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A&E/Joe Lederer

Bates Motel Recap, Episode 2: "Nice Town You Picked, Norma."

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A&E/Joe Lederer

We open with Norman clicking a flashlight on and off on as he flips through the little black book he found last week. He’s torn away from his makeshift movie when the doorbell rings. Surprise! It’s Black Sheep Bates, AKA older brother Dylan, and he's looking for a place to call home. Neither Norman nor Norma are thrilled about this development, which Norman expresses by getting overprotective about baked goods. “The bread’s gonna get stale,” he glares when Dylan leaves the bag open at breakfast. Dylan is unmoved.

“Why are you here?” Norma asks her eldest son, and he replies that when people are down and out, as he is, they tend to go home. “Although most normal mothers don’t move their home out of state and try and hide it from their own son.” Burn.

Speaking of burns, down at the bus stop, a car comes tearing wildly down the road, crashing just yards from where Bradley, Norman, and the usual gaggle of girls are standing. It’s Bradley’s father’s car, and when Norman yanks the door open, we discover a charred mess of raw meat that is, in fact, Mr. Martin.

When Sheriff Romero (homage to George, perhaps?) and Deputy Shelby arrive on the scene, we learn that Martin owns a warehouse nearby. “Looks like somebody set a fire there. He was trapped inside of it,” Romero explains. He doesn’t get the chance to spill more confidential information because another officer has inconveniently discovered Keith Summers’ abandoned truck in the woods. Romero questions Norma, but she says she hasn’t seen the motel’s former owner. After a lingering look at the truck, she wishes Romero good luck with everything.

“In a town like this, where the hell do you get that kind of money?”

The sweet sounds of Genuwine’s “Pony” comes blaring out of a seedy place called “The Candy Stick.” (If Channing Tatum is watching, he probably just busted a move or two.) Inside, the bleach-blonde half-heartedly caressing a stripper pole seems to be right where she belongs; the guy weeping at the end of the catwalk does not. After he catches Dylan staring at him, weepy guy explains that his boss had been badly burned, probably fatally. He then buys Dylan a drink, flashing a big wad of hundys. “Dude, in a town like this, where the hell do you get that kind of money?” Dylan asks. Later, weepy guy introduces him to a man named Gil, who wants to know if Dylan knows how to use a gun. (He does.) I have a feeling Norman’s brother is about to discover where the cash flows from.

"How’d you get all this money, Norma?”

Dylan returns home in the middle of the night, and Norma is ready for him. “Listen, dumbass, this is not going to stand,” she starts. Dylan retaliates by saying she drove his dad out by “skanking around with Norman’s father.” Norma defends herself, saying she was only 17 when she met Dylan’s dad, so it wasn’t surprising that she later fell in love with Sam.

“Oh yeah?” Dylan asks, “How’d that work out for you?”

“I hate you,” she responds, and her son shrugs. He changes the subject, abruptly wondering how Norma afforded a motel and a new car. She claims it was the settlement from Sam’s death. “He sold insurance and he was well-covered,” she says, lamely. Dylan clearly doesn’t buy it.

"How could a God who made all of this beautiful stuff also make things that are evil?”

A&E/Joe Lederer

The next morning, the mother and son duo of Norma(n) cleans the kitchen floor obsessively, worried about the discovery of Summers’ truck. The doorbell rings, and with it comes a bit of comic relief: “I got it, gang, it’s cool. Don’t stop your Swiffering,” Dylan says, then opens the door to find that Norman’s friend Emma has arrived for the study date she finagled in English class the other day.

Norma, of course, gives Emma the third degree, though not unkindly. Emma explains that she has cystic fibrosis, then gives all of us a little lesson on what it is: “It’s when your lungs create a lot of thick mucus, and it makes it really hard to breathe. Some would say impossible. I’m on a list for a lung transplant. God knows if I’ll ever get one in time,” she says.

“Well, I hope you do,” Norma says, unnecessarily. “What is your life expectancy, Emma?”

“Maybe... 27?” Emma shrugs. Norma looks thoughtful. A companion for Norman who won’t be a long-term competitor? Could anything be more perfect?

