Bates Motel "Trust Me" Review and 4-Episode Test: Arrested (But Compelling) Development

Bates Motel S01E04: "Trust Me"

I spent a sizable chunk of "Trust Me" feeling rather bored. It's not that it was bad but, the episode devoted a good bit of its time to sort of cleaning up from last week's cliffhanger, where Norman was in Shelby's house as Shelby was arriving home. There was no way Norman was going to get caught (outright, anyway; though he was very much caught by Shelby in other ways, the same as Norma), and there was no chance that Norma would discover Shelby's sex basement. However, we still had to go through those motions.

Then the episode zagged as it decided to to lay out almost everything for a few select characters, and spurred on a couple of new standings for those whose effects, in turn, will be delayed a bit by Norma's arrest. Ironically, it was kind of a slowed-down approach to fast-paced, serialized storytelling: Change things up, resolve lingering conflicts quickly, and then move onto the next set of challenges.

The "big thing" isn't even that the police found Summers' severed hand, complete with carpet fragments under his watch (really?); something like that was going to happen eventually, and I'm glad it's happening now rather than later. No, instead it's everyone telling everyone else what's that's going on. Norman told Norma that Mother more or less instructed him to go to Shelby's and retrieve the rape utility belt—something that would typically be cause for concern for any mother—and Norma responded by explaining that Norman simply sees things that aren't there, writing off Mother and the Chinese woman in Shelby's basement as imaginary visions. It wasn't even drawn out as a momentous reveal, just Norma stating a fact that her son was previously unaware of, in order to explain his odd behavior. Bates Motel has decided not to let these plot elements to go unspoken for too long, and it keeps things moving.

A doubly nice result of the Norms' little chat was its immediate effect of stirring up some resentment in Norman toward Norma, which gave Dylan the space to influence Norman's behavior a bit. First though, Norman explained everything that has happened on the show so far to Dylan. It was a decidedly clunky bit of info-dumping, but contextually it made sense for Norman to want to confide in someone, and Dylan, as family and as someone who does sort of understand how decidedly erratic Norma can be, was the perfect person to tell. While that exchange felt ponderous at first, it swerved into something surprisingly tender as Dylan not only promised to help Norman, but then gave him some damn fine advice about how to respond to Bradley's 10pm text message of "Hey." I was really pleased that the scene went as smoothly and as well as it did, because I didn't really expect it to.

Dylan's a benevolent antagonist within Bates, insofar as he's opposing Norma (assuming we're treating Norma as an anti-hero, of sorts; perhaps that's an issue for discussion?). But we're rooting for him to do the right thing. His influence was an attempt to correct the wrongs he sees perpetuated against Norman, and he couldn't help but crow about how he'd managed to convince Norman to go to Bradley's house for a booty call and thus chip away a bit at Norma's hold over the younger Bates. He's significantly more compelling than the blandly menacing and icky Shelby, or Sheriff Romero, who I'm increasingly convinced is probably a fairly decent person. Maybe.

Bradley, for her part, remains pretty much a non-entity to me, which is frustrating, especially given the obvious prominence the show is officially extending her as we move forward. We know she's a little aggressive based on her behavior in the pilot, but there's not much room for that to breathe; she went immediately from would-be sexpot to understandably mopey teenager. Unlike Emma, who benefited from a more prolonged and plot-related presence in Episodes 2 and 3, Bradley's only had a couple of notes to play so far, and none of them all that interesting. I promise that my response to Bradley has nothing to do with Nicola Peltz having been in a movie that, for me, doesn't actually exist. She just hasn't had the most dynamic material to work with here, so I can't lay too much blame at her feet.

This is likely the last time we'll check in on Bates Motel for a while (dwindling number of eyeballs). Jen asked me to do a quickie 4-episode test, and so here are the quickie star ratings: 

"First You Dream, Then You Die": 2 stars (out of four)

"Nice Town You Picked Norma": 2 stars

"What's Wrong with Norman": 3 stars

"Trust Me": 2.7 stars

I do find the show oddly compelling, though I sometimes I feel like I shouldn't, even though I've yet to be able to articulate a reason why I shouldn't. Thankfully, I'm not alone in that sort of attraction to the show, as a number of people I've talked with on Twitter feel much the same way. 

