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'Bates Motel' recap: Season 2 kicks off

Season 2 | Ep. 201 | “Gone But Not Forgotten” | Aired Mar 3, 2014

Guess who’s not going to school today! And no, it’s not a snow day. A pre-recorded call from Norman Bates’ high school principal informs us that teacher Miss Watson, who cozied up to Norman in season 1, is dead. Miss Blair Watson. She had her throat slit at the end of season 1. “B” is for “Blair,” as in Bradley Martin’s deceased father had been having an affair with a mysterious “B” — this won’t end well. Meanwhile Norman’s waking up from a seemingly restful sleep. Jump to the funeral and the teen is a tearful mess. Norma hugs her distraught boy to her chest and gives an embarrassed grimace. Or is that a worried-people-will-figure-out-my-son-sliced-up-his-teacher grimace? Vera Farmiga gives good grimace, so I’m sure the reason I can’t decode it is because Vera Farmiga does not want me to.

Back at the house: “She was so kind. I can’t imagine why anyone would hurt her,” Norman says, mooning through the window at the falling rain. This deserves a haiku:

Psycho boy watches
Rain on the pane.
Sky cries for blood.

“Sweetheart, you didn’t really know her,” Norma replies. “You knew only one part of her — God knows what was going on in that woman’s life. We only see the tip of the iceberg with anyone. We see what people want us to see.” What was going on was that she tried to be besties with your knife-wielding offspring. She snuggled a porcupine. She messed with the bull and got the horns. She chose poorly. In other words, she did all the things a sultry young high school teacher ought not to do in a horror television series.

Of course, with this particular student, we may never know if her attentions were inflated by his psychological disturbances. Recently released evidence suggests she had other extracurricular activities:

Back to Norman: He follows the serial killer’s bible and once again holds on to a keepsake from the deceased — though season 1′s rapist wasn’t technically his kill. This time, he’s fingering Miss Watson’s pearl necklace. (Was the writer/director intentionally being suggestive? You betcha!) You’ll remember what mischief a certain belt caused in season 1.

Bradley, despondent after her father’s death and discovery of his darker side, jumps off a bridge.

Cut to four months later: Chirpy music accompanies Norma’s peppy steps down toward the motel on a sunny summer day. Her chipper attitude is most suspicious. Returning to the house on the hunt for Norman, she finds him in the basement, plugging away at some advanced taxidermy. He’s been busy. “It’s not normal,” she says.

When Norman returns to the land of the living, Emma hands him a stack of his letters to Bradley marked “Return to sender” and informs him that Bradley is getting out of the mental hospital that day.

The rings around Bradley’s eyes say — something. Has she been crying right up to the moment before we see her trudging forlornly down the hospital hallway? Has she been binging on coffee and playing Xbox all night like, say, someone writing this post? Or was it simply a tragic eye shadow mishap? In any case, the sandals and sundress laid out for her should cheer her right up. Worst of all, she’s become a smoker. Give it up while you can, kid.

Dylan tries to pay Norma rent, but she doesn’t want it because she’s morally opposed to his occupation on the marijuana farm. Rent pay fail!

Norma takes Norman on a driving lesson and, of course, micromanages every moment. She instructs him to pass a pokey RV in what is clearly a no-passing zone: “Hurry!” Worst driving instructor ever. Snark pause: A serial killer is about to get his driver’s license. That’s scary like a land shark.

Norman turns into the cemetery and Norma pitches a fit: “When is this going to end? This endless moping around about Miss Watson!” Again, is she trying to veer him away from his obsession with Miss Watson’s death so he doesn’t eventually recall what she believes is the horrible truth: that he killed Miss Watson? Or, is she just that insensitive. Walk a mile in Norma’s espadrilles – what would you do if your son was a homicidal maniac? Commit him. Right. Stop being so practical.

Meanwhile, Bradley hunts for her pop’s killer and runs into the seedier side of his life. Bradley’s got a gun. Norman shows up just in time to annoy the hell out of her with a rather sweet and sincere outreach, in which he offers to be there should she need to talk to someone (in bed). She ignores him out of the room.

Continuing his good Samaritan streak, Norman goes to Sheriff Romero with a photograph of a strange man at Miss Watson’s grave. The sheriff turns the conversation around to Norman’s interest in and involvement with Miss Watson. This junior serial killer knows when the best plan is to back away slowly with a winning smile.

Next, Norma flips her wig at the city council meeting, bleating about the highway bypass, which has been fast-tracked without her knowledge, and calling out the town’s dependence on the local drug industry. That’s going to bite her in the butt. It’ll probably be a Doberman. These don’t seem like Rottweiler people.

Dylan confronts Bradley about her confronting Gil. He reveals the secret of the “B” — yep, Miss Watson — and says that her dad started fooling around with the teacher, who was Gil’s girlfriend. He claims not to know if Gil killed her dad and tells her to stay the hell out of everything and that he’s trying to help her. Bradley doesn’t need his help. Bradley’s got a gun.

Sheriff Romero catches up with Norma and advises her to keep Norman busy at something away from Miss Watson’s grave, causing a big fight between Norma and Norman. Norman tearfully confesses that he went to Miss Watson’s house the night she was killed and that he ran away because she made him feel all funny inside. His mom reassures him that Miss Watson was being inappropriate and that he’s “a good boy” for bolting.

Bradley shows up at Gil’s house with intent to seduce-and-shoot. It’s like dine-and-dash, but with dead people. “It’s not easy being a girl without a daddy,” she says in the episode’s most memorable line. You’d think Bradley would have an exit plan, but it seems she put all her brain cells to work figuring out what to wear. She shows up in Norman’s bedroom in the middle of the night – the “How’d you get in here?” question is obviously for the next episode – asking him if he really meant it when he said he’d help her out. Hope he has a shovel.

Not sure I’m digging this turn in Bradley’s arc. What do you think? Is it overkill? Next thing you know, the head of the PTA will blow away the principal over whether that trash Crime and Punishment stays or goes in the school curriculum. Does everyone in White Pine Bay have to be a murderer?

Bates Motel, rated TV-14, airs Mondays at 9/8 C on A&E.

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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