Bates Motel, Season 1, Episode 4: “Trust Me”
Written by Kerry Ehrin
Directed by Johan Renck
Airs Mondays at 10pm ET on A&E
Anyone who’s seen Psycho and watches Bates Motel brings his or her own insights, prejudices, fears, and collective memories into the interpretation, and that’s the biggest challenge the showrunners face. The greatest coup the writers of Bates Motel pull each and every week is that they constantly surprise us by having the characters do the unexpected. We think we know the story of Norma and Norman Bates, but with each episode the plot thickens. Last week’s episode “What’s Wrong With Norman” was all about Norman, his blackouts, and his ever-growing affliction. Episode four, “Trust Me,” focuses on the Bates brothers, as Norman opens up to Dylan and the siblings get away from their controlling, and out-of-control mother, and find time to bond.
Opening with a flash back from last week, “Trust Me” begins with Norman walking down the street and headed to Deputy Shelby’s house to retrieve the toolbelt belonging to the now -deceased Keith Summers. Its an interesting and effective way to show viewers that Dylan isn’t far behind, as he follows Norman from close range. Last week’s cliffhanger left us with Norman in Zack’s basement discovering the Asian slave girl bound and drugged. It isn’t a surprise that Norman would escape unnoticed and unharmed, but having Dylan save the day was a wise and bold move on the part of the writing staff. This of course leads Dylan to interrogating Norman, and while Norman at first denies the entire event, Dylan’s open arms allows him to confide in his older brother later on. Could anyone anticipate that Norman would share his mother’s murderous secret, and if so, so soon?
Newcomers to Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho might find its slow pace and familiar narrative a little harder to swallow, factoring in today’s fast paced and high octane horror films. Even the picture’s legendary final twist might not come as a shock, since it has been lifted by dozens of movies since its release in 1960. So the creators of Bates Motel are obligated to find ways to update the story of Norman Bates for a much more sophisticated audience. Some of these inclusions have been downright suspect. Case in point: the pot fields lying just outside the town of White Pine Bay, not to mention the subplot involving human trafficking. I’m not yet convinced that any of the mysteries residing outside the Bates family tree will be all that interesting, but nevertheless, the negative attributes in Bates Motel are outweighed by its many positives.
There are two scenes in “Trust Me” that stand out, both for the great acting and solid writing, and both scenes take place just outside the Bates Motel, where Dylan sits around drinking his bourbon and smoking his cancer sticks. When Dylan realizes Norma is sleeping with the Deputy, no words are needed to express what each man is feeling or thinking. It’s a great exchange on the part of actors Max Thieriot and Mike Vogel. Dylan’s confused stare and Zack’s slight grin are more than enough to get the point across to viewers. The second moment comes later at the very same spot when Norman confides in Dylan, spilling his every secret. This is a key example of how the writers of Bates Motel seem to have an extra load of surprises hidden under their sleeves. If last week’s final scene felt like it belonged in a mid-season finale, the brotherly bonding and Dylan’s insight on the increasingly insane events seem like a season cliffhanger. This now puts Dylan and Norman on the same team, and pits them against both Norma and Zack. In a way, this is a game changer, and helps make Dylan a far more important figure in the series. Even more, Dylan’s wiliness to help out his little brother helps us, the viewers, find reason to like him. He will be the audience surrogate, at least as far as Season One goes, and he will no doubt be the central force pulling Norma and Norman further apart.
Another nice touch on the part of the writing team is to allow Norma to reveal her knowledge of Norman’s blackout sessions, making it easier for us to understand why she doesn’t quite believe her son when he speaks of the young hostage in Shelby’s basement. And if that wasn’t enough, the writers of Bates Motel really cover their ground, and in a later scene, Norma does what any normal human being would do; she investigates the basement to satisfy her curiosity and ensure the safety of both her and her son.
In comparison to the three previous episodes, “Trust Me” is a very slow burn, and while it doesn’t feature some of the high points of its predecessors, “Trust Me” is the best of the bunch, if only because it doesn’t feature one bad scene. “Trust Me” is further confirmation that Dylan is perhaps the only normal person in White Pine Bay, even if his reaction to Norman’s confession was pretty sedate. Much like Psycho, Bates Motel takes a stab at our belief in every single traditional tentpoles of security we enjoy. The series suggests that the traditional American home is seething with emptiness, the lawmen of White Pine Bay are all corrupt, and no one can be trusted. From Bradley to Emma and back to Norman, every home seems vacant, and occupied by something altogether different, an impersonal, rented space much like the empty motel rooms . Bates Motel abandons traditional portrayals of the stereotypical American home, a place where privacy is usually expected, and the series acts as a prolonged intrusion on the personal space of its characters. But it isn’t just the characters who are always constantly probing, and trying to invade on each others personal space, but we, the viewers, as well.
– Ricky D
Bradley’s house really confirms just how rich these small townsfolk are. I couldn’t help but think they used the same set used for the home of Seth Cohen in The O.C.
Did Norman and Bradley have sex? The montage was very vague and I’m not entirely sure how far they went. I for whatever reason, always thought of Norman Bates as a virgin.
While Emma (Olivia Cooke), doesn’t’ make an appearance here, her dad does. It is a brief moment, but a highlight no less. Emma’s father seems almost as cool as her and the scene reminds us that Emma’s family will be Norman’s gateway into Taxidermia. So I expect to see more of him in the near future.
Zack clearly has no experience with teens. He speaks to Norman like a parent would to a toddler.
Norma – “I killed the crap out of him!”
Did Norman say “whatever” to his mother?
Sheriff Romero is slowly growing on me.
Norman – “I’m not jealous, you’re my mother not my girlfriend”