TV Review: Bates Motel – 202 – “Shadow of a Doubt”

I’m ashamed that it’s taken me 12 episodes of this series to realize the significance of the Bates’ basement and it’s connection to Psycho. I feel like I should get points for noticing (and appreciating) the nod to Hitchcock in this episode’s title, though. That should count for something. Right?

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Before I get on with my review, make sure you visit and bookmark the Bates Motel page of the website where you can find all of my reviews of this series.

EPISODE SPOILERS HEREIN

Nicola Peltz is the lead actress in the new Transformers movie. Expanding upon what I said in my episode one review about the writers seemingly sudden “change of heart” about the Bradley character, I want to throw out the idea that Miss Peltz just didn’t want to be in the show anymore.

I haven’t read any news or anything, but I’m kind of curious if that’s the case. It seems plausible since this is a radically different character arc than what was foreshadowed in the season finale last year. If this is an instance of an actress wanting out of the show, I have to commend the writers on an incredible job making lemonade.

Bates-Motel-Season-2-Episode-2-2I’m really impressed by how tight the storytelling is this season. We’re seeing character actions that are affecting other avenues of storytelling that you wouldn’t expect. Bradley’s father’s affair with Miss Watson triggered his death, which lead to Bradley killing Gil and inciting a war between White Pine Bay’s criminal organization. That war is now negatively affecting Dylan, whose brother murdered Miss Watson, putting pressure on the Sheriff.

There’s a little bit of interconnectivity that is really refreshing after the somewhat disjointed plot development of season one. By which I’m referring the awkward (to me) way that the plot transitioned from the Shelby arc to the Abernathy creepfest. I’m really hoping Dylan’s workplace drama plays out throughout the season. Getting a closer look at the criminal organization is great for world building and a treasure trove for suspense and drama.

I’m really eager to see what removing the defacto “head of the snake” does to the criminal infrastructure of White Pine Bay. We caught what I hope was just a glimpse of that in this episode with introduction of the psychopathic interim boss Zane.

I don’t know how long this guy is going to last but he’s kind of a douchebag. At least, the guy he murdered to send a message (and, I’m sure, start a war) probably thinks so. I could see Zane being tossed aside really quickly. I just feel like there’s a more substantial and troublesome character waiting in the wings.

466480041_640Let’s talk about Norma and Norman! I was floored when she found the pearls and, again, I have to commend the writers on not holding back. When she asked Norman about them, point blank, during the really intense scene outside of their audition, I felt like I was watching a season finale. The writers and performers really brought their A-game.

It was also a really important scene for the mother and son dynamic of the series. Norma’s reasons for being overbearing were touched on a bit last season when she asked Dylan to help her control him. But their scene in this episode was one of the first times I really saw how codependent their relationship is and how Norma’s intentions are actually quite pure. It gives a lot more depth to Norma/Norman than I expected.

Earlier in the episode, Norman talked to Bradley and she thanked him and was generally sweet toward him. This is one instance where I feel like an opportunity was missed or that the writers otherwise just dropped the ball. I’m talking about Norman. He was a little too…normal, in this episode and, especially, in this exchange.

One of the most fascinating things about the Norman Bates character is how closely his psychopathy is tied to his hormones and his attraction to women. The series takes place while he’s a teenager, so this scene should have carried a little more suspense. I’m not saying that every time Norman gets an erection he should black out and get violent, but I think a subtle stare and a cue in the score would have sufficed.

This episode had some good comic relief as well. The way Norman got the chatty cashier to shut up was hilarious to me. Not to mention, when he and Norma arrive at the audition there’s a moment where Norman awkwardly tries to shake the woman’s hand and then pulled back. It was a nice touch.

Overall, we had a really good episode for character building and world building. The episode ended with the introduction of Kenny Johnson (The Shield) as Norma’s brother. I’ll ignore the fact that he’s just randomly telling mechanics who his sister is and just say that I’m really excited to see what happens with him. Kenny Johnson is a fantastic actor and the groundwork was laid last season to ensure this is a very meaty role for him. I can’t wait.

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Late Check Out (Parting thoughts on the episode)

  • Mr. Sandman is far and away the creepiest cheerful song ever.
  • For a second, I wasn’t sure how Dylan would handle Bradley. I thought they were setting it up for him to kill her.
  • The suicide note is a nice touch, but I wonder if a miscommunication will lead Norman to think Dylan killed her?
  • The perplexed look on the pianist face in the background of Norma singing is pretty funny.
  • The show needs more Emma.
  • If you’ve never seen the FX series The Shield, find a way to watch it right now and realize why I’m excited to see Kenny Johnson in Bates Motel.

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What did you think of this episode? Let me know in the comments and make sure you check out all my other Bates Motel related posts. Also, follow me around the internet with the links below.

CHECK OUT MY EPISODE REVIEWS OF House of Cards AND UNDER THE DOME.

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One response to “TV Review: Bates Motel – 202 – “Shadow of a Doubt”

  1. Pingback: TV Review: Bates Motel – 207 – “Presumed Innocent” | The Obsessive Viewer

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