Alright, last week’s premiere of Bates Motel gave us a whole lot to digest. Not only did it lay the foundation for the story lines we’ll see this season, but it also gave us a world of possibilities to ponder. And this latest episode gave us even more to chew on. Here are the important points to consider from this week’s episode:
The idea of rivalry is not new to Bates Motel. But this season, we’re seeing rivalries as we’ve never seen them before.
Firstly, the rivalry between Norman and Romero is FAR from over. While visiting Romero in prison, an overconfident Norman sits across from his former stepfather and taunts him:
“Hey Sheriff. How’s life?” he says coyly.
Norman even finds it in himself to draw parallels between Romero’s imprisonment and his own time at Pineview Institute last season. It’s undoubtedly a smart parallel for Norman to make and one that maybe sends Romero over the edge. Are they really both sides of the same coin? They did love the same woman, after all. Did they both fail to protect her?
But Norma isn’t the only woman Norman is fighting over. There’s Madeleine now, too. When Norman discovers that Madeleine’s husband Sam Loomis is the very same man who clandestinely asked him for a motel room just a few days prior, Norman’s mind goes into overdrive. Sam’s does, too. And the two men, both invested in Madeleine, go toe-to-toe for the rest of the episode.
And then there’s Mother, who absolutely hates the idea of Norman seeing other woman – especially ones that look like her.
This episode also explored the feeling and consequence of loss. We see it in so many of the characters throughout the show, but this particular episode focused on the three men who loved Norma most: Romero, Caleb, and Norman.
In Romero, we see a much more defeated and downtrodden man than I think any of us could have anticipated. While we start off with an emboldened Romero who isn’t afraid to threaten Norman, we see him slowly but surely fall back into a smaller (and perhaps darker) place. With each scene, he shrinks back and – I think – begins to question himself, so that by the end of the episode, he’s both badly beaten and admittedly in over his head. It’s interesting to see this new and unfamiliar Romero who is visibly humbled by Norma’s death.
Much of this episode focused on Caleb’s grief over losing Norma, which manifested itself in both tears and anger. By the end of the episode, he finds himself face to face with Norma’s preserved corpse in the basement – a moment that’s followed by Norman (dressed as Mother) whacking him over the head.
And then there’s Norman, who is strangely lucid enough at times to recognize the gravity of his loss. During dinner with Madeleine and company, Norman slips into a dark place that produces tears and visions of Mother.
What struck me about this episode was how the sense of loss was so palpable on screen. As a viewer, I still find it difficult to fathom that Norma’s truly gone. She was such an important part of the fabric of this show and Mother simply doesn’t fill that void. I imagine that Norman, Romero, and Caleb all must feel the same way.
One of the more interesting things about this episode was how well it highlighted the shifts in the Norman/Mother dynamic and what the nature of their “love” for each other is now.
With Norma, Norman was conditioned to fight to keep her close every step of the way. And Norma, too, fought for Norman.
Now, with Mother so completely devoted to Norman (as was his only true desire), there’s nothing for Norman to fight for anymore. In fact, she seems to irk him quite a bit with her constant nagging. Perhaps it’s because Mother can’t remedy her shortcomings with physical affection and beautifully prepared meals. Maybe some part of Norman longs for the way things used to be.
In fact, more than once, Mother asks aloud whether Norman likes her anymore. She even goes so far as to describe herself as a caretaker for a mentally ill person.
What’s fascinating about this is that it suggests Norman has a full understanding of who and what he is. He recognizes how despicably he’s behaved and that, in turn, makes Mother despicable too. Of course, he doesn’t truly like her anymore…
Odds and Ends
Just a few tidbits you need to know:
- Chick showed up again. This time with a business proposition for Norman that involves taxidermy. Also, I think it’s safe to say he’s on to Norman and his unsavory deeds.
- Emma and Dylan are on a mission to live “a life in the sun.” That means no secrets, even between them. Can they succeed?
Till next week…