I do think a lot of it has to do with the fact that Vera Farmiga and Freddie Highmore are both fantastic. They bring a surprising amount of weight to a series that could otherwise tumble over into tedious crazy (the worst kind of crazy), and their chemistry together is undeniable, striking the right balance of being just over the line incestuous without overselling it. I think one or both of them are pretty much guaranteed Golden Globe nominations (but not Emmys, because, well, be serious) this year, since Bates Motel is the sort of show the Hollywood Foreign Press Association loves to notice, and they're both known more for film work than they are for TV.

If there's one another thing that I've responded to, and want to see the see the series develop more, it's the sheer ridiculousness of White Pine Bay. There's a logging festival and people sometimes get set on fire in the town square. How could you not love that sort of bizarre and campy insanity? Bates Motel needs more moments like this, and I'm hoping that as the show continues to establish its setting, there'll be more room for that in its environment. Along those lines, Farmiga's performance especially is an extension of the show's camp sensibilities, with her verbal tics and long pauses. It goes a long way toward maintaining that vibe both when you least expect it, i.e., Norma's fantastic interrogation of Emma in "Nice Town You Picked Norma," and when you do expect it, like in her delightful breakdowns this episode, on the dump's fence or in the hallway with Dylan just before she was arrested.

Bates Motel may currently rely a bit too much on plot contrivances (no real reason to keep the belt other than to get Norman into Shelby's house; Dylan being the biker who passed Norman), but this is one of those instances where I'm willing to overlook such things because the show seems aware of them. Like I discussed a bit above, instead of letting these setups linger about, the show is trying to pay them off as quickly as possible, so as to move onto the next thing. This becomes a delicate act of driving on the edge of a cliff, and I still wonder-worry about the show's longevity—especially now that A&E has renewed the show for a second season of 10 episodes—but at least I feel like its team has a handle on the wheel.



COMMENTS FROM THE GUESTBOOK


– This was the first episode I watched live (as opposed to on a press screener), so it was the first time I saw the opening title card. I was expecting something a lot more atmospheric and moody for the show's opening than the motel's neon sign flickering on.

– Norma loves making turkey pot pies.

– Norman's "Oh well." as Shelby had to cut short their fishing trip was the single best insincere-and-not-even-trying-to-hide-it "Oh well" I have ever heard.

– Dylan must've spent the entire day sitting in front of the motel when he wasn't out grocery shopping.

– So relieved that Bradley did not have her sunglasses on inside her super nice house. I was going to scream if she did.

– I did enjoy the gauzy and dream-like sex scene between Bradley and Norman, complete with lots of superimpositions. It was all very soapy in the best possible way, even going so far as to match the color highlights in Bradley's room.

– "But I didn't defend myself! I killed the crap out of him!"


What'd you think of "Trust Me"? Are you going to stick with the show?

