3 October 2013: Last week young Norman Bates started getting some very dark visions and found himself stuck in a basement with a chained up girl whilst the homeowner returned. This week sees the dramatic conclusion to that situation.
This is a show that so far has relished and revelled in ramping up the creepiness that everyone associates with any story that involves the iconic Norman Bates in. But it isn't these odd moments that are the shows strongest point. No! It's the juxtaposition of these moments with ordinary family interaction that helps to make this show stand out superbly! Over in America it was at this point that the show was renewed for a second season, and quite understandably so.
Vera Farmiga and Freddie Highmore continue to impress as mother and son Bates, whilst Max Thieriot dazzles as Dylan Bates, their performances are making me care about what happens with the Bates family. They're making me notice that Dylan is stepping up trying to be a big-brother to Norman and actually care about their development, which is crazy because in the future this guy stabs people in showers.
But that's what this prequel or origin story does so well, it reminds us that behind the facade that is Norman Bates dressing up as his mother and murdering people, there is ultimately a human and well-liked character, who struggles to understand women. Dylan's advice of "Why would a girl text you at ten o' clock if she didn't want you to go round" was advice that rings true of all big brothers ever, apart from the bit where the younger brother confesses murdering someone. That's not all that normal.
But enough about all of the normal stuff. Norman found a girl in basement just like 'one of your French girls', I mean one of the drawings in the notepad Norman found. But he managed to escape the situation thanks to none other than newly crowned best big brother ever Dylan so drama averted. Although this discovery does cause conflict between Norman and his mother, with Norma not believing that the skin-crawling Deputy Shelby could be capable of such a thing.
Another thing that causes conflict between mother and son is Norman's burgeoning relationships with females. There's a near role-reversal with Norman worried about his mother's late night antics early in the episode and then it was Norma's time to panic and search for her son. The scenes between these two are deliciously creepy and are soaked in incestuous undertones, they really do at times sound more like husband and wife than father and son.
Both Emma and Bradley make appearances with Norman meeting Emma's father in a potential boyfriend meeting girlfriend's father moment, and being told to 'be decent.' He would also go for ice cream with Bradley and then have a nervous, completely typical sex build-up with her, before then having sex like a seasoned adult. How will Emma react, or her father, having sex with someone else certainly isn't decent, and what will Norman's newly discovered sexual activity mean for his growth into 'Psycho'?
Mike Vogel's Deputy Shelby is also excellent this episode, stepping up his 'bad guy' antics, acting as slimy and sleazily as he possibly could. The fishing trip with Norman that was interrupted by the discovery of Summers' hand was cringe worthy and painful to watch. And it was Shelby who spurred on events that I think will fuel the narrative of the rest of the season by arresting Norma Bates.
This begs the question what exactly does Shelby want, what is he trying to achieve, one minute he's there for Norma protecting her, hiding the utility belt, then he's arrested her for the murder he tried to protect her from. I have a feeling Norman and Shelby will come to blows at some point, as I have a sneaking suspicion that Shelby is grooming an unsuspecting Norma for some unexpected chain and basement time!
Daniel Wood is a graduate from Bristol, who has an unhealthy obsession with crime fiction, a secret passion for superheroes and an avid love for all things fantasy. Consequently he also has a very understanding girlfriend! Follow Daniel on Twitter.
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