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“Bates Motel” Review/Recap: "Shadow of a Doubt"

Dymon Lewis ’14 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer

Freddie Highmore in the Bates Motel episode "Shadow of a Doubt." Photo Courtesy of A&E.
Freddie Highmore in the Bates Motel episode “Shadow of a Doubt.” Photo Credit: A&E.

The alternative title for this episode: “The One Where Bradley Martin (Nicola Peltz) literally starts a drug war with her crazy. Literally.”

“Shadow of a Doubt” sets up future major players and plots of the second season of Bates Motel. On a typical show, this type of set-piece moving would be offensively boring, but the episode’s intensive character studies keep viewers engaged.

The marijuana business in White Pine Bay is split between two ruling families. One family employs Dylan (Max Thierot) while the other is run by Nick Ford (Michael O’Neill), the estranged father of the recently murdered Ms. Blair Watson (Keegan Conor Tracy). Now that Gil (Vincent Gale) is dead, Dylan’s bosses have sent in a new middle-manager, Zane (Michael Eklund), the previously-imprisoned younger brother of the man in charge. You can tell Zane is dangerous because of his white hair—white-haired dudes are always super dangerous. Zane, convinced that the Fords are to blame for Gil’s murder, decides to send a message. His execution of a Ford employee clearly spells disaster for peace in White Pine Bay.

Max Theriot and Freddie Highmore in the Bates Motel episode "Shadow of a Doubt." Photo Credit: A&E.
Max Theriot and Freddie Highmore in the Bates Motel episode “Shadow of a Doubt.” Photo Credit: A&E.

Left to clean up is Sheriff Alex Romero (Nestor Carbonell), the type of complex officer that all prime time television needs. He’s devoted to keeping White Pine Bay safe, but in a town with a sex slave ring and a violent marijuana business, his cooperation with criminals, rather than punishment of, is a necessity. His confrontation with Nick Ford spurs him to charge a known, though likely innocent, man with the murder of Blair Watson for the sake of greater good. Grieving and violent criminals should be kept happy, and the murders of their estranged daughters solved quickly.

The love quadrangle of Dylan, Norman (Freddie Highmore), Norma (Vera Farmiga), and Bradley, becomes less messy when Bradley hightails it out of town. Norman’s decision to stay with Norma and to allow Dylan to escort Bradley to her new life in Boston is both pleasing and heartbreaking. On one hand, Norman and Norma are a dynamic duo; they need each other to survive. And as viewers, we care much more about Norma than Bradley. On the other hand, Norman is right—he’s a teenage boy and he needs his space. He shouldn’t need his mother to survive, and Norma definitely shouldn’t need him. Despite her desire for him to engage in healthy activities, she’s dominated by the fear that he’s Miss Blair Watson’s murderer, especially upon discovering the teacher’s pearl necklace under her son’s bed. Instead of letting him grow, she aims to keep him wrapped up closer still. She’s suffocating him and she doesn’t even know it. That’s the great tragedy of this show.

And Emma Decody (Olivia Cooke) continues to break our hearts. Forever and always.

Overall Episode Grade: B+

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