TV: Trouble Circles 'Bates Motel', 'Vikings' Shows No Mercy

Bates Motel – Season 4.Episode 4: “Lights of Winter”
In the last episode before a two-week break, “Bates Motel” left viewers on the edge of their seats. Following his short-lived breakout from the mental institution, Norman (Freddie Highmore, in another phenomenal performance) finally came to the realization he is not mentally stable. In the episode’s heart wrenching ending scene, he admitted he needed help to Dr. Edwards (Damon Gupton) and showed a never-before-seen determination to get a handle on his mental state.

Norma (Vera Farmiga) continued to settle into domestic life with Romero (Nestor Carbonell) as trouble circled in the form of his ex-girlfriend (Jayme Ray Newman). She does not seem to be taking her “friends with benefits” breakup with Romero well at all, which is bad news for "Nomero" given that grudges are seldom forgiven on “Bates” - just ask Chick (Ryan Hurst). 

In Portland, Emma (Olivia Cooke) continued her recovery and announced she and her father would be relocating there full-time so she can pursue college. Dylan (Max Thieriot) was a bit taken aback before she asked if he would be willing to move with them, to which he enthusiastically agreed. Norma did not learn about her eldest son’s plans to move and her visit with Emma, while sweet felt short-lived in its sentiment. One cannot imagine mama Bates being too excited over the prospect of losing her once-estranged son when they are closer than ever. 

This was the first episode of the season to emit the sinking feeling that Dylan might not make it out of this one alive. There’s been something very ominous about his arc so far this season and it has not been by virtue of straightforward peril. Rather it’s that he has found happiness and contentment early on and he’s making plans for a brighter future. It's almost too good to be true and one cannot help sensing they are setting us up for the other shoe to drop.

Vikings – Season 4. Episode 7: “The Profit and the Loss”
Rollo (Clive Standen) declared he’d be loyal to Frankia and boy did he prove it. When the Vikings arrived in Paris rearing up to lay siege to it once again, he swiftly shut them down in a merciless defense that claimed many casualties. Leveraging his knowledge of his peoples’ battle tactics, he used it all against them in an epic act of betrayal.

Something surprising was Gisla’s (Morgane Polanski) awed reaction to Lagertha (Kathryn Winnick), who she showed quite a bit of respect for. One could also interpret her response as almost wanting to harness Lagertha in some way. She acted as though she was talking about an exotic animal she wanted to cage, in an attempt to assess their power. It was odd.

Easily topping that moment’s strangeness was Floki’s (Gustaf Skarsgard) imaginary (emphasis on imaginary) romp with Aslaug (Alyssa Sutherland). Where in the world did that come from? There had been absolutely zero build up to it. No indication Floki was harboring secret designs on his ex-best friend’s wife or anything. Of course when it comes to Floki, bizarre behavior is par for the course. 

As has already been lamented in this column before, he is probably the worst character on the show in terms of morality. If you needed any further proof of that, consider that he went out to have this dream hook-up while his wife (Maude Hirst) was fighting for her life after she’d risked it saving Ragnar’s (Travis Fimmel) sons during the Franks’ attack on Viking headquarters. It is high time for him to face his reckoning.

Overall this was the type of episode “Vikings” has become known for: unrelenting action, high stakes drama and mystical intrigue. It has been a slow build to get here but what a payoff! Ragnar’s dashed and hopeless expression by episode’s end indicated this might be it for him when it comes to fighting Rollo, as for the show? It’s fighting back stronger than ever.

Image Credit: "Bates Motel"/A&E, "Vikings"/History Channel