Upstairs, Emma and Norman get to work analyzing William Blake’s “The Tyger.”

“It’s about, how could a God who made all of this beautiful stuff in the world, also make things that are scary and evil? It could work—we could talk about it in terms of famous contemporary murders, like OJ, or Charles Manson,” Emma says. Before we have time to ponder the fact that she’s sitting in the bedroom of a famous contemporary murderer, she spots the black book poking out from under Norman’s mattress and flips through it. “These pictures are amazing,” she says. “Did you draw these?”

Horrified, Norman sputters that he found it and didn’t know know what to do with it when Emma interrupts. “Oh, please. I’ve read a lot of manga, a lot steamier than this,” she says, and asks to borrow it.

"I never said I hadn’t ever seen him.”

Norma rubs lotion on her skin or else she gets the hose again—I mean, she rubs lotion on her legs and we get a glimpse of a massive scar on the inside of her thigh. Doorbell! Bates Motel is like Grand Central Station. Doesn’t anybody text? Sheriff Romero doesn’t, I guess, and he’s there to discuss Summers. A witness says he saw Norma(n) having a “heated” discussion with the missing man, even though Norma said she hadn’t seen him. Then they do a little dance that goes something like this:

Norma: “I didn’t know that you had meant had I ever seen him; I thought you meant recently.”
Romero: “Well, some people might think in the last week as being recently.”
Norma: “Yeah, some people might.”
Romero: “So you’re admitting you did see him.”
Norma: “No, I never said I hadn’t ever seen him, so I’m not admitting anything.”

She also mentions that Summers has disappeared, which the sheriff hasn’t mentioned yet. “You’re implying it,” she says. “No, I believe you’re inferring it,” he responds. Now suspicious, Romero asks to look inside. Norma tells him to come back with a warrant.

"I’m just doing what I need to do.”

Norma’s alone in her car, flipping radio stations as she drives. At first her choice of Everclear’s “Santa Monica” seems like a rather un-Norma choice, but the lyrics are on the nose with the world she’s trying to create for herself and Norman: “We can live beside the ocean / leave the fire behind / swim out past the breakers / watch the world die.”

In order to make that world happen, she has to make this current problem disappear. So she pulls up near Deputy Shelby and calls him over, in full flirtation mode. “Go ahead, slap the handcuffs on,” she says, sticking her arms out the window with a grin. The deputy bites—he apologizes for Romero’s behavior and offers to buy her a cup of coffee. They hit the local cafe where she tells him the sob story of her widowhood and complains some more about the sheriff. “To be fair, I do think that you were inferring that,” Shelby says, smiling.

“Oh no,” Norma says playfully, “We’re back to that again?” and they’re all soft eyes and giggles. Either Shelby has a crush or he’s taking the Good Cop role really seriously. He tells Norma that the sheriff and Summers were boyhood friends, Summers’ disappearance is quite personal. Then he asks her on a date, sort of. A “charming” local festival is taking place that night, and although he can’t officially ask her out on account of her being a suspect in a missing persons case and all, he suggests that they meet there.

Later, Norma runs into Norman’s room wearing her date outfit and wants to know if it looks like she’s trying too hard. “That depends on what you’re trying,” he says.

She admits that the police know they had talked to Summers and that she’s going on a “Goodwill mission” with Deputy Shelby, then strips her top off right in front of him to change to a different shirt, tossing the other shirt on his bed. Norman looks uncomfortable; she rolls her eyes. “Lord, Norman, I’m your mother. It’s not like it’s weird or anything.”

A&E/Joe Lederer

Upset that Norma is going on a date, Norman declares that he’ll go too. She sits down on his bed and threads her arm through his. “It’s not like I’m actually interested in him,” she explains. “I don’t want you to worry about anything. That’s why I’m doing this.” Then she licks her thumb and performs the very mom-like gesture of rubbing a smudge off of his cheek from where she kissed him. Watch out, Norma—this is ultimately how you meet your demise. In the Bloch novel (and the movies) a jealous Norman ends up poisoning his mother and her lover.

