When we last left the Bates family, their motel was covered in blood thanks to a sex-slave-owning cop that lay dead on their steps, with the police heading down the street. It seemed like everything might come crashing down on the family, that they may finally have to answer for the mysterious incidents that their name has circled around. But even before the opening credits, Sheriff Romero, who had been questioning the Bates’ actions since they moved in, heard their story and agreed to help the family by covering up not one, but both of their murders and go on his way as if nothing had happened. And as the family celebrated with a relieved “that’s it!”, I watched thinking “that’s it?” So far, Bates Motel has had an awful history with consequences, in that the show doesn’t actually have any.
Besides the show’s opening, the only mention of the Bates’ actions is that all these murders might be bad for their business because one lady who also owns a local business that Norma has never met tells her that it gives their motel a bad reputation. With that, once again, seemingly huge moments on the show add up to have no lasting impression of the arc of the show.
Things go back to normal as the Bates Motel only has seven days before it opens. Norma is freaking out because her motel that isn’t even open yet doesn’t have a calendar filled with reservations for people wanting to visit a town filled with psychopaths. But she receives a visit from Jake Abernathy, who had a standing reservation with Keith Summers for a block of hotels once every few weeks. Oh, and Jake is undeniably creepy and evil. Any normal person would see Jake and immediately deny him business because he clearly is there with only bad intentions.
But even though Norma is worried about her new business, she still had time to stalk Norman’s crush Bradley with the girl Norman shot down, Emma. Norma feels bad for Emma, so she offers her lunch, which turns into following Bradley to her yoga class, then lecturing Norman later that night about Bradley not being a “good girl.”
Poor Norman though. In “The Man in Number 9,” Norman has seriously the worst set of days. First his spirits are built up by Sheriff Romero randomly changing his mind on this family of murderers, then Norman finds an adorable dog that Norma lets him keep. But almost immediately after, Norman has one of the most awkward sex talks with his mom about how having sex literally changes the physicality of a woman. Mad at his mom, he runs to go finally confront Bradley about the one night they shared together. Then after she shoots him down, he returns home just in time to watch his dog get hit by a car. With days like these, it’s no wonder that Norman ends up killing people in showers.
As he runs away from Bradley, Norman hears his mother’s words and repeats them to himself creepily, once again showing how his mother will weed herself into his brain as he slowly snaps. Then seeing his new pet die in front of him, he grabs the dog’s body to take it to Emma’s father, who can fix him, which basically means stuffing him at his taxidermy shop.
Bates Motel just seems so confused about itself. The tone of each episode drastically changes to a point that it’s not clear if the show wants to be taken seriously or be campy. It throws out so many ideas for stories and rarely ever follows up on them, often extinguishing any ideas by early in the next episode. After last week’s highlight of the season, Bates Motel returns to form, being the muddled mess that doesn’t seem to know where it wants to go or what story it’s trying to tell.