I’ve been really looking forward to this show ever since I first realized it was going to be happening. So, when it premiered I was a bit dismayed. I didn’t really like the first episode all that much. And, no, it had nothing to do with the more modern setting and modern technology. I actually DO like that about the show. It was one of the things that made me excited about it.
However, I thought the reactions to things were off. Like, Norman realizing something was wrong even before he noticed anything off in the house. Norma’s reaction to her husband dead on the floor. NOBODY thinking to check if he was still alive or to call 911 or anything. I mean, even you think Norma killed her husband (which is entirely possible as far as I’m concerned), I would expect her to fake concern and confusion.
Also, the rape scene with Keith Summers was off, as well. It didn’t really seem to serve a purpose except for shock value and to make the audience uncomfortable. I realize that his death may play a complicating role in her and Norman’s lives in that town soon, but there were a lot of situations they could have put her in that would have made more sense to the story instead of having him rape her.
I’m not against rape scenes in television or movies, or even books. So long as they serve a purpose and are organic to the plot and don’t seem like they’re just there to shock the audience and nothing more.
Also, another thing that bothered me about Norma being raped was that…not for a single second did she ever act like a rape survivor. It was like it never happened and didn’t even bother her. Which I found extremely odd. I realize that people react in different ways to horribly traumatic events like that, but when you add rape into a show it’s important to show that it isn’t just no big deal. That it has real and complicated emotional consequences for the person who was raped. If they had done that, I might have been able to just overlook the fact that the rape itself seemed to serve no actual purpose.
Now, the confrontation in the yard, the break-in, and the murder of Keith Summers? Yeah, those posed a purpose. I’m not saying they didn’t.
But, I mean, it was just stuff like that that sort of made the first episode seem off to me and made me dislike it a bit. It made me disappointed to the point where I was worried about the future of the show. If the first episode was THAT off, I wasn’t sure what that would say about the rest of the show.
That being said, I have to say that I’m glad I decided not to give up on it. I said I’d give it a few more episodes, maybe an entire season, to see if it picked up and got any better. And I’m glad that I did, because I really liked episode 2 a lot.
Everything was just right for episode 2, as far as I’m concerned. Nothing stuck out that bothered me or seemed particularly off about the episode. There were things I liked or disliked regarding characters, but it was just the typical, “this character is a douchebag, I don’t like them” sort of thing. Stuff that isn’t bad for the show, because we need douchebag characters! :p
For example, Norma’s oldest son Dylan. I was hoping that we’d get to see him show up in the show, although I was a little surprised to see him so soon (not that that is a bad thing, I was just not expecting it…being able to surprise me is a good aspect). Dylan is a douchebag character. He treats his mother like crap. He’s outwardly hostile and rude to both her and Norman, although more to her than to Norman.
I realize that he dislikes her because she fooled around with someone else behind his father’s back, and she shows no actual remorse for it. Or, at least that’s how it sounds. And because when she had Norman (by the same guy she was fooling around on his dad with, married or not that pissed him off it seems) the new baby was immediately the clear favorite. Which is probably why he’s not too fond of Norman, either. Norman is the favorite and he sees Norman as a kiss-ass who likes and always sides with Norma. Or at least, that’s probably how he perceives it.
And this is actual family stuff, this makes sense. There’s nothing weird about the fact that he hates Norma for these reasons and that that projects a bit onto Norman for being the favorite. Feeling betrayed, abandoned, etc. is not weird for a son in this position. Moving away without telling him and making it as difficult as possible for him to find them, whether she did that with him in mind or not, definitely didn’t help since he is quick to throw that in her face every chance he gets.
And he’s right to say that when you’re down and out you should be able to call on family to help you. To give you a place to stay and food to eat until you get back on your feet. In this day in age, it’s also not weird to expect to at least be able to ask for a loan (although, I get the feeling that he has to do this quite a lot and perhaps doesn’t ever pay her back and likely may not even intend to since he dislikes her so intensely).
However…none of that means he’s not a douchebag. He is wrong to assume that just because she’s his mother and that’s his family that he can treat them like trash under his boot in their own home (after he has clearly been on his own for some time and seems to be a legal adult). The last time they saw each other, he apparently called her a bitch and told her to go to hell. Now he’s treating her horribly in her own home while enjoying a warm bed, food whenever he wants it, a roof over his head. A safe haven. When he admittedly has nowhere to go. And he expects money from her. And he wasn’t too pleased to find out that she expected him to at least help out around the house and motel while he was there. He expected to get ALL of this not only for free, but while he was doing his level best to be a jerk and to disrespect her in her own home. That’s not okay.
