It seems like a long time since Bates Motel finished its first season. The sort of sleeper hit from 2013 was a nice success for A&E, who are now trying to jump into the realm of top notch television. Bates Motel gets a good start going into the second season, but it’s still suffering from many of the same issues.
In case you forgot what happened towards the end of last season, Norman seemingly murdered Miss Watson after a hallucinatory vision of his mother, Norma. Bradley is still going in a tail spin after her father’s mysterious death. Emma still has feelings for Norman and continues working for Norma at the Motel. We found out Romero wasn’t such a dick after all, after killing Jake and throwing the money in the water. Dylan is still working for the local marijuana industry, and the love triangle between him Bradley and Norman was still present.
“Gone But Not Forgotten” picks up basically where the season finale left off. Miss Watson’s body is discovered, of course, and foul play is suspected. The whole town goes to the funeral and Norman takes it particularly hard. Sometime later, Bradley decides to end it all and jumps off a bridge. This all happens in the first few minutes. Then the episode goes forward 4 months. Bradley is still alive and getting out of a mental institution. She’s still ignoring Norman.
Everything is back to normal, which is sort of the problem I had with this season premiere. I never care for shows jumping forward in large chunks of time. Thus far, it doesn’t sound like any real investigation was put into Miss Watson’s death, which seems odd in such a small town. I am reminded of Dexter’s 8th season premiere, after a major character’s murder at the end of season 7. The 8th season decided to jump forward in time, skipping past the fallout, and returning things to the status quo.
I don’t know yet whether or not Norman is going to fall under suspicion. There is more than enough time for it with this being the first episode of the season, but I always get anxious when a show drops a major bomb during the season finale, then follow it up next year by returning things to normal. It takes out the tension, and it takes out the fun. I must say despite these stipulations, I still find Bates Motel entertaining for a number of reasons.
First and foremost remains the shows acting. Vera Farmiga returns with an air of power we had only seen a few times last season. With the new bypass being built in their town, Norma has a new mission to stop construction and to keep her business from dying. Her vague attempt to sway people at a town meeting made for a delightfully awkward bit of acting, and was a scene I liked a lot.
Freddie Highmore, likewise, returns with the show constantly on his scrawny shoulders. We all know from “Psycho” that Norman Bates is psycho, but watching him get that way is the whole point of the show, and the way Freddie has been constantly progressing towards insanity has been a non-stop highlight for me.
Dylan didn’t have a whole lot to do this episode, but he probably will next week due to something at the end I definitely won’t spoil. It has to do with Bradley, who remains one of my major annoyances in the show. She brings a ridiculous air of melodrama that makes me think of a second rate ABC Family teen-drama. It’s not that Nicola Peltz is a bad actress by any means, but the show forces lame stereotypes on her that make it hard to take seriously. Yes, many girls would freak out in her situation, but her constant ridiculous/stupid decision making continues to gnaw at me.
The ending of the episode was a fun surprise, and made me excited about next week’s episode. “Gone but Not Forgotten” is an apt title for this episode, and really sums up how I feel about this season. It’s good to be back with the Bates, even if the side characters can be a little irritating.