Bates Motel seems to be hitting its stride in episode four, “Trust Me”. For me, it was the most consistently-entertaining episode yet, although (as usual) I do have some complaints.
Following last week’s mini-cliffhanger when Norman found an Asian girl captive in Deputy Shelby’s basement, this week’s episode backtracks a bit to reveal that Dylan had followed him. How convenient; he could now provide a distraction for Norman to escape. Normally, I’d feel cheated by the coincidental set-up. However, this opens the door for the two brothers to bond later in the episode. Their relationship is becoming one of my favorite parts of the series.
Dylan exists to voice what we already know about Mrs. Bates, “She’s crazy!” It’s interesting to think that Norman had someone acting as his conscience. It allows opportunity for him to state how he feels about his mother when presented with evidence to the contrary. Consequently, this strengthens his character on the show, helping prevent him from becoming a caricature.
While the writing for Bates Motel grows stronger, its production values get weaker. A scene where Deputy Shelby takes Norman fishing suffered from one of my most distracting pet peeves. Obviously shot in front of some kind of fake background (green screen, perhaps) their bodies were clearly outlined so they stood out from the environment. With news that the series has been renewed for a second season, I hope the budget increases.
Speaking of crazy Norma Bates, she had a full-on explosion of rage when she learned that evidence of the murder in episode one was just out of her reach to conceal. As she leapt onto a locked chain link fence at the trash dump, I was almost certain she was going to vault over the razor wire instead of just hanging on and screaming. It was a little out of character for her when she’s constantly telling Norman not to worry, yet perfectly demonstrates how dangerous she can be.
This behavior makes what happens next more intriguing. Payoffs are starting to arrive from seeds that have been planted in previous episodes. The connections of Norma to Deputy Shelby to Sheriff Romero to Norman are as complicated and exciting as they’ve ever been. There’s plenty of fertile ground for future storytelling.
As the rhythm of the series gets more dependable, I almost didn’t notice the inconsistent appearance of subplots in episode four. For the second week in a row, there was no mention of the burning man in the town square. And after a big reveal last week about the marijuana field outside of town, there was nary a mention of it this week. I guess that’s how it’s going to be, so I’ll stop complaining about it.
Really, if the acting is going to be good and the stories compelling, I should comment only on what is actually delivered in each episode. It’s hard to nitpick when the overall product continues to be entertaining. The name of this episode asks, “Trust Me”. I think I will.