TV Show Review

TV Review: BATES MOTEL: Season 2, Episode 9: The Box [A&E]

Freddie Highmore Bates Motel The Box

A&Es Bates Motel The Box TV Show Review. Bates Motel: Season 2, Episode 9: The Box started with Norman Bates’ (Freddie Highmore) kidnappers as they drove him into the wet forest and padlocked him inside a metal box. His questioning of his kidnappers and his exclamation that “he went to high school” was perhaps the last remaining glimmer of his boyish innocence. He cried out and fought to get out of an impossible situation, forced and bound, locked in a box with himself.

Norma Bates (Vera Farmiga) grew frantic when she discovered Norman was not in his room, and nowhere to be found. She questioned Emma Decody (Olivia Cooke) and made phone calls to Norman’s cell demanding he return the calls…to no avail. It was not until the phone call from Nick Ford (Michael O’Neill) that she understood what had happened to her son. She drove madly to Dylan Massett’s (Max Thieriot) to convince him to do what Ford wanted. When Dylan told her that what he wanted was for Dylan to kill Zane Carpenter (Michael Ecklund)…Norma told him to do it. Vera Farmiga is masterful in this scene. She regularly has a bounty of subtext going on, and in this scene it literally pours out of her as she struggles with her characters emotional complexities.

Alex Romero (Nestor Carbonell) asked his father’s ex-partner Declan Rogers (guest star Francis X. McCarthy) to run a polygraph on “a kid”, off the record. He then spent the rest of the episode trying to track Norman down. Romero caught up with Norma and revealed that there were two sperm samples found inside of Blair Watson, one of them was Norman’s. Norma lied and said that Norman was quite sick and she didn’t want to disturb him. Romero pressed her, letting her know that he was no longer asking, that this discovery of DNA wasn’t going anywhere. She promised to contact him as soon as Norman was feeling “up to it.” Once inside the house and behind closed doors, Norma crumbled to the floor. Vera Farmiga’s utter exhaustion and panic attack inside the door of the house is authentic and terrifying. She plays coming “unglued” precisely.

It was Norman’s confinement in “The Box” this episode that made for the most irrevocable discovery of the whole series. Norman’s monologue about “the average guys, the John Does” was spectacularly written, and expertly performed by Freddie Highmore. There was something deeply frightening about his understanding of his “truth” and the power he might wield with it in the future. After some time, his captors came to bring him food, Norman took the opportunity to attempt to escape. It was an excellent metaphor…he couldn’t run from himself. He was caught (with Miss Watson’s pearl necklace and the newspaper clipping that had fallen out of his pocket) and locked back up again. It was being trapped inside with his own mind and dormant memories that lead to his recognition, he was the killer of Blair Watson (Keegan Connor Tracy.)

The drug war storyline has never been particularly fascinating, but has finally woven the three main characters into the dangerous overall plot. Each member must take some blame. Norma blames Dylan for Norman’s kidnapping, since he is working in the Morgan drug business. And Dylan blames Norma, as he expressly told her not to get involved with Nick Ford and did any way. And Norman, by way of murder.

Dylan went to Nick Ford’s to explain that Zane was still alive, that he had tried but was not able to get to him because he had a posse of armed thugs protecting him. Ford asked and Dylan told him where Zane was hiding, and that to succeed they would need to have a “bunch of guys” for back-up. Ford wasn’t happy with the news, cocked his gun and told Dylan to go “outside.” Dylan wasn’t going so easily, in a bloody scuffle with a fireplace poker he managed to whack Nick Ford squarely in the face and killed him.

At the conclusion of this outstanding chapter, Romero forced his way in to the Bates’ home and Norma had no choice but to tell him about Nick Ford kidnapping Norman and demanding Dylan to kill Zane. Alex Romero has always known more than we do about the dynamics in White Pine Bay, and may be able to save Norman…at least temporarily.

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