The Judge is an actor’s showcase that gets lost in the weeds of tired family dynamics and clunky subplots. There are moments when Robert Downey Jr. and Robert Duvall are allowed to take their characters into more dangerous places, but mostly they’re just constrained by an uninteresting story. The result is a film that packs no emotional wallop and builds to a conclusion that is neither surprising nor satisfying.
A door slowly creaks open, nudged from its closed position by a slight gust of wind. The wooden structure of an old farmhouse settles at inopportune moments, expanding and retracting minutely with unexpected knocks echoing through its halls. A shadow crosses through the moonlight that shines onto a bedroom floor, nestling itself just underneath the mattress, waiting to leap out and terrorize the bed’s resident, a helpless child.
“Underwater,” the penultimate episode in Bates Motel’s first season, may well be the most entertaining episode yet, by introducing some much needed dark humour to the series. Between Norma and Dylan’s reactions to Norman’s new pet Juno and Emma getting high; “Underwater” is terrifically funny in and throughout. Unlike last weeks episode, the wacky comic relief here is purely intentional.
How about we start with the stray dog. Lately, we’ve been getting more glimpses of Norman’s darker side and while watching Norman crouched down, hammer-in-hand and calling for the pup, I’m pretty sure most viewers were fearing for the dog’s life. It isn’t a big secret that the victims of serial killers are usually animals at first, but would the show be pushing Norman on the “textbook” serial killer course so early on? Story lines seem so quickly resolved in Bates Motel, and in what is already a short season, that possibility was left open.
In Bates Motel, the audience is led on a journey into the psychological abyss. Littered with Freudian symbolism, the series is both suffocating and schizophrenic – and it’s central character is tragically imprisoned by both his past and his mind. Bates Motel is a prolonged intrusion on the personal space of the Norman and the viewer.
On this week’s episode of the Bates Motel Podcast, Editor in Chief Ricky D and Staff Editor Deepayan sit down with fellow SOS contributor Randy of Processed Media to discuss the second episode of the A&E show Bates Motel, titled “Nice Town You Picked, Norma…“. Among the topics discussed are the individual performances of Vera Farmiga and Freddie Highmore, the similarities between Bates Motel and the now-cancelled Twin Peaks, and the trepidation over the writers cramming in too many storylines in a limited number of episodes.