Television Review – Bates Motel: “Ocean View”

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Looking to rent? There’s a great ocean property for sale, and the Bates Brothers might just want to take the offer. In “Ocean View”, Dylan makes his stance known that he’s not up for hanging around with Norma. But he’s trying to take Norman with him, and she senses this, especially when Dylan shows up to visit Norma in jail. She’s mad he knows, and she’s mad at Norman for keeping the belt; there’s a lot to deal with in the complicated relationships of their family, but Norma keeps everything even more confusing by acting terrible to Norman to make him feel uncomfortable, and then throws him off guard by being genuinely nice to him again. She’s like the worst guilt-trip parent ever.

So Norma in jail forces Dylan and Norman to come together. Norman’s not sure what to do, so he puts up the deed to the motel to make bail. But getting Norma out of jail isn’t the only matter to deal with – the police still have a carpet fiber matching the carpet that the Bates’ were pulling out of the motel the night of the murder. Yet Zack Shelby swoops in to make up for her mistakes by “losing” the carpet fiber.

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I’m completely enthralled with Norma and Zack’s relationship, because it’s hard to figure out who’s fooling who. Is Zack pulling strings for Norma to get her to like him, only to keep her trapped in his basement? Or to actually arrest her based on proof he has gotten through infiltration? Or is Norma just using Zack for his help only to ditch him later? There’s a tension between their meetings, a suspense of what both of them mean to bring to the relationship. Norma is obviously using Zack, but it’s not clear yet whether she really cares for him.

But the events in this episode certainly do make it hard for Norma to make a decision. After Emma and Norman stumble onto a boat that Zack and Keith had shared, they find the girl that Norman had found in Zack’s basement. It’s hard to refute that evidence, especially when the girl is basically shoved into her face. It’s an interesting setup, and I can overlook the fact that the whole “Asian sex slave” thing is a bit over the top.

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“Ocean View”, however, does its best work with Dylan’s new job. His friend Evan seems like a genuinely nice dude; he even fronts him money to buy an apartment. But he gets shot in the neck during an encounter with a junkie, and Dylan makes a brash decision to get revenge that might affect the Bates family even more. He runs the guy down in cold blood; it’s not clear how this will play out yet, but it’s certainly not going to help matters with Norma.

This episode does a lot work characterizing some of the more minor characters in the show. Bradley gets in there (and Norman gets in there, if you know what I’m saying), and Emma’s feelings are crushed when Norman reveals that he slept with Bradley. I like how complicated Norman’s life is becoming; he has a murder, a kidnapped girl, and a love triangle to deal with, along with his batshit crazy mother.

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Things are really progressing here, and Bates Motel is finding things to focus on that don’t involve multiple murders. There’s going to be a lot of action in the drug work that Dylan is doing, and it doesn’t feel like Norma is out of the water yet. In fact, if this new plot line with the sex slave is any indication, there will be more problems with Zack and the police on the way.

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