Norma Bates was loved. If we hadn’t known this before, we most definitely know it now. This entire episode was essentially a love letter to Norma, a letter that described in great detail all the things she meant to the men who held her close.
Tonight’s episode started where last week’s left off with a knocked-out Caleb in the basement finally coming to. As he wakes, he has visions of himself and Norma as children. It’s a flashback that shows us — as Kenny Johnson’s interpretation of Caleb has — that the love between siblings, especially in the face of adversity, can beat all odds. We revisit this toward the end of the episode when Caleb once again has visions of Norma and they quietly declare their love for each other.
Caleb has really interested me this season, especially in the way the show explores his feelings for Norma. At one point in the episode, Chick asks Caleb to talk about his childhood with Norma. In Caleb’s mind, it was idyllic and very similar to the way Norman envisions his life with Norma. But Chick shatters that perception by bringing up rape and incest, much the way reality shatters Norman’s delusion of Norma still being alive.
It’s interesting that these two men, Norman and Caleb, both feel so strongly about Norma that they must resort to delusion to see their own love fully realized and returned. What does it say about Norma that these are the types of people she attracted? I would argue that Norma herself sometimes held idyllic visions of the people and the world around her; sometimes that vision was Norman, or the motel, or whichever man she was dating at the time. Of all members of the Bates family, the only one who seems reluctant to see the world through rose-colored glasses is Dylan, and so far he’s been the most successful at having a normal life.
Speaking of Dylan, we get to see a whole lot of his old friend Chick in this episode, who has vowed to be indispensable to Norman and Mother. He convinces Norman/Mother that he can be trusted and that he’ll make sure they all stay safe. In reality, he’s simply out for a good story. We even seen him recording a conversation over dinner with Norman and Mother, and then buying a typewriter so he can write a “true crime” book.
We also catch up with Romero in this episode, who has somehow managed to escape the prison. Although a firm reason for his escape is never given, I think we can all surmise that he’s out for blood — Norman’s — and he’s willing to go to great lengths to get it. Avenging Norma’s death seems to be his only mission.
And lastly, there’s Norman who is lost and confused and afraid. But he’s also a bit cocky as we see in one scene where Madeleine visits the motel and he recognizes her need to lean on him. He assures her that he’s “safe” and that she can trust him. If history is any indicator, Madeleine is certainly in death’s path.
In a strange turn of events, the other side of Norman comes to the surface at the end of the episode. When prompted by Mother to kill Caleb, Norman hesitates and ultimately lets Caleb go. Is this who Norman really is without Mother? Perhaps. Unfortunately for Caleb, Mother takes over and forges a full-on attack that runs him out onto the road where Chick hits him with a car.
And that, ladies and gents, is where we leave off…