Monthly Archives: October 2014

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S2ep5: “The Escape Artist”

Original air date: March 31, 2014

There is no fixing several things about the Bates family, and the truth about Dylan’s origins is one of them. Doubts are pretty strong about anyone ever being able to fix what’s wrong with Norman either. For these reasons, I feel sad for them but at the same time I don’t despair for them either. After the explosive events in “Caleb” and “Check-Out”, things seem to be looking up for Norma and Norman in this episode. In one aspect anyway. The dreaded bypass road may well not become a reality anytime soon. Looks like Christine’s husband might have to go find a Costco elsewhere. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t happy about this. Norma more than deserves something good to happen after the emotional wringer she was just put through, and the stopping of the bypass is a start.

“I’ve never seen anyone go into a hole like that.”

But first there’s the issue of Norman having a black-out and Cody picking him up at the roadside diner. I’m starting to like Cody a little more because she stepped up to the plate as far as making sure he got home safe. He lies to her that he’s never had a black-out before, and this is one of those times Norman’s not that great of a liar.

After leaving the Bates house for good, Dylan’s crashing at one of the weed warehouses when Remo wakes him up. In the previous episode, Zane Morgan (or one of his lackeys) set Sheriff Romero’s house on fire. Only because Romero had a talk with Zane about how things are run in White Pine. Shit. Zane is evidently a loco loose cannon, and he’s running the Morgan family’s side of the weed industry now. What might happen if someone did more than just say something to him he didn’t like? I have a feeling we’re going to find out at some point, and it won’t be pretty.

“It’s you and me, Norman. It’s always been you and me.”

Norma wants to put Dylan out of her mind completely, and Norman’s idea of trying to talk to his brother again is out of the question. There is a new long-term addition at the Bates Motel: Sheriff Romero, since he’s temporarily homeless. What I wonder: why did he pick the Bates Motel out of every other motel in White Pine Bay. My theory is that he figures it’s a likely place for any more drug-war-related trouble to start, given who Dylan works for. My No-Romo stance from Season 1 remains unchanged, and I don’t feel the need to reiterate it at length here. To me, Sheriff Bulldog and Norma still seem to like each other as much as a real bulldog and an alley cat would like each other.
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Moving on, Norma gets in touch with Nick Ford about plans for putting a stop to the bypass. Norman gives Emma the news that Dylan moved out. It is cute how she leans close over him to get her time card for the motel. Seems like Emma still might like Norman, on some level. But she also seems to quickly forget that when Gunner comes in and asks her out that evening. Norman and Emma both don’t think highly of one another’s romantic interests, as Emma makes that obvious when Cody pulls up outside to pick up Norman for theater tech.

The music playing in the motel office is “Dancing in the Moonlight” by King Harvest, and the song on Cody’s car stereo is “Insane” by Feeding People. This is the first introduction Norma has to Cody, and it’s not looking good for Cody. As expected, she’s rude, disrespectful and just asking for an ass-kicking. And calling Norma “a piece of work” to Norman: also a bad idea, although she does apologize for that one.
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We’ve come up on my favorite scene between Emma and Norma in season 2: where Emma has no one else to ask about what having sex is like for the first time. It’s bittersweet because she’s asking Norma in all sincerety, having no clue that Norma’s first time was the nightmare of getting raped by her brother. This line of questioning must be tough for Norma to handle emotionally, but she hides it well, telling Emma that the first time should be lovely if both people care for each other.

Meanwhile, Norman has to wait in the car while Cody tries to sneak back in her house to retrieve forgotten money for lumber. The reason for the sneaking around is that Cody’s dad is abusive, at least verbally–as Norman hears them fighting. I can only imagine the shitstorm that would rain on Cody’s head if she and Norman really ran away. No one tries to take Norma’s boy away from her, not without serious consequences.

“My mom would probably put out an Amber Alert before we reached Eagle Creek.”

