Bates Motel Season 5 Episode 2 – TV Review
I hope Madeline the hardware store girl is into women.
TL;DR Norman continues to endure jabs from Norma about his attraction to Madeline; whose husband is the adulterous motel guest from last episode; Chick hangs around for some reason; Caleb comes to town to see Norma, and is not impressed to learn of her death; Norman ensures Caleb will follow her.
Well, Norma does. I think.
So we’ll get this hardware store girl flirtation thing out of the way first, because, except for Norma’s delectable jealousy, who cares? Basically, Norman’s attracted to her because she reminds him of Norma. But uh oh, it turns out she’s married. To David Davidson, the cheating slut motel guest Norman masturbated to last episode. David makes the obligatory threats to Norman to keep his mouth shut, and they go on an awkward double date with some chick Madeline thinks Norman might like. Norma pops up to give Norman shit about dating, but nothing really happens. Onto actual plot stuff, Caleb, having been turfed out by Emma (Dylan is accepting of this when he finds out), goes to see Norma. But he discovers from the townsfolk that poor Norma Bates is dead, and jumps to the acceptable conclusion that Norman must have done it, and Norma must be avenged. Sadly for Caleb, though, his hero moment coincides with Norma’s commandeering of Norman’s body, and she stealthily takes him out. Meanwhile, Chick is still broke from when Caleb fucked him over, and makes a taxidermy art business proposition to Norman. And after Norman visits Romero to gloat about his failed assassination attempt, Romero gets into a prison fight. He lies to his lawyer that it was motivated by him being a cop in jail (it wasn’t), and leverages it to get a transfer/earlier release.
So, we’re still in a holding pattern, it seems. Again, I will defer to the Bates Motel team’s mostly stellar track record, and accept that this is all just important place-setting for what’s sure to be a bombastic final run.
But, like, what if it isn’t?
Why I hate this episode:
Granted, The Vampire Diaries has spent much longer in the shit than Bates Motel (Season 4 of Bates wasn’t even “shit” per se, but it was undeniably a drop in quality), but TVD has had a bland, toothless final season. And that show was once the best in its niche on television, and, along with Arrow (also currently faltering), a pillar of its network’s renaissance. I really, really don’t want Bates Motel to end on a bum note. But it’s possible. And that’s terrifying.
I’m confused with the Madeline situation. I would have to side with Norman in that she seems keen as a fucking bean to hang out and flirt and send a tonne of mixed signals. The revelation that she was married could have been salvaged. Because cheating is a thing, you know? But then the whole “date my friend” issue is raised, and now I don’t care for Madeline at all. Just get murdered and go away.
Dylan and Emma are still sidelined.
Out of all the characters to keep hanging on, why Chick? Whatever happened to George and Christine from Season 2? They didn’t die. Where’s Bradley’s mum? Or Norma’s therapist/lover James? Why Chick?
And his business idea seems flimsy to me. I’m no connoisseur of fine art (look at the kind of shows I watch. Yeesh), but I don’t see his idea to provide rare(?) animals to Norman to taxidermy and then sell as sustainable. How many rare animals live around White Pine Bay? How long would it take to get each one stuffed and off to sale? How much would they earn?
Oh, and there’s a scene after the date when Norma takes over and goes to a bar. The scene almost has her push for a flirt with the bartender, but they don’t go for it. This is the final season, Bates. Fucking go for it. Get Freddie Highmore to work his womanly wiles.
But it’s not all bad:
Freddie makes it count when he gets home, though. Norman, as Norma, still, is all drunk and feeling her oats. Which is when Caleb decides to make his entrance, and not only does Norma get the chance to bash his head in, but she also does it in a dress and wig. Fierce.
Chick takes a small step to redeeming his continued presence by earning the episode’s best line with a simple, appropriate “Holy shit” as he walks in just in time to see Norman do it. With Norma’s actual mummified corpse in the background. Will Norma kill Chick, too? Can I dare to dream?
Norma, typically, gets all the best moments of the episode. Her appearance at the restaurant bathroom during the double date is inspired. She turns up in a godlike pants suit and hat (she’s incognito, remember?) and whinges at Norman before he shoos her out the window. We need more of this.
Her jealousy of Madeline is palpable on principle alone, but when she sees Madeline resembles her, Norma gets even more bitch-tacular. Game on, moll.
Caleb, in what could be his last appearance (we don’t see him die, so I suspect we might get some death throes or torture situation next week), proves yet again how far he’s come as a tragic figure. His utter devastation over Norma’s death is heart-rending. There’s a scene where he weeps at her grave, and it got me.
His confrontation with Chick at a bar is also impressive. Even Chick feels some sympathy for Caleb once he realises he only just found out about Norma’s death.
Romero doesn’t get a lot of screentime this episode, but his ploy to blame his prison fight on his ex-cop status is clever as hell. Any opportunity to kill Norman sooner, baby.
Emma mentions how Caleb’s absence from their baby’s life will be like how her mum is absent from hers. Dylan is like uhhhhh. I lol’d.
David Davidson is actually Sam Loomis, by the way. So that’s neat.
Oh, and Norma, for reasons unknown, has decided she wants to learn French. I just think it’s fascinating that Norman’s mind concocts something this specific to explain what Norma does all day while she’s hiding out. That’s commitment to the bit.