Ready for our last taste of Norman Bates for at least nine months? I'm not. I might have to switch fictional serial killers to fill the void. I hear Hannibal is interesting. But let's get to it.
For what feels like the umpteenth time, Norma is rushing into the police station with a “matter of life and death.” She’s there to rat out Abernathy, who, you’ll remember from last episode, demanded at gunpoint that she meet him at midnight with $150,000 she says she doesn’t have. She explains the whole situation to Romero, who doesn’t react whatsoever. Lady Gaga, eat your heart out—no one can beat this poker face.
“Alright. I’ll take care of it,” is all he says.
Norma isn’t convinced. She wants to know his plan, but he doesn’t think that’s necessary.
“No harm is going to come to you or your sons. You have my word.”
“That’s comforting,” she says, sarcastically.
“Yep,” he deadpans, then looks pointedly at the door. Miraculously, Norma takes the hint.
Norman Does a Favor; Norma Asks for One
Emma is staring up at the winter formal sign strung across a hallway at school.
“You look kind of pathetic,” Norman tells her, and it’s true. But the joke’s on us, because she was totally just thinking about how glad she is that she doesn’t have to get dressed up and go.
“Do you want me to go with you?” Norman asks. “I don’t mind.” Ah, every girl’s dream dance invitation. Emma gives him a withering look, which is when he realizes perhaps he could have been slightly more suave. “I’d like to,” he amends.
“You’re just asking me because I’m your friend and you feel sorry for me,” she accuses.
“Well, yeah,” Norman kind of grins.
Emma agrees to go anyway, and this whole exchange is rather adorable. Nemma!!
I’m starting to think that Dylan could give Walt, Jr. from Breaking Bad a run for his money on his love of breakfast foods. I swear, if he’s in the house, he’s eating cereal or Norma is trying to bribe him with a plate of something breakfasty. It’s French Toast this morning, and what she wants in return is NBD ... just a gun.
When he refuses, she explains that she’s not convinced that Romero is actually going to do much to protect any of them. She thinks he might even be just as corrupt as everyone else in town. Nonetheless, Dylan doesn’t think Norma needs to be armed and dangerous.
“You and a gun is a bad idea,” he tells her. Understatement of the century.
Meanwhile, Romero just might be proving Norma right. He’s pulling a duffel bag out of a trunk in a garage, and it’s filled with an obscene amount of cash.
A Series of Awkward Conversations
Norma’s taking some of her many flowered shirts to “In a Wink” drycleaners. She drops one on the sidewalk and kind of stumbles into a guy as she’s picking it up.
“Yeah, I guess,” the guy mutters. Norma is tired of this town not living up to the picture-perfect Norman Rockwell scene she had painted in her mind, and this man blowing off her perfectly adequate apology strikes a nerve.
“Screw off shithead,” she screams down the street at him.
Perhaps recognizing some anger issues, she makes her next morning errand a visit to the therapist for some advice on how to handle stress. When Dr. Kurata presses her to discuss what kind of stress she’s under, she gets a little cagey.
“Just... stuff... like... normal... life stuff...”
He asks if it’s Norman stress, but she says that’s Norman’s a good boy.
“He’s not quite a boy, though, is he?” Kurata interrupts.
“I guess he is getting bigger, yeah,” Norma concedes. To me, this shows that she still thinks of him as a young child—you don’t really say that your 17-year-old is “getting bigger,” do you?
“When you were a little girl, is this what you thought parenting would be like?” Kurata asks.
Norma doesn’t really remember.
“Do you remember anything about being little?”
Norma looks thoughtful. “My dad was very kind. The kind of guy who would smile at you all the time no matter what. You would feel like he would just take care of everything.”
Her mom? Well, her mom worked in a bakery and always smelled like cookies.
He asks if she had any siblings.
“No. I am an only child,” she says quickly, and then makes a face. “Oh, I don’t feel well. Oh, it’s my stomach. I’m gonna have to reschedule.”
At school, Miss Watson having a heated conversation on the phone. “Why do you keep calling me? Stop bothering me,” she says, voice shaking. “I said leave me alone. Eric, don’t call me again.”
Norman has walked in on the end of this conversation and asks Miss Watson if everything is okay.
“Norman, did you hear anything that I was saying?” She seems panicked. I feel like a more normal reaction would be to shrug it off, say that she was just having a fight with her boyfriend. Why all the drama, Miss Watson?
