After just a handful of episodes, Bates Motel has already received the green light for season two. This is good news, because it would appear that we still have much to learn about White Pine Bay.
"What Were You Doing in That Cop's House?"
Remember that creepy moonlit stroll Norman took last week? You know, the one where he barrelled down the middle of a busy street in a trance-like state, then broke into Deputy Shelby’s house, ransacked it, found an Asian sex slave and left her there? Well, we’re treated to a new angle of the whole strange situation this week. As Norman left the Bates residence, Dylan passed him on his motorcycle. Wondering what his little brother was up to, Dylan followed Norman to Deputy Shelby’s house and watched him break in. He was also there when Shelby pulled up, so—surprisingly—Dylan did Norman a solid by creating a diversion. This is about the same time that Norman is discovering the girl down in the basement, which is where the last episode ended.
Dylan knocks on the door and pretends that his motorcycle has run out of gas. While they’re standing there discussing this fabricated problem, Shelby has one ear cocked toward the noises coming from the basement, where the girl is essentially beating the crap out of Norman, trying to get him to rescue her.
“Normally, I wouldn’t ask, but I saw the police car our front...” Dylan says, playing the “trusted member of law enforcement” card.
“I’m off duty right now,” Shelby explains, because police don’t help people when they’re not on the clock. He directs Dylan to a nearby Shell station and quickly shuts the door. Dylan rounds the corner of the house just in time to see Norman making tracks out of there. Mission accomplished.
Since he has a (well-fueled) motorcycle, Dylan beats Norman home and is waiting to ambush him about his whereabouts. Norman’s lame excuse? “I was out running.” His brother’s not buying it.
"Who do you think knocked on the front door?" Dylan asks. "What kind of trouble are you in?"
Norman continues to deny: "I don't know what you're talking about. I'm not in trouble."
“I Am Decent.”
Flashback over. Back in the present day, Norman knocks on a door of a house conveniently labeled “Decody” so we know that he’s calling on Emma. Mr. Decody answers the door.
“You’re Norman Bates,” her dad realizes. “I’ve heard a lot about you.”
Emma has the flu, and in her delicate condition, her father doesn’t want her to have visitors.
Then, every teenage girl’s worst nightmare happens: Her dad tells the boy she likes that she likes him. “My daughter has quite a crush on you,” Mr. Decody says. “And you seem like a nice kid. And I know you know she has a lot of problems. She’s not strong, and she’s very young. Just a regular girl in many ways. So please, be decent.”
“I am decent,” Norman responds, almost defensively.
"This Is My Son, Dylan."
Norma hops into Shelby’s Jeep; he immediately begins to grope her thigh. At first, I think she looks uncomfortable, but she doesn’t seem to have much problem with what follows: Shelby suggests they go to a motel he knows. “It’s not exactly open yet, but I happen to be personal friends with the owner,” he says. Norma says that Norman will be home from school by 4:30 p.m. Is that an excuse or just a warning not to linger? Either way, Shelby’s fine with it. “That gives us an hour,” he says. They obviously intend to make the most of that hour, because over at the motel, they’ve ripped their shirts off faster than you can say “McConaughey.”
As they bask in afterglow, Norma gives the deputy the most bizarre compliment in the history of pillow talk: “You’re awfully pretty. I don’t mean pretty like you’re handsome. I mean pretty, like, um, like, you know when you look at an old woman and you might find her very beautiful?”
He’s as perplexed as we are. A few minutes later, Norma walks out of the cabin, buttoning things up, and runs into Dylan.
“Hello there Norma. How are those new linens working out for you?” he snarks, and then Shelby steps out of the room. As Norma introduces her lover to her son, Shelby’s mouth arranges itself into what can only be described as a smirk. To me, it’s a “got you” look—he obviously recognizes Dylan from the “ran out of gas” incident, and Shelby has likely figured out that someone was in his house right around the time Dylan showed up. The smirk, it would seem, is an indicator that he put two and two together.
