Review: Bates Motel - "Nice Town You Picked, Norma"

 By: Jay Kennedy 

 Alright, let’s kick this off with some choice curse words because episode two was definitely not episode one. You get the impression that the show doesn’t really know what it wants to do, except lord over the simple fact that Norman Bates will become a raving psychopath. 


So let’s start off with the good things about this episode. Dylan. Dylan is Norman’s older brother and the bane of Norma’s existence. Why? Because Dylan asks questions about the cops sniffing around. He taunts Norma with images of her baby boy making out with girls - oh no! And he really would love to know happened to dear ol’ Dad. Frankly, so would we all. 

So thumbs up to Dylan, who adds some much needed doubt to our chummy protagonists' ability to conceal their dark secrets. Not to mention, he and Norman get into fisticuffs and we see a real dark side to the teenager. Specifically in the form of a meat pounder swinging towards Dylan’s head after his older brother called Ma a bore with a capital W. So we like Dylan! He spices up the show, beats up his brother, and gives us an idea that this sleepy town isn’t all hugs and puppies - and this episode needed some of that. 

The other great thing in this episode is that Sheriff Romero isn’t giving up on pressing Norma for answers on a man that has since disappeared from Episode 1. And rightfully so - Norma and Norman, in an act of self-defense, went hack-happy with a kitchen knife and dropped his body in the lake. But man is she a terrible liar! This is not the actress or the writing by the way. It’s pretty clear the people making Bates Motel want her to be a bad liar, perhaps to grow the character or simply make the show’s audience cringe through each falsehood she tells. Either way, I thought this was a quality part of the episode. I may have even reacted with a “No, Norma! Do better!” at my little television screen. 

Then the things that are out of place or are just left unresolved (and hopefully these things will become clear to their necessity in future episodes): 

 We see a man burned alive within the first minute-and-a-half of the episode, but then, that storyline just kind of fades into the background. You’ll find out from a strange coffee date between Norma and Deputy Shelby that people in this town have an “eye for an eye” mentality that plays out in such a weird way. In the final frame - and I really don’t feel bad telling you this because it best examplifies the town instead of any lingering plot devices - there’s a man hanging upside down burning in the village square with Deputy Shelby directing traffic around it. Oh, no one wants to maybe pull the body down out of sight, or ya know, put the flames out? The best course of action is to just keep on moving, people. 

So we get the idea that whatever happened to Norman’s pal’s father - turns out that’s the guy who went all crispy in that first two minutes - was someone getting their vengeance on by hanging this guy up and lighting a match. Sure, why not? The other part this opens up is Dylan meeting a dude in the town strip club (does every single small town have a strip club?) attached to the dealings McCrispy was a part of. This lands Dylan a job in their outfit - and all we know about the gig for sure is you need to carry a gun. 

The last piece - and I’ll try to keep this short because I know I’m dragging on here - is the strange love story between Emma - a girl with Cystic Fibrosis - and Normie. While working on some homework, Emma stumbles onto a notebook that Norman found in one of the motel rooms. It’s a perverted little torture sketch book that Emma asks to borrow, thinking it’s manga. She translates the book and finds out it’s a story about some immigrants who weren’t treated very nicely. 

Emma opts to go find a shack featured in the book and invites Norman to tag along - with a kiss. It’s a cute moment, and you’re sort of excited for Norman to not be grabbing on to his Mom’s apron tails the whole episode. They go into the woods and, instead of finding the shack, run into a massive pot field. Immediately, its owners give pursuit and now it’s a weird Deliverance-style run through trees and river to get away from the weed whackos. This feels very out of place, except for the fact that as they’re running they see the shack - but it’s too bad because if they stay in one place, evil rednecks will shoot them with scatterguns and likely use their bodies to fertilize next season’s crop. 

So off they run to their little VW Bug. They get away and you’re left thinking, what the hell was the point of that? To show that Emma, again a girl with cystic fibrosis, has trouble running in the woods? Or was it because Norman helped her up and didn’t leave her? Lots of unanswered hyperbole. 

If you read my first review, you’ll remember a scene I wasn’t going to tell you about that had me coming back to the Bates Motel for more. Well, that never shows up again in this episode, but damn I wish it did. It was blood curdling and creepy and a big ass mystery. But so far Bates Motel 2.0 has me nervous that it’s heading down the CW route instead of HBO, and for a story like this to really work, I think all of us horror junkies really need more blood and scares. 

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Jay Kennedy is the author of WUT UP MOVIES ( and is a lover of all things film! Basically he’s just another fan like you! Along with writing reviews he loves to rhyme off Top 10 lists and his favorite slasher flick is still Halloween! 

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