Friday, June 12, 2015

Bates Motel: Unconscious Review


Memory Cannot Be Bated...

As we end the third season of Bates Motel, part of me thinks, 'I've seen this all before'.  That isn't a slam at what has been yet another solid season of Bates Family lunacy.  However, I cannot find myself being as thrilled as I was last season's finale.  Unconscious gives us yet another killing to conclude the proceedings.  It gives us some long-hoped for shipping, a rational (for her) Norma, and yet...and yet...

Norma Bates (Vera Farmiga) FINALLY does what she should have done a long time ago: visit a mental health facility to see if her son, Norman Bates (Freddie Highmore) can receive treatment there.  In her typically naïve way she realizes that the prospective patient needs to be admitted by a doctor (not the mother), and that the costs are around $20,000 to $40,000 A MONTH (which I'd like to point out would be more than my ANNUAL salary).  Disillusioned, she goes back home, telling Norman that maybe he needs more help than she can give him.  He is upset to say the least about this bit of news.  He tells her he is leaving, and leaving with Bradley (Nicola Peltz).  Since everyone believes Bradley is dead, Norma understandably thinks Norman has really gone off the deep end.  In an ensuing fight where he pushes her down the stairs, Norma rallies enough to knock Norman out and tie him up in the basement.  He manages to escape as Dylan (Max Thieriot) arrives.

Dylan tells Norma that Bradley is indeed alive, having faked her death.  Now they go searching for Norman.

This is Dylan's second search of the day, as he spent most of Unconscious looking for Emma Decody (Olivia Cooke).  She was informed that lungs have become available, but she flees to the cabin, terrified that her body will reject them.  Up in the cabin, Dylemma comes to fruition, as they kiss and share that they have feelings for each other.  I believe he talks her into going to Portland for surgery.

Sheriff Romero (Nestor Carbonell) acts strangely: he warns Bob Paris (Kevin Rahm) of the DEA raid, but then confronts him at his boat, where Romero has been waiting for him.  Romero kills Paris after Paris compared him to Romero's corrupt father. 

Finally, as Norman and Bradley leave, Norman has another break.  He tells Bradley that "Mother" wants to speak to her.  In a fit, "Mother" chases Bradley out and kills her, and it's up to Norman to cover up her crime.  He observes the car sinking to Be My Baby by the Ronettes. 

I think my lack of enthusiasm for Unconscious comes from the fact that in a lot of ways, we've seen this before.  For example, this is the second time we've ended a season with Romero shooting someone that has been bothering Norma at the dock of the bay.  This is the second time we've had Norman kill someone.  Granted, the previous time there was an air of doubt as to what exactly happened to the luscious Miss Watson, but in a certain way, here we go again. 

Part of me just thinks, 'can't they find another way of ending a season without some sort of bloodfest?'  It does have good moments: we get Norman finally seeing that "Mother" is a killer that he has to cover up for, and we see that Norma at least acknowledges that Norman is now completely dangerous.  Still, a large part of me cannot muster enthusiasm for all the lunacy.

Unconscious has some strong moments.  Thieriot (who has grown to be a favorite of mine) and Cooke (likewise) have a great working relationship as these two figures who found each other.  They are the highlight of the episode, and one of the things that leaves me curious to see how a.) she comes through the surgery and b.) whether their relationship will grow.  There's also c.) how Norma/Norman will take this new relationship.

The other performances are also their standard excellent.  Highmore's shifting into insanity and Farmiga's return to sanity are both compelling watching.  Their confrontation is played so well, it lifts the episode as well as the Dylemma storyline.

However, given how Bradley wasn't the greatest character (and a sense that she was brought back just to be killed off) I can't work up enthusiasm to mourn her loss.  I also get the double meaning of Be My Baby (making things more creepy).  Again though, as good as all this was, I was a little underwhelmed.

That, and a bit confused by Romero's actions.  Wouldn't it be simpler to have the DEA arrested rather than blow him away?  Doesn't Romero realize that the DEA will figure out that he is the likely suspect in tipping Paris off?

I thought Unconscious was well-made, but somehow, this season finale hit some of the same notes of previous season finales, and for me, it makes it less than a killer ending. 


The Complete Third Season

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