As Bates Motel opens its second season this Monday there’s a bit of catch-up to be done by viewers. Several months have passed since Miss Watson was murdered and now Norman can’t seem to stop visiting her grave - a fact noticed not only by his mother, Norma, but also by Sheriff Romero. “Gone But Not Forgotten” doesn’t just set up the season ahead but also ties together hanging threads from the first season. This is easily the most cohesive the series has ever felt - plot points that seemed out of place last year are either minimized or more intricately tied to the main story now. Bates came out of the gate strong, but there was always room for improvement. After viewing the latest episode, I’m more excited than ever to see what’s ahead.
When it premiered early last year this series quickly surpassed all of my expectations - I was entirely skeptical that the writers could create an interesting and believable backstory to live up to the original Psycho. In retrospect, the premise of the film is an incredibly unique one and it certainly leaves many unanswered questions about its characters. There’s a lot setup for this series to explore, and with Vera Farmiga as domineering matriarch Norma Bates and Freddie Highmore as her unusual son Norman, the first season accomplished the task of getting viewers invested despite knowing how it would all end up. But while knowledge of where the story was headed is certainly a bonus for writers, it seemed to also work against them at times. Some storylines during the first season seemed out of place, unrelated to the main story and almost distracting to viewers. Early on fans claimed that all of Norman’s high school scenes were unnecessary, but clearly given the Miss Watson storyline that was not the case. I did find Emma to grow quite tiresome throughout the first season though, I never really got the point of her character, and she only appears for a brief time in this weeks premiere. Like most shows with a strong first season, the key moving forward is to figure out what works best and stick with it. If this episode is any indication, the writers behind Bates know what they're doing. While I enjoyed Max Thieriot as Norman’s erstwhile older brother Dylan last season, his work story also felt disconnected and ultimately unimportant at times. That seems to change in the premiere as more of Miss Watson’s past connections begin to reveal themselves.
Stuff You'll Love:
- How dark it gets. Like I said, season one was a bit all over the place in parts, but this episode finds its footing quickly and doesn't shy away from how dark these storylines and characters really are. The ending is fantastic.
- A new mystery. While the focus of the series will always be the Norma / Norman relationship, season 1 began to introduce us to a larger world of characters around the town. While they felt disconnected at times, this episodes begins to tie things together and leads viewers onto a whole new set of questions.
“Gone But Not Forgotten” premieres Monday, March 3rd at 9/8c on A&E.
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