Last week’s episode of Bates Motel ended with the “not subtle enough” surprise that Norman’s DNA matched the semen sample they took from Miss Watson’s body. The episode also left us hanging on what would happen with Dylan after Zane knocked him out and left him to face the restitution of Nick Ford’s men after Zane murdered a warehouse full of Ford’s guys.
That’s where last week’s episode ended and it stands to reason that the show was going to payoff those big moments this week. That wasn’t necessarily the case, though. Instead, “Meltdown” was somewhat of a clunky episode that bridged the gap between the previous 7 episodes and the two remaining episodes of the season.
I’ll start with Romero’s storyline this episode. In the week leading up to this episode, the thought didn’t even dawn on me that Romero is living at the motel right now. It introduced a ton of potential for a dynamic shift between Romero and the Bates. For the most part, the show delivered in that regard.
There was the scene, however, when Romero asked for Norman’s help. He eventually all but interrogated the kid about the DNA. It took me out of the show for a moment because Norman is a minor and anything Romero got him to confess or say would not hold up in court. Even in the shady town of White Pine Bay, it seemed like a stretch.
My reservations were rectified somewhat, however, later in the episode. I didn’t realize that Romero’s hands are tied with the DNA evidence. I had just forgotten that he pinned the murder on Miss Watson’s boyfriend. I like the idea of Romero’s conscience eating at him. It works well to balance out the characters more aggressive tendencies.
It also makes him vulnerable. I thought for a second that Norman was going to kill him later in the episode. I like Nestor Carbonell as an actor and really enjoy the Romero character. So I’d rather not see him get killed off any time soon. Unless, of course, they replace him with another Lost alum.
This episode took a really interesting look at the relationship between Norma and Norman. Norma has been written as being so codependent on her relationship with Norman, that Norman’s dependency on her has kind of fallen by the wayside. When Norman tells her that they “aren’t what (he) thought (they were)”, I felt bad for the kid ad I was impressed with Freddie Highmore. It’s a macabre relationship and Highmore played the scene with such a great, if understated, eeriness that brought it together for me.
If I may, I’d like to jump to Dylan’s storyline now. What a letdown. I walked away from last week’s episode hoping that something big would happen with Dylan this week. Zane had left him semi-conscious outside of a massacre at the opposing crew’s warehouse. There are so many avenues the writers could have taken Dylan down. I assumed he would be held captive by Ford or even taken into custody by Romero to be made as the fall guy for the operation. Or they could have even made Romero’s overzealous deputy be the first on the scene.
Instead, Dylan woke up and left. He went to Jody’s and together with Zane, the three discussed what their next move will be. No attention whatsoever is paid to the fact that Zane knocked Dylan out and left him for dead. This was my biggest gripe with this episode. A confrontation between Dylan and Zane is really all the episode needed. Maybe there was one that ended up being a deleted scene? If that’s the case, what possible reason would they have for cutting it?
This really felt like another instance of the writers planning on going one way and then switching up midstream.
Later in the episode, Jody gave the okay for Dylan kill her brother. This came after Romero went after Dylan and after Dylan met with Ford. If Dylan is under so much pressure, I think a restructuring in the organization is to come. I’m wondering if Zane will die and Jody will give Dylan a promotion. Maybe that’s why there was a scene with Dylan in his office; to show us how much his position has grown in 2 seasons and make it easier for us to accept a rapid rise for Dylan in season 3.
When it comes to the prospect of killing off Zane, Dylan is in a tough spot with Ford. The viewer isn’t quite in the same shoes, though. I’m all for Zane dying. I don’t have any attachment to the character except for how killing him will blowback on Dylan. I see this as another fault in the show’s writing. If they hadn’t made such an effort to make Zane a loose cannon and out of control, I would feel more tension about Dylan’s choice.
Another instance of peculiar writing in the show is the Nick Ford character. In the scene where he’s asking Norma to set up a meet with Dylan, he’s intense and somewhat intimidating, but then he offers up parenting advice and gives Norma an insight into his personal torment over being estranged from his daughter. It’s a strange inconsistency that took me out of the scene.
Later in the episode, Ford spelled out to Norma that she’s too stupid to realize she’s beholden to him. That scene was satisfying. I’m glad to see someone tell her that she’s got blinders on. The way she name dropped Romero lightened the tension a little, in a good way.
Elsewhere for Norma, she had an eventful date with George. Michael Vartan was a little hollow in his delivery in the scene when he asked Norma out, though. At the time, I felt like it was so on the nose that it had to be George’s delivery that’s was hollow and not Vartan’s. It made me feel uncomfortable on both sides of the coin. On one hand, if it was an acting choice from Vartan, it’s a problem with his performance. On the other, if it was George concealing his true nature, it was so obvious that even someone as naive as Norma should have been able to see it.
The way Norma tried to make Norman jealous of her date with George was another weird development in their mother/son relationship. It’s a good indicator that the trust has been broken between them, however.
As for Norma’s actual date, it was another really great window into Norma’s character. She has such deep self-esteem issues and they really came through in her scene at George’s house. It doesn’t help her psyche either that Norman’s distance really eats at her in a way that she can’t even function in a social situation.
I wonder what she will do once it’s clear that Norman has been abducted.
Overall this was a satisfying episode, I guess. It was a bit clunky in the writing. In all honesty, I fully expected it to end with Norma being abducted by George as well. That didn’t happen, though. Maybe George is on the up and up after all. If that’s the case, Vartan’s performance and the overall writing of the show is really called into question. He shouldn’t have been written so mysteriously if there is no reason for it.
There are only two episodes left this season. After this episode, I think we need some more Emma.
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.