for him, even though you know he’s slowly turning into a psychopathic murderer. Their decisions and motivations might not be very clear at all times, but the performances of every character on this show are so strong all around that it doesn’t bother me very much.

The last scene gives us our big reveal that there’s still some human trafficking going on, as Norman finds a young Chinese girl locked up in Shelby’s basement. I can’t wait to see where this goes, but I worry that the crazy criminal enterprise perpetrated by the White Pine Bay inhabitants will be a little too much to believe pretty quickly. Regardless of what happens, I’ll definitely be checking in to the motel every Monday night!

What did you think of the episode? Sound off in the comments section below!