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"Bates Motel” Review/Recap: "Meltdown"

Dymon Lewis ’14 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer

Vera Farmiga in the Bates Motel episode "Meltdown." Photo Credit: A&E Network.
Freddie Highmore and Vera Farmiga in the Bates Motel episode “Meltdown.” Photo Credit: A&E Network.

Norman (Freddie Highmore) and Norma (Vera Farmiga) breakup spectacularly. Dylan (Max Thieriot) essentially takes control of the Morgan Drug Empire. Sheriff Romero (Nestor Carbonell) continues to have the worst, most stressful job in the whole wide world.

“Meltdown” is the episode where all the bad stuff in Bates Motel finally merged into one cohesive hot mess. It would not be surprising to discover White Pine Bay is atop a hell-mouth. It is basically Sunnydale—minus hot vampires plagued by cool names and unhealthy amounts of angst.

The drug storyline in Bates Motel has never felt completely cohesive to the show, even considering that Dylan is a major player. But the storyline often feels incidental to the real drama at hand—the Bates clan struggle to survive. However, now that the Ford drug empire is threatening Norma, Norman, and Dylan, it is infinitely more interesting to see the two rival families clash. It would be even more interesting if drug boss Jodi Morgan (Kathleen Robertson) had even a clue about what she was doing. Clearly her brother Zane (Michael Eklund) is an idiot who needs to be put down like a rabid dog, but neither Morgan sibling can go toe to toe with Nick Ford (Michael O’Neill).

Vera Farmiga in the Bates Motel episode "Meltdown." Photo Credit: A&E Network.
Vera Farmiga in the Bates Motel episode “Meltdown.” Photo Credit: A&E Network.

Jodi Morgan’s femininity could be used as a strength in managing her business but instead it appears all she does is drink wine and bake bread. Furthermore, despite her status as “the boss” she can’t get her subordinate brother under any control. When Jodi hugs Dylan and admits that she does not know what to do, it’s not a charming or romantic moment. It’s just the classic setup of damsel in distress saved by the bad boy with a good heart. It’s cheap. It’s obvious. It’s not what viewers have come to expect from Bates Motel. There are two more episodes yet, let’s hope Jodi Morgan grows a backbone and gains some basic business acumen.

Sheriff Romero is plagued with trouble on two fronts: there’s the burgeoning Morgan/Ford drug war and the fact that Norman’s semen sample matches one of the semen samples found in Miss Watson (Keegan Connor Tracy) on the night of her death. Romero has a hard job—he’s the law in a lawless town and has to keep the peace but can’t outright stop the illegal behavior that keeps the town so wealthy? So what’s a man to do? As demonstrated by the show so far, Romero’s ideology is that the ends justify the means. He is not a good man, but he does his job well and White Pine Bay is better for having him. He is friend not foe to the Bates clan and with Norman’s kidnapping at the end of the episode he will be needed more than ever.

Freddie Highmore in the Bates Motel episode "Meltdown." Photo Credit: A&E Network.
Freddie Highmore in the Bates Motel episode “Meltdown.” Photo Credit: A&E Network.

Norma’s refusal to answer Norman’s question about his blackouts last episode completely ruptured their relationship. And while Norma tried her patented method of “pretend that we are shiny, happy people,” Norman was not ready to play nice with his mother. The back and forth between mother and son this episode had an especially romantic tension to it. These were two lovers fighting—not a mother and son. This was highlighted through Norma’s interaction with George (Michael Vartan).

First, Norma tried to goad Norman into jealousy by telling him that she had a date George and would be out late but he refused to take the bait. Norma then went on the date, but she was so distraught over Norman, that she abruptly cancelled (revealing her underprivileged background) and returned home trying to fix what was between them. Norman’s rejection of her—as both a mother and a soul mate—drove Norma right back to George and into his bed. Her desire to make Norman jealous via a romantic paramour is disturbing and Norman’s ability to drive his mother to such a frenzied state of loneliness is also disturbing. But what is healthier—the pair of them reconciling and returning to the relationship they had previously or the two of them discovering themselves as independent people?

Two more episodes left. Zane Morgan needs to get murdered. Quick.

Overall Episode Grade: A

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