"She’s not a whore.”

A&E/Joe Lederer

Now we’re back at the Bates abode, where Dylan’s cell phone is ringing. The display says that “The Whore” is calling, which Norman disdainfully announces. Dylan grabs it and answers: “Hi Norma.” After a few seconds of immobile rage, Norman rushes across the kitchen at his brother; fighting ensues. After smashing Norman’s face up against the retro fridge, Dylan threatens Norman: “Don’t you come at me again or I will hurt you bad, do you understand?” Then he turns his back.

Norman spots a meat tenderizer in the dish drainer, calmly picks it up, then tries to drive it into the back of his brother’s skull. Dylan dodges at the last second, so Normie shatters a glass-fronted cabinet instead of cranium, then gets his face tenderized by Dylan’s fists. “She’s not a whore,” Norman says softly, even though Dylan’s no longer in the room.

"An eye for an eye.”

The whore in question is enjoying the Woodchuck Festival with Deputy Shelby, sipping a hot drink and discussing the recent strange events. Shelby acknowledges that White Pine Bay is not what it seems, noting that townspeople who claim to make a living with organic pig farms and artisanal cheese are living in million-dollar homes. “There’s different ways to produce an economy, and it’s not always what it seems,” he explains.

“But surely you can’t allow illegal things, bad things to happen here.” Norma says. The deputy makes a vague reference about how people in town handle things their own way. “An eye for an eye,” he says, referencing the deep-fried Mr. Martin. “It’ll get handled.” Norma looks a bit unsettled.

”Someone did this to these girls, Norman, and we can prove it.”

Emma texts Norman to meet her at her dad’s shop, ASAP. He does. It’s full of taxidermy, which we’ll definitely be revisiting in future episodes. Turns out Emma’s dad is one of the best “taxidermy artists” on the West Coast. “But enough about stuffing dead animals. I’m gonna tell you a little story about real, living things,” she says. She’s translated the text in the black book, and it tells a tale of Chinese farm girls sold into the American sex slave industry. When one of them dies of a drug overdose, the other girls are forced to bury her by a shed in a forest. “Look at this,” she says, flipping to a sketch in the book. “That’s Ladyface. It’s a mountain just outside of White Pine Bay.”

“This is all a little peculiar,” Norman says.

“No. You know what’s peculiar? A 17-year-old boy using the world peculiar,” she says, which is what we were all thinking. Then she plants a kiss on him.

“So you in?” she asks. Norman fails at suppressing the goofy grin on his face, and it’s adorable.

"Just keep the music down.”

At home, Norma is trying to tell Dylan that he needs to leave. “You’re toxic. You’re leaving in the morning,” she says, but Black Sheep has other plans. He says he talked to the insurance people when he was trying to find where Norma had moved, and the agent mentioned what a wonderful husband and father her late husband had been.

“Wouldn’t it be interesting if I told them what life with Sam was really like?” Dylan says. “You know, how you guys got along and all.” Norma smiles, and it’s the rueful smile of a woman who has been outfoxed. “Just keep the music down,” she says.

"We’re connected to something so much larger than ourselves.”

A&E

Norman and Emma are out hiking near Ladyface, trying to find the shed in the sketch. It seems ill-advised, given the way Emma is huffing and coughing. She insists that she’s fine, and the pair venture further into the trees. Eventually, they stumble onto a clearing that’s packed with pot. “Holy crap,” Emma says, as guys with large guns spot them and start to give chase. They run through the forest, eventually finding a hiding space where they can crouch down to let the bad guys pass them. “Don’t even breathe,” Norman tells her as the baddies pass by. Then he realizes he’s talking to a girl with cystic fibrosis. “Sorry.” They take off again and manage to find the shed from the sketches, but there’s no time to investigate—they’ve been spotted again. A few moments later, they arrive back at Emma’s orange VW Beetle. So that pot field wasn’t very far in the forest, was it? You can bet we’ll be seeing more of all of that—the shed, the pot field, the bad guys—in the near future.

