Bates Motel (2013) / Drama-Thriller
Season 1: Episode 5: Ocean View

Cast: Freddie Highmore, Vera Farmiga, Max Theriot, Mike Vogel, Olivia Cooke
Director: David Straiton

Teleplay: Jeff Wadlow

1.5 - "Ocean View"

Bates Motel Ocean View Max THeriot Freddie Highmore"Ocean View" continues the momentum of the previous episodes, mostly dealing with Norma's troubles with the law and the major reveal as to whether Norman's vision of a bound Asian girl in Zack's basement is real or one of his supposed hallucinations.  For those who have yet to see this episode, I'll remain mum on this, at least until the next episode's review.

Other developments in the episode include the strengthening bond between Norman and his half-brother, Dylan, and how their closeness is driving a wedge between Norman and Norma, at least in her eyes, as she is livid at her youngest son for seemingly abandoning her in her time of greatest need.  Both Norma and Norman each also believe that they are the sane one, and that the other is the one who can go off the deep end from time to time.  Norman is initially reveling in the afterglow of losing his virginity with Bradley, but the lack of communication from her afterward is getting to his head a bit.  Meanwhile, Dylan is also getting in a bit deep in his occupation as a two-bit lackey for an illegal drug operation, and the consequences are proving quite deadly in this regard.

The family dynamic aspect is growing more interesting by the episode, and any episode that predominantly features Farmiga is going to be a good one, as she is a top-notch actress.  It's the little things she does that says so much about her character.  For instance, in one scene, Norman is decrying the fact that his mother won't even look at him, and the look Farmiga has as she turns to Highmore is that perfect blend of anger, disappointment, contempt, and fatigue.  Even in a throwaway scene such as the one in which she quizzes her youthful looking lawyer as to how old she is; upon finding out she is 33 years old, her mouth says nothing, but her face shows both incredulity and a hint of disgust, especially as Norma is likely just a few years older.

Although the story can play out in many different ways at this point, it is the most interesting angle -- the one in which Norma is a relatively normal person who is seen as highly troubled and deeply manipulative by Norman, the man we know from the movies to be continually shaped by the mother/monster he thinks her to be -- that is perhaps the ultimate ace in the hole of the series.  While the end of the series is likely spoiled already by the knowledge of Psycho, this notion of Norman being so completely out of touch with his own reality that shows that there are definitely many surprises to be had in the Bates' mythos.  Then again, given her scornful nature, it is always possible that Norman is right about her dark side all along.

At the completion of "Ocean View", we are now at the halfway point of the series, and while events are a bit too sensationalized to seem realistic, not to mention that they play out in a conveniently abbreviated fashion, this also means that the plot developments continue to be potent and the energy is gaining as the show gears up for what is likely to be one heck of a cliffhanger by episode 10.  While the scenes involving the Asian sex slave mystery, as well as Dylan's thug life, are growing a bit creaky, there's little doubt that dividends are being paid off from all of the seeds sown in the first few enigmatic episodes.

For other episode reviews, check the Bates Motel page.

Qwipster's episode rating:

2013 Vince Leo