"You’re a Real Piece of Work, Norma."
Ever the dutiful son, Norman is washing windows at the motel. He looks over to see Bradley putting a cross at the site of her dad’s car accident—though technically, his passing was due to the fact that his body was used as kindling, not the car wreck. But I don’t suppose you’d argue that point with a girl in mourning, and Norman doesn’t. Instead, he offers his condolences, then puts his arm around her and pulls her close. Emma would not be pleased. Too bad she’s laid up with the flu.
Inside, Dylan is putting groceries away. Norma looks nearly as stunned as she did when Keith Summers came plowing into her dining room. “What are you doing?!” she asks.
“What? I’m living here for a while. I just thought I should contribute.”
She looks mildly pleased until he calls her “a real piece of work,” then asks how long she’s been seeing the cop. She says it’s none of his business, and he tells her that she should be careful. “I don’t trust him,” Dylan says, and Norma looks thoughtful.
"Death is Profound, Isn't It?"
Later that evening, Norman is walking downtown when he sees the deputy with someone pulled over. He pulls his hood up. Shelby spots him anyway and calls after him, but Norman ignores him. Shelby gives chase, then pops up down an alley. “Freeze!” he yells, jumping out and shining his flashlight directly into Norman’s eyes, making Norman drop everything in his hands. Then Shelby laughs, and it’s exactly reminiscent of that jerky guy you knew in high school who thought his own barely-concealed aggression was totally hilarious “one of the guys” behavior.
Anger flashes across Norman’s face, but he quickly contains it. Shelby inquires as to what Norman is doing; Norman explains the Bradley situation and says he’s taking her some videos to help take her mind off of her dad’s death.
“Death is profound, isn’t it?” Shelby says. So many bizarre responses to things in this episode.
“Hm. I guess so,” Norman responds, unwilling to show his hand. Shelby plows ahead, ignoring Norman’s indifference.
“Look, I really like your mom. She’s a good woman and I care for her.” Norman actually snarls a little. Danger, Will Robinson!
“So, I think it would be a good idea and maybe even a necessary idea for you and I to get to know each other better. Do you like fishing?”
“I don’t know. I’ve never done it,” Norman says.
“Really?! Then I’m going to teach you how. You’re going to love this. Trust me.” Norman reluctantly nods. He thinks the convo is done, but Shelby grabs him for one last bit of wisdom: “Norman? Next time I say hi to you out here on the street? Don’t run away.”
I’m definitely left with the feeling that Norman is not the weirdo in this scene.
"Sometimes You Hear and See Things That Aren't There."
Norma is in bed, looking up information about city council meetings. Norman comes in. “I need to talk to you. I need to tell you something.”
She’s absorbed in the website, not really paying attention, so he touches her chin—you know, as normal teenage boys do.
“There’s a girl in his basement. Officer Shelby’s. She’s like less than 20. Drugged. I think he’s running some kind of an Asian sex slave business with Keith Summers.”
He’s spouting off information that would make any sane person run to dial 911, but Norma doesn’t look even remotely alarmed—just frustrated. Of the many questions she could ask, “Why on Earth would you go into Zack's house?” is the first one.
Norman reminds her that she was the one who told him to get the belt back.
“Norman, I never told you that,” she sighs. He swears she did, and that's when Norma drops the bomb: “Honey, sometimes you hear and see things that aren’t there.”
“That’s not true," he protests.
“It’s true. I don’t want you to worry, but you’ve done this for a while. It’s like some kind of trance or something. I don’t want you to worry. Don’t be scared. Honey, I’m going to protect you,” she says, and Norman flees.
"Why Are You in the Basement in the Middle of the Night?"
Sleepover at Shelby’s house. Norma wakes up the the middle of the night to creep down to the basement just to reassure herself that Norman is seeing things. She’s relieved when she gets down there to find totally normal basement stuff—no bed, no disco ball, no sex slave. She even finds the locked steel door, but there’s nothing in there but boxes. Suddenly, the deputy practically apparates onto the screen right behind her.
