This was a doozy of an episode. The last five minutes alone, in my opinion, make it the best episode of the season. What’s more is that Freddie Highmore wrote this episode and that demonstrates how deeply he understands Norman and the rest of the characters on this show.
Tonight we delved even deeper into the bond that Norman and Norma have shared over the course of the series. In Norman’s eyes, this was the love of all loves. Nothing could ever match it. For Norma, it was a crutch. One that she could lean on when in need. And, on some level, Norman understands this. He chides her for having taken every bit of his love and devotion and twisted it to meet her needs.
In those last five minutes, we see Norman expressing his rage and anger over how Norma has betrayed his loyalty with her marriage to Alex. And, unlike all the many times before this one, Norma does not cower in Norman’s presence. She stands up, asserts her love for Alex, and demands that Norman recognize it. You could literally see Norman’s heart break in two right as the words escaped Norma’s mouth. The interesting thing is that she doesn’t exhibit an ounce of regret. Instead, she stands by her words and her assertion of the depth of her bond to Alex. She does for Alex what she would have done a thousand times over for Norman. But the tables have turned.
In the aftermath, we see Norman embracing his darkness. He takes to chopping wood with an axe and then steps forward to threaten Alex who’s merely come to ease his pain. Alex feels so threatened he leaves. It’s all Norman…Mother isn’t anywhere in sight.
For me, one of the more astounding things about this series is that Norman and Norma haven’t ever been able to see themselves clearly. They’ve never taken a moment to fully recognize how unhealthy their relationship is. It takes someone as simple as Alex Romero to bring that to the fore. The sad part about that is Norman has only ever known love through Norma’s eyes.
Imagine how heartbreaking it must be to have a mother like Norma who uses and manipulates you to her liking. To Norman, this is true love because it’s all he’s ever known. Meanwhile, Norma gets to walk the line. She keeps Norman in tow and relies on him to lift her up and keep her afloat. But even still, she seeks the love and approval of other men like Alex.
The idea that Norman is sort of a temp while Norma finds real love makes this episode very aptly titled. It’s the chronicling of Norma’s unfaithfulness and how it literally breaks Norman.
I doubt we’ll see very many hints of the nice, compassionate Norman we once knew. A heart broken is sometimes a heart lost. I think the darker side will take over from here on out…
Dylan and Emma said their goodbyes to Norma and Norman. They’re off to Portland in the coming days…unless family drama prevents them from departing on schedule.
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.