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Dylan Struggles with Family Loyalties, Bates Motel “Unbreak-Able” 

Photo Credit: James Dittiger/ A& E
Photo Credit: James Dittiger/ A&E

Y’all know I have a soft spot for Dylan, and this season, his arc has been on a bit of a slow burn as we waited for his decision to harbor Caleb to bite him in the ass. Well, tonight, it did.

Dylan has found himself in a strange new role at home–a confidante to Norma as she trusts Norman less and less. She tells him about the flash drive Annika gave her, and asks him not to tell Norman. He honors that request, and she’s grateful and affectionate–two emotions he’s not completely familiar with being on the receiving end of where his mother is concerned.

Then when the hotel office is ransacked and Dylan interrupts them, he gets the drive back from Norma (even though the last scene we saw had him taking custody of it, but OK). He tells her he doesn’t want it in the house with her because he doesn’t want her to be hurt. She surrenders the drive to him and then hugs him tightly, and perhaps a little too long, and he’s awash in emotion, and guilt.

As much as that moment has him wound up, he’s emotional and guilty because this happens the same day as a confrontation with Caleb. Dylan argues with him about going into town and risking exposure–and he has a point because Caleb saw Norma on the street but she didn’t see him–something Caleb doesn’t confess. Instead, he rails at Dylan that he’s been helpful, and he couldn’t have made all this progress on the farm without him.

Dylan is angry at Caleb, and himself for the continued lie, and then Caleb falls from the roof and is injured enough that he needs stitches. Dylan insists they go to the hospital and Caleb says he can’t because there is a warrant out for him, but he won’t say for what.

So Dylan stitches his hand himself, and Caleb drinks and talks about Norma. He tearfully comes clean that they were lovers, and he did love her, but at a certain point, she came home and put a stop to it, and he was so heartbroken that he raped her.

He tells Dylan he knows he can never be forgiven, but he wants to apologize. When Dylan returns later that night to hide the drive, Caleb is remorseful and Dylan hugs him. They head back outside and are stopped by Norman, who followed Dylan when he was again shut out after asking Dylan what he and Norma were talking about and Dylan wouldn’t tell him.

And we see Norman almost gleeful at the discovery because now he has something to use against Dylan and reclaim his spot in the household. Dylan runs after him and begs him not to tell Norma, that it will destroy the relationship he now has with her, and Norman essentially tells him he’s already done that with the lie, and he runs off into the darkness. Dylan is lost and Caleb can only apologize again at what he’s wrought.

I’ve said before that Dylan is a classic abused child–he shrinks into himself hoping not to be seen, not to be hit. This season, he’s finally been needed by all of his family, and in a series of small moments, none of which he instigated, he fails all of them. And the repercussions will be severe, because we’re already dealing with a fragile Norma, fractured Norman, and damaged Caleb. Once again, very quickly, Dylan is probably going to be alone again.

I hate that. We’re only four episodes in, so we have some time to sort it out, and I hope that Norma hears him out. We’ve not seen Dylan go out of his way to harm anyone. He’s just trying to get by, and get along, and his good intentions backfire.

I wrote last year about how fantastic Max Thieriot and Vera Farmiga are together. The big surprise this season is Kenny Johnson with Thieriot. There’s so much weight on the edge of what they do say to each other about the things that they can’t, with both seemingly always on the verge of tears.

And tonight we finally had Freddie Highmore one-on-one with Thieriot and their scenes ran the gamut. Dylan comforted Norman and put him to be at the beginning, was defiant in the hallway despite Norman being more physically imposing in close quarters, and then pleading and frantic when Norman learns his secret about Caleb and is unhinged about having his power over Norma restored because of someone else’s betrayal.

I’m very curious about where we go from here. We know Norma’s fate. Now I’m wondering about Dylan’s.

Bates Motel airs at 9/8c Mondays on A & E.

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