TV Review: Bates Motel – 207 – “Presumed Innocent”

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You can read my review of every Bates Motel episode here!

How about that? For a change, I’m not posting this review on Monday, mere hours before the next episode airs. I’m kind of proud of that but that’s neither here nor there. Some big things happened this week that will usher in the end of the season in a few weeks. Read my thoughts below.

But BEWARE of SPOILERS!

I keep forgetting to say how much I like the music. Like the show itself, the score is something of a modern echo of the source material. The influence is clearly present, but the show’s music department is clearly making the score their own.

bates norman and norma“Presumed Innocent” was as much an episode about Norman’s mental well-being as it was about Norma’s overbearing urge to protect her son. In fact, I think it may have been more so about the latter than the former. In contrast to her eagerness to keep Norman from getting his license last week, Norma acted more as a mother wanting to keep her son out of trouble this week. They are two sides of the same overbearing coin, though.

Norma spent the bulk of the episode in the police station trying to convince Norman and Cody not to speak about Norman’s blackouts. Given what she knows about (and is hiding from) Norman, she was genuinely acting in her son’s best interest and the episode was all the better for it. Norma’s immediate reaction when Romero gave her the news was to ask how Cody’s died. From there I could tell this would be a Vera Farmiga centric episode.

bates norma and romeroIt’s always a good thing when Farmiga can do her thing. She really makes the role for me. In fact, she plays the codependent, overbearing mother so well that I don’t know if the show could have survived without her in the Norma role. She’s really and truly made it her own and I love it when the writers throw strong material at her.

It makes me still wish that the writers would do the same for Olivia Cooke, though. This episode was a marked improvement, but I fear that since there are only three episodes left in the season, any good character development for Emma will most likely be pushed to season 3.

bates norma and emmaI did like her scene with Norma. Emma is trying so hard to be involved with the Bates family. The best thing about it is that it’s not annoying or overdone. It’s actually kind of sweet once you realize she’s really just looking for a mother figure in Norma. I’m still banking on her weed selling boyfriend whose name I’ve already forgotten (Gil? Garret? Oh yeah, it’s Gunner) is going to be killed before the end of the season as retribution for Zane’s rogue behavior. Though, if they drag Emma down a dark path next season it may be a bit too reminiscent of Bradley.

bates dylan and emmaEmma’s speech to Dylan made me nervous that she would solely function this week as a catalyst to make Dylan repair his relationship with Norma. Luckily, that wasn’t the case. Instead of repairing his relationship with Norma, Dylan got pistol whipped and left at Nick Ford’s warehouse by Zane.

Let me back up.

I enjoyed Zane this episode. He’s so unpredictable that he almost lets the viewer forgive the slightly over the top nature of the character. This week’s arc for Zane was compelling. I genuinely wasn’t sure where the story was headed. I was actually a little let down by the reveal of the hit on Ford’s warehouse, but the scenes between Zane and Dylan about Zane’s sister (whose name is Jody, apparently) made up for the somewhat weak pay off. As I said, Zane is unpredictable and I didn’t expect him to be as up front about Jody to Dylan as he was.

Having said that, I do still wish the Dylan and Jody subplot last week would have turned out to be a Misery-esque prisoner situation. It would have been really compelling if the woman claiming to be the boss of the operation was actually an employee of Ford who was keeping Dylan as a hostage. I’ll have to let that go and chalk up my needless expectations to faults in the writing (they were really vague about Jody last week and made it a point to tell us how secluded her house is; come on).

bates romero and deputyWhere last week telegraphed the wrong things, this week’s big twist was also way too obvious. The second we saw Norman getting swabbed by the “Norma Bates of overbearing Sheriff’s deputies,” I instantly remembered that he left DNA behind at Miss Watson’s house. That’s okay, though. It’s perfectly fine and, in fact, the whole scenario is indicative of good story structure and season plotting on the writers’ part. But the episode paid so much extra attention to the DNA sample that it deprived me of the “wow” factor of the twist at the end.

As for Cody this week, she was sent off to Indiana in a little too “clean” a fashion. Considering Caleb’s sudden exodus from the show earlier in the season (not to mention Bradley), the writers seem to be in the habit of writing in characters and story arcs solely for the benefit of the main storyline. I guess it makes sense, being a cable series with 10 episode seasons.

It just leaves a lot to be desired when characters are written out of the show when they’ve served a minimum storytelling purpose rather than reaching their natural conclusion.

bates codyBefore Cody left White Pine Bay forever she warned Norman about the secret his mother is keeping regarding his blackouts. Well, actually, she did that after speaking somewhat sarcastically about Indiana. Fuck you Cody, like Oregon is so great.

In the ensuing confrontation with Norman, Norma admitted to keeping something from him but refused to discuss it further at all. This felt a bit like a cop out to me. Unless they drastically change Norman’s self-awareness from Psycho, we know he’s not going to find out he’s a deranged killer. So to create a situation in which the tension is built around the possibility of Norma telling Norman a truth that we know he doesn’t find out just seems really cheap.

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All in all, though, it was a good episode that was driven by Vera Farmiga’s performance. We only have three episodes left this season. Given Dylan’s current predicament, I’m left wondering if he’s going to find away to turn on Zane and align himself with Ford. If so, I wonder what that will mean for Remo. And how will things be affected now that it looks like Norman killed Miss Watson? One thing’s for sure (probably…maybe) though: Gunner is maybe, probably, going to die. Possibly. That’s my one prediction for the season’s end run.

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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.

You can get the episode on Amazon and iTunes.

CHECK OUT MY EPISODE REVIEWS OF HOUSE OF CARDS AND UNDER THE DOME.

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