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“BATES MOTEL: Season 3, Episode 9” (TV Review)

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After their strongest run to date, this writer must admit that he’s disappointed in the narrative decisions made in the ninth episode of BATES MOTEL’s third season. All the character development, tension and wickedness of the previous eight episodes have all but been cast aside for the generic in-town drama that brought down and frustrated horror fans throughout the first two seasons. And of course, it’s no coincidence that this just happens to come about when Bradley inexplicably enters the foray, a character who not many missed and whose fate is all too apparent.

But beyond even the Bradley problem, this episode entitled “Crazy”, has issues from every storyline, each of which have gone securely off-the-rails. Romero’s subplot, which was once motivated by desperation as Bob Paris cornered his personal and professional life, has now been reduced to being friendzoned by Norma as his allegiances sway wildly. Furthermore, Caleb conveniently exits his subplot while beating up Chick Hogan nearly to death and giving Dylan $50,000, which may have the most interesting repercussions but not nearly the most interesting interim action or dialogue. Even Norma herself has moved on from the much more interesting familial drama with Norman to being front and center against Bob Paris, which is one that’s even logically flawed in a fundamental way.

Of course, “Crazy” has three major atmospheric elements that it was working towards in its unfortunate approach. The first is a sense of foreboding: counterattacks from Bob Paris, Chick Hogan and Norman all seem imminent, yet terribly predictable in a sense. In fact, their predictability leads to the second element: ridding of loose ends, with Caleb, Bradley, Romero and possibly even Emma all conceivably looking at a spot on the chopping block. Lastly, there’s an element of responsibility as well, tending to each and every plotline from episodes beforehand, whether it Norma’s breaking bond with Norman, Dylan and Emma’s burgeoning romance, Romero and Paris’ power plays, Caleb and Chick’s job-gone-wrong and Bradley’s sudden reappearance, in which the show occasionally finds trouble giving each storyline to breathe.

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The one appreciated element of “Crazy” is that the episode still keeps its horror sensibilities on display throughout the episode. The appearance of the Norma hallucination during Norman’s intimate moments with Bradley is further reassurance that she might be the next to experience the wrath of “Mother.” Likewise, the continued appearance of the pool pit is disconcerting as is, and one gets the feeling that the season isn’t going to end without someone familiar winding up buried within. And the bloody fight between Chick and Caleb is the show near its most visceral, especially considering the practical make-up effects for its aftermath.

Luckily, BATES MOTEL at least earns points with “Crazy” with a handful of strong performances. In particular, this episode is another great showcase for Vera Farmiga and Nestor Carbonell, who both offer the most emotional and excellent performances of the episode. Max Thieriot and Kenny Johnson are also solid in this episode, despite having less screentime than their counterparts. And while the storyline and writing were rather tired, Nicola Peltz and Freddie Highmore do a fine job in their prolonged reunion on the show.

Even despite the disappointment garnered from “Crazy”, this writer hopes that it was a necessary set-up to pay off on an otherwise great season of BATES MOTEL. It’s more apparent than a broken arm that Bradley’s reappearance will surely bring “Mother” back into the fold, especially considering the teases for the season finale. And if BATES does use “Crazy” as a platform to which they can finally end some of this corrupt town nonsense, then at least it can be written off as such down the line.

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About the author
Ken W. Hanley
Ken W. Hanley is the Managing Web Editor for FANGORIA and STARLOG, as well as the former Web Editor for Diabolique Magazine and a contributing writer to YouWonCannes.com. He’s a graduate from Montclair State University, where he received an award for Excellence in Screenwriting. He’s currently working on screenplays, his debut novel "THE I IN EVIL", and various other projects, and can be followed on Twitter: @movieguyiguess.
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