“BATES MOTEL: Season 3, Episode 7” (TV Review)Movies/TV,News,Reviews Ken W. Hanley
After last week’s intense and demented hour of BATES MOTEL, one of the series’ highlights to date, this week provides a much more low key affair. Tending to the interpersonal drama with only glimpses of brooding horror, the ominously titled “The Last Supper” follows the immediate recourse of last week’s episode and is much slower paced. However, in this rather ho-hum episode lies some necessary developments for both characters and subplots, and with the show ending on a high note for Norma and Co., one can’t help but feel that fate has carved a deep, dark valley for the Bates family.
The closest thing to horror territory that “The Last Supper” gets is in Norman’s rapidly developing psychosis, with his incestuous feelings becoming more explicit than ever as his violent impulses and eccentric behavior becomes more apparent than ever. Of course, the scene between James Finnegan and Norman explores this territory outright, with James’ rightful accusation being met with a nearly-fatal outburst from amateur taxidermist Norman. But it’s not like Finnegan is wrong either; Norman’s jealous tantrums, longing stares and nightly caressing of his mother making for some genuinely unsettling moments.
“The Last Supper” also devotes a long portion of its run time to exploring the lives of BATES supporting characters, specifically Caleb, Romero and Emma. Caleb and Chick’s business relationship is briefly expanded upon, while his relationship with Norma continues to improve (and not in an entirely normal way, either). Meanwhile, this week provides a further look into Romero’s past, especially given how Bob Paris’ secret ledger is going to effect him should Norma make good on her threat, as well as his burgeoning attraction to Norma as well. And Emma’s home life is further explored in this episode, with a life-or-death operation coinciding with Dylan’s “inheritance” from Caleb.
While BATES was on a hot streak for quite a while with intense and creepy storytelling, this episode is definitely much more interested in developing mood and setting a scene, offering exposition in spades. This episode of BATES definitely eases up on the quirkier elements of the town and goes for somewhat of a more depressing and dramatic story this week, but largely helps convey information between parties that will hopefully pay off in these final season three episodes. There’s no doubt that the bridge between Norman and his family is oh so slowly being burnt, and one can only imagine that “Mother” will show up once more before the season takes its bow.
However, even a sleeper episode is somewhat strong thanks to the caliber of the performances on the series. Kenny Johnson and Nestor Carbonell truly shine in “The Last Supper”, with Freddie Highmore and Max Theriot also turning in some excellent performances as well. Vera Farmiga, Ryan Hurst and Olivia Cooke also deliver strong performances, even if their material within the episode was somewhat underwhelming. And a special kudos should also go to Ian Hart, whose guest performance as Emma’s father was a pleasant and impressive surprise.
Although “The Last Supper” is a generally weaker episode of the season, series like BATES MOTEL need these types of episodes occasionally to keep the ball rolling on the narrative. If every episode were as intense as “Norma Louise”, the show would eventually become monotonous in excessive insanity. And with the overall foreboding nature to the proceedings this week, there’s a good chance BATES could be prepping us for something truly devastating and disturbing in the weeks to come.