As ‘Bates Motel’ heads into the home stretch of its sophomore season, Episode 7 (‘Presumed Innocent’) does a nifty bit of storytelling as it uses the events of last week’s episode to bring the storyline full circle back to events that happened early in the season. I confess that I didn’t see that coming until the writers dropped it on viewers in the final scene.
As this episode gets underway, Norma has arrived at her new job as one of the town’s councilmen (I guess that would be councilwoman), and is quite pleased to discover that she has a new office. Before she can settle in, she’s called into the office of another councilman who wants to know how Norma got the job and talk about the bypass being built. Just as they begin their conversation, Sheriff Romero shows up wanting to talk to Norma. Taking her outside, he tells her about the death of Cody’s father and that Norman has been taken to the police station for questioning.
Dylan is back on the job with Zane and trying to be inconspicuous about the orders Zane’s sister Jodi gave him – secretly taking things over and reporting back to Jodi on Zane’s activities. That proves difficult when Zane brings in some new men for a job, but doesn’t want either Dylan or Remo involved. Later in the episode, Zane tells Dylan that he knows Jodi told him to keep an eye on his work. Zane also warns Dylan not to become emotionally attached to her, as Jodi has a habit of sleeping with other men “below her pay grade.” Ouch.
Norma arrives at the police station, but isn’t allowed to see Norman just yet. He’s back in a room with one of Romero’s deputies, having his mug shot taken, getting DNA swabbed from his mouth, and turning over his blood-stained shirt. (Norman insists that it’s his own blood and not Cody’s father’s.) When Norman is eventually allowed to talk to Norma alone, his mother tries to convince him not to say anything to Romero about his blackouts. Norman doesn’t understand why, and when Romero needs to see Norman for a few more questions, Norman doesn’t let his mother accompany him into the room.
Norma runs into Cody in the ladies’ room of the police station and begs her not to tell anyone about Norman’s blackouts. When Cody tries to find out why and Norma won’t spill the beans, Cody realizes that she’s hiding something.
Norman is eventually released by Romero. Cody comes to visit him back at the motel. She wants to make sure Norman doesn’t blame himself for her father’s death, and also has come to say goodbye. She’s leaving White Pine Bay to stay with a relative in Indiana. I can’t say that I’ll miss her. She was easily my least-favorite character in Season 2. Before Cody leaves, though, she tells him about her encounter at the police station with Norma, and her belief that Norman’s mother is hiding something from him.
Meanwhile, Zane has allowed Dylan and Remo to join his latest illegal activity, which turns out to be a midnight raid on a warehouse owned by Nick Ford. Realizing how dangerous crossing Ford would be, Dylan refuses to participate. This results in Zane clobbering him with the butt of his gun, leaving Dylan semi-conscious and with a nasty gash on his head. Knowing Ford’s men will probably kill him if they find him there, Dylan tries to get away, but winds up passing out. In the background, flashes of gunfire can be seen inside the warehouse that Zane, Remo and the others have broken into.
Back at the motel, Norma gets good news when Romero calls to tell her that Norman has been exonerated and the death of Cody’s father has been officially ruled an accident. When Norma gives Norman the news, however, he explodes in anger at his mother. He asks why she’s lying to him about his blackouts and demands to know what she’s hiding. Norma gets equally upset, and tells Norman never to bring up the topic again.
The episode ends with Romero getting a call from one of his deputies. The DNA they took from Norman earlier came back as an exact match for the unidentified semen they found in the deceased body of Miss Watson back at the beginning of the season.
So, it turns out that the Cody storyline was just a clever way for the writers to pin some incriminating evidence on Norman regarding the death of Miss Watson. If Norman never met Cody, he never would have gotten into a situation where he killed her father, never got taken to the police station for a DNA swab, and the cops never would have gotten a sample to match against the semen from Watson’s body. Yes, for storytelling purposes it’s all rather convenient, but it’s done in a creative enough way that, until Romero got that phone call, I never saw it coming.
It looks like the final few episodes of the season will put the focus back on Miss Watson’s death and Norman’s possible involvement in it. While I used to feel sure that Norman probably didn’t kill Watson, given all the focus on his blackouts and psyche in Season 2, now I’m not so sure. I won’t be surprised if this season ends with definitive proof that Norman actually did kill her.