This week on Bates Motel: Dead deputies, dead dogs and dead dreams. Ah, idyllic White Pine Bay. Having fun! Wish you were here!
An Unexpected Outcome to the Blame Game
This week picks up pretty much where last week left off: with Deputy Shelby leaking vital bodily fluids all over the Bates’ steps. Sheriff Romero has just arrived on the rainy scene and carefully walks over and takes the gun from Dylan’s hand. You know, the one with which he shot Deputy Shelby through the eyeball. Romero rolls Shelby over and quickly discovers the gaping eye socket.
“We’d better talk,” he says.
Romero and the dysfunctional family move inside to the living room, where Norma comes clean about everything, from Summers' murder to Shelby's sex trade. She sits back and sniffs, apparently ready to lie in whatever bed she’s made. Romero lets it all sink in for a second.
“Here’s what the story’s gonna be,” he announces, and Norma narrows her eyes in confusion. To save face, Romero says they’re going to tell the town that he had suspected Shelby was a corrupt cop for a while, stemming from Summers’ mysterious death. He was just starting to close in when Shelby tried to move the girl from Summers’ boat, which led to the showdown at Bates Motel, wherein Romero killed Shelby. To hammer this point home, he picks up the murder weapon and smears his prints all over it. Dylan’s gunshot wound, Romero continues, was sustained when he “got in the way.”
Everyone seems quite pleased by this unexpected development—except for Dylan, who can’t believe his heroic role in this whole ordeal has been humiliatingly downgraded.
“That’s it? I risked my life to save all your asses and take that guy down, and that’s it? I got in the way of his showdown?”
“That’s it!” Norma says gleefully, then hugs Norman instead of the son who saved all of their lives.
In Which Everyone Avoids Someone
After she spent an eternity (okay, an episode) avoiding him, Bradley and Norman are finally making out again, this time in his spartan bedroom. Bradley is worried about Norma overhearing, but Norman does. Not. Care.
“She’s never gonna hear us. Trust me,” he promises.
Of course, Norma bursts in two seconds later. “What are you doing?” she asks, and Norman pulls his face out of a pillow, revealing that’s he’s all alone.
Norma, totally oblivious to the fact that her son was just making out with goose feathers, starts blathering about how she adores the sound of the birds chirping outside, then flits over to his armoire. Does it really surprise you that she still picks out Norman’s clothes? I guess he’s lucky that she’s not still making him wear “Mommy’s Little Snuggler” onesies.
They have seven days until the motel officially opens, we learn, although the reservation book is still glaringly empty. Norma asks her son to fix the lattice under the porch before he leaves for school. Norman gets dressed—and I do believe the shirt his mother picked out is layered underneath his sweater—then goes to make the repair. He pulls off a piece of the lattice to reveal a dirty little dog angrily defending its territory underneath the porch. Norman throws it the rest of his breakfast. “Come here,” he says softly, hammer clenched somewhat alarmingly in his hand. “Come here. I won’t hurt you.” The dog skitters away.
Inside, Norma is making Dylan breakfast to show her appreciation for him getting shot and killing a cop and all. “You know I’m still moving out, right?” he asks. Norma deflates like water wings after Labor Day.
“Even after everything I told you about your brother?” Dylan says yes—he isn’t sure how he can help with that situation, so the beach house is still happening. Norma starts angrily yanking the trash bag out of the garbage can, but it’s one of those models where you step on a lever to open the lid, and the trash bag always, always, always gets stuck in them. Dylan does know how to help with that, so he steps up to wrest the bag out of the container. “THANKS SO MUCH,” she hilariously yells at him.
Dylan takes the bag downstairs to the dumpster, where a man I’m pretty sure is Ed Begley, Jr. pulls up. Except it’s totally not Ed Begley, Jr. The actor’s name is Jere Burns and he’s on a bunch of critically-acclaimed shows, including Justified and Burn Notice. My apologies for the egregious error.
“Can you tell me what happened to the Seafairer Motel?” he asks.
“New owners,” Dylan says. “It’s the Bates Motel now.”
Somewhat chagrined, not-Ed Begley, Jr. asks where Keith Summers is. Dylan informs the man of Summers’ untimely demise, and the mysterious man drives away.
At school, Norman can barely contain his excitement when he sees that Bradley has returned. “You’re back at school,” he states.