Presumably around the same time, Norma drives through town and sees people running. She follows their flight and notices Deputy Shelby on the scene. He waves her on through, right past the blackened remains of a human, still flaming, hanging upside down from a decorative mast. This is what “an eye for an eye” means, and Norma knows it. She starts hyperventilating.

Thoughts:
So, Bates Motel is turning very Twin Peaks, isn’t it?The way the girls are restrained in the “manga” Norman and Emma are investigating seems reminiscent of the way Keith Summers handcuffed and duct-taped Norma in the first episode—and since his family owned the hotel for decades, Summers would have had access to the motel room where Norman discovered the book. But something tells me Summers wasn’t exactly a skilled artist capable of such impressive drawings. So who is?

White Pine Bay: An homage to Bodega Bay from The Birds, perhaps?

Norman’s dad’s name, Sam, also happens to be the name of Marion Crane’s boyfriend in Hitchcock’s Psycho. Similarly, Emma is the name of Norman’s aunt in one of the sequels.

Psst, if you need to catch up, here’s the recap from last week.

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12 Surprising Facts About Bela Lugosi
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Mabel Livingstone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

On October 20, 1882—135 years ago today—one of the world's most gifted performers was born. In his heyday, Bela Lugosi was hailed as the undisputed king of horror. Eighty-five years after he first donned a vampire’s cape, Lugosi's take on Count Dracula is still widely hailed as the definitive portrayal of the legendary fiend. But who was the man behind the monster?

1. HE WORKED WITH THE NATIONAL THEATER OF HUNGARY.

To the chagrin of his biographers, the details concerning Bela Lugosi’s youth have been clouded in mystery. (In a 1929 interview, he straight-up admitted “for purposes of simplification, I have always thought it better to tell [lies] about the early years of my life.”) That said, we do know that he was born as Béla Ferenc Dezső Blaskó on October 20, 1882 in Lugoj, Hungary (now part of Romania). We also know that his professional stage debut came at some point in either 1901 or 1902. By 1903, Lugosi had begun to find steady work with traveling theater companies, through which he took part in operas, operettas, and stage plays. In 1913, Lugosi caught a major break when the most prestigious performing arts venue in his native country—the Budapest-based National Theater of Hungary—cast him in no less than 34 shows. Most of the characters that he played there were small Shakespearean roles such as Rosencrantz in Hamlet and Sir Walter Herbert in Richard III.

2. HE FOUGHT IN WORLD WAR I.

The so-called war to end all wars put Lugosi’s dramatic aspirations on hold. Although being a member of the National Theater exempted him from military service, he voluntarily enlisted in the Austro-Hungarian Army in 1914. Over the next year and a half, he fought against Russian forces as a lieutenant with the 43rd Royal Hungarian Infantry. While serving in the Carpathian mountains, Lugosi was wounded on three separate occasions. Upon healing from his injuries, he left the armed forces in 1916 and gratefully resumed his work with the National Theater.

3. WHEN HE MADE HIS BROADWAY DEBUT, LUGOSI BARELY KNEW ANY ENGLISH.

In December 1920, Lugosi boarded a cargo boat and emigrated to the United States. Two years later, audiences on the Great White Way got their first look at this charismatic stage veteran. Lugosi was cast as Fernando—a suave, Latin lover—in the 1922 Broadway stage play The Red Poppy. At the time, his grasp of the English language was practically nonexistent. Undaunted, Lugosi went over all of his lines with a tutor. Although he couldn’t comprehend their meaning, the actor managed to memorize and phonetically reproduce every single syllable that he was supposed to deliver on stage.

4. UNIVERSAL DIDN’T WANT TO CAST HIM AS COUNT DRACULA.

The year 1927 saw Bela Lugosi sink his teeth into the role of a lifetime. A play based on the novel Dracula by Bram Stoker had opened in London in 1924. Sensing its potential, Horace Liveright, an American producer, decided to create an U.S. version of the show. Over the summer of 1927, Lugosi was cast as the blood-sucking Count Dracula. For him, the part represented a real challenge. In Lugosi’s own words, “It was a complete change from the usual romantic characters I was playing, but it was a success.” It certainly was. Enhanced by his presence, the American Dracula remained on Broadway for a full year, then spent two years touring the country.

