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“The Truth”: Bates Motel Review

By on April 23, 2013
Vera Farmiga as Norma Bates. Image © A&E

Vera Farmiga as Norma Bates. Image © A&E

Remember when Dylan was the normal Bates family member? It may have been only a couple of episodes ago, but White Pines Bay (and living with a just slightly unusual family) will spin you around pretty quickly. In “The Truth”, the Bates family deals with the fallout after discovering the truth about Deputy Shelby. In addition to being a very strong episode, it is quite fast-paced – even for this tumultuous show.

Norman and Dylan decide to hunt down the belt that has been haunting everyone, and while they are gone Shelby pays Norma a visit. The brothers find and dispose of the belt, while Norman tries unsuccessfully to stop Shelby from finding their hidden motel guest.

For whatever reason, they chose to keep the poor, recently enslaved victim in one of the motel rooms. It is a little odd that they would leave her unsupervised, but it is stranger still that Norma keeps Shelby busy by bringing him to a different motel room. It would seem more sensible to bring the man into the house, but Norma’s flustered panic causes her to make a variety of little mistakes like that.

It is troubling to see Norma distract Shelby in bed, especially considering everything that has happened to her. Vera Farmiga’s tragic, despondent expression during this scene is heartbreaking. I’m going to sound like a broken record, but Farmiga is doing a phenomenal job with this character. She somehow looks even more horrified when Dylan announces that Norman is moving out. Despite the chaos in the background with Shelby, it is the idea of Norman leaving her that has Norma in distress.

Image © A&E

Image © A&E

We see Norman go into another one of his psycho trances. Shelby pointing a gun at Norman’s head does not set the boy off. It is only when the deputy turns the aggression on Norma that Norman attacks him. The ensuing battle between the Bates and Shelby is very intense, though it is Dylan that finally finishes the job.

Dylan is gradually becoming an impressive and daunting character. Since he showed his loyalty by running over and killing a man in last week’s episode, he earns himself a promotion in this one. He also engages in a power struggle with Norma when he tries to get Norman to move out with him.

For a while it seems like Norman might have a shot at a normal life. This show keeps dangling that possibility of escape in front of Norman, and then quickly reminding the audience that will never happen. Norma tells Dylan the truth about Norman’s father, explaining that Norman killed Sam in a fit of rage. Of course, Norman was defending his mother at the time, as usual.

Unlike many viewers, Dylan seems shocked about the news. Will this cause him to pull back from his brother? Dylan has an idea of pursuing an “easy” and “normal” life, which is a somewhat entertaining notion in this show. Dylan is not exactly a role model for moral integrity, either. His relationship with Norman has been getting better quite rapidly, but sadly this blow could cause Dylan to retreat. Norma makes it very clear that Dylan needs to either “get out of her way”, or help her protect Norman.

One of this show’s strengths is the fact that it is only a ten-episode season. This episode could have been a finale, rather than a midseason show. While it is a pretty safe bet that neither Norma or Norman are going anywhere anytime soon, the show is still full of suspense. We cannot trust that they will not abruptly kill off someone like Dylan, as they nearly did in this episode. This makes for unpredictable and exciting TV.

What did you think of “The Truth”? Were you surprised that Norman killed his father, or did you see that one coming? Check into Bates Motel again Monday, April 29th on A&E.