I would have thrown Dylan out the second I realized he was not going to act like a civilized human being toward me in my own home. The guy is her son, but he’s also an adult who has made it clear he hates her and dislikes having anything to do with her. She made an attempt to let him stay, but he did his best to ruin it for himself.
I do NOT think he was out of line to beat up Norman in the kitchen, though. Norman had every right to be angry upon realizing that his brother had their mother listed under The Whore on his phone. But, that does not give him the right to attack Dylan for it. And when he did, Dylan had every right to defend himself, which is exactly what that was. And when he thought it was over and turned his back Norman was going to hit him in the head (probably extremely hard) with a meat tenderizer. That is such a dangerous thing to do that it could have killed Dylan or rendered him brain damaged. And I don’t doubt for a second that Norman was hoping to kill him in that moment. You don’t attack someone with a meat tenderizer, aiming for their head like that, if you aren’t intending to do some serious and permanent damage. Have you ever picked one of those up? For such a small kitchen implement, they’re kind of heavy. They’re supposed to be.
So, as far as I’m concerned Dylan did nothing wrong in the kitchen when he beat up his little brother. He was defending and protecting himself. Nothing more, nothing less. And he seemed rather unnerved by the entire ordeal. Not sure if that was intentional on the actor’s part, but that’s the way it came off to me. Especially after he realized that Norman had come after him with what amounts to a grooved hammer, intending to strike him in the head with all the force he could muster.
It was the straw that broke the camel’s back for Norma, though. The thing that finally had her telling him to pack his stuff and go. Although, I think she’d probably just been itching for a reason. She had plenty of them, if you ask me, but those were mostly slights against her personally and not against Norman. And this way she can say that she kicked her oldest son out of the house for Norman. That she doesn’t care what happens to her, but if it’s negatively impacting Norman then out goes the trash. Whatever or whoever that trash may be.
I don’t think she was lying for a second when she told Dylan she hated him earlier in the show.
While I think Dylan is a douchebag, he seems to be carving out a place for himself in that town, whether Norma is aware of it or not and whether she likes it or not. So, I’m hoping that despite his having to leave he’s still going to be a regular on the show. At least for a while this season. He’s the type of character that I love to hate and who isn’t so black-and-white.
Another character I’m not too fond of is Emma. All of the girls Norman’s age in that town seem to have personal space and boundary issues, but Emma seems to have them in spades. This might just be me, though. Maybe I have a distorted or otherwise weird concept of boundaries. But, she seems to think that she’s entitled to be allowed to take things that belong to Norman, even if it’s just borrowing, just so long as she asks first. It doesn’t occur to her that he might say no or that it might make him uncomfortable.
For example, she doesn’t know him very well but she sort of forced her way into studying at his house. He was clearly going to suggest another venue, but she interrupted him with a demand to meet at a specific time at his house anyway. And then left. When she got there, after they went upstairs, she found that notebook that he’d found and kept hidden under his bed. When she found it, she immediately wanted to open it and look at it regardless of what it might be. It could have been his personal journal, but she didn’t seem to care.
When he told her it was nothing and wanted it back, she immediately refused, moving it out of his reach and opening it to read it anyway. She didn’t care that this made him uncomfortable. And then when she asked to borrow it, she was already reaching for her backpack to put it in there AS she asked. She wasn’t waiting for him to give her permission or not.
If Norman were less socially awkward, she might not be able to get away with acting so rudely to him. But, he clearly likes to please people and he wants to fit in and he wants friends and he perhaps even wants a girlfriend or at least for a girl to like him in that manner, whether it’s Bradley or Emma. Just so long as someone deems him worthy to spend time with and to be interested in, although I don’t think for a moment that he feels they necessarily go hand-in-hand or that he’s entitled to that.
Now, clearly we can infer a lot about the future based on the movie Psycho. And we can see that his penchant for murder is already developing. And he’s got a torture kit under his bed, from the looks of it. A small one, but it’s there. He’s more into what he sees going on in that little book than it might otherwise appear. And we do know that at some point his attachment to his mother ends up going beyond just the usual mama’s boy thing.
Maybe I’m inferring too much from what we’ve seen in just two episodes so far, but it looks to me like he’s already on his way to becoming the serial killer we know of in the movie.
Still, this is stuff that the viewing audience is aware of and NOT something that anybody in the show is aware of, which is important to keep in mind.
Anyway, while I was disappointed with the first episode, I really liked the second episode (even the characters I dislike are awesome) and I hope that that’s a good indication of whether or not I will like the rest of the season.