I have a spreadsheet that contains everything Michael Eklund has acted in and my goal is to watch all of it and blog about as much of it as I can along the way. There will be spoilers.
One of the fun things about watching everything a character actor does is the variety of projects they tend to accumulate. Now, I can’t watch all of every TV show, that would take the rest of my life, but I will provide a very brief synopsis of the story line Eklund is coming into when he plays a one-off or multiple episode guest character. If you haven’t seen the show check it out and if you have please let me know if I’ve misread the rest of the series.
I love the movie Psycho and the story surrounding Ed Gein, the real life inspiration for Psycho and Leatherface. So, it’s surprising that I haven’t seen Bates Motel. This project was the perfect inspiration to dip my toe into the waters and check into the motel for a short spell.
Season 2, episodes 2-10. For eight episodes we are introduced to a new antagonist entangled in the drug business in White Pine Bay. Taking over for Gil Turner (deceased), therefore becoming Dylan and Remo’s boss in the marijuana operation and driving a Kojak style car, we have Zane Morgan. *Promotional materials for this season also called him Zane Carpenter, but the character refers to himself as Zane Morgan.
Zane is a narcissistic, smoking, drinking, tough guy, who is extreme in his revenge. You really don’t want to be on the wrong side of this guy. No one on the show likes him, but if they know what’s good for them they make it seem like they do (or at least show that they’re scared of them.) Even the law isn’t exempt, shown when the Sheriff gets in his way and he torches the Sheriff’s house. He needs to show that they mean business, so he kills a worker from the other drug family run by Nick Ford. He can be nice and is to Dylan (less so to Remo), but make no mistake it’s in a manipulative way. That beer he’s offering is more than just a beer.
Every show needs a baddie and when you have a show like Bates Motel that is dramatic and passionate, it’s only natural to have a villain that is the same way. This is one of the roles Michael gets to show his swagger in, waltzing around in a leather jacket more often than not with a beer in hand, he’s the epitome of devil-may-care bad ass. Is it just a front?
That’s not to say he doesn’t get his comeuppance during his arc. Sometimes a bad ass flies a little too close to the sun and we end up with a guy who thinks no one can touch him. (I’m being a mature adult by not commenting on this sentence and the gloriousness that is that leather jacket and how much I’d be totally OK with touching it) The Sheriff, possibly strengthened by the complete torching of his house that Zane isn’t shy about taking credit for is having zero percent of his bullshit and explains his situation in a way only Zane can understand. He kicks his ass.
If this was the extent of Zane’s character I’d say he was one dimensional and borders on being the stereotypical gangster tough with a God complex. Michael Eklund plays it well, but he thankfully has more layers to play with than that. There is his family and the crack in his facade. See, it seems that when his father passed the family business down he saw what a royal screw up and bad businessman his son was and gave the keys to his daughter, Zane’s sister Jodi. Zane wasn’t OK with this situation and when Jodi shows up in White Pine Bay tensions rise. She’s there to oversee things and Zane is having none of that. What follows is your typical argument between two siblings where he thinks he is capable of running a drug running business and she thinks he’s barely able to run a roadside lemonade stand.
Jodi Morgan’s appearance in Zane’s territory starts a slow dive. Like a lot of people who consider themselves better than everyone else, Zane inherently distrusts everyone while also assuming everyone fears him. They would overthrow him the second he lets his guard down, he thinks. His paranoia starts to creep into the last few episodes of the arc, and Eklund does a fantastic job showing this slow deterioration as he pretends to trust Dylan and tries to double cross him and then starts bringing in goons to surround him from the traitors in the shadows.
By the time he confronts Dylan, his sister and the Sheriff he’s no longer the smooth criminal we see in this picture seated as though he owns the whole Mexican restaurant after barking for a beer…
In his final hours (I said there would be spoilers!) he’s a wounded animal and Michael does a great job showing the bravado leaking away as his ability to get himself out of any situation is taken away.
That’s the end of Zane Morgan and his presence in White Pine Bay. Eklund shows us his ability to play tough guys with a troubled backstory and his ability to swagger in a leather jacket.