Comments (36)
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I really like it. I expected to suck and it doesn't. The actors are doing a great job, and overall it's very creepy.
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One of my favourite shows this year. The acting is so good!
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really like the show. it's got meat on its bones.
Thanks for the review. I always like to read through others' deconstructions after an episode to see how it matches up to my thoughts. Shame this one will be gone :(
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I am addicted to the show!! It wasn't boring, it was a perfect compliment to last week. It can't be fast paced, have you on the edge of your seat every week... however it does compel you every week and bring you back. Check out this site if you love the show! https://www.facebook.com/BatesMotelTheBatesSpy
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This series has been a pleasant surprise for me. I didn't expect much going in but the pilot was good enough to keep me watching and now it's actually a show I look forward to watching each week. The show has a very odd/creepy vibe to it and I think the stuff the creators have added in to flesh out the town dynamics and the characters is working for the most part. The only thing that's a bummer is that Dylan, who really is the only sane person in the Bates family, and who really has developed into a likable and sympathetic character, is obviously going to die at some point. I kind of keep expecting this show to crash and burn but thus far its developed into a fine guilty pleasure.
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Awww man.....I should have watched it the day it premiered, now all I have are recaps and spoilers, not the actual thing :(
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you can always use bittorrent or perhaps it's available streaming from here or IMDB or the like
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Are we even sure what's real? I had the distinct feeling the interaction with Bradley didn't go down as we were shown. Was the girl in the basement real?
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and suddenly Dylan is not the bad guy anymore.., and loved the opening scene btw
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Another very good episode. I think they need to get through a lot of material because of the fact that every person in this town has one hand in criminal activity so they are going to have to get to a lot of bad things. Some things may just have to get moved along to get to other mysteries. I haven't found any problems with the pacing. Shrouding Bradley in the most mystery is interesting. Norman providing the distraction for her sadness is really sort of creepy (hes kind of reveling in his role of getting her at her weakest point) but makes sense and Highmore is wonderful in this role. At least this show attempts to give reason for them to be bedding (maybe) so soon. That atmospheric sex scene was all in Norman's head wasn't it? This was two teenagers having sex which is never as lovely as that scene. This was mamma's boy Norman losing his v-card. These police seem awful concerned with crimes but are not doing much to stop them. Is Norma just on the radar because she is "outsider"?

Another thing that is great is how all these characters are starting to play out to one another. It had to be a tricky job to cast all of these various roles and I'm sure the temptation for an actor must be to go completely camp in these roles and they are holding back. So far, it isn't any bad or over the top performances hurting this show. Norma is the star of the show but characters aren't being completely comsumed in the scenes shared with Vera Farmiga and that keeps the pace moving along. The question posed about whether or not to go completely camp or at least to accept your campiness and embrace it is a tough one. If it goes too campy it becomes more like "Banshee" and what works in "Banshee" may not work here. I don't know. A credit to the cast of this show as I don't think there is a bad performance in the bunch. Mike Vogel was really good this week and I haven't liked Nestor Carbonell this well since "The Tick". Liked the introduction of Emma's dad this week as well. Ian Hart (I miss "Luck") was perfect in that lovely little scene which has been done 1000x before on television - meeting the parents.

Too bad more people didn't come to your column. I guess this show is acquired taste.
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Yeah, I'm sticking with it and I wish you guys would stick with the reviews as well. Please??
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Just not enough eyeballs week-to-week. :-/
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That may be true. It doesn't have a lot of comments, but most of them are very positive... Which is better than having tons of comments and half of them are stating that they hate the show (like the following)! No?
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It isn't a "may be true" case...it's an "is true" case: Readership for the show isn't very good.
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That sux. Oh well. I guess that's just how these things go. I'll miss the reviews but I'll still be watching.
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Show is decent. Funny that when Norman looks at his phone outside Bradley's house before he goes in..if you pause the show, it's supposedly "10:00 PM" but his phone reads "2:34 PM."
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I enjoy that the writers are either confident or foolhardy enough to keep the story moving rather than make the viewer wait indefinitely for resolution. I like that for the first time the sheriff appeared to be an at least somewhat reasonable human being and sincere in that he could understand if Norma was just trying to defend herself.

I actually grew to really like Dylan the last episode where he was completely comfortable spending all day guarding a pot farm for lack of anything better to do +revenue. a plus side to the dylan storyline with the freakishly on-point criminal portrayal of his asian friend who could give most of justified's cast a run for their money in his ability to appear to be a potential villain.

I also am not very fond of bradley but i'm sure the writers are well aware of this. they made emma both someone to root for and gave her depth and emotions. bradley is just normans chance at living out a fantasy. and a source for turmoil in his relationship with emma. bradley leaving flowers on the side of the road where she found her father in the car was weird right? it's not like he got in an accident there and was then set ablaze.

