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“Bates Motel” Review/Recap: “Presumed Innocent"

Dymon Lewis ’14 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer

Olivia Cooke and Freddie Highmore in the Bates Motel episode "Presumed Innocent." Photo Credit: A&E Network.
Olivia Cooke and Freddie Highmore in the Bates Motel episode “Presumed Innocent.” Photo Credit: A&E Network.

Bye-bye Cody Brennan (Paloma Kwiatkowski)! You were much better than Bradley Martin (Nicola Peltz) but not quite as adorable as Emma Decody (Olivia Cooke). You won’t be missed, but you won’t be remembered loathingly. Enjoy your aunt’s cats and the pee smell that probably radiates throughout her home. Here’s hoping that when you turn eighteen you don’t meet some tragic end.

The death of Cody’s father in episode six of this season serves the same purpose that the death of Deputy Zach Shelby (Mike Vogel) played in the sixth episode of the first season. The minor “big bad” is eliminated so that the real threat to the Bates’ clan can be revealed. In season one, the real big bad turned out to be Jake Abernathy (Jere Burns) who was knee-deep in the sex slave business and was murdered by Sheriff Romero (Nestor Carbonell).

In “Presumed Innocent,” the threat appears to be two-fold. Firstly, there is the escalating drug war between the Morgans and the Fords. Secondly, there is the revelation that Norman’s (Freddie Highmore) DNA matches the mystery semen that was found inside the dead Miss Watson (Keegan Connor Tracy). However, these two separate issues are inextricably tangled and quite craftily pit the Bates clan against each other. Norma (Vera Farmiga) is indebted to drug lord Nick Ford (Michael O’Neill) while Dylan (Max Thieriot) is working for Ford’s rival, Jodi Wilson (Kathleen Robertson). Furthermore, Blaire Watson was the estranged daughter of Nick Ford and all the evidence is pointing to Norman being the perpetrator of her murder. This is a very complicated web of intrigue to settle in three episodes, but considering the fast pace by which Bates Motel operates, it’s very typical for them to be able to wrap storylines up nicely by the season finale.

Paloma Kwiatkowski and Agam Darshi in the Bates Motel episode "Presumed Innocent." Photo Credit: A&E Network.
Paloma Kwiatkowski and Agam Darshi in the Bates Motel episode “Presumed Innocent.” Photo Credit: A&E Network.

“Presumed Innocent” is perhaps the first episode where viewers may have witnessed a true schism between Norma and Norman. After Cody revealed that Norman’s blackout terrified Norma, he went to his mother for the truth. Of course, Norma isn’t going to reveal the truth. According to Norma, or at least what she told Dylan, Norman went into a blackout rage and murdered his father. If her version of events are to be believed, then her desire to keep Norman from discovering that he is a murderer and to protect him are understandable.

What is odd is that instead of offering him a lie, Norma just outright refuses to answer his questions. She even went so far as to demand that he never ask her again about his blackouts. In a way, this was typical Bates behavior. They are not problem confronters; they are problem avoiders until the problem goes away or tries to kill them. But that is the Bates’ way with external issues. Between Norma and Norman there had always been an almost unsettling level of honesty and communication. The mother and son were previously able to relationship-switch well; mother and son one moment, mother and husband the next. However, Norma completely shutting her son down about something that directly affects him is new territory for them, and it’s only compounded by Norma’s budding attraction to George Heldens (Michael Vartan).

On the other side of town Dylan gets hurt. Again. Besides the freebie sex with his boss last episode, this has not been a good season for Dylan Massett. Oh well, better him than Emma…

Overall Episode Grade: B

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