It took until the last few minutes of the third episode of Bates Motel, but we finally got our first twist. I didn’t see it coming, and I don’t want to spoil it, but let’s just say it transfers any previous reservations I had about a character onto an unexpected one.
It also adds complicated layers to a developing relationship and puts our young hero, if that’s what you want to call Norman Bates, into danger, setting up an intriguing next episode.
However, if next week’s episode begins like this week’s, it will not even address the events of the last one until midway through the show with a throwaway conversation. Last week we were left hanging, literally, with a burning man strung up in town square. In episode three, it seems not to have happened until thrown in as a partial explanation about the giant marijuana field on the other side of the woods. There’s no visual aftermath or conversation among major characters.
My complaint last week was that the series needs to focus on the other townspeople because it can’t sustain itself with Norman-centric episodes every week. After episode three, though, it seems like that’s not going to happen. A pattern is emerging where the Bates family does indeed steal the spotlight while details about everyone else slowly emerge over several episodes. That’s fine this week, because Norman’s story is fairly compelling.
It seems that he now suffers from blackouts. In fact, he has been having them prior to episode three, because now he has no memory of trying to kill his half-brother. But this is the first time we see him physically pass out. This results in a quick trip to the hospital where everything checks out o.k. They surely didn’t give him a mental evaluation, though, because the doctors might have thought it odd that he saved as a “souvenir” the belt from the man his mother killed in the pilot.
The scene where Norma whisks her son out of the hospital is quite funny, and that’s something else I liked about episode three: it has quite a bit more humor than previous weeks. For example, Dylan (the aforementioned half-brother) greets Norma and Norman in the kitchen with, “Good morning Mr. and Mrs. Bates.” Also, Emma continues to drag her oxygen tank behind her like luggage with a broken wheel, carelessly banging it into whatever obstacle she crosses.
My hopes are back up for Bates Motel. I don’t mind the episode structure as long as there’s a takeaway with each one, like episode three’s twist. While the other characters still take a backseat to the Bates family, they’re at least better integrated now so that their actions have a reciprocal effect. If you’ve been sitting on the fence, now would be a good time to hop off; it seems like fun things may be starting to happen.