Anyway this show feels self-aware and that's what makes it better than a lot of shows of this type (the following, american horror story every time it hits the halfway through mark) even if it features the bizarre and fantastical.

lastly white pine bay is very clearly a character within the show that the writers can draw on when they choose and an awesome one at that. they even make good use of outdoor shots of the place. I know what it is, this is like a legitimately viewable version of that one show on syfy based on a stephen king something or other. "haven," that's it.
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He died on that exact place, it's not weird to put flowers on the exact place your loved one died in -_-
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I had no issue with her placing the flowers, that was pretty much the last place he was in the outside world before being taken to the hospital where he died. most roadside memorials are the same way, they're taken to the hospital where pronounced dead or die shortly after. Truth be told I thought it was a well handled way of showing he died without dragging the audience down over some guy we never even really saw and still giving it some emotional punch.
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good points from both ...and yeah the fact that that's how they did revealed that he died totally skipped my mind. =\
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Hello!

I have to disagree with reviewer, the episode has been by far the best so far. The show is great, and it's picking up speed. The arrest bit happened way too quickly than I would have anticipated...I was hoping that the sheriff would piss off Norma and that she might kill him too...

I've never been "bored" watching this show. Something intresting is always happening to keep my attention up all the time. I must compliment the Dylan/Norma scene at the stairway. It was done very good, when Norma said "Nobody is taking him away from me", I felt kind of sad for her. Not only because of what Keith did to her, but what Dylan is doing to her. I don't think she deserves this kind of treatment...because she is slightly mad.< lol

I sort of enjoy Emma/Norman pairing more than Bradley/Norman because ugh I don't know...

There's something about Bradley I don't like. It feels like she has everything, that big house, she is pretty and healthy...the only tragic thing happening in her life is her father dying. Emma's life on the other hand is much worse, she has been sick her whole life. I think she deserves hapiness more than Bradley....

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At least its better than Glee and its not on CBS or NBC so it just might make it to season two instead of getting people hooked then canceling it.
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You'll be happy to know it was picked up for another season. It's gonna air in early 2014.
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I dont know what this show is but I will watch it because I liked your recap!
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When Dylan was first introduced I really disliked him the entire episode, but over the course of this episode he's totally changed my mind. Now he might be my favorite character, though I haven't really identified with any characters yet so that's not saying much.
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I was a bit worried about Dylan's placement in the show, especially in regards to the criminal element and whether or not we needed it, but if the character can turn in good house-related moments, I'll take the criminal stuff as a trade off because the house stuff is just that interesting.
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I think Dylan is the creepiest of the bunch - waiting outside a room while your mum is doing the her civic duty with the deputy - kinda freaky
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Hehe. I think the difference may be that the pleasure comes not from waiting outside while she's doing it but being able to to call her out on it when she leaves the room.
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I'm soooo hooked...happy to hear it got renewed.......
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Bates and Hannibal are slowly becoming my two new favorite shows that will likely replace Dexter when it ends this season :(
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You may not want to broadcast that all your favourite TV shows are about serial killers. And you might want to talk to someone about that before you end up buying a bed and breakfast where the guests are the breakfast.
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Hmmm not a bad idea!! "Home Cooked" meals are only a portion of whats on the menu!
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I'm sorry you're not going to be reviewing it anymore. This is actually one of my favorites. I really don't watch that much television, and don't stick with something if I don't love it. I think the creepy atmosphere of this show is perfect, and the characters are compelling.

I also think Dylan bought groceries, apparently during the night when he was helping Norman escape from Shelby, then planted himself in front of the motel all day long. I guess there's not much to do in White Pine.
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This was a great episode.. sure slow at times but lots of plot and character progression.. Dylan really grew on me this episode, a far cry from the pilot when I considered him the enemy, now I feel like he's Normans only hope who sadly enough, we know won't succeed.

My only issue with the show is a fairly common one in these prequel approachs to older sources, and that's modernizing it. Norman as a kid with a cell phone, Mother sitting in bed with her laptop. While not a huge gripe, I think I would have liked to have seen a period piece that flows right into the original movie.

Also, LOVED the line "But I didn't defend myself! I killed the crap out of him!"
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Not sure I can handle many more cliche "poorly timed arrivals" of police, brothers, the police, etc...

Whether they're ripping out carpet, going to "study", making nookie, sneaking into a house, talking about a murder, the doorbell rings, or a car pulls up.

Already getting tiresome in my opinion. Seems like lazy writing
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