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“Trust Me”: Bates Motel Review

By on April 9, 2013
Freddie Highmore as Norman Bates. Image © A&E

Freddie Highmore as Norman Bates. Image © A&E

Last week’s Bates Motel was a little on the chaotic side, so it is great to see “Trust Me” slow things down. The characters are so strong that refocusing on the finer details of their relationships makes for excellent TV. Norman and Dylan’s relationship sees some particularly good development during this episode.

We learn that last week when Norman went over to Shelby’s house at the end of the episode, he wasn’t alone. Dylan follows his little brother out there, and even distracts Shelby so that Norman has a chance to run away. Whether or not Shelby had a girl locked up in his basement remains somewhat unknown, as Norman does have a tendency to hallucinate. Looked pretty real to us, though.

Though Norman refuses to talk to Dylan at first, after a very stressful day he comes clean about everything involving Norma’s rape and Keith’s subsequent murder. Dylan listens with a relatively neutral, but clearly slightly horrified expression. He promises to help Norman before sending him off to meet Bradley. As Dylan says, Norman should be able to “be a seventeen-year-old for five minutes”.

This sympathetic frustration that Dylan has for Norman leads to a very emotionally charged fight with Norma. Besides his concern for his brother, Dylan already has a terribly damaged relationship with his mother. It also doesn’t look like something she is interested in mending, especially when Dylan taunts her about Norman’s romantic life. That should not be something that infuriates a mother, but in the Bates household it sure is.

Max Thieriot is doing a fantastic job making Dylan an interesting part of the show. Vera Farmiga and Freddie Highmore are delivering consistently powerful performances as Norma and Norman Bates. Making a proportionately “normal” character stand out next to those two is no easy feat.

After maintaining a stoic appearance for most of the episode, Norma reaches her breaking point after being interrogated by Sheriff Romero. When fishermen find a severed hand, she is brought in for questioning by Shelby. Apparently sleeping with a local officer will only get you so far when you’re a murder suspect. When Romero bluntly informs Norma that he is convinced she is guilty, she panics and attempts to get rid of any possible evidence.

This leads Norma and Norman to the dump, where they previously dropped off some of the motel’s old carpets. On the way there, the two argue (“Did you just ‘whatever’ me?”). Between the stress of the dump being chained shut and the new-found attitude from her son, Norma can’t take it and has a tearful meltdown at the locked up gates.

Norman and Norma. Image © A&E

Norman and Norma. Image © A&E

Norman is off with Bradley when the police eventually come to arrest Norma. Notice how whenever Norman is off being disobedient, something awful happens to Norma? Poor, guilt-ridden Norman. Though he seems to be branching off on his own in this episode, it seems likely that Norma will quickly reel him back in after the trauma of being arrested.

While Emma’s father makes an appearance (to warn Norman to “be decent”), Emma herself is absent from the episode. This leaves plenty of time for Norman and Bradley to grow closer. He comforts her, seeming truly afflicted by her grief after losing her father. When Norman goes to see her late at night, their adolescent kiss quickly turns physical. Seeing Norman take that big step so soon seems strange, but then that kind of makes sense for this show.

It’s tough for us to watch Norman battle madness. Despite knowing what will happen, it is so easy to become invested in his character. His ultimate fate is disturbing to consider as we watch the timid, and often very compassionate, boy struggle with his unhealthy environment.

Shelby has quite quickly gone from clingy and oblivious to smug and gross. After he and Norma make use of an empty motel room, he walks out to find an unfriendly Dylan. The two men share a challenging, tense exchange simply by staring at each other. Despite the short timeframe, Shelby’s transition into arrogance is still believable, which is a testament to the writers.

What did you think of “Trust Me”? You’ll get to see plenty more of Bates Motel, as the intriguing show has already been renewed for a second season. Catch Bates Mondays on A&E.