Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Master Bates in Love


BATES MOTEL: TRUST ME

Of all the things I never expected to see in my lifetime was the sight of Norman Bates actually having sex...with a woman...without it being in any way connected to his mother.  Trust Me has so much in it that even having Norman Bates deflowered (by the prettiest girl in school no less) isn't the weirdest thing in the episode.

Norma Bates (Vera Farmiga) is too involved with Deputy Shelby (Mike Vogel) to notice her son Norman (Freddie Highmore) at all times.  Particularly when Norma and Shelby are enjoying the pleasures of the flesh.  Of course, that isn't to say Shelby doesn't enjoy them when Norma's not there, what with that Asian sex slave he has in his basement.  Norman manages to escape, with a little help from his brother Dylan (Max Thierot), who had been observing Norman since he left for Shelby's home.

Now we get more relationships going on, with Shelby and Norma getting it together, and then Norman himself getting caught up in a love triangle.  While it's clear that Emma (Olivia Cooke) likes him, Norman has eyes only for Bradley (Nicola Peltz) the prettiest girl in town.  He is torn between his physical attraction to Bradley and emotional attraction to Emma.  Norman, at the moment, has his own problems.  Did he really see the Asian girl or was it in his mind?  Norma does not believe him (a rarity) telling him he is prone to see things that are not there. 

There are more problems facing the Bateses.  Keith Summer's hand has emerged from his watery grave, so now Sheriff Romero (Nestor Carbonell) and Norma duel it out.  Norman offers comfort to Bradley when she puts a cross where her father crashed after being set a'flame.  Though Norma doesn't believe (or perhaps want to believe) her son's story, she still takes a peek at the basement, to find...nothing, not even the belt Norman kept as a souvenir from the Summers' killing.

Norman, now driven to distraction by Norma's relationship with A.) a man other than him, B.) a man who may be a sex slaver, and C.) a man who suggests he could take his father's place and make him a man, tells Dylan everything.  Eventually, he gets a text from Bradley.  Dylan tells his brother to go to her: girls don't send late-night text messages unless they want someone to come over.  Norman goes, and Bradley leads him to her room, where at long last Norman discovers the pleasures of the flesh...

Mother Bates is distraught to hysterics when Dylan suggests that her little Normie might be having sex, but Trust Me ends with more problems for her: Norma Bates is arrested for the murder of Keith Summers, to Shelby's distress and Romero's cool indifference.

Trust Me has so much within it that frankly I had a hard time remembering it all, even with notes.  However, what elevates this Bates Motel episode is the chance to see people have various conversations.  I think that there are so many two-person scenes: Shelby and Norman, Norman and Dylan, Dylan and Norma, Norma and Romero, that we can see how well the cast works. 

Trust Me also plays with the idea that since Norman is given to hallucinations, could he really have seen the girl from the notebook that has aroused his desires?  While we know that he is telling the truth we still have some hints of doubting the obvious.

Part of that is the fact that if Norman is telling the truth, we are left with the idea that Deputy Zach Shelby, who could have any woman he wanted, is keeping a woman as his personal sex slave. 

One thing about Trust Me that I enjoyed in particular was the face-off between Carbonell's Romero and Farmiga's Norma.  The scene between them is well-played, where underneath their calm, rational tones is a tense struggle for one-upmanship.  Neither wants to give in, both wants to best their foil, and they want to get the best of the other.

Kudos to Farmiga and Highmore, who have established wonderful performances as the twisted mother-son.  Norma's horror at the idea that her little boy is becoming a man is brilliant, showing that she is so possessive of her son she cannot imagine anyone else taking her place.  This is odd in that there is dialogue that suggests NORMAN might be slightly jealous of Norma's relationship with Shelby.  Highmore makes Norman this mix of formal and caring but also possessive and unsure of himself. 

One final thing that elevates Trust Me is what will become a memorable loss of virginity scene.  I don't think I've seen anything as overtly romantic as when Norman and Shelby go to bed: the blue tint and romantic music paints an image of a first time that I don't think matches any person's true memories of their first sexual experience.  Even if Norman is the strangest boy in history, his love scene is one for the record books. 

Bates Motel continues to be a well-acted, well-written show that builds on the mystery that we have been given, and we want to see where and how it all turns out.  This is one of the best Bates Motel episodes...Trust Me.

9/10

Next Episode: Ocean View 

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