Norman denies hearing anything specific and says that he was just there to reiterate that he definitely doesn’t want to publish that story—not because of his mother, just because he doesn’t want to. Miss Watson understands. Norman’s short story is the least of her concern right now.
She asks him again to ignore what he just heard her saying on the phone; Norman promises.
Then Miss Watson steps up close—uncomfortably close—and cups one of his cheeks (face cheeks) with her hand.
“I guess this means we have a secret now, huh? You’ll keep it for me, won’t you?” It sounds oddly seductive, which is emphasized by the intimate hug they share afterward. She strokes the back of his neck with her hand, and he leans into her neck a bit, as if she smells good. Nothing about this is cool.
A bedraggled-looking woman with bruises and scratches on her face gets out of a old car in front of a rundown house. She doesn’t exactly smile at the person waiting there for her.
“Alex,” she greets Sheriff Romero. “I haven’t seen you since my brother’s service. Bit weird, nothing to bury but a hand.” So, this is Keith Summers’ sister.
Romero wants to know what happened to her face. She says she doesn’t recall. He decides to lay it all out for her: he knows that she did her brother’s bookkeeping for the sex slave business and he knows about the missing money. “Did Jake Abernathy do this to you?” he asks.
She’s not familiar with this particular name, but when Romero says he’s referring to the third partner of the sex slave business, a lightbulb goes on.
“You mean Joe Fioretti?” she starts to describe him and it turns out they’re one and the same. She reports that he claimed to be running the same type of business up and down the coast.
Romero nods, then turns to leave.
“What happens now? To me?” she asks.
“Nothing, if you keep your mouth shut.” Romero says. “Take care of yourself, Maggie.” Warm and fuzzy guy, isn’t he?
A Shot in the Dark
Emma’s walking into the motel as Norma is calling to nag the police station about patrolling the motel more often. When she hangs up, Emma apologizes for being late—she just stopped to buy a dress she saw in a vintage store (obviously) for the dance tonight.
“You’re going to a dance?” Norma asks. She’s surprised to learn that Norman has agreed to take Emma, but covers quickly. “I just hadn’t heard anything about it.”
Emma produces a lacy wine-colored number and asks Norma to hold it up so she can see what it looks like with heels. As Norma holds it against herself, she pulls the skirt up to examine a spot on the fabric. It exposes the long scar on her leg, which she catches Emma staring at.
“That’s just an accident from childhood,” Norma fumbles. “I spilled some hot chocolate on my leg.”
She pulls her coat on and heads outside, where Dylan is pulling up in his truck. He hops out and hands her a paper bag, the White Pine Bay preferred method of exchanging large wads of cash and firearms. Looks like he changed his mind about the gun.
“Don’t make me regret this,” he warns, then takes her out to teach her how to shoot with the requisite beer bottles lined up on a fence.
She shoots before Dylan tells her to, which they argue about for a moment. Then she has enough sense to wonder where this gun came from.
“So what kind of job do you have that you’re carrying a gun?”
“I guard stuff,” he says, looking totally guilty.
“What kind of stuff?”
“Weed. Pot fields.”
“I don’t like that!” she whines.
He accuses her of passing judgment. “I’m 22 years old. I’m adult.”
She fires the gun again, which pisses him off even more. Finally, Dylan convinces Norma to settle down and get in the right stance and take a good aim instead of just firing willy nilly like she has been.
“I want you to squeeze the trigger,” he instructs her. “Don’t yank on it. Just gently squeeze it, okay, mom?”
She does, and nails the bottle. After a little celebratory dance, Norma looks at Dylan.
“You called me mom. You haven’t done that in like, I don’t know how long.”
Dylan looks a little uncomfortable.
“Yeah, well you have a loaded gun in your hand, Norma.”
“I’m so scared,” she admits. Dylan tells her that she just has to trust Romero—word on the street is that he’s the man in this town. She nods, then starts practicing her shots again.
Bradley and Dylan, Sitting in a Tree
Norma’s cleaning at the motel when Maggie Summers wanders up and identifies herself.
She’s not here to make trouble, though—she just wants to warn Norma that this guy going by “Jake Abernathy” is no joke. “If you have that money, give it up. I know this guy. He. Will. Kill you,” she says.
Up the hill at the Bates residence, Bradley is at the door. She forces a smile when Norman opens up, then asks if Dylan is home. Norman is clearly a little perturbed by this, but invites her in anyway. Dylan is just bringing a box of her dad’s office stuff downstairs.
