'Bates Motel' Checks Back In, 'Vikings' Halts, Pretty Little Liars' Plots

Bates Motel – Season 4.Episode 1 (“A Danger to Himself and Others”)
The best show on television returned with another stellar season opener. Picking up shortly after the events of last year’s finale, Norma and Dylan had mounted a low key search for Norman before he was discovered roaming the field where he’d supposedly buried Bradley Martin (it’s still possible she was a figment of his imagination).

When he was confronted by the farmer who had found him, Norman became hysterical and the farmer knocked him out with a single punch. Sent to the psych ward for observation, Norma spent the rest of the hour trying to figure out the best course of treatment for her son and how she was going to afford putting him in the swanky sanitarium she toured last season.

Due to bad timing Norma was on her own caring for Norman because Dylan had to leave for Portland to be with Emma, who was receiving her lung transplant. Despite her best attempts to hide it, Norma was clearly disconcerted by this turn of events and her previously fond feelings for Emma seemed to become tainted with jealousy. One of the major things at play in this interaction was that Norma has reluctantly come to depend on Dylan thanks to his willingness to help shoulder Norman's care and she was clearly shaken by the possibility that she was on her own, again. 

Unbeknownst to Emma, the mother who’d abandoned her as a young child resurfaced determined to give her daughter one of her childhood stuffed animals and a letter. The former Mrs. Decody hinted that the contents of said letter were explosive. Whether we will ever learn what it said, remains a mystery because before episode’s end, Norman had struck again. Overwhelmed by his “Mother” persona, he killed Emma’s mother in a rage. 

It was another terrible and avoidable loss of life. Norma’s attempt at compromise by locking him inside a bedroom to prevent his roaming free, failed. How he will be able to avoid his latest crime being discovered is hard to imagine. Of note is that Norma’s behavior towards Emma’s mom was unusually harsh when they met and it marks one of the few times Norma and Norman’s “Mother” alter appeared to share a similar sentiment, though Norman could not have known that. 

As “Bates Motel” did last season, it yanked the rug out from under viewer expectations with the introduction of the ex Mrs. Decody. Given what had been stated about her up to this point, one was personally expecting to hold Emma’s wayward mother in particularly low regard. Instead of the callous horror one was expecting; a quiet, sensitive and sympathetic soul emerged in their stead. You can always count on “Bates Motel” for a humanized and well rounded portrait of a complicated entity and the spot-on casting choice of Karina Logue in the role only furthered the impact.

Norma’s proposal to Romero was terribly unromantic, terse and totally Norma. Romero’s expression said it all and while he initially refused, one can hope he will eventually change his mind. He is clearly shaken up by the lengths he has went to protect her and once he reconciles that she’s worth it, he will come around. A really promising season opener that set the foundation for loads of story to come “Bates Motel” checked back in at full storyline capacity.
Vikings – Season 4.Episode 4 (“Yol”)
“Vikings” experienced another less than eventful hour in the closest thing to a Christmas special, it will probably ever have. First the major plot points: Ragnar went "Wolf of Wall Street" on drugs, Floki became the new seer, Rollo got rolling with Gisla and Aslaug asked Floki to tutor Ivar in the dark arts of paganism. Can Floki please move to Iceland already? The guy is nuttier than a fruit cake and how Ragnar cannot see what a liability he is; makes no sense. Ragnar interpreted Athelstan’s message of "mercy" to mean "spare Floki's life". Athelstan did not say there was anything wrong with banishing him.

Ragnar and Aslaug’s differing parenting style brought increased tension into an already strained marriage. She continued to use Ragnar’s guilt about his initial reaction to Ivar against him and it sent Rags spinning into a drug fueled spiral with the newly emancipated Yidu. Over in the wilderness, Bjorn took out the berserker hired to kill him and promptly plotted revenge, starting with taking Erlendur's wife Torvi, with whom he'd had a fling with last season. 

After bemoaning the lack of Lagertha this season, she finally reappeared albeit briefly at the end of the episode. Strongly disappointing was that her sole purpose was to convince Torvi to abandon her son so she could run off with Bjorn. A worse piece of advice is impossible to fathom. Lagertha’s argument that life is short and you only live it once are exactly the reasons Torvi should not throw her life away for the son of the man who “blood eagle'd” the father of her child.

How on earth does it make sense to trash one's duty as a mother for any reason? After Lagertha experienced the painful consequences of her ex-husband’s fickle loyalty to her as a wife and as the father of her children, you would expect her to approach such a predicament with a keener perspective.

It was a tossup between Judith, Aslaug, and Floki for the episode’s most annoying character. Judith probably pulled ahead with her “I’m free” speech to her father. Apparently, she forgot she’s missing an ear due to her decision to cheat on her husband, and the punishment she reaped came at the hands of Ecbert. She is easily the most foolish female character on the show.

Pretty Little Liars – Season 6B.Episode 19 (“Did You Miss Me?”)
Hanna usurped Spencer and took command of the Liars by offering a weird game plan that would lure ‘A’ into the open. Hanna’s assertiveness was not lost on a domineering Spencer. Tensions between the two have boiled up in the past and Hanna usually acquiesces to Spencer’s inexplicable defacto leadership. It was nice to see her standing firm for a change and standing behind Mona when the others were putting her down. However it was a huge about face for the bubbly blonde given how just last week she was giving Mona the cold shoulder and then some. 

How a plan that included Hanna confessing to Charlotte’s murder on a voicemail recording is going to help the Liars is difficult to comprehend. No one thought to mention the danger that her false confession could be used against her in the ongoing police inquest. Without even having to hit the edit button, ‘emoji A’ could send Hanna to prison forever.

The “Spaleb” pairing continues to annoy and Hanna’s strange play for Caleb, which included an awkward hand grab and a closer than close couch sitting arrangement, sent a message that she might not be giving up on a “Haleb” reunion. Caleb continued acting as though he only shared a past with Spencer. No matter how many flashbacks they share together, it does not erase the 5 years viewers actually saw between “Haleb”. Sorry "PLL"!

[Images by A&E, HISTORY]