Impressed by its box office prowess, Universal decided to adapt the show into a major motion picture in 1930. Horror fans might be surprised to learn that when the studio began the process of casting this movie’s vampiric villain, Lugosi was not their first choice. At the time, Lugosi was still a relative unknown, which made director Tod Browning more than a little hesitant to offer him the job. A number of established actors were all considered before the man who’d played Dracula on Broadway was tapped to immortalize his biting performance on film.

5. MOST OF HIS DRACULA-RELATED FAN MAIL CAME FROM WOMEN.

The recent Twilight phenomenon is not without historical precedent. Lugosi estimated that, while he was playing the Count on Broadway, more than 97 percent of the fan letters he received were penned by female admirers. A 1932 Universal press book quotes him as saying, “When I was on the stage in Dracula, my audiences were composed mostly of women.” Moreover, Lugosi contended that most of the men who’d attended his show had merely been dragged there by female companions.   

6. HE TURNED DOWN THE ROLE OF FRANKENSTEIN’S MONSTER.

Released in 1931, Dracula quickly became one of the year's biggest hits for Universal (some film historians even argue that the movie single-handedly rescued the ailing studio from bankruptcy). Furthermore, its astronomical success transformed Lugosi into a household name for the first time in his career. Regrettably for him, though, he’d soon miss the chance to star in another smash. Pleased by Dracula’s box office showing, Universal green-lit a new cinematic adaptation of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Lugosi seemed like the natural choice to play the monster, but because the poor brute had few lines and would be caked in layers of thick makeup, the actor rejected the job offer. As far as Lugosi was concerned, the character was better suited for some “half-wit extra” than a serious actor. Once the superstar tossed Frankenstein aside, the part was given to a little-known actor named Boris Karloff.

Moviegoers eventually did get to see Lugosi play the bolt-necked corpse in the 1943 cult classic Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man. According to some sources, he strongly detested the guttural scream that the script forced him to emit at regular intervals. “That yell is the worst thing about the part. You feel like a big jerk every time you do it!” Lugosi allegedly complained.

7. LUGOSI’S RELATIONSHIP WITH BORIS KARLOFF WAS MORE CORDIAL THAN IT’S USUALLY MADE OUT TO BE.

It’s often reported that the two horror icons were embittered rivals. In reality, however, Karloff and Lugosi seemed to have harbored some mutual respect—and perhaps even affection for one another. The dynamic duo co-starred in five films together, the first of which was 1934’s The Black Cat; Karloff claimed that, on set, Lugosi was “Suspicious of tricks, fearful of what he regarded as scene stealing. Later on, when he realized I didn’t go in for such nonsense, we became friends.” During one of their later collaborations, Lugosi told the press “we laughed over my sad mistake and his good fortune as Frankenstein is concerned.”

That being said, Lugosi probably didn’t appreciate the fact that in every single film which featured both actors, Karloff got top billing. Also, he once privately remarked, “If it hadn’t been for Boris Karloff, I could have had a corner on the horror market.”

8. HE LOVED SOCCER.

In 1935, Lugosi was named Honorary President of the Los Angeles Soccer League. An avid fan, he was regularly seen at Loyola Stadium, where he’d occasionally kick off the first ball during games held there. Also, on top of donating funds to certain Hungarian teams, Lugosi helped finance the Los Angeles Magyar soccer club. When the team won a state championship in 1935, one newspaper wrote that the players were “headed back to Dracula’s castle with the state cup.” [PDF]

9. HE WAS A HARDCORE STAMP COLLECTOR.

Lugosi's fourth wife, Lillian Arch, claimed that Lugosi maintained a collection of more than 150,000 stamps. Once, on a 1944 trip to Boston, he told the press that he intended to visit all 18 of the city's resident philately dealers. “Stamp collecting,” Lugosi declared, “is a hobby which may cost you as much as 10 percent of your investment. You can always sell your stamps with not more than a 10 percent loss. Sometimes, you can even make money.” Fittingly enough, the image of Lugosi’s iconic Dracula appeared on a commemorative stamp issued by the post office in 1997.