“Thank you for doing this,” she says, and the two of them smolder at each other.
Norman excuses himself, shoving past Dylan on his way out.
They make small talk about how nice it is that she has her dad’s stuff back now. Dylan also managed to find that pocketwatch she had been looking for. She thanks him again.
“Well, this is it,” she says. “I won’t bug you anymore.”
Dylan laughs. “You can bug me. It’s fine. You can bug me anytime.”
Norman is listening from the other room, of course, and he has total rageface.
Norma is checking out her gun. She has it pointed at her own face and is messing with the hammer when she seems to realize what she’s doing. She flips it away from her face, which is just as well, because she might have accidentally shot something off when Norman yells this two seconds later:
“Motheerrrr! I need some black socks!” This is not just your typical teenage whine. This is Norman, totally enraged that the appropriate formalwear accessories are not within arm’s reach. Norma wonders if he checked his sock drawer.
“Oh, it never occurred to me to look in my drawer.” He laughs, but it’s biting, mocking. “Well what am I supposed to do? I can’t go to this stupid dance wearing white socks with a suit!”
“It’s not my fault you decided to go last minute to a dance! What am I supposed to do, darn some socks?” Norma says.
“I’ve got some black socks he can use,” Dylan says, stopping in the doorway.
Even with the gift of formal socks, the air between the brothers is tense. Dylan knows what the deal is and explains that he was only helping Bradley retrieve her dad’s stuff.
“I’m not going out with her,” he promises.
“You want to. Who wouldn’t?” Norman does that mocking laugh again.
"This conversation is stupid,” Dylan says.
“All conversations are stupid. Just ‘blah blah blah,’ like rats trying to find their way out through a maze. You think it has some purpose or meaning but it doesn’t.”
“OK, now you’re creeping me out,” Dylan replies.
Norman tells him to ask Bradley out if he really wants to. “I should,” Dylan agrees.
“Yes, you should!” Norman insists, brightly. “I’m fine. I’m completely, 100 percent over her.”
Downstairs, Norman and Norma wait for Emma together. Norma asks how late the dance will go, and Norman informs her that it’s over at midnight. Norma totally crumbles at the mere mention of the witching hour.
In case Abernathy kills her—she doesn’t say this, but it’s what she means—Norma wants to tell Norman something she’s never told anybody: She grew up in Akron, Ohio. And there’s a lot more truth where that came from. “My brother used to make me have sex with him,” she tells her son. “I was like 13. And it went on until he moved out.” She barely has the words out of her mouth before she regrets telling him, but she plows ahead anyway.
Her dad was insane, incredibly violent—a far cry from that kindly man she told the therapist about. Because she knew her father would literally kill her brother if she told, Norma kept her mouth shut. Then her dad got home from work early one day while her brother was violating her. Norma jumped up so fast that the hot iron fell off the ironing board and hit her leg.
Flashback to the hissing iron that featured so prominently on the scene of Norman’s dad’s death.
Norman apologizes and hugs her. Norma cries.
“Anyway. It doesn’t really matter, right? It was a long time ago. It’s just that I wanted someone to know this about me in case—in case, um. I don’t know why. I don’t know why.”
Just then, Emma arrives to pick up Norman.
“Wow. You look great,” he tells her, but he’s barely even paying attention. I mean, that was quite the bombshell to drop right before he’s supposed to have some good old-fashioned teenage fun at a dance.
“You two have fun,” Norma gushes, and sends the young not-couple on their way. They’re just out the door when Abernathy calls to remind her about their appointment.
The Winter Dance from Hell
“Everybody’s got a secret to hide. Everyone is slipping backwards,” the Chromatics sing overhead as Norman and Emma enter the dance. Hmm.
This dance looks amazing, by the way. My high school dances never looked this magical. Emma and Norman don’t realize how lucky they are to be at a high school event where the decor is more than crepe paper and flimsy cardboard cutouts from Oriental Trading, though, because neither one of them have ever been to a dance.
“It’s not too late to leave,” Norman tries, but then spots Bradley talking to her boyfriend. She sees him staring at her. It’s awkward, much like all of their post-sex encounters.
Emma says she needs a drink.
Later, Nemma are gazing at each other as they dance to “Lady in Red.” Glad to see teens are still awkwardly slow dancing to Chris de Burgh.
Oh, and let me amend that previous statement: Emma is intently gazing at Norman. Norman’s eyes keep wandering over to Bradley.
