The Man in Number 9 – Episode 7 – original airdate 4/29/2013
So how does this show follow up what was far and away the best episode to date? By scaling back on the tension and giving viewers a much-needed breather.
The messy showdown in episode 6 is cleaned up very tidily in about two minutes. When did Sheriff Romero become such a nice, understanding guy? And what about that poor Asian girl? Turns out she was just a MacGuffin, which in Hitchcockian parlance means a plot device used to advance the story, without necessarily adding any intrinsic value to the story. So much time was spent trying to find her, to protect her, without ever giving her a real identity, and in the end she is wasted offscreen, and casually referenced once in this episode. How sad.
And suddenly its all laughs and smiles in the Bates household. But not for long.
This episode focuses on Norman’s relationships with several females: his mother, Bradley, Emma, and a dog named Juno. Vera Farmiga’s portrayal of Norma is eerily good. Norma is a woman whose mood can turn on a dime, and Farmiga shows these sudden changes without ever sinking to mere charicature. Norma has become the master of the awkward embrace. Bradley is as distant to the viewer as she is to Norman, hard to dislike, hard to understand. Emma has rapidly become my favorite character on the show, and I can only hope her role will grow. She describes Bradley as a “locomotive of sexual energy”, with a mix of distaste and envy in her voice that made me smile.
And we meet the first guest in the newly renovated Bates Motel, a strange guy who had a standing arrangement with the previous dirtbag owner Keith, to stay one week every other month. Jake Abernathy is a guy who “likes his privacy”, pays cash in advance, and responds with nervous laughter when Norma asks if he’s up to anything illegal. Jere Burns, the actor who plays Abernathy, should look to familiar to fans of “Breaking Bad”; Burns played the guy who ran the twelve-step program that Jesse attended.
Chances are we haven’t seen the last of him. Ultimately this was just a transitional episode, demonstrating that the
shows’ writers have a good sense of pacing. And what about that dog? Thinking back to the original “Psycho” film, something tells me we haven’t seen the last of her. What will next week bring?