Bates Motel Season 4 Episode 6 – TV Review

Bates Motel The Vault Norman crying

The immutable truth?

And the truth is that since the soaring episode 2, this season has been coasting along.

I suspect we’re just going through a lot of place-setting to end in a textbook Bates bombshell climax to the season, but I bitched on Game of Thrones for overindulging on that. So I have to bitch on it here, too.

A bitch on you, Bates Motel.

TL;DR Norman continues to languish at Pineview; Dylan continues to have nothing to do but talk about how he’s going to move to Seattle with Emma; Chick enacts a blackmail scheme that he ultimately reneges on, and doesn’t have much consequence, anyway; Norma and Romero are too perfect together; Caleb is indeed brought back.

But not back to White Pine Bay, thank God.

So I suppose the major plot has to do with Norma and Chick. Chick senses Norma’s indecision about his offer to murder Caleb, so plays the blackmail card: find Caleb for him, or he’ll tell the whole town about her incest with Caleb, ruining her reputation, as well as Romero’s. Norma goes along with it far enough to make a call to Caleb, but he does genuinely seem like a better person (and is, thankfully, out of the country), so she decides to kill Chick at their rendezvous, instead. But she can’t do that either, and miserably resigns herself to Chick outing her horrible secret. She blows up at him in front of Romero when Chick delivers the window (he actually made it), but Chick, either backing down on the blackmail threat or satisfied that Norma has outed herself to Romero, leaves without exposing it. Norma is then forced to tell Romero the sordid truth, but he pledges to stay with her, regardless. Meanwhile, Edwards makes an early diagnosis on Norman for Dissociative Identity Disorder. Apparition Norma is a protective identity, and she reveals to Edwards a traumatic moment from Norman’s childhood where his father, who Norman otherwise remembers as alcoholic but often loving, threatened to murder Norma and Norman, before raping Norma while Norman was under the bed. She sees her duty as protecting Norman from knowing such horrible things, and threatens Edwards if he were to tell him. Meanwhile, Dylan prepares for the move to Seattle, but he finds the letter and teddy bear from Audrey to Emma in the Bates house. And Romero relinquishes the safe deposit box key to Rebecca, and doesn’t even want any of the money.

He really is hitting fanfiction levels of love interest perfection.

I do feel bad for it, but damn, Bates Motel. You got boring.

I’m in two minds about it. On the one hand, with the production team having a set-in-stone end date, the show could be laying down a thick, purposeful foundation to make sure the climax of this season, and the denouement of the series, is powerful. Like the highs of Bates Motel past.

On the other hand, without the threat of sudden cancellation, they could just be letting themselves go and not feeling pressured to come up with the explosive moments we’ve come to love. A calm before a storm is fine, but when the calm lasts four consecutive episodes, from a show that only has a handful more of them left ever, that’s too much.

Or, the worst of both worlds: they’re setting up for a payoff that isn’t any good.

Oh, the dread within me.

 

Why I hate this episode:

The A plot about Chick’s blackmail ends on a heartwarming note, but a tension-deflating note. Yes, it’s sho shweet that Romero instantly accepts Norma, incest warts and all. But the drama between them is gone.

The same is true for Norman at Pineview. A lot of the tension of Bates Motel has come from the unpredictability and violent homicidal nature of Norman’s blackouts. But now Edwards is not only sure he knows what they are, but Apparition Norma is so easy to handle that Edwards can literally just tell Norman he wants to speak to her and out she comes. And without any of the murdering she usually gets up to. Boring.

And as Edwards is more and more assured of Norman’s diagnosis, he gets closer to treating him. We don’t want Norman Bates treated. I trust the show to put a stop to that soon enough, but again, it’s been four episodes and they haven’t yet. Get a fucking move on.

Dylan, too, has now gone six episodes without accomplishing much. And to add to the lack of tension, nobody opposes his move to Seattle. Norma has a token bitch at him for about half a second this episode, but admits it’s only because she’s stressed (after her capitulation to Chick).

And Romero hands over the three million dollar key to Rebecca, and doesn’t even want any of the money. I honestly do hope all this whingeing of mine will prove premature once things go totally apeshit. But as of now, I’m not impressed.

Caleb’s back for a scene on the phone. Hopefully this time is the last time.

Oh, and I know Keith’s murder was pretty heat-of-the-moment, but I’m disappointed that having her incest outed wasn’t motivation enough for Norma to pull the trigger on Chick. If only to eliminate the last tugging thread of Caleb.

 

But it’s not all bad:

I initially thought Chick’s backing out of the blackmail following Norma’s blow-up was some nasty little victory snipe, because he’d already ensured Norma would have to tell Romero the truth. But upon reflection, I think he really was convinced by her ravings at their bridge rendezvous (Vera Farmiga does some more trademark Norma Bates shrieking. Of which we can never get enough). I assume he wasn’t too torn up about her meltdown in front of Romero, as he didn’t get to have his revenge, but I believe he’s not going to go revealing her secret around town. I think he’s done.

Or Romero might go murder him next episode to make sure he doesn’t. I’d be okay with that, too.

Yes, Romero’s perfection is hard to take seriously and rivals any Mary Sue love interest, but damn, Norma Bates deserves a man like that. He gets rid of Rebecca selflessly, and then he even accepts Norma’s brother-fucking past.

He nabs the episode’s best line, shamelessly. Norma’s just explained everything about her relationship with Caleb, from the kind-of-consensual beginnings to the later rape, and she’s convinced that’s it for them:
Norma: “So just go pack your bags.”
Romero: “Okay.” Dramatic pause. “Where are we going?”
Sploosh times infinity.

Dylan is in second place with this response to Norma’s questions for information on Caleb: “Norma, just leave him alone, okay? Things are good, alright. Alex is good. Norman’s getting better. You don’t need to check up on Caleb.” Which is exactly what I’ve been saying.

I’ll give Norma an honourable mention for some classic Norma cruel-sass when she’s just been to her rendezvous with Chick and Dylan comes to the house:
Dylan: “I just came to get some of my stuff.”
Norma: “Okay. Have fun leaving me.”
More of this, please.

Dylan might still find a reason to stick around, though. After he discovers the letter and bear from Audrey mysteriously in the house, he checks the motel records and sees that Audrey never checked out. Get on it, bro.

I knew Sam, Norman’s dad, was bad news. But I didn’t know he was “threaten to murder/suicide the whole family and then rape Norma while Norman is under the bed” bad news. And the hand-holding that Norman and Norma do during the ordeal is that perfect Bates Motel combination of touching and icky.

Oh, and Norma may not fire the gun, but she looks good holding it. Always has.

Bates Motel The Vault Norma gun

If she hadn’t kept her name, she would have done it.

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About ijusthateeverything

Sincerity is death.

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