“Bates Motel” Recap/Review: "The Box"

Dymon Lewis ’15 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer

Freddie Highmore in the Bates Motel episode "The Box." Photo Credit: A&E Network.
Freddie Highmore in the Bates Motel episode “The Box.” Photo Credit: A&E Network.
On this latest episode of Bates Motel, Norman (Freddie Highmore) remembered killing Miss Watson (Keegan Connor Tracy), Norma (Vera Farmiga) encouraged Dylan (Max Thieriot) to kill Zane (Michael Eklund), and Dylan tried to kill Zane but ended up killing Nick Ford (Michael O’Neill) instead. It’s like they always say—the family that preys together stays together.
“The Box” was evenly split between the three members of the Bates clan. While the drug wars storyline has never been particularly interesting it has quite nicely tied the three main characters into a knot of danger. What’s even more impressive is that the blame of danger cannot be squarely placed on one member of the clan’s head. While Norma is keen to blame Dylan for Norman’s kidnapping, since the older brother is working the Morgan drug business, Dylan is also right that Norma drew danger to herself when she got herself involved with Ford. Norman certainly isn’t helping himself by being caught with Miss Watson’s pearl necklace and a clipping of newspaper article about her murder (and also because of the fact that he totally slit her throat mid-coitus).
Norma spent this episode doing what she does best—freaking out, lying, begging for forgiveness and then starting the cycle all over again. Her utter refusal to acknowledge Emma’s (Olivia Cooke) feelings of exclusion and blank acceptance of the girl’s decision to quit was a perfect example of the façade that Norma wears so well. She doesn’t just shut the door in Emma’s face; she shuts the door on Emma’s desire to be a part of her family and inner circle. Of course Emma is being ridiculous; firstly just because she feels like she is more than an employee doesn’t mean that she is more than an employee.
Olivia Cooke in the Bates Motel episode "The Box." Photo Credit: A&E Network.
Olivia Cooke in the Bates Motel episode “The Box.” Photo Credit: A&E Network.
Secondly  there are only two members of the inner circle and they are Norma Bates and Norman Bates. But considering how kind and giving Emma has been toward the Bates family she does at least deserve acknowledgement of her feelings. Norma is not able to keep this cool façade when George (Michael Vartan) comes around for a repeat of their sexy times from the night before. Clearly Norma is losing it by this point—Norman is missing and his semen sample was found in Miss Watson, which is a lot to handle—but she was completely unhinged in her interaction with him. She doesn’t deserve the hug she gets from Emma when George drives away—but she takes it.
Dylan is one hundred percent in over his head in the drug war storyline. He’s fighting a losing battle on three fronts. On one side there’s Jodi Morgan (Kathleen Robertson) arguably the world’s most incompetent drug boss ever (especially when considered to the ruthless Nick Ford) who spends her days gardening, drinking wine and generally not reining in her loose cannon brother. On another side there’s Zane Morgan who is more suited to deal with the violence and hard decisions of the marijuana business but who lacks any sort of common sense or self-control and is essentially a rabid dog.
On the third side, there’s Nick Ford who is the smartest man in the room and also the deadliest. Dylan does not have the experience to conduct himself wisely on any front and so when he walks into Nick Ford’s office he doesn’t know better and basically tells him: “Here is the location of where Zane Morgan is hiding, I didn’t kill him and cannot do this task that you told me I have to do. I clearly have no more value. Plus you hate my mother.  And I don’t know this but apparently I am the older brother of the boy that killed your daughter.” Though Dylan survived and even killed the drug lord, he is definitely not in the clear as the rivalry between the Morgan siblings intensifies.
Freddie Highmore in the Bates Motel episode "The Box." Photo Credit: A&E Network.
Freddie Highmore in the Bates Motel episode “The Box.” Photo Credit: A&E Network.
Norman is the character stuck in “The Box” both physically after he is kidnapped by Ford’s men and mentally as he is confronts the memories stored in the box of his mind. The reveal that Norman was Miss Watson’s killer wasn’t actually surprising—him not being the killer would have been the real shocker. However, the depiction of his psychosis was revealing.
In his confrontation with Caleb (Kenny Johnson) Norman actually became his mother; Norman took Norma’s revelation that she had been repeatedly raped by her brother and created his own memories of the ordeal. When Norman killed Miss Watson, he imagined his mother encouraging him to do the deed. It appears that since the death of Miss Watson, Norman has been slipping further into his mind and turning into his mother as a form of protection for himself. He definitely keeps a piece of his mother inside himself.
One more episode left in the season. Wonder who else they can kill?
Overall Episode Grade: A

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