Monthly Archives: September 2014

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S2ep2: “Shadow of a Doubt”

Original air date: March 10, 2014

I’m stoked to review this episode; it’s got a couple of the best ever Norman-and-Norma scenes. As far as I’m concerned, their singing at the piano is freakin’ adorable, and Norma’s audition is a show-stopper that gave me chills up my spine. The lady who refused to give her the lead role had her head locked up a very dark and stupid place. Until this point, I’ve never been the biggest fan of musicals; for the most part I find them silly and cheesy, and the soundtracks: ugh! Flat-out annoying most of the time. I’ve never understood why they have to sing and interject bits of dialogue for the soundtracks, just sing the song and cut those parts out. But that’s me, and I’ve got to admit Norma and Norman have warmed me towards musicals–somewhat.

I’ve gotten a little ahead of myself. At the beginning of the episode, Bradley’s hiding in the Bates basement after she shot Gil Turner to death. It’s interesting to me how she’s totally unfazed by Norman’s partially-completed taxidermy projects. I’d have a hard time sleeping, thinking those dead animals were staring at me–even with the pressing issue of being on the run for murder as a distraction. Norman manages to get the truth out of her; otherwise he can’t help her, a stance I think has a lot of rationality to it.

“You’re putting me in an impossible situation.”

Norma tries to get some background on what could be causing Norman’s black-outs, without revealing the real story, while she’s at the gynocologist. The doctor seems to see through the lie with “I could refer you to a psychiatrist”, even though Norma’s talking about her made-up sister. I think Norma might’ve fared better with some Internet searching, though not mentioning Norman is smart. Everyone in this town is so nosy and gossipy, after all. Norma seems to have caught onto that fact more now than in season 1.

Dylan and Remo get the bad news when they drive by Gil Turner’s house and see Romero’s crew hauling out Gil’s dead body. Looks like Remo’s also not that crazy about Sheriff Bulldog, either.

Norma finds some books at the library that look promising as far as having some explanations for the black-outs; I couple of the titles that stood out to me are “Dissociative Amnesia: The Walking Dreamer”, and “If it’s Not Epilepsy: Childhood Syncope.” I’ve also gotten interested in the causes of different fugue states in people.
It’s also sweetly sad how Norma notices the other mother with her younger boy having fun in the library. I imagine she’s thinking back to when Norman was that age–when life was more innocent and carefree. She also notices something else: the poster for open auditions for the community theater’s production of “South Pacific.” Maybe this’ll get Norman out of the basement and distract him from mooning over a dead teacher.

“Things are pretty nice, but it’s not written on some stone tablet that’s the way it has to be.”

Gil’s death has unfortunately set off a drug war, since his death is getting pinned on the rival family. This is going to be a bloodbath before it’s over. We learn that Nick Ford was Blair Watson’s estranged father, and he’s part of the rival family. He insists to Romero that he had nothing to do with it, and he gives Romero grief over the lack of progress in catching Blair’s killer. Romero later arrests a suspect named Kyle, who it turns out was intimate with Blair Watson the night she was murdered. Dylan gets more of an idea what he’ll be dealing with when it comes to Zane the lame-ass poser.

Norman’s not exactly thrilled at the idea of doing a musical. He’s got a point that being in a musical and watching musicals on TV are two very different things, and he evidently thinks this is another one of Norma’s silly impulsive ideas that doesn’t make any sense. Norman’s preoccupied with the issue of Bradley hiding in the basement, which is probably why he’s not that receptive to Norma’s attempts to get close to him.

And no Norma, not everybody can sing. Case in point: Yours truly. Although catch me in a certain mood and get three stiff drinks in me, and that hasn’t always stopped me anyway.

Norma’s good mood gets dispelled as Norman gets a call from Bradley’s mother, asking if he’s seen Bradley. He (of course) lies, and Norma just treats it like it’s an annoyance. By this time, Dylan’s walked in and he senses something’s up, that Norman’s lying. He still gets met with denial right after Norman scrambles to hide the money he’s gotten for Bradley. He also goes the next day to get hair dye for Bradley to change her hair to dark.

This is where we meet another character I’m initially not that crazy about: Cody Brenen. I don’t blame Norma for not wanting Norman to date a girl like that. Cody doesn’t make a flattering first impression; she’s rude, she’s disrespectful, and she’s extremely nosy with the questions directed at someone she doesn’t know at all–a customer in her check-out line who happens to be Norman. Some might see that as having a good bullshit detector, but the way she comes across with it simply seems bratty to me. But like some other Bates Motel characters, I grow to see her in a more sympathetic light before she exits the series.

Question I have: Where exactly did Norman get all that money? Did he take it from the motel? If so, I’d think Norma would be bound to notice. Or is it left over from the $150K they almost lost their lives over in season 1? An inquiring mind wants to know. But we don’t have time to ponder those questions for long because we’re all one of my favorite parts in this episode!

