Bates Motel (2013) / Drama-Thriller
Season 1: Episode 8: A Boy and His Dog
Cast: Freddie Highmore, Vera Farmiga, Max Theriot, Olivia Cooke, Jere Burns, Ian Tracey, Nestor Carbonell, Ian Hart, Nicola Peltz, Keegan Connor Tracy
Director: Ed Bianchi
Teleplay: Bill Balas
1.8 - "A Boy and His Dog"
"A Boy and His Dog", the title, will remind some of the old Harlan Ellison tales, including one featuring that title, that eventually would be made into a movie in the 1970s. That's about where the similarities end, as the reference in this episode has only to do with the boy, Norman Bates, and his learning about the profession of taxidermy from Emma Decody's father, Will (Hart, Breakfast on Pluto), who shows Norman the ropes while they fix up the stray dog that Norman befriended in Episode 7. Norma thinks it is a bit too morbid for Norman to take up as a hobby, as he is already getting a reputation in school for being a bit of a misfit, which has his teachers thinking the lad needs to some sort of professional help.
More complications arise when more kids at school start to talk about Norman's fling with Bradley, and while he isn't ashamed of it, it further drives a rift between the two could-have-been lovebirds, and it is really starting to get to him emotionally. Norma has problems of her own, as she wants to influence the vote for the proposed moving of the main thoroughfare through town, while she's also dealing with the creepy guy still residing in room no. 9, Jake Abernathy, whose mysterious activities have piqued Norma's curiosity, and you know what they say about a proverbial curious cat.
In the show's other major storyline, Dylan learns more about the insidious nature of his business, and gets some hints about the kind of people he works for. Seems that it's a tough business to stay alive in, and practically impossible to get out of, save for getting "fired", and as Remo (Tracey, Open Range) remarks, that's something you never want to have happen.
As the season begins its last few episodes, things begin to not only escalate in terms of storylines coming to a head, but also there appears to be ample setup for future story threads for the following season of episodes. The supporting cast is full of interesting character actors, especially Nestor Carbonell and Jere Burns at formidable power players who convincingly feel like they'd carry through on any threats, and the various storylines are upping the ante in terms of how potentially deadly they may be for everyone involved. One of the things I like most about this episode is how the controlling Norma appears to be more and more anguished that she is losing her grip on her own power to the men around her, and while it appears that she is diminishing in terms of her ability to influence, one gets the sense that Norman is going to be the one to lose out power to her as she fiercely begins to try to coerce hey boy(s) to take her side when push comes to shove.
Though the episode is merely build-up for the big events that are sure to follow, there is a tightening up that is certainly making the show more intriguing each week. "A Boy and His Dog", though all over the place in terms of its focus, remains one of the better episodes of the series for ratcheting up the intrigue. It's not really what one might call a great show, but it is definitely a fun, guilty pleasure.
For other episode reviews, check the Bates Motel page.
Qwipster's episode rating:
©2013 Vince Leo