“Can’t hide behind death forever,” she says. As her friends usher her on—they did her book report on The Odyssey for her, by the way—Norman asks if he can see her later. Bradley sort of shrugs and spreads her arms, shaking her head apologetically.
The Man in Number 9
Suited up in her professional best, Norma is delivering brochures to businesses in hopes that they’ll help promote the motel. She'll do the same in return.
“We really don’t do that kind of thing so much,” says Liz Morgan, restaurant manager, not even trying to explain the full display of travel brochures visible to her left. “I’m selective about the businesses I promote in my restaurant,” Morgan continues, handing a brochure back to Norma. She goes on to say that the whole town knows everything that happened up at the motel. “People talk, and especially in a small town—it’s just kind of tainted the place." Norma has the gall to look surprised.
She returns to the motel to check the reservations again, but there's still zip. Someone wants a room, however, because she’s getting ready to lock up when she sees a shadowy figure jiggling a key at the door to room #9. It’s the man from earlier—Jake Abernathy, he says—and he’s trying to figure out what happened to his every-other-month “standing room reservations” at the Seafairer.
Norma informs him that she had the locks changed when she took over the motel, and that although they’re not officially open for another week, he’s welcome to stay. “I’d be happy to get you a new key,” she says.
“To number nine,” Abernathy insists. Norma doesn’t care what room he stays in—she’s just thrilled to have a customer who is neither a wildly corrupt police officer nor an unconscious sex slave. She gets the key and bids him a good night.
Moments later, Dylan pulls up as Norma is finishing locking up and asks who's staying at the motel. Norma explains the whole standing reservations thing, and Dylan reports that he ran into the same man earlier, just sitting in his car, staring at the motel. “He was weird,” he concludes. “You got all of his info and everything already?”
I’m pretty sure that in Motel Ownership for Dummies, one of the first chapters is about making people pay for their rooms. Norma must have skipped that part, because she didn’t. Dylan offers to take care of it and knocks at Abernathy's door holding a very official-looking clipboard. When Abernathy opens up, Dylan requests a driver’s license and a credit card.
“My information is already in the system,” Abernathy says, but after Dylan explains that their system is different than the Seafairer system, he reluctantly hands his license over. While he’s writing down the info, Dylan asks what kind of business Abernathy’s in.
“Sales,” is the vague answer.
“What kind?” Dylan asks.
Finished with copying the ID information, Dylan asks for a credit card. Abernathy hesitates, then reaches into his wallet and counts out at least five hundred dollar bills.
“That ought to be enough for the next few nights, won’t it?” he asks.
It sure is. Dylan takes the cash. En route to the house, he finds Norma on the outside steps with a bucket and scrub brush. She’s attempting to clean up the Shelby stain, but Dylan gives her a little Geology 101 lesson: “Stone’s porous. You can’t scrub blood out of it. It’ll wear off in time.” He adds that no one’s going to know that’s what the stain is.
“I’m gonna know," she insists. "Every time I walk out the door it’s gonna be, ‘Oh, what a beautiful day. Heeeey, that’s where Deputy Shelby bled to death.'” She tells him what the restaurant manager said and worries about being the laughingstock of White Pine if the business fails. “That’s not what I moved here for,” she says, and resumes her futile scrubbing.
“You can’t get blood out of stone, Norma,” Dylan repeats, and tosses the wad of hundreds down to her bucket.
Strange Stares and Strange Noises
As they're picking up painting supplies, Norman tells Dylan that he can’t move in with him while their mother is in such a fragile state. The conversation trails off when he sees Bradley getting out of someone’s convertible; a goofy smile spreads over his face. Both brothers stare at her.
She spots Norman, looks a bit uncomfortable, but walks over to say hi anyway. She reports that she’s picking up some takeout because her mom’s out of town for a few days.
“Oh, you’re all by yourself there??” Norman asks, a little too excitedly.
“Yeah, it’s okay,” she says, then turns her attention to Dylan. “You work for Gil, right? My dad used to work with him. His name was Jerry Martin.”
Dylan makes the connection and offers her his condolences.
“Thanks,” Bradley says, and the two of them lock eyes until Norman interrupts.
“Your food’s gonna get cold,” he announces, which breaks Bradley out of her reverie.
Once Norman is in the truck, she shares one more lingering glance with Dylan.
“Is that the girl that texted you the other night? The one I told you to sleep with?” Dylan asks. Norman confirms that it is, but says that they haven’t really seen each other since.
