Monday, April 17, 2017

Bates Motel: The Body Review


We now have to come to the conclusion of all things Bates MotelThe Body spends much time making us wonder whether our psychopathic Norman Bates will really get charged with murder or not.  A long tease to that conclusion, along with an almost superfluous appearance by our favorite shady Sheriff pushes The Body down.

However, Alex Romero did do one thing for which I will be forever grateful to him for.

Norman Bates (Freddie Highmore), fresh off attacking/defending his half-brother/uncle Dylan (Max Thieriot) has just confessed to murdering Sam Loomis.  Sheriff Jane Greene (Brooke Smith) is not really buying this story, convinced that Norman is spitting out wild charges as a way to get attention and break his loneliness.  However, she keeps him at the jail while things get sorted out.

"Mother" (Vera Farmiga) attempts to take control of things by coming up with a somewhat convincing story about Norman's issues.  However, the mention of dumping a body raising Greene's eyebrows (especially after finding two bodies in the lake).  Dylan goes to Julia Ramos (Natalia Cordova-Buckley), a lawyer from his past drug connections, for help.  Ramos does her best, but even she can't help Norman's contradictory stories and statements.

Sheriff Alex Romero (Nestor Carbonell) for his part is unaware of all this and goes to the Bates Motel to enact his revenge.  One person who is aware of all that's been going on (after a while) is Chick Hogan (Ryan Hurst), whom an astonished Romero finds in the Bates' basement, dressed almost like a wolf, happily typing away. 

It's Chick who informs Romero of all that's gone on, as well as clueing him on his plans to write a book about the wild goings-on (probably a fictionalized version).  Romero points a gun and tells him that if Chick knows anything about murders, he's an accessory after the fact.  Chick mocks him, pointing out that he's getting lessons in law from a disgraced cop on the lam.  After some more mocking by Chick, Romero finally shoots and kills the bastard...with Chick's head hitting the typewriter to end his life on a 'ding'.

As for Dylan, he's having a hard time with all this, especially when Sheriff Greene comes to tell him they've identified the other body in the lake as that of Emma's mother Audrey.  Greene attempts to gauge his reaction, but he won't give her anything.  He now has to let Emma (Olivia Cooke) know what's going on.  Norman, despite his efforts to bring 'Norma' into this, finds that his earlier talk of a well have ill-served him, as Sam's body has been found. 

Sheriff Greene now charges Norman Bates with three counts of murder: Jim Blackwell, Audrey Ellis, and Sam Loomis.

A minor digression: according to Bates Motel writer/producer Kerry Ehrin, the famous shower scene that Marion altered to have Sam Loomis, rather than Marion Crane, killed off by Norman not dressed as Norma was motivated in part by fears of 'transphobia'.  This seems irrational to me in that Norman didn't think he was born a woman but in a man's body.  He thought he was a specific woman: his mother. 

There is a difference between someone born male who thinks he's a female (a Caitlyn Jenner) and a man who thinks he is a particular woman (Norman Bates).  Someone like a Caitlyn Jenner (born Bruce) thinks that she was born into the wrong gender.  Norman Bates has never, either in any Psycho film or even Bates Motel, ever thought he wasn't a male when he wasn't in a blackout mode.  His issue is that he sometimes (note, sometimes) thought he was a specific female (his mother).  His alternate persona of 'Norma' wasn't really a response to a desire to be or think himself a female, but a desire to keep a specific woman he knew (in a way) to be dead alive. 

In short, if Bates Motel had kept to tradition and had 'Norma' kill Marion or Sam in the shower, it would not have been 'transphobic'.  They are free to alter it if for a story reason, but altering because of appearing transphobic is a very curious decision, to me at least.

As I said, there is one great thing in The Body, and that is that Chick is finally dead.  I never liked his character and am so glad to see him not just killed, but to see Romero do it.  What DID bother me about this scene (and it bothered me endlessly) was the 'ding' bit.  It's cliché, it's unfunny, it's almost insulting to the audience. 

The Body is a great showcase for Smith as Sheriff Greene, and she gives a standout performance.  In turns disbelieving, suspicious, curious, and downright hostile, Smith's performance is far above everyone else's.  More a credit to her than to the director: Freddie Highmore.  The Body did look beautiful, but sometimes it was genuinely hard for me to hear what Farmiga was saying, and at times the colors were too overwhelming.

And that damn 'ding'...


Next Episode: Visiting Hours

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