“Why are you in the basement in the middle of the night?” he yawns.
Norma freely admits that she’s snooping, but manages to do it in a flirtatious way. He seems appeased (and completely unconcerned), but he must know what the deal is. Even if Norman is imagining things, he still left a trail behind when he went through the basement, knocking things over and unlocking a giant steel door. I don’t think Shelby is going to find it coincidental that two people are suddenly interested in his basement at the same time.
"I Need to Know That I Can Trust You, Norman."
Back at Bates Manor, Norman is getting dressed. His ankle is all bruised up. He frowns at it, then hastily pulls the sock up over it.
Downstairs, Norma is reading on the couch when Norman pops in to throw some angst at her about her sleepover.
She says she made an extra turkey pot pie and took it over to Shelby. Is that what the kids are calling it these days? It's not enough to appease Norman's little snit about it, and Norma accuses him of being jealous.
“I’m not jealous. You’re my mother, not my girlfriend,” he spits. EXACTLY. Then Norma tells him she checked the basement. "There was nothing there. You're acting crazy," she says.
“I’m not crazy. I know what I saw. Look, she grabbed my ankle as I was trying to get out. Did I do this to myself?” Norma is still not convinced, and tells Norman that he is going fishing with Zack. End of story.
So, they do. They’re awkwardly hanging out when Shelby wades into the bonding business with this gem out of nowhere: “So how was your relationship with your dad? Your mom tells me he was a little abusive.” Way to delicately ease into it, Shelby. Understandably, Norman clams up, and the deputy gets angry.
“I’m putting myself on the line every day, protecting your mom,” he guilt trips. “And in so doing, I’m protecting you.” Then he launches into that familiar trust speech again. “I need to know that I can trust you, Norman. And you need to know you can trust me. Can you do that? Can you trust me?” His tone of voice would indicate that he's speaking to a toddler.
“Yes, I can trust you,” Norman enunciates very clearly and purposefully while shooting laser beams out of his eyes. Then Shelby’s phone rings. Something’s come up.
“Oh well,” Norman says, and he is unable to conceal his delight.
The thing that came up? A fisherman has discovered Keith Summers’ very distinctive watch in his fishing net. It’s attached to his severed hand.
"I Killed the Crap Out of Him."
Norman meets Bradley for a little ice cream date, where she tells him that he's one of the few people who aren't judging her or pushing her to tear up.
“I’m glad you can stand to be with me,” he says, and then they discuss grief and how crappy death is.
“I like being with you, Norman,” she says, and then she abruptly blurts out, “Hey, I wonder whose hand they found.” Nice transition.
“What hand?” Norman asks.
“Um, they found a decomposing hand in a fisherman’s net.”
“Do they know whose hand it was?” he says, faux-casually.
“No, just some man’s hand.” Norman runs home, of course, and immediately tells his mother, who tries to pooh-pooh the situation.
“You’re panicking. It’s just a hand. It could be a million different hands," Norma says, which would normally be amusing, but in White Pine Bay, it really could be a number of hands. An eye for an eye—or a hand for a hand, as it were.
Then the doorbell rings. It’s Shelby, but he’s not there to be uncomfortably sexual in front of Norma’s sons like he normally is. Instead, he’s taking her to the station so Sheriff Romero can ask a few questions.
When she gets there, Romero wants to know what happened, but Norma plays dumb. “I was just at home and the police came and told me you wanted to talk to me.” The sheriff is not amused. He tells her that carpet fibers were found under Summers' watch, and that it was going to be a cakewalk to match them to the carpet Norma(n) was pulling up that same night.
“Well, have fun doing that,” Norma says. Romero tries to get her to confess to Keith’s murder by saying that he sympathized—Summers wasn't a nice guy, and he may have threatened her or scared her. Then he asks her where she dumped the carpet. They haven't found it yet, and it sure would be helpful if she could tell them where she last left it. Yeah, like that's going to happen.
Norma, of course, says she doesn’t remember, then drags Norman to the dumpster where they trashed it. The carpet is, of course, gone. She whips out her phone, then calls the garbage service with a bogus story about losing her wedding ring. They tell her which dump that particular dumpster is taken to, but when she gets there, she finds it’s locked up for the day. Norma goes a little mad—we all do sometimes—and for a moment, I think she’s going to throw herself into the barbed wire at the top of the fence. Adding to the chaos is Norman, who’s yelling that she should have called the cops when it happened since it was self defense.
“I didn’t defend myself,” she sobs. “I killed the crap out of him. I don't know why I did it, I was just so angry, angry that he would come into my home, and he would do that to me. You don't understand, Norman. My whole life—my whole life—I’ve had to put up with things.”
"Be a 17-Year-Old for Five Minutes."
Resigned to the fact that she’s probably going down for this, Norma spends the rest of the evening crying in her room. Norman listens to her through the vent in his room for a while, then makes a break for it. He finds Dylan sitting on the porch of the motel—it seems to be his favorite hangout—drinking what looks like a Southern Comfort knockoff.
Dylan offers Norman a swig, which he takes, promptly choking on it. Food for thought: Norman’s an alcoholic in the book that inspired the Psycho craze. Is this a look at things to come? Or just a typical teenage moment?
“Don’t laugh at me,” Norman says, wiping his face.
“I’m not,” Dylan says. “I’m sorry you had to deal with her alone. She’s crazy.” Those words are apparently the equivalent of “Open Sesame,” because Norman pulls up a seat and spills the sordid details of everything that has happened since they arrived, from Norma being stab-happy to the girl chained up in Shelby’s basement.
Dylan’s strangely quiet about the events, and it’s only at the end that he finally says, “I’m gonna help you.” It’s not clear if he means that he’s going to help with all of this madness, or if he’s going to get psychiatric help because he thinks Norman has gone off the deep end.
Then Bradley texts, and from Norman's expression, Dylan knows it’s a girl. “Is she pretty? Do you like her? Text her right now and tell her you’re coming over.”
Norman does, showing off some pretty impressive texting skills. If Norman did Ron Burgundy impressions, he would have said, “Texting was a bad choice,” because he immediately regretted his response.
Moments later, Bradley responds that she’d love to have him over, but Norman hesitates. “Be a 17-year-old for five minutes,” Dylan urges. “Go have fun.” It’s an oddly nice brotherly moment.
Norman does, and as soon as he leaves, Dylan’s face turns into a mask of worry.
"Norma Louise Bates, You're Under Arrest."
As promised, Norman shows up at Bradley’s house. They go to her room, where he is awkward and adorable. Awkworable? Adorward?
“Thank you for helping me so much,” Bradley says, taking his hand. “I’m just tired of being sad. I want to feel something else for a little while. Do you think I’m weird?”
“No. I don’t think you’re weird,” he says. She thanks him, and he responds, “It’s my pleasure,” which no 17-year-old boy has ever said. Then there’s making out (and more).
At home, Norma has realized that it’s late, and her precious Normie is not at home yet. What’s good for the gander is apparently not good for the goose. Dylan is elated to inform her that Norman is out. With a girl.
“I hope to God he’s getting laid,” Dylan says, “Because he sure as hell deserves it, for putting up with your crazy ass.” He then proceeds to tell her that Norman spilled enough damning information that Dylan could get Norman taken away, if he was so inclined.
“Nobody’s taking him away from me,” she says.
“That girl is, right now,” he sneers, and then they physically start to fight—until the doorbell rings.
Norma runs downstairs, thinking it’s Norman. It’s not. It’s the cops, and Norma is under arrest. Worst. Night. Ever.