TV Show Review

TV Review: BATES MOTEL: Season 2, Episode 8: Meltdown [A&E]

Freddie Highmore Vera Farmiga Bates Motel Meltdown

A&E’s Bates Motel Meltdown TV Show Review. Bates Motel: Season 2, Episode 8: Meltdown held harbingers of future events. Those being introduced to Norman Bates (Freddie Highmore) and his complicated relationship with his mother for the first time, only need look as far as the suggestion by Norma Bates (Vera Farmiga) of having “date night” and watching “Double Indemnity” as a foreshadowing of things to come. “Double Indemnity” is a 1944 Hollywood film noir classic by Billy Wilder about an insurance salesman lured to his doom by a predatory femme fatale. Both characters wind up psychologically destroying one another…and killing each other in the end.

At the top of this chapter, Nick Ford (Michael O’Neill) made an imposing entrance into the lobby of the Bates Motel and closed the door behind him, he suggested to Norma that she arrange a meeting between himself and Dylan Massett (Max Thieriot). Norma told him that she and her son weren’t on speaking terms. He stressed that she ought to speak to her son while she still could. A suggestion that might indicate that something unfortunate could happen to Dylan, or more likely, spoke to the fact that she ought to tell Norman about what is actually going on with him…while she still can.

Dylan’s role in this entire saga is finally revealing itself (and we are relieved the drug plot is coming to fruition along with the rest of the story). From this point on, his actions will have tangible repercussions on White Pine Bay…and his mother and brother. The investigation at Nick Ford’s warehouse has Sheriff Romero (Nestor Carbonell)’s team looking for Zane Carpenter (Michael Eklund). Norma reluctantly went to see Dylan about meeting up with Ford, and told him they had much more to talk about, he was not ready. Dylan ultimately met up with Ford, who told him to take Zane down before a drug war ensued. Later in the episode, Jodi Wilson (Kathleen Robertson) confronted Dylan and told him that if he needed to do something about Zane that he should do it. This puts Dylan in a very powerful position, and a dangerous one. He can stop the warring drug families and keep his family safe…if he kills Zane. Max Thieriot is an exceptional actor, very adept at handling scenes with often very little dialogue. He listens to other characters with such a great intensity, you can almost hear his inner monologues.

Back at the Motel, Romero needed to get Norman alone to ask about Miss Watson. The writers chose to have the scene take place in the shower, as Romero faked needing help putting up a curtain rod. There must be significance here, however it is not clear in this storyline specifically. Perhaps just an obvious foretelling of what Psycho fans knows is yet to come. Romero asked Norman if Miss Watson seemed stable. Because of his fugue states, he doesn’t see where this line of questioning is leading. Norman mentioned that she sometime seemed sad and lost. Later, Romero confronted Norman about finding his DNA in Miss Watson. Norman vehemently denied ever sleeping with her. He ran away and up to his house, as if he trying to run away from himself. The writers made a spectacular choice with that visual here.

Norman is hurt that his mother is withholding information about him, information that could possibly help him understand himself and the chaos that seems to be finding him everywhere. Norma was hurt and surprised when Norman didn’t seem to care that she was going on a date with George Heldens (Michael Vartan). She couldn’t make it through the evening and came home, but Norman was not interested in what she has to say. He told her that things were different between them now, that he didn’t trust her and that what they had before was all a game. Norman was putting it all together there on the stairs, he told Norma that she was upset because he was being his own person with his own secrets. He would not be manipulated any longer. Norman turned on his heels and locked himself in his room…locking Norma out.

“Meltdown” is a fitting title for this episode as it has so many connotations. Norma is losing her grip, or perhaps has already lost her grip on Norman. His detached aloofness from the top of the episode (made more evident in the living room when he nonchalantly brought in his taxidermy sculptures as decoration with a covered disregard for his mother’s discomfort), visibly got under her skin. She folded at George’s, ‘giving up the farm’ about her personal life. Then became completely unhinged outside Norman’s bedroom after discovering he had locked the door. And then there is Norman, doesn’t know what is actually happening to him. He has lost trust with the one person he has relied on his whole life, people are dying and he blacks out often enough to lie about it. Individually and collectively, they are crashing.

By the end of this solid chapter, Norman was kidnapped by Nick Ford’s thugs… hence setting up the final two episodes of this consuming tale of the Bates family.

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