Shadow of a Doubt – Season Two, Episode Two – original air date 3/10/2014
Season Two of Bates Motel got off to a pretty good start in the first episode of the new season, picking up right where season one left off. The story lines are intriguing, the characters interesting. I wonder now, just as I wondered when this show began, just how long will this show be able to sustain any intensity, and a dramatic arc, when we already know there is no happy ending in store for anyone in the Bates family. I thought about this a lot during this newest episode of season two, which was far less satisfying to me than the first episode.
As far as storylines go, there are several threads at work. Bradley is hiding in the basement, having killed the drug kingpin Gil, who she believes is responsible for her father’s death. Norman buys Bradley a bus ticket, and is going to drive her to the bus station in an adjacent town. Just where Bradley is planning to go and what she is planning to do is never made clear. But she lays low, waiting for her time of departure.
Meanwhile, in the drug world, Gil’s replacement arrives, and this is a character that is designed to be disliked by everyone. He screams “major douche”, from his hairstyle, to his dress, to his manner of speech. It’s hard to believe a guy like this could have climbed to middle management in the drug world without being killed by someone. So it turns out that White Pine Bay has not only one, but two families in the drug trade? And Major Douche decides that the other family must have offed Gil, so he kidnaps someone from the other crew, and kills him, in front of Dylan. Is this going to turn into a Hatfield v. McCoy standoff? Seems a little far-fetched. And I’m not sure if Sheriff Romero is intriguing and enigmatic, or just poorly written. He was pretty badass when he took care of Abernathy in season one. Now at times he seems to be a lackey for the druglords. Hopefully there will be some resolution with his character.
And finally we have the mother/son relationship with Norma and Norman, by far the most interesting storyline in this episode. Ultimately, this harkens back to what Psycho was all about. It can be by turns creepy, humorous, and touching. Who else but Norma Bates would ask her doctor about her son during a gynecological exam? Norma also has one of her strongest moments in the series, when she sings “Maybe This Time” at an audition for the local community theater, pouring all of her emotions into her performance, and stunning everyone, Norman included.
The episode ends with Dylan taking Bradley to the bus stop, first asking her to compose a suicide note. And the Bates family tree expands with the arrival of Norma’s brother. I’m assuming this is the same brother that used to abuse her, so he probably won’t be welcomed with open arms.