A funny thing happened during my attempt to watch ‘Bates Motel’ this week. I tuned in to watch it, but suddenly I found myself smack dab in the middle of an episode of ‘Glee. If I’ve confused you, imagine how I felt.
The show’s sophomore slump continues this week as the writers set up some storylines that I’m not sure will be all that interesting to watch. Remember last week when Norma was so panicked about the building of the bypass around her motel? Well, not only isn’t that a plot point this week, Norma doesn’t even mention it, despite the fact that she was obsessed with it in the season premiere.
After killing Gil, Bradley confesses her crime to Norman and asks for his assistance getting out of town. He lets her stay hidden in the basement while he goes out to buy things for her departure, including some hair dye and a bus ticket. Norman promises to drive her to the bus station the night her bus is scheduled to leave but, as we’ll see, that idea hits a few roadblocks.
One of the things that this entry spends a lot of time on is building up the underbelly and connections of the drug business in White Pine Bay. With Gil now out of the picture, Dylan and his buddy/co-worker Remo now have a new boss at work named Zane Carpenter (Michael Eklund), who’s even more ruthless than Gil ever was. At one point, Zane kills a member of a rival drug gang, and then orders Dylan and Remo to dispose of the body.
Sheriff Romero and local law enforcement find Gil’s body, and the sheriff becomes determined to find out who killed him. He meets with Blair Watson’s father, Nick (Michael O’Neill). He’s the man that Norman saw at Ms. Watson’s gravesite in the previous episode. (I think I mistakenly reported last week that Norman saw Gil there.) It looks like Nick is very much involved in the town’s marijuana production. Could he be the “big boss” we’ve often heard referred to? Romero suspects that he may have offed Gil, but Nick insists that he didn’t do it.
Romero gets another lead when the police identify some semen found in Ms. Watson’s body. That leads them to a druggie named Kyle, whom the sheriff brings in for questioning. However, when Kyle asks the sheriff if any other semen was found in Blair, Romero admits that there was. It turns out that our former school teacher was a pretty wild lady. Kyle insists that Romero has the wrong man, but the sheriff isn’t letting him go anywhere… for now.
While all the above is going on, you’re probably wondering what our two lead characters have been up to, right? Well, would you believe a musical? That’s right. Norma – who’s so worried about Norman’s blackouts that she asks her gynecologist for advice – decides that the best way to get Norman’s mind off Ms. Watson for a while is to make him join her in tryouts for a community theater production of ‘South Pacific’. So, we get a scene where Norma plays the piano and Norman sings “Mr. Sandman,” as well as a tryout scene later where Norma sings “Maybe This Time” (which is actually from ‘Cabaret’, but I digress).
It’s also worth noting that, while tidying up Norman’s room prior to going to the musical tryouts, Norma finds both Ms. Watson’s pearl necklace and a newspaper obituary hiding under his mattress. Norman storms out of the tryouts because he needs to drive Bradley to the bus station, but Norma confronts him outside and asks him about the necklace. Norman says that he found it in his pocket the night of the murder, but thinks that he must have picked it up at school or something. Norma is frightened that her son may have killed Ms. Watson.
Knowing that he’s not going to make it back in time, Norman calls Dylan and asks him to drive Bradley to the bus stop. After getting over the shock that she’s been cooped up in the basement for days, Dylan agrees. He and Bradley wind up sharing one last meal and conversation at the bus stop diner, then she boards the bus and leaves – most likely to go off and fight some robots. (Actress Nicola Peltz makes an early exit this season because she was cast in the latest ‘Transformers’ movie.)
This week’s episode wraps up with a strange man (Kenny Johnson from ‘The Shield’) pulling into a garage and asking the attendant there if he knows Norma Bates. When asked why he’s looking for her, the man replies, “I’m her brother”. Uh oh.
Believe it or not, the musical stuff was the most interesting aspect of this week’s episode. I’m finding all the storylines about rival drug dealers in town to be rather uninteresting and not really what this series should focus on. Two episodes in, the season also has a noticeable lack of both the humor and the twisted dialogue that were such a huge appeal in the first season. Hopefully, the arrival of Norma’s brother will add some much needed fun, but I’m not thrilled with Season 2 so far.