During this week’s live broadcast of Bates Motel, series co-creator Carlton Cuse (Lost) tweeted the comments his mother made while watching the episode with him. I present several of them here because they uncannily mirror the critical thoughts I had about the episode, as well as possibly expose its flaws. (Plus, they’re really funny.)
First, I must relate my biggest problem with episode seven, “The Man in Number 9”. If last week’s episode was a roller coaster, this week’s was the part where the car comes to a sudden halt at the end of the ride. Before the opening titles even appeared, everything that came before was apparently wrapped up in a head-scratching turnaround by mysterious (to me) Sheriff Romero (Nestor Carbonell).
Cuse’s tweeted, “Mom: Oh. Carbonell. Does he have a gun on him??!”, to which I reply that it didn’t really matter. He listened to Norma’s story, then told her, Norman and Dylan what the official story was going to be, and then we neither saw nor heard from him the rest of the show. Why? That’s left entirely up to the audience to decide, I guess. At this time, Bates Motel doesn’t seem to want to explain his actions.
This did set up a couple of wonderful moments, though. Dylan was offended that he didn’t get any credit for saving the family. Then, as Norma happily and tearfully embraced Norman in perhaps inappropriate ways, Dylan made a facial expression that perfectly explained how he feels about their relationship. It was as revealing as it was hilarious.
Post-opening titles, the episode focused on two entirely different plot points: the relationship between Norman and Bradley and the appearance of a stranger at the motel. During an erotic dream Norman was having about the classmate with whom he had sex, Cuse tweeted, “re: sex scene. Mom: Is this an ad? No. Ohmygod! Norman!!!”
Then, when it was obvious to everyone but Norman that Bradley did not reciprocate his feelings towards her, Cuse tweeted, “Mom: Poor Norman. He thinks this girl is going to have some loyalty to him, but she doesn’t at all! (then) Yup.” But there seemed to be a little electricity when Dylan met Bradley, to which Cuse tweeted, “Mom: Watch this! She’s going to be attracted to Dylan” and “Mom: (RE: Dylan/Bradley) See?! Poor Norman! That’s a one night stand!” It’s predictable and soapy, yes; but, potentially worth it to see what happens when Norman finds out.
As for the man who appeared requesting his “usual arrangement” for room number 9 one week every two months, Cuse tweeted, “Mom: See, I think he’s a customer for the sex slaves…” Ah, that could explain it. But just when I thought the show was getting sloppy with the details (Cuse tweeted, “Mom: What about the money? He didn’t register! What kind of motel is this?”), it recovered after the commercial by having Dylan knock on the door to collect his information. “Mom: Right, he needs to register. Don’t you just adore Dylan?”
My favorite tweet of the night was, “Mom: Ohmygod! If he hits the dog with the hammer I’m outta here!” Yeah, it looked like Norman was going to kill the stray dog he found under the motel. Instead, he became attached to it, which made what happened in the final scene pretty tragic for him. “Mom: Oh my god, we’re gonna have a stuffed Juno?!?!?”
My favorite line of the episode itself was when Emma described Bradley to Norma, “She’s like a locomotive of sexual energy.” A close second was when Norman told his mother that families get dogs because “that’s normal”. Like he would know what “normal” was! The weakest episode of the series, yet episode seven was still pretty darned entertaining. Bates Motel continues to be a reason to actually love Mondays.