“You know, her dad died. She’s got stuff going on,” Norman replies.
“Sure,” Dylan says unconvincingly.
At home, Norma is in bed when she hears a strange noise. She heads downstairs to investigate. In the dark. Alone. Will she ever learn? The back door leading out from the kitchen is banging open and shut in the wind. Norma grabs a knife, just in case something other than the wind opened that door. As she closes the door, she looks around outside. Nothing’s there.
Emma and Norma Join Forces
Emma comes over to see if Norman can come out to play.
Norma says she’ll go upstairs and get him. “Did you get a dog?” Emma asks, and they both look at the plate of food on the porch. Norma says she’s not aware of one, then goes to retrieve Norman. Turns out he’s is too busy pining for Bradley to waste time on Emma.
“You know that sweet girl likes you, right?” Norma asks.
“Maybe it’s nicer not to lead someone on,” he replies pointedly. His mother doesn’t miss the thinly-veiled accusation, and she’s suddenly giving him hell for leaving food out for stray animals.
She thunders downstairs to tell Emma that Norman is “sick,” but Emma’s no fool. She's headed out the door with tears in her eyes when Norma offers to buy lunch in exchange for directions to an interior decorating store.
On the way there, Norma probes for information on Norman.
“You wouldn’t happen to know what he’s so preoccupied with, would you?” she asks Emma.
Ummm, let’s see. Could it the move to a new town? His mom’s rape? The sex slave he rescued, who was later hunted down and killed on Bates property? The Deputy Shelby standoff? The fact that he thinks his mom might have killed his dad? That little notion his mom planted about him imagining things that aren’t really there?
Nah, it’s just Bradley. “I don’t know how fast he’s gonna get over her,” Emma tsks.
“Is he sleeping with this girl?” Norma is quick to ask.
“I - I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know.” I’m impressed with the variety of inflections in her voice. It’s the perfect teen denial. Norma asks what Bradley is like.
“She’s like a locomotive of sexual energy.” (Quote of the week.) Norma wonders how a high school girl could possibly be such a big deal. Clearly Norma has been out of that scene for a while, because my (also not-so recent) recollection is that popular teenage girls are forces to be reckoned with.
“I can show her to you after we go get the window sheers,” Emma offers. “She takes a yoga class by our shop. But ... that’s crazy, right?” Mrs. Bates never met a crazy plan she didn’t like, so they're immediately lurking outside of the yoga class, hiding from view about as well as my toddler hides during peek-a-boo.
After Emma points her out (“Blonde. Perfect. Two o’clock.”), Norma remembers that Bradley showed up on her doorstep for a “study date” the day after they moved in. After picturing Norman and Bradley doing some things you probably shouldn’t picture your son doing, Norma looks physically ill. They leave.
The Birds and the Bees, by Norma Bates
At home, Norman has coaxed the stray dog up onto the motel porch using the breadcrumb method.
“You have to come get this one, Juno,” he says, holding out his hand. Cautiously, the newly-named mutt comes forward to take the tasty morsel. Norman looks delighted—until the dog runs off as Norma approaches.
“You don’t know where she’s been or what she’s been doing. Stay away from her,” Norma snaps, and she’s mostly not talking about about the dog.
Up at the house, as mother and son are washing dishes together, Norman gives his pitch for keeping the dog. “She’s lost. She has no home. She’s lonely. I always wanted a dog. All families have a dog. It’s what you’re supposed to do. It’s normal.”
“Normal” is the magic word—Norma gives in, but says she’s not taking care of the dog. Then she springs The Talk on him. “Sex is a serious thing, Norman,” she says, clutching his hand. “You don’t know that girl well enough to be screwing her.”
“She’s a nice girl, mother.”
“Well, that remains to be seen. Personally, I don’t think nice girls come to your doorstep looking for a guy one day after he moves in, or sleep with someone they barely know at the age of 17, no less.”
Then, Norma launches into this whole weird explanation about how having sex is apparently similar to mixing Coke and Mentos. “Having sex with a woman literally affects her physical being. There are chemicals that are released in a woman’s body during and after sex that actually alter her. It’s like a science experiment. It affects her mind, okay? That’s dangerous stuff. That’s not something you want to be dabbling around in for fun.”
Norman says that he’s not dabbling—he really likes her. Awkward pause.
“Ohhhh,” Norma finally says. She smiles kind of condescendingly, then acts like she's changing the subject, telling Norman that she hired Emma for a few days a week because she needs help running her utterly vacant motel.