“You still like her, don’t you?” Emma asks.
“That’s ridiculous,” Norman responds.
“No. You know what’s ridiculous? Me, thinking you’d take me to the dance and see me all dressed up and realize that you have feelings for me, Norman Bates, because you do, you’re just too stupid to know it.” She leaves and tells Norman he can find his own ride home.
Then Bradley’s boyfriend asks to speak to Norman outside, where he punches him, sending Norman spinning into the cinderblock wall. His face gets the brunt of it.
Since the dance has been hideous, Norman starts walking home, even though it’s pouring down rain. Miss Watson, of all people, pulls up next to him and offers him a ride.
“What happened to your eye?” she asks.
“I got in a fight. Actually, I got punched. The other guy was fine,” Norman kind of smiles.
“Why don’t you come to my place and I’ll clean up your eye and I can drive you home.”
Danger, Will Robinson. No. No. No.
Norma has clearly watched a lot of heist movies, because she’s at the docks, clad all in black with a scarf over her hair, carrying a nondescript bag. She ducks out of sight to see if Romero will make good on his promise to protect her, and sure enough, he pulls up a few seconds later. He’s got the duffel bag full of money from earlier and drops it on the dock just as Abernathy pulls up.
“Who are you?” Abernathy/Fioretti says, sizing up the sheriff.
The proper introductions are made.
“What happened to the cute but nutty lady who runs the motel?” Abernathy wants to know. “You kill her?”
Romero says it’s been handled but Abernathy doesn’t really care. He just wants to know if that bag on the dock is for him.
Romero nods. “You gonna run a business in my town, I should know about it.”
“Was. Running a business. Past tense.”
“Maybe that doesn’t have to be the case. You got the wrong partners.”
“Well, it wasn’t like I could put an ad out on Craigslist.”
Romero says that if “Joe” wants to keep his business in White Pine Bay, he has to go through the sheriff. And the sheriff wants a 50 percent cut.
“I put a cell number for you on a card. It’s in the bag.”
As he bends down to grab the bag, Romero shoots him four times. Abernathy falls into the water.
“Not in my town,” the sheriff mutters, then throws the bag into the water too.
“You can go home now Norma,” he says. “When I say trust me, trust me,” he says.
Hot for Teacher
At Miss Watson’s. She’s playing nurse to Norman’s injured eye while wearing a low-cut red dress. Coincidence that “Lady in Red” was just playing at the school dance? Methinks not.
“You probably shouldn’t tell anyone that you came here,” she says.
“Don’t worry,” Norman responds.
Miss Watson says she’ll drive him home right after she changes. She puts her hand on his cheek as she gets up to walk to her bedroom.
She leaves the door to her bedroom open. There’s a mirror conveniently placed so that he can see her undressing, and Oh God, imaginary Norma is suddenly sitting in the living room with Norman.
“What kind of a grown woman invites a teenage boy into her house and changes her clothes where he can see her?” she snaps.
“That’s not what she’s doing,” Norman says.
“Of course it is. She’s trying to seduce you.”
“That’s not true.”
“Then why didn’t she close the door? Because she knows you’re watching.”
“She does not.”
“Of course she does. She wants you to see her body.”
“Norman. You know what you have to do.”
The next thing we see is Norman running down the road in the rain. He’s running into the Bates Motel parking lot and is very nearly struck by Norma’s car.
They hug; she wants to know what happened to his face.
“Emma got upset and had to leave and Miss Watson was gonna give me a ride and the next thing I remember I was just running on the road alone, just trying to get home.”
“It’s okay, Norman,” she says, and starts to cry. “Everything is good, Norman, finally. Everything is good. Let’s go build a fire. How does that sound?”
They walk inside. Pretty music. Shot of the Bates Motel sign.
All tied up in a pretty bow right?
A happy ending heading into the sophomore season? Norman must have run home from his teacher’s house without punishing her for leaving that door open while she changed clothes? Yeah, you know better than that. Our parting shot for the season is Miss Watson sprawled across her bedroom floor, bleeding all over her pretty lingerie from a gaping wound in her throat.
A couple of notes:
Alex Romero is the name of a baseball player who tested positive for doping last year. It probably doesn’t have anything to do with this character’s name, but you never know.
Miss Watson was wearing a necklace with the initial “B” on it. Might we have our mysterious “All my love, B” from Bradley’s dad’s letters?
See you in 2014, Motel guests!