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Moment of Goodness

Two Moments of Sadness: Dylan Comes Unglued in Bates Motel “Check-Out” 

Photo Credit: A & E
Photo Credit: A & E

So, Dylan has had the wounded thing down pat since Bates Motel kicked off and he arrived, unwelcome, at his mother’s new home with her bestest other son, Norman, but he’s worked hard to find a place in their home and hearts, and he’s proven himself worthy, even if his day job has a bit of sketch about it.

His whole world took a header last week in “Caleb,” when in a fit of fear and hate and bewilderment, Norman came at him because he was defending his new-found uncle and Norma blurted out that that uncle was actually his dad. As you can imagine, this shattered his already fragile hold on a stable life, and in “Check-Out,” we saw this unravel in two scenes that net Moments of Sadness.

In the first, coming off a mother of a booze bender, Dylan asks Norman how long he’s known the truth, and whether he was a joke for Norman and Norma because if it. Norman earnestly tells him no. There’s no mention of the violent throwdown in the kitchen from the night before.

Photo Credit: A & E
Photo Credit: A & E

We watch Dylan’s tether to some sort of stability disintegrate as he makes Norman realize the impact the truth has had on him. Everything he thought he knew about himself is gone, shattered, and he doesn’t know what to do with this new reality that he’s a child born of rape and incest. Norman tells him they’re the same as they were yesterday, and Dylan tells him to ask his mother about all the truths about himself that he doesn’t know, and then he throws him out.

In the second scene, at the end of the episode, he’s packing up when he encounters Norma halfway through a bottle of her own at the kitchen table, and they get into it again. He tells her he’s seen Caleb, who returned his money and wanted nothing and who says there was no rape. Now it’s Norma’s turn to disintegrate. She tells him that it was a rape, and that she’s telling the truth. He asks her why she had him in the first place, and she can’t answer.

Photo Credit: A& E
Photo Credit: A& E

Dylan walks away from her and when she tries to stop him, they’re both sobbing. He turns it back on her that he can’t believe her, and how does he know the pregnancy wasn’t what Caleb claimed—the result of a high school fling who she married? He tells her she used the pregnancy as an excuse to get married, and get out of her father’s house. He’s increasingly hysterical as he yells at her, essentially telling her that he’s been a pawn—her pawn—all along and that his whole life, and her decision to have him, has been her means to an end.

She tries to talk him down that it’s not true, that she was a terrified child herself who was trapped in an impossible life, and that none of this was his fault or her fault. He rages away from her, raw and exhausted. He heads down the stairs to his truck and she follows him as far as the porch, broken and now equally lost, and quietly watches him go. Norman stands out of sight on the side of the porch, catching the end of it.

LOVE this show. LOVE Vera Farmiga. Max Thieriot was new to me when I started this show and he’s killing it as Dylan. I loved his sweet, soft scene with Bradley earlier this season when he put her on the bus, and in “Check Out,” he did equally powerful work in his quiet resignation to his new identity and his explosive anger at needing someone to blame.

Farmiga is so good at trying to reconcile the circumstances of her elder son, who considers himself a consequence, with her love for him because he is her son, and he did save her from her old life (for a while, til she met Bates). In an earlier moment, when he’s blacked out and she’s putting him to bed in one of the motel rooms, you see what Norma really feels for him. As she tucks him, she leans in to really look at him, and she gently strokes his face. She does love him, more than he knows, but she knows that she’s failed him, too, and she doesn’t know how to fix it.

I look forward to seeing where we go next. if you missed “Check-Out,” or want to watch it again, it’s now up on Hulu. Here’s an inside peek at putting the episode together.

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