Norman sees through this charade and accuses his mother of matchmaking.
“It’s not like Bradley’s your girlfriend,” Norma snarks. “You don’t go out or anything.”
“It’s because her dad died, okay?” Norman gets defensive and storms out of the house.
“Normaaaaaan!” she screams through the night. I love that scream. I might make it my ringtone.
Romance is Dead, and so is Juno
Norman is, of course, headed to Bradley’s house. He creeps on her through a window for a while, then finally gets up the guts to knock on the door. Bradley is not as elated to see him as he had probably been hoping. He tells her they need to talk, but she claims to have a lot of homework. Norman either can’t read between the lines or doesn’t want to, because he plows ahead anyway.
“You’ve been through a lot. And I understand this. I lost my father too,” he says. “I know it can be confusing. But I also know that what happened to us was real.”
Bradley’s attempts to stop him before he further humiliates himself fall on deaf ears. My roommate in college had this endearing/annoying habit of changing the channel whenever something embarrassing was about to happen. She doesn’t watch Bates Motel, but if she did, she would be infuriating me right ... about ... now.
“I know we have a connection. You know, ‘cause I can feel it. Everytime I see you, it’s there. And that night we spent together was... and I know it was the same for you because you were there with me, right? So I don’t know what’s holding you back. You haven’t answered my texts. Maybe you haven’t broken up with Richard yet or something. But you should. Because you and I—we’re together, right?”
Finally able to get a word in edgewise, Bradley tells Norman that it was all a mistake. She doesn’t feel that way about him.“I shouldn’t have done it with someone—like you,” she says.
“Someone like me,” Norman repeats. His eyes turn dark and dangerous; he stalks off. “Personally, I don’t think nice girls come to your doorstep looking for nice guys one day after he moves in,” he recites to himself in the exact same tone of voice his mother used. “Or sleeps with someone they barely know at the age of 17, no less. I mean, really, what kind of a girl does that, invites you over to have sex with them after their dad dies?”
Bradley has been chasing him. When she catches up and asks him if he’s okay, he glowers at her. “I don’t think you’re a nice girl,” he says. She wraps him in a hug and apologizes. Norman goes home.
At the motel, Norma is reviewing the non-existent reservations again when Abernathy pushes open the door. He compliments her on the renovations and offers to spread the word about her business. He'd also like to book all of the rooms—all of them—for the first week of every other month.
Norma is elated, until something dawns on her. “It’s not anything illegal, right?”
“No, it’s not illegal.” They share a little chuckle.
Outside, Norman is almost back home when he sees Juno the dog across the street. He could use a friend right now, so he crouches down and calls her—just as a car approaches.
The “special effect” of the dog being hit is not realistic in the least. It looks exactly like a firmly-stuffed plushie falling over on the road, and for that I am grateful. Norma runs out of the house at the sound of the screeching tires.
“I killed my dog,” Norman cries, and my heart breaks. “I’m taking her to Emma’s dad. He can fix dead things.” Ummm.
“She’s dead, Norman,” Norma says. “No one can fix her.”
“I’m not gonna leave her in the street! I’m taking her to Emma’s!”
“This is crazy,” she protests.
“IT’S NOT CRAZY,” he screams (totally crazily). Norma relents, hugging him and offers to drive him to Emma’s house.
“I was wrong, mother,” Norman says, calmly. “About everything.”
Next week’s episode is called “A boy and his dog,” so I suspect that we’re going to witness the true birth of Norman’s obsession with taxidermy. Get excited!
- “Seafairer” is the series’ misspelling, not mine. Think they did it on purpose? A reference to the White Pine Bay “eye for an eye” concept of fair? Yeah, it’s probably just a typo.
- Bedford House Restaurant = reference to John Bedford, a man in an Alfred Hitchcock Presents episode who is accused of murdering his wealthy aunt. To scare a confession out of Bedford, an investigator hires an actress to pretend to be the ghost of the dead woman. Hmmm.
- Likewise, Abernathy is the name of a man in “Martha Mason, Movie Star,” another Alfred Hitchcock Presents episode.
- So, Juno the dog. The Roman goddess Juno is way too complicated to dissect in this already-lengthy recap, but here are the highlights: she was a protector, is associated with eternal youthfulness and was known for the complexity and multiplicity of her personality. Or maybe Norman just really likes Diablo Cody.