Monday, March 25, 2013

Nice Town You Picked Norma: Bates Motel Episode 2 (spoilers)

So tonight was episode two of A&E's new show Bates Motel.  Now after the first episode I was left on the fence.  The show is quite entertaining, well directed, well acted and even well written, but as I said in my last post, the show has a lot to live up to.  We're talking Psycho here, one of the greatest horror/suspense films of all time directed by the most famous horror/suspense movie director of all time Alfred Hitchcock.  That's taking on a lot... especially when modernizing it.  But I have to say I find the show is sucking me in, even if I want to judge it against Psycho.

The opening scene was fantastic.  We see Norman looking at the creepy anime-esque book he found in one of the rooms.  He is looking at a shower scene while clicking a flashlight on and off.  Brilliant use of foreshadow, forever reminding the audience of the life this character is going to lead, which is smart on the part of the director.  The modernness of the show could throw people off, we must constantly be reminded of who Norman Bates is going to become.

Anyway, as Norman is being creepy his brother Dylan shows up and brings high tension even higher.  He keeps calling his mother "Norma" and making it clear that he hates her.  Even Norman seems to hate his brother, storming off to the bus stop after exchanging un-pleasantries with Dylan.  Breaking from the plot for a moment, I have to commend Freddie Highmore on his mannerisms as Bates.  He has a great awkward stiffness  even when he walks I just adore it.  There is something about the way he sets his shoulders that really gets me... I really see Norman.
He meets Bradley at the bus stop and then we see a personable Norman.  I wonder if that is a trait Norman will shake off as the seasons go by because Bates in the movie is almost always awkward around people, seeming to want to jump out of his skin at the sight of another person.  But with Bradley he is very kind and very nearly warm.

Anyhow as they wait for the bus a car comes careening in.  One of the girls thinks the driver is drunk, but Bradly realizes its her dad's car as he crashes.  Norman rips the car door open, but instead of seeing and inebriated man, we see Bradly's dad really really badly burned.  What the fuck?  Turns out he owns a warehouse and somebody set fire to it.  Norma and Dylan stand around the accident and you can't help but feel like Dylan did it.  There is no evidence of that, but it's just a weird feeling I had.

As the accident is being investigated, the car of the man Norma killed is found.  Vera is FANTASTIC in this scene you can see the fear in her eyes as Sheriff Romeo basically accuses her then and there.  She stumbles and is all over the place as she is berated with questions and the tension builds and builds until you want to jump out a window.  Awesome.

Norma asks Dylan to go pick up linens but he ends up at a strip club.  As he watches the half naked women dance he notices a man crying.  At first the weepy man gets defensive, but quickly changes his tune admitting that Bradley's dad was his boss and he is broken up about what has happened.  Feeling bad, he pays for Dylan's drink with a buttload of cash.  Dylan asks where the money came from, and later on in the episode gets caught up in some shady business.  Not sure what it is yet, but he was asked if he knew how to use a gun.  Dun Dun Dunnnnn.  Also as a side note, we find out Dylan is not actually Norman's full brother but his half brother.  Norma left Dylan's father for Norman's.  More, DUN DUN DUNNNNSSSS.

So, even after seeing a man nearly burned to death in his car, Norman goes to school.  Alright.  He get's paired up with Emma (the girl with CF) and she comes over after school.  Now this scene was ah-mah-zing.  When Emma goes to Norman's house for the the project she walks in on Norman and Norma scrubbing the kitchen.  It isn't really that weird as long as you are blind to the fact that they are trying to erase all evidence of a man being stabbed to death there.  Amazing, wonderful, uber-talented Vera gives us NORMA BATES.  This is the woman who makes her son a psycho   The way she questions Emma about everything from her last name to her life expectancy is insane.  It was just words but I literally got the goosebumps I was so creeped out.  Oh, so good.  And when Dylan jokes about them making out the look on Norma's face... oh my God so good.  I can't.  I can't.

Emma and Norman have a pretty boring scene.  As Emma waxes poetic she finds Norman's book.  Emma falls in love with it (it WAS Manga!) and takes it home with her.

The next cut is really weird as we find Norma sexily putting on lotion.  We find she has a pretty intense scar on her thigh.  Her eyes linger on it and we can see her reliving some moment until the doorbell rings.  Norma finds the cops at the door and Sheriff Romero really railroads her.  Norma gets caught in some of her lies and the scene is so intense I am nearly brought to tears.  Norma takes to flirting with Deputy Shelby who takes her for coffee and a very 60s looking dinner that I ADORED it looked like something that was in psycho.  Shelby round-a-boutly asks Norma to the most Hick sounding festival of all time.

Norma gets dolled up for her date that's not a date and sort of flounces around Norman.  Norman is not happy about her going on a date even if she assures him that she is just doing it to protect them from suspicion.  Norman then proceeds to change her shirt in front of her son and he gets really weird about it.  I mean, like, turned on.  Norma reads it as awkwardness and remarks "I'm your mother, it's not like it's weird or anything," BUT YES ITS FUCKING WEIRD.  They then sit in the bed and a swear they are about to kiss and I am dying and I am loving this show.  Soooo creepy soooo good.

While Norma is at the fair, Dylan comes home as Norman is heating up dinner.  Dylan's phone rings and Norman sees that "The Whore" is calling.  Turns out the whore is Mom.  Norman freaks out and comes at Dylan but isn't able to overpower his big half-brother.  When Dylan turns away Norman... well... GOES FUCKING PSYCHO RUNNING AT HIM WITH A FUCKING MALLET!  HE IS GOING TO KILL HIM!  HOLY SHIT, HOLY SHIT!  But, whew, Dylan steps out of the way just in time and cold cocks his brother.  "She's not a whore." Norman mumbles on the ground.   OOOoooooooo.

Norma sees Norman's bruise and promises to kick Dylan out.  Norman gets an urgent text from Emma and goes to her father's shop to meet her.  Norman walks through the taxidermy shop and... OH SHIT I JUST REALIZED TAXIDERMY OH FUCK.  That's literally how I reacted mid-scene.  Well Norman had to get into it somehow.  Anyway it turns out Emma has translated Norman's book and thinks its a true story about sex slaves from Japan and wants to find the body of one of the girls who was killed and buried in the mountains.  Then she out of the blue kisses Norman, stares at him intently and moves on.  Norman looks over the moon.

So here is where I get kind of unhappy with the episode.  Norman and Emma go to the mountain where they think one of the sex slaves may be buried   Emma can't keep up, panting and coughing but she insists on finding this body.  Unfortunately they stumble across a weed field and are forced to run from men with guns.  This is not the type of tension i want from this show, Psycho deserves something more psychological not a chase scene with guns and a girl who can't breath.  I can watch Person of Interest for that kind of tension.

The final image we are left with is everybody in the town moving like a hoard of zombies.  Norma is in her car and their is a crowd gathering in front of her as cops move traffic forward.  There is a burning body is hanging upside down from a flag post.  Norma has a panic attack.  WHO IS THE BURNNING MAN!? WTF IS HAPPENING IN THE TOWN!

Okay Bates Motel.  You got me.  Let's do this.  Just no more chase scenes okay?