The end is nigh and all of Norman’s progress is about to come undone. Likewise, Norma’s happy honeymoon phase is also about to unravel.
Although we’ve spent a number of episodes covering Norma and Norman as they navigate their lives separately, this show has always been about how these characters truly are two sides of the same coin. Each one plays his or her part in the ultimate balancing act. Each one’s vitality hinges on the other.
As Norma spends the first few minutes of the episode making joyous plans for her future, Norman’s world comes crashing down when he accidentally discovers Norma’s marriage to Alex. Norma’s on a high while Norman hits the lowest of lows.
From this point forward, Norman’s ache for Norma deepens and he becomes desperate to see her. When he places a call to the Bates home and gets Alex on the phone, his worst fears are confirmed and he states quite coldly that he’ll be coming home very soon.
Throughout the episode, Norman manipulates his circumstances so that he can successfully check himself out of Pineview. He even tells Julian that he knows how to work people and situations to achieve his desired outcome. From this confession, a new diabolical side of Norman comes into full view.
On the opposite end of the Bates scale, Norma is faced with a serious threat to her and Alex’s happiness. She knows that having Norman home would jeopardize her new marriage. Deep down she understands that the bond she shares with Norman will always trump any relationship she has, no matter how special the man. And that scares her because she also knows that her relationship with Norman can never be fulfilling. It doesn’t truly sustain her the way it does for Norman.
Norman, on the other hand, doesn’t realize that there’s more to live and love than what he shares with Norma. Norma has hardly let him breathe enough to realize this on his own and he’s suffered for it. And she will too.
As the episode moves forward, we see Norman coming to terms with Norma’s marriage. He’s enraged by it. Haunted by it. Disgusted by it. Why is this marriage such a big deal for Norman? To me, it’s quite simple. It means the end of his relationship with Norma as he knows it. No more sleeping in the same bed. No more running into each other’s arms in times of need. If the marriage is real, as Norman suspects it is, then he knows he’ll be relegated to playing second fiddle in Norma’s life and he can’t quite handle that.
Even so, Norman is prepared to face what’s waiting for him at home and manages to convince Dr. Edwards that he needs to be there rather than at Pineview. In a rather heartbreaking moment, Norman appeals to Dr. Edwards’ conscience. He admits to being afraid of his own illness and even offers to submit himself to medication and outpatient therapy. His main point is that he’ll make more progress if he’s allowed to be near the one person who makes him feel whole. Dr. Edwards finds it within himself to agree and allows Norman to go home. One wonders whether Norman can truly come through this. Is the end closer than we think?
Tara Martinez is a New York-based writer with a passion for pop culture and a penchant for analysis. She frequently covers film, television, and representations of women in the media.