Nick Ford wants to pull some strings and maneuver it so Norma will be in a good position to go up against the city council about the bypass. Sounds promising so far. He sends her to see Brain Fuller, a scientist who’s prepared a report on an endangered species that’ll stall the bypass construction. Norma’s getting a better idea of how things can work in her favor in White Pine Bay, as long as she goes along with the established plans. Like she says, it sounds great so far–but I have a vague feeling of dread that there’ll be a catch somewhere.

Zane Morgan keeps on being more of a pain for both Remo and Sheriff Romero, and I admit he does deserve to get beat up if indeed he torched Romero’s house.

I think it’s ironic for Norman to say he feels safe with Cody; she doesn’t inspire a whole lot of confidence in that regard. At least in my opinion. Seems more like she’ll lead him running through the woods, figuratively as well as literally, and right into trouble. It sucks that she has a bad home life, but like she says: she’ll be 18 soon and can leave. I also think Cody’s (just a little) starting to overstay her welcome, and I’m positive Norma would agree with me.

Emma does get her sweet night with Gunner, which strikes me as much more romantic than the tree-house sex Norman’s experiencing around the same time.
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There is a bit more funny and relaxed scene with Norma and Romero, as she orders him upstairs to clean the cut on his head. At least they can spend a few minutes around each other without a shouting match, although it’s evident she’s ignoring the admonition to stay away from Nick Ford. Too much seems to be at stake as far as the threat to the motel’s future.

Dylan’s listening to Zane jabber on about a vodka room when White Pine Bay experiences a bona fide drive-by shooting. The rival drug family lands Dylan in the hospital for his efforts to save Zane. Hopefully he isn’t seriously hurt; Dylan’s been through so much already. It appears the revelation about Caleb being his dad was a turning point for me, and it took me a while to realize it. I’m now much more sympathetic towards Dylan, and I don’t backpedal on that again for the rest of season 2. I even start liking him before too much longer.

Norma and Norman have a common mother-and-teenager disagreement over his dating Cody because Norma doesn’t approve of her–justifiably so, in my opinion. Norman insists Cody’s a nice girl, ironic that he uses the same words he once said about Bradley. In this exchange between them, I don’t pick up on any non-familial jealousy here, just a normal argument over dating choices that any mother and son would have at least once. This is a sharp contrast to Norman’s intense (some would say Oedipal) protectiveness of Norma when she went out with George. Also contrast this to the rather odd sex talk they had in season 1; the only echo of that is “Women can be tricky.”
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Norma realizes that she may as well have been describing herself when she talks about Cody as a girl with no future, raised in some unbearable circumstances and desperate to get out of. That’s exactly how Norma started out, and that moment’s a bit of a tear-jerker for me. She does say something else I believe in too:

“There are people who can help you and people who can hurt you. And you’ve gotta pick the right people.”

Some of us take longer than others to learn this lesson, but I believe it’s the truth. Sometimes the dialogue like this in Bates Motel is incredible because it has so many different layers of meaning, and it ties to so many different facets of the main characters’ overarching story. Yet it’s just simple words that still manage to pull at my heartstrings every time.

I hope Norma’s picking the “right people” with Nick Ford, though it’s evident he’s not one to be crossed. Especially since Lee Berman that obnoxious city council member is suddenly, mysteriously dead in a car crash.

“Who are you?”

“I’m your boss.”

A final twist that may not be as shocking as others, but it’s still very cool: Dylan wakes up in the hospital and gets to meet the Big Boss: Jodi Morgan, Zane’s attractive sister. Vaguely echoing something Norma might have once said: she’s going to take care of everything. He doesn’t have to worry about a thing.

Though it’s still an excellent episode with some really enjoyable scenes, I like some of Bates Motel before and after “The Escape Artist” better. It has the distinction of being the first episode I give a rating below a 4. The storyline with Norman and Cody is starting to play itself out, and it was smart of the show writers to wrap it up before too much longer–though not without a tragic accident, as we’ll soon see. The drug war between the two families is starting to ramp up, but I think it could’ve used maybe one more shocking cliffhanger aside from Dylan’s getting shot at and hit by a car.

3.75 out of 5 blue hearts:

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