“Why? Are you afraid one of your stuffed animals might hear you?” Close call as Norman directs Norma out of the basement where she came close to spotting Bradley in a hiding spot. The song she’s picked to practice is “Mr Sandman”, very awesome horror movie reference here! It was also used in the original Halloween I and II movies, as well as the Rob-Zombie-made reboot, which to date is the only Rob Zombie film I’ve liked. “Mr. Sandman” also had roughly 10,000 remakes, so I’m just picking the version I like the best for the playlist.

But anyway, this is the first time I think Norman and Norma’s closeness doesn’t give me a vaguely uncomfortable feeling, because they are just so damn cute together here! Eye-batting aside, it’s so evident in Norma’s expression how much she loves him more than anything in the entire world–whatever form of love it might take, suddenly it doesn’t seem to matter as much. Norman loves her just as much, even as she cajoles him into going along with what he thinks is a dumb idea, and he doesn’t seem to care she’s doing that.
“Okay, fine. I’ll go make an ass out of myself for your sake, Mother.”

A wrench gets thrown in Norman’s plan to take Bradley to the bus station the following night, since the audition runs too late. The last time he sees her face to face, it’s sweet how Bradley tells him how she always knew there was something special about him. They seem to have moved past their troubles in season 1; it’s just too bad it’s under these tragic circumstances.

Then there’s someone else Norman loves but needs to contend with: Norma. Like we’ve seen before, it doesn’t take much to provoke these two into a hot-headed argument when Norman protests how long they need to wait at the audition. He makes up a story about wanting to go to the movies with Emma at eight, then flips out when Norma tells him to call her and cancel. Then the stress and worry Norma’s been feeling over Norman comes to a head. Their scene outside is so intense because I can feel it how scared she is, over what may be wrong with Norman and what it may cause him to do. The earlier discovery of the pearl necklace in his room only takes her fear to another level.

Norman seems like the furthest thing from a dangerous fugue-induced killer when he hugs and comforts a sobbing Norma, assuring her he just found the necklace, it’s nothing to worry about and she’s being silly about the whole thing. If only that were the truth. It may look like Norma’s being over-the-top emotional and slightly crazy, but can we blame her, really? That much fear and emotion could make any of us act slightly crazy under certain circumstances. Also throw in how much these two love each other–in whatever way–and it’s an explosive mix. I believe that love has the potential to make any of us do irrational, even insane things. Norman and Norma here are an extreme and possibly slightly twisted example of that.

Although a certain later kiss gets all the attention, it does look like–although it’s tough to tell for sure–that she quickly kisses him on the lips here.

Norman convinces her to go back inside to the audition, giving him the chance to call Dylan and tell him where Bradley is and what he needs to do. To his credit, Dylan goes along with it, even with the knowledge Bradley killed Gil Turner.

By the way, I absolutely love that dark blue dress Norma wears at the audition. It makes me want to go find one like it for myself, and I’m NOT a dress-wearer by any stretch!

Now, back before this episode aired, I read somewhere that Vera Farmiga can sing–but reading about it and getting to see/hear it are two very different things. She’s amazing!!! Wow. I’m putting this performance in here right now because I think mere words are not even close to enough!

During this scene, I also imagine what might be going through Norma’s head and how she might be channeling all that emotion from earlier. It can’t be an easy thing to do. It’s such a beautiful rendition of “Maybe This Time”, full of longing but still full of hope at the same time. The audition scenes with her and Norman are so incredible that to me they act like a kind of eclipse, temporarily blotting out other parts of this episode’s story and blinding me for a few brief moments. I register that Romero’s going to pin the murder on Kyle in the next scene, but figuratively my eyes are still readjusting from the brilliance.

I register somewhat more that Bradley leaves a suicide note that Dylan will plant, leading the town to believe she walked into the ocean and drowned. Norman and Norma also find out from Emma that Romero arrested someone for Blair Watson’s murder, much to Norma’s relief and understandable enthusiasm. If only that part of the story were completely over, but it’s just beginning…

Bradley gets on the bus that’ll take her to Boise and eventually Boston, as “The Strangest Thing” by The Amazing plays.

I also love the Psycho-tie-in scene close to the end, where Norma watches Norman through her bedroom window. After the intense events of this night, what’re you thinking about, Norma?

The idea that someone from her past has tracked her down is probably the last thing from Norma’s mind, but he has all the same: her brother.

I’m a little torn on this episode’s rating because a couple of parts of the storyline were kind of quick and could have been explored a little bit more, namely the fall guy for Blair Watson’s murder. But compared to the other vital and awesome scenes I’ve already gone on about, this seems almost incidental. So I’m going with 4.95 out of 5 blue hearts: