Bates Motel, Episode 3: "What's Wrong with Norman?"

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A&E/Joseph Lederer

Ladies and gentlemen, it’s official: The Norman Bates we all know and love (?) has arrived. But we’ll get to that in a minute.

First, we have Dylan mugging with a gun in a Bates manor mirror. He’s pointing it. Sticking it in his pants. Trying out a menacing stare. He may be more Quick Draw McGraw than Clint Eastwood, but I think Dylan just became my favorite character. Also, how many layers does he have on? I count a t-shirt, a flannel, a hoodie, and a leather jacket. After he’s done posing, Dylan walks into the kitchen, where Norma asks for his help with motel stuff.

“I’d love to, but I have a job,” he announces, and Norma(n) looks at him with such comic shock that I’m waiting for the spit take. Norma asks what he’ll be doing. “Nothing,” is Dylan’s response, and then he’s out the door, presumably to go do “nothing.”

“Norman? You OK?”

A&E/Joseph Lederer

Meanwhile, Norman heads to school, where a weepy Emma (wearing a plethora of questionable prints which are either awful or adorably quirky) finds him at his locker.

Long story short: She’s freaking out that the little black book was fact, not fiction, and she’s having a hard time dealing. “That dead girl is calling us from the grave,” she says, waving the journal around. Norman demands that Emma return the journal to him, which is not the response she was expecting.

“Why are you so obsessed with it?” he asks her, annoyed.

“Hey, I found it in your room,” she shoots back.

“What’s that supposed to mean? I’m obsessed with it? I’m not obsessed with it,” the lady doth protest too much.

Proving that he’s not at all preoccupied with the book’s contents, Norman goes to class and promptly has a vision of his teacher tied up like the sketched girls. He’s supposed to be taking a test, but hasn’t written a single letter. “Norman? You OK?” Mrs. Watson asks, and, looking kind of sweaty and lecherous, Norman passes out.

“Does Your Son Have a History of Blackouts?”

At St. Sebastian Hospital, a doctor asks Norma if Norman has had episodes like this in the past. Her eyes have been on her son, but Norma’s head whips around at the question. “Why would you ask me that?” she says, alarmed, and it seems like she’s a smidge defensive. “No, never. Not at all.”

Back to Dylan, who’s traipsing through the woods with his new pal Ethan—the same area, of course, where Norman and Emma looked for a grave, found a pot field and recently fled from gunmen. (High school shenanigans have really changed since my days.)

“This where they shot Deliverance?” Dylan asks. “Boy, you got a pretty mouth.” Yep, favorite character status cemented.

The new BFFs are enjoying nature’s beauty—which just happens to include $5 million worth of pot plants—when they’re suddenly looking down the barrel of a couple of guns. Dylan fumbles for his own gun when the guys start laughing. “We’re just messing with you, noob,” they grin, and then mock the gun placement that he worked so hard on getting right. “You’ll probably want to keep that up front, though. Quick draw.” They split, leaving Dylan and Ethan alone with a tent, a whole lot of ammo, and some snacks.

“What do we do now?” Dylan asks.

“We chill,” Ethan says, and it looks like Dylan’s “nothing” job description was closer than he thought.

“You’re Brave, Norman Bates.”

A&E/Joseph Lederer

Speaking of chilling, that’s what Norma(n) are doing at the hospital. While they’re waiting on test results, Norma gets a phone call: The new carpet has arrived and someone needs to sign for it. She leaves, not even noticing when she passes Norman’s only other visitor in the hallway. It’s Bradley, bearing a very familiar pot of flowers.

Norman asks how her father is (the correct answer: well done), and Bradley reports that he’s probably not going to make it. There’s an uncomfortable silence, which she breaks by saying, “I know. Death is awkward. So what about your dad? He doesn’t live with you, right?” Norman tells her that his dad passed away after having an accident in their garage. She realizes that this makes them kindred spirits, and tells him to scootch over so she can watch an old movie with him.

“You like old movies?” she asks.

“Everyone seems better in old movies. Even bad ones. Happier, maybe.” Norman

After a few beats, Bradley agrees. “You just want to be happy,” she says.

“What’s Wrong With Me?”

As Norma’s signing for the carpet—by the way, they’ve accidentally delivered carpeting for five units instead of four—when Sheriff Romero comes busting in.

“You can’t just walk into my home,” Norma sputters.

“Actually, we can,” he replies. Guess who got that search warrant!

Leaving the cops alone at her house, Norma goes to retrieve Norman from the hospital. Even though they can’t find anything wrong with him, they want to keep him overnight for observation. “Ain’t nobody got time for that,” Norma basically says, and starts yanking cords and tubes out. As she wheels him away, she tells Norman that police ransacked the house. “I have no idea if they found anything. It was one of the most horrible experiences of my life.”

“Did they find anything?” Norman asks, totally failing to pull off the nonchalant look he was going for.

The second he gets home, Norman drops to his belly and looks under his bed. The space is totally empty, save for a dust bunny or two (where are those Swiffers when you need them?). His face falls. “What’s wrong with me? What’s wrong with me? What’s wrong with me?” he half sobs.

”Why Would You Want to Keep That Thing?”

After changing back into his octogenarian-chic clothes, Norman walks into the kitchen where his mom is waxing poetic about her homemade turkey pot pie.

“Mother. I kept Keith’s belt,” he interrupts.

“Why?” Norma seems truly baffled.

Norman ignores the question, but haltingly explains that the belt isn’t where he left it.

“I mean, why? Why would you do that?” she repeats. Norman is at a loss for words.

“All right, well, if the police had found it, they would have said something, right? They would have told us. Okay. I will be right back,” she says, whipping her apron off.

Back to the Deliverance forest. Dylan, understandably, is asking some pretty logical questions about the pot field. Here are the answers: A) They can’t smoke it on the job. A) “A couple of families from town” own it. A) Bradley’s dad was set on fire to send a message. A) The people who did it were punished, and yes, it was the upside down guy hanging from the yardarm last week.

Then they freak out when they hear a noise, but it’s just a bird. Dylan is pretty stoked. Pheasant hunting!!

“It Will Be Like She Never Existed.”

A&E/Joseph Lederer

Ding-dong, Emma calling. “We need to talk,” she insists. Norman tries to slam the door in her face, basically, but she keeps going. “She was real. If we forget about her, then the world will forget about her. It will be like she never existed. Like her life didn’t matter,” she says, and there’s so much desperation, so much insistence in her voice, you know she’s mostly talking about her own 27 year shelf life.

They head down to room #4, where Norman found the journal, and Emma deduces that men came to the motel to test drive the sex slaves.

“Who do you think brought them?” Norman wonders.

“Have you met Keith? The guy who owned the motel before you?” Norman averts his eyes. “He’s disturbing, to say the least. Not someone you want to get stuck in an elevator with.”

Emma walks over to inspect the bathroom and finds a Chinese character scratched beneath the sink. She snaps a picture of it.

“Everything’s Gonna Be OK.”

A woman on a mission, Norma has been driving around White Pine Bay looking for the deputy. She finds Shelby sitting in his truck just off a main road (speed trap? He is a jerk) and hops into his truck to repeat her “widow with a sickly son” sob story. Then she baits (Bates?) her hook and goes fishing: “I can’t have cops coming in and out of my home over nothing. I mean, it’s not like they found anything.”

“I’m on duty, Norma,” Shelby says tersely, but adds that they should talk later, over dinner at his place that night. Say 8:00? She reluctantly agrees.

“Don’t worry,” he tells her. “Everything’s gonna be OK.”

At home, Norma tells Norman she’s having dinner with Deputy Shelby—“Because Norman, he knows”—then gets dolled up in her best asset-enhancing dress and heads over to Shelby’s trap. House. It doesn’t take long for them to get down to business.

“How about we start with you telling me about the belt?” he says, then gets annoyed when she tries to play coy. “Don’t do that. If we’re gonna help each other, we’ve gotta be honest with each other. That is the only thing that matters to me, Norma, is honesty.” Shelby insists, voice dripping with faux sincerity. She starts to go into her “poor widowed business owner being harassed by Sheriff Romero” schtick again when Shelby stops her.

“Romero never saw the belt. I found it. I took it. So no one else knows,” he says. “Where did you get this scar, Norma?” he asks, touching the marred spot on her thigh that we saw last week.

“I was a child. It was an accident.”

“Is that what happened to Keith? Was it an accident? Norma, did your son kill Keith?”

She denies it, of course, and Shelby decides to try another tactic. He appeals to her by saying that he knows that she has taken care of everyone and everything her whole life, and now he’s here to take care of her. “You are so beautiful it just makes my heart hurt,” he says, and it sounds exactly like a rehearsed line. Making out commences.

“Our Family is So Screwed Up.”

A&E/Joseph Lederer

Back to the woods. Dylan and Ethan are enjoying some friendly chit-chat over a meal of freshly-roasted pheasant. As they’re talking about where Dylan grew up, he realizes that he’s not sure exactly sure of his family’s roots—at least not all of them.

“You don’t know where your own mom’s from?” Ethan says, incredulously, and a look crosses over Dylan’s face like he just realized that yeah, that is weird.

“You got a brother, right? You guys close or what?” Ethan presses.

“Not really,” Dylan answers, probably visualizing a meat tenderizer.

At home, Norman is waiting up on the couch, watching an old movie (of course) in his old fashioned PJs. When he hears Dylan open the door, he immediately calls for his Mother. Dylan advises him—not entirely unkindly—to stop doing things like that. “It’s just weird,” he says.

“And calling your mom a whore is perfectly normal,” Norman counters. Then he confesses that Norma should have been home hours ago, and he’s kind of freaking out.

“You need to get out more, Norman. What she’s doing to you—it’s not healthy. She’s smothering you. There’s a whole world out there. You need some perspective.” Dylan nods at his brother, obviously feeling that he’s given some decent sibling advice. “Sorry you tried to kill me the other night,” he adds.

“I hardly think I tried to kill you,” Norman replies.

“You came at me with a meat tenderizer.”

“Oh I did?” Norman kind of chuckles. “You’re making this up, right?”

“You were pretty badass,” Dylan admits.

“Yeah, I’m sure I struck fear in your heart.”

They both laugh. Hahaha, attempted fratricide is hilarious.

“I Just Like to Keep Mementos.”

Norma arrives home from her close encounter with Shelby and goes upstairs to find Norman, sleeping in her bed. She assures him that everything is going to be fine, and he sees what’s going on. It’s probably not the first time it’s happened.

“This is a bad idea. Letting him use you. What if he wants more? What if he makes you do things, things you don’t want to do?” Norman asks.

Exasperated, Norma asks again why he felt the need to keep the belt.

“I just like to keep mementos, you know, all that stuff I have in my room.”

“Those were good experiences,” she explains, unnecessarily adding that sexual assault and murder are typically not. “Why would you want to keep a memento of that?”

“I’m so sorry, mother,” he says, avoiding the question.

“This Is All Your Fault.”

A&E/Joseph Lederer

Emma pulls Norman aside at school. She got the character from under the sink translated—thanks, Yahoo Answers!—and found out that it means “beautiful.”

“That’s really sad,” Norman kind of shrugs. Emma tells him that she has decided to go to the police and he explodes at her. “Finding out what happened to this girl isn’t going to make a difference to anyone,” he yells. “She’s still gonna be dead, you’re still gonna be sick, and I’m still gonna be who I am.” He immediately apologizes, then turns and leaves.

Norman lies on his bed, motionless, as the sun drops from afternoon to evening to night. Norma enters his room.

“You were right,” she says. “As long as Shelby has that belt, he can control us. He can make us do things. Things we don’t want to do. Just like your father did.”

“We can’t let that happen. Not again,” Norman agrees, and now we’re wondering about that “accident” in the garage again.

“This is all your fault,” Norma glares.

“I know, Mother. There’s something wrong with me.”

“You know what you have to do, don’t you?”

“I have to get that belt,” Norman nods, and that’s when we realize there’s only been one person in the room for the whole conversation.

He’s off, walking down the middle of the road in the middle of the night, looking every inch as crazy as Anthony Perkins. Classic Norman Bates has definitely arrived.

"Help Me."

Norman arrives at Shelby’s house and breaks in way too easily. Shouldn’t an officer of the law have a better alarm system? Or at least some Micro Machines and some heated doorknobs? Shelby’s either not home or he’s the worst cop ever, because Norman is making enough noise to wake the dead. He finds a locked door to the basement, then goes upstairs to Shelby’s bedroom and discovers a keyring in his nightstand. Bingo. After fighting off a dog with a baseball bat (don’t worry, he doesn’t hurt it, just pushes it away) Norman goes back downstairs and uses the keys on the locked door and I am suddenly reminded of Maniac Mansion.

Norman finds your standard-issue bed and disco ball setup in the basement - you know, like you do - and then finds a heavy steel door right next to it. Behind the door is another bed, a bean bag, and an Asian girl with needle marks up and down her arms.

“Help me,” she says, clutching Norman’s arm. Outside, Deputy Shelby arrives home from work.

Thoughts:
If Norman can imagine that his mom is standing talking to him, what else is he hallucinating? Bradley? Emma? Dylan? Women tied up in basements?

What else has he done during the blackouts that he’s obviously had before?

Theories? Thoughts? I'm on Twitter.

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April 3, 2013 - 10:45am
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