TV Show Review

TV Review: BATES MOTEL: Season 2, Episode 5: The Escape Artist [A&E]

Max Thieriot Bates Motel The Escape Artist

A&Es Bates Motel The Escape Artist TV Show Review. Bates Motel: Season 2, Episode 5: The Escape Artist seemed to be the major turning point in season 2 of Bates Motel. In this fifth installment, young love blossomed and the foreshadowing of disastrous things to come was palpable. Not one of these blooming relationships is going to end well…and how could they? This IS the story of Norman Bates and his infamous mother.

The episode opened with Cody Brennan (Paloma Kwiatkowski) waiting for Norman Bates (Freddie Highmore) to “come to” from one of his black outs. She being the person called to pick him up as she had etched her number in ink on his arm the day before. Later in the episode she picked him up from the motel and Norma Bates (Vera Farmiga) could not have been less thrilled. (Vera Farmiga tells Norma’s inner life with a searing, bulls-eye glance in the young girl’s direction.) Hell will freeze over before Norma will let any woman between her and her son…period. We know this is not going to go well for Cody, one way or another.

As they drove to the theater for some tech work, Cody realized she had forgotten money that the producers gave her for lumber and needed to swing by her house to pick it up. She asked Norman to stay in the car…and of course he did not. (Freddie Highmore acts with a perfect balance of compassionate discovery and inevitable, emotional unraveling.) As we watched Norman edge up close to the house and the sounds of a ranting, raging father could be heard through the walls, it was clear that Cody’s home life might be far too similar to Norma’s past for Norman’s comfort. Cody then took Norman to a secret hideaway, where the two explored their building rapport and became physically intimate. Norman confided in Cody that he sometimes blacks out and doesn’t remember what happens. This is going to be a difficult relationship to end with this shared secret…and Norma is not going to like it.

Norma decided to form an alliance and made that phone call to Nick Ford (Michael O’Neill), who she thinks is genuinely interested in stopping the bypass along with her. Completely unaware of just how enmeshed he is in White Pine’s drug business, Norma agreed to meet Nick on his yacht. He wholeheartedly explained that Norma was a young, single mother and a business owner, and the perfect person to go up against the council to stop the bypass. Nick suggested that he would like to support her and wrote down the name of someone she should go and see to begin the process. Norma, an innocent at times, seemed to be completely unaware that she was being played like a fiddle and old Nick was up to something altogether insidious.

The most poignant moment of the episode was the scene where young Emma Decody (Olivia Cooke) asked Norma about what it was like “the first time?” (Emma now seeing the young, good-looking pot dealer staying at the motel.) Norma had lost her virginity to her brother who raped her, and yet knows what it should have been like and shared that quite tenderly with Emma. (The subtext in Vera Framiga’s face is rich with conflict and tenderness.) The moment created a sweetness and a respite from the overall chilling storyline.

A curious juxtaposition was observed when Sheriff Alex Romero’s (Nestor Carbonell) found himself in the lobby of the Bates Motel looking for a room for an indefinite stay. Someone had torched his house and he needed shelter…Norma to the rescue? From the beginning there has been romantic tension between Norma and Romero. Both intensely passionate with loads of secrets between them, they are an excellent erotic development from the writers.

The drug business continued to boil over and darken. Romero hunted down and beat Zane Carpenter (Michael Eklund) into a bloody mess. It seemed obvious that it was not Zane that caused Romero’s house fire, rather the rival drug dealers caused the inferno knowing that Zane would be blamed for it.

Out on the street Dylan Massett (Max Thieriot) is hit by the car that nearly killed Zane. In the hospital, out of the shadows, Dylan is confronted by Zane’s sister (Kathleen Robertson.) Apparently his “real boss”… this can’t be good.

A well played, uncomplicated episode that presented the beginning of the end of several characters…and the beginning of the unraveling of Norman Bates.

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Eden Tirl

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