In its previous episode, Bates Motel teased us with the revelation that the Bates family is bigger than we imagined, with her brother Caleb mentioned. While family reunions tend to be favourable affairs, this is one member whose presence is not welcome, following Norma’s explanation to Norman how her brother used to make her perform sexual acts with him. If those bad memories weren’t enough, Caleb makes his way back into her life as he appears in White Pine Bay this week.
With Caleb in town, Dylan finally got the chance to really connect with someone within his family, especially as both Norman and Norma were at varying ends of the spectrum to him. While the elder of the two brothers took to this new figure from the family, Norma would befriend a number of locals and the show would set up a potential love interest for her.
Speaking of love interests, the memorial for the ‘death’ of Bradley would rustle up a new potential spark in Norman’s life, as the likes of his blonde crush and the likelihood of a relationship with Emma filter away. That figure came in the form of Cody, a much more free-spirited and care-free individual whose obvious shine to Norman could form a stronger bond in the future.
This week was very much about widening the horizons and exploring the Bates family’s ongoing and evolving relationships with those around them. While Dylan would strike a chord with the questionable Caleb, Norma would experience a whole new side of White Pine Bay in its locals, and Norman would once again feel the awkwardness of teenage life and the presence of sexual desire.
In Max Thieriot’s Dylan we have a character who still doesn’t quite feel part of the family and requires a figure in his life who can help guide him and support him – that man could well be Caleb. The pair bonding over a drink and the notion of moving to a new life in Costa Rica, we saw what is the first glimpse of Dylan opening himself up to vulnerability and really considering his options. As a young man who is involved deep in deadly business, Dylan is becoming a strong part of the main trio and his ongoing story a breathe of fresh air.
Norma, on the other hand, would experience the wonders of getting to know the locals, as she seemed to gain a number of advantageous friends in varying places. Accustoming herself with a backer in the opposition for the bypass, as well as a possible new love interest, Norma’s horror at at her much detested brother arriving would soon be quelled as she, for once, found herself possibly on the positive end of the spectrum. Whether this will last is anyone’s guess.
As for Norman, his continuing isolated state makes him a loose cannon at any moment and, showcased in the latter stages of the episode, ready to boil over at any minute. Cleverly, the show looks to utilise this behaviour in brief stints, and instead we got to see an awkward and female-attracting Norman moving on from the exit of Bradley. Teenage drama is often very difficult to convey in such television shows but Bates Motel seems to garner the right level of dialogue quality and performances to really set that authenticity for us as a viewer to fully believe. That was all too clear in the interactions between Norman and new face Cody, a female entity who will surely be on the scene for much longer heading forward.
Brilliantly laying out a three-pronged attack on the emotional and relationship aspects of the Bates family, this third episode in the new series was everything we would expect and more. Following a season opening pair of entries that served up shocks and darkness aplenty, this third walk into second season territory would only widen the scope of Bates Motel as a series and suggest further expansion in what is an already gripping series. We wait with intrigue for next week’s episode in what is a show that continues to excel remarkably.