Did Norman Bates really kill Miss Watson? This has been a question at the center of “Bates Motel” for several weeks now, but Monday night’s new episode “The Box” is one that actually got us close to having some answers on the subject.
Somehow, Carlton Cuse has decided to create another major episode of a TV show revolved around someone being buried underground, with the only difference between that this time, Norman wasn’t listening to “Make Your Own Kind of Music” and hitting a button. Instead, he was facing cold realities in the rain, including that the darkest part of himself (his own personal darkest timeline) did have sex with Miss Watson before murdering her. This is a devastating and game-changing reveal for the character, especially since it will deeply alter almost everything that comes after it for the rest of the series. Norman now has to figure out how in the world he can keep this part of himself at bay, and if he is better off being locked up in prison versus being this sort of monster again.
Norman’s isolated scenes were some of the episode’s best, and we also have to admit that the character of Emma has grown on us to the point where we really look forward to seeing her on-camera. Her emotional journey was a great one this week as she went from thinking that she was unappreciated to realizing that she still had value in this world, even if it was one littered with secrets that she did not always know. Norma was at a crossroads when it came to trying to stop Nick Ford, not realizing yet that Dylan actually killed him upon revealing that he was unable to kill Zane.
The drug trade storyline is to us still the weak point of the show, mostly because we feel like this can be seen almost anywhere on TV. “Bates Motel” is at its best dealing with the messed-up Bates family itself and the complicated relationships within it, and anything that takes away from that for longer than a few minutes should be expendable.
But “Bates Motel” has set the stage very well for an excellent finale, and they did so with a strong episode that addressed most of the issues plaguing the Bates family’s life the past several weeks. The only thing they need to hope now is that the finale really sets the stage for a third season like no other. Grade: B+.