Bates Motel – “Caleb”


Caleb – Season Two, episode 3 – original air date 3/17/2014

The third episode of Bates Motel is very solid overall, and the writers deserve a shout out.  However, it must be said up front:  when Norma’s brother  Caleb (played by Kenny Johnson) arrived at the motel, and he and Dylan approached each other awkwardly, and stood talking, was there anyone who did not immediately realize that Caleb was Dylan’s daddy?   It was rather obvious from the first moment, apparently to everybody except Dylan.  I thought maybe even he might have had a suspicion, but it was clear from the look of shock on his face in the last scene that he did not.   So that last-minute reveal was no reveal at all, and now this series has taken a left turn into Chinatown.  He’s your uncle.  He’s your father.  He’s your uncle and your father.    Holy crap!  Poor Norma; it is amazing the amount of shit she has had to deal with, and the way she continually tries to find a way to provide a “normal” life for her children is admirable, as is the performance of Vera Farmiga.  She simply couldn’t be better.

This episode focuses on several characters meeting new people, creating new relationships.  And the episode is bookended by the reminders of the past, in Norma’s brother Caleb, the past that she just can’t seem to outrun.    Of course Norma did not get the lead in the play, as a matter of fact she got no part at all.   That’s small town politics for you.  Especially this small town.  The play’s director Christine (Rebecca Creskoff) quits in protest, and befriends Norma.   When she invites Norma to her garden party, we are worried for Norma.  Dear God, how is her crazy going to manifest itself this time?   But that is not the case.  Norma is very nervous, but handles herself well.  She is engaging, charming, and funny.  She even hits it off with Christine’s brother, George.  We almost certainly haven’t seen the last of him.

Meanwhile Norman befriends a girl named Cody, that we first saw as a grocery store cashier in this season’s first episode.  She is working as a tech on the play, and convinces Norman to join as well.  It is clear that there is some mutual attraction here, and Norman handles himself with a confidence that we have not yet seen.   It would appear that Emma is tired of waiting for Norman to notice her, for she cozies up to the guy that her gave her the pot-laced cupcakes in season one.   Emma is just feeling guilty over Bradley’s “death”, which we know was faked.  Emma’s honesty is disarming, as she admits that she feels guilt because she still doesn’t like Bradley even though she is dead.  We probably haven’t seen the last of Bradley either.

And Dylan is bonding with his Uncle Daddy, foolishly giving him all of his saved cash.   Dylan is probably the most balanced member of the Bates family, and considering he is the result of rape and incest, that is saying something.  He has a good heart, and a sharp wit.  When Major Douche (aka Zane) asks him what his next move would be in the escalating drug war, he takes the time to think about it, and then gives the perfect response.  He would do nothing.  It is a zero-sum game.  Bravo.

Just when things seemed to be going so well for all of the Bates, everything collapses in the final scene, and now they have another mess to face.  Norma seems equipped to deal with anything.  Bring it on.