10. LUGOSI ALMOST DIDN’T APPEAR IN ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN—BECAUSE THE STUDIO THOUGHT HE WAS DEAD.

The role of Count Dracula in this 1948 blockbuster was nearly given to Ian Keith—who was considered for the same role in the 1931 Dracula movie. Being a good sport, Lugosi helped promote the horror-comedy by making a special guest appearance on The Abbott and Costello Show. While playing himself in one memorable sketch, the famed actor claimed to eat rattlesnake burgers for dinner and “shrouded wheat” for breakfast.

11. A CHIROPRACTOR FILLED IN FOR HIM IN PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE.

Toward the end of his life, Lugosi worked on three ultra-low-budget science fiction pictures with Ed Wood, a man who’s been posthumously embraced as the worst director of all time. In the 1953 transvestite picture Glen or Glenda?, Lugosi plays a cryptic narrator who offers such random and unsolicited bits of advice as “Beware of the big, green dragon who sits on your doorstep.” Then came 1955’s Bride of the Monster, in which Lugosi played a mad scientist who ends up doing battle with a (suspiciously limp) giant octopus.

Before long, Wood had cooked up around half a dozen concepts for new films, all starring Lugosi. At some point in the spring of 1956, the director shot some quick footage of the actor wandering around a suburban neighborhood, clad in a baggy cloak. This proved to be the last time that the star would ever appear on film. Lugosi died of a heart attack on August 16, 1956;  he was 73 years old.

Three years after Lugosi's passing, this footage was spliced into a cult classic that Wood came to regard as his “pride and joy.” Plan 9 From Outer Space tells the twisted tale of extraterrestrial environmentalists who turn newly-deceased human beings into murderous zombies. Since Lugosi could obviously no longer play his character, Wood hired a stand-in for some additional scenes. Unfortunately, the man who was given this job—California chiropractor Tom Mason—was several inches taller than Lugosi. In an attempt to hide the height difference, Wood instructed Mason to constantly hunch over. Also, Mason always kept his face hidden behind a cloak.

12. HE WAS BURIED IN HIS DRACULA CAPE.

Although Lugosi resented the years of typecasting that followed his breakout performance in Dracula, he asked to be laid to rest wearing the Count’s signature garment. Lugosi was buried under a simple tombstone at California's Holy Cross Cemetery.

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Pop Culture
LeVar Burton Is Legally Allowed to Say His Reading Rainbow Catchphrase
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Kevork Djansezian, Stringer, Getty Images

It’s hard to imagine the original Reading Rainbow without LeVar Burton, but in August, the New York public broadcasting network WNED made it very clear who owned the rights to the program. By saying his old catchphrase from his hosting days, “but you don’t have to take my word for it” on his current podcast, WNED claimed Burton was infringing on their intellectual property. Now, Vulture reports that the case has been settled and Burton is now allowed to drop the phrase when and wherever he pleases.

The news came out in an recent interview with the actor and TV personality. “All settled, but you don’t have to take my word for it,” he told Vulture. “It’s all good. It’s all good. I can say it.”

The conflict dates back to 2014, when Burton launched a Kickstarter campaign to revive the show without WNED’s consent. Prior to that, the network and Burton’s digital reading company RRKidz had made a licensing deal where they agreed to split the profits down the middle if a new show was ever produced. Burton’s unauthorized crowdfunding undid those negotiations, and tensions between the two parties have been high ever since. The situation came to a head when Burton started using his famous catchphrase on his LeVar Burton Reads podcast, which centers around him reading short fiction in the same vein as his Reading Rainbow role. By doing this, WNED alleged he was aiming to “control and reap the benefits of Reading Rainbow's substantial goodwill.”

Though he’s no longer a collaborator with WNED, Burton can at least continue to say “but you don’t have to take my word for it” without fearing legal retribution. WNED is meanwhile "working on the next chapter of Reading Rainbow" without their original star, and Burton tells Vulture he looks “forward to seeing what they do with the brand next."

[h/t Vulture]

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