Bates Motel Recap, Episode 9: "Underwater"
There's just one more episode left of the season, and I have a feeling that White Pine Bay is getting ready to show us its worst - though this week is no cakewalk. Except for Emma.
Corpses and Chronic
Zack Shelby’s corpse is being removed from the Bates House. Again.
“The smell is never gonna leave my brain,” Norma mutters, then IDs Jake Abernathy when Romero asks if she knows who might have left her such an unpleasant surprise.
“Why do crazy people keep gravitating towards me?” she asks, followed by an awkward silence. Not even Norman is going to touch that one.
The next morning, Norman and Dylan are hauling the mattress out to the dumpster. Dylan thinks it’s a waste of money—after all, hospitals don’t dump mattresses every time someone dies on one. He’s grousing about how Norma is going to milk this for the next year when Norma reveals that she's right behind them. She smells something, but it’s not the Shelby juice soaking the mattress: The trimmers are smoking pot on the porch.
She stomps self-righteously over to the gang, who look like they could be extras from Dazed and Confused, and demands that they extinguish their wacky tobacky.
“You’re kidding, right?” the stoners are aghast. “You know where you live, right? What the local economy is? No one cares.”
Wrong. Norma cares. “No one prepared me for the colossal frickin’ facedive off a cliff that living in this crazy-ass town really is,” she says. “However, what happens on my property is still under my control, and it does not include people in torn jeans with tie-dyed clothing and dirty hair hanging out on my new furniture smoking a doobie. So take that as the law around here, because there doesn’t seem to be much of one otherwise.”
“OK, just chill,” lead hippie “Ra’uf” tells her. Yes, that’s his name.
“Chill your own ass,” she responds, exactly the way your mom would have said it.
Then she turns her attention to Dylan. She wants to know exactly what these wayward group of souls is doing for employment with his company.
“Processing stuff,” Dylan says, lamely.
Norma puts two and two together. “I hate this place. I hate it,” she whines. “We’re moving.”
A hand with black-polished nails is draped over the edge of a claw-foot tub. It’s Bradley, fully submerged in bathwater except her face. She’s wearing what looks to be a prom dress. She opens her eyes just in time to see Norman as he shoves her head under. She struggles and manages to come up for one last breath, but it doesn’t look good—and then Norman wakes up.
While Norman is just coming around, Emma has been up for awhile. She's at the motel bright and early before school to work on organizing files. Seriously? High school kids don’t wake up any earlier than absolutely necessary, do they?
Norma instructs her to trash everything that isn’t strictly related to the business. She also warns Emma that a group of nogoodniks have been smoking pot at the motel, and if she sees it happening, she has instructions to “Go out there and bust it up immediately."
“Bust it up?” Emma kind of chuckles, then realizes that it wasn't a joke. Norma is about to leave Emma to her strange early-hour organizing party when a man bearing a large bouquet of flowers shows up on the porch. She's delighted—until she checks out the attached florist’s card, which reads “See you soon...”
Norma isn't one to mess with ominous ellipsis, so she calls Sheriff Romero and leaves a message. “Tell him that someone sent flowers to me. The card says ‘See you soon.’” The dubious secretary promises to relay the information.
Now, off to those errands—namely, terrorizing her realtor.
“The motel business sucks, Matt,” she starts off, then lays into him about not telling her about the motel-obliterating bypass when she bought the property. He claims that nothing about the bypass was set in stone when she purchased.
“It was proposed!” Norma insists.
“Lots of things are proposed,” Matt says condescendingly, which is when Norma threatens to sue. She wants her money back, and she wants him to list the motel immediately. But no sign out front. “I still need to earn a living until it gets sold,” she says.
Back at her worthless motel, Norma is cleaning when she sees a black car—likely Abernathy—cruise by slowly outside. She goes back inside and Googles—excuse me, “Wikifinds”—“the safest cities in America. According to Wikifinders, the top cities include Brick Township, New Jersey; Kapolei, Hawaii; and Mission Viejo, California. (That’s not what Forbes magazine says.)
The door opens and shuts. It’s just Norman, but she tells him to lock and bolt the front door.
“Welcome to my world, Juno,” he mutters to the stuffed pet under his arm.
Norma spots the strange new addition to the family and stops talking mid-sentence.
“How do you like her, mom?” Norman asks. To her credit, Norma tries her best to be supportive.
“Well, let’s see. Yeah! Yeah, look at that.”
“I had a really good day at school,” he reports, as though he’s a first grader. He tells her about the 4.0. “I really like this school, mom,” he says, subtly trying to convince her that he doesn’t want to move. Norma knows what he’s doing, though, and stops him in his tracks.
“It’s you getting the grades,” she says. “Not the school.”
Norman takes Juno into his room and pulls up the Interwebs to check out his drowning dream on “Dream Daemon.” As Dylan passes Norman’s doorway, he also spies Juno. She’s quite the conversation piece!
“What the hell is that?” Dylan wants to know. “That’s just weird, dude.” Then his eye falls on the computer and he sees what Norman is researching.
“It says here that drowning in a dream can mean you’re feeling overwhelmed in your life. That makes sense," Norman tells his brother.
“Yeah,” Dylan says, dismissively. “Just curious. Who were you drowning in the dream?”
After Norman confesses that he was dreaming about holding Bradley underwater, Dylan looks concerned. “You wouldn’t actually want to hurt anybody though, would you?”
“Of course I wouldn’t want to. I’ve never wanted to hurt anyone. Except you once in awhile.”
They both chuckle. It’s briefly cute, but it’s obvious that Dylan’s not totally buying that statement.
Take Your Daughter to Work Day
Downtown, Bradley spots Dylan and walks over to ask if Dylan can get her into her dad’s office to collect his things. He agrees, because why wouldn’t risk your own neck for a girl that you barely know? They give each other googly eyes.
“Well, I gotta go play high school now...” she smiles. More googly eyes.
Later, over at the weed warehouse, Dylan runs into Gil and takes the opportunity to feel him out about Mr. Martin's office.
“I haven’t promoted you fast enough? You want an office now, too?” Gil tries to sound jokey, but he’s anything but. “I’m not feeling too friendly toward Jerry Martin. His little shenanigans cost me over $100 grand in that warehouse fire. He’s lucky I didn’t get his family to cover my losses,” he sneers. “You want his office? Take it.”
Dylan and Bradley organize a restaurant rendezvous to discuss how they're going to get into the warehouse. Based on Gil’s vitriolic reaction to the mere mention of Jerry Martin, Dylan wants to load up her dad's personal belongings by himself, then deliver them to her. Bradley agrees, but she seems disappointed.
“I just really want to see my dad’s office again. The way he set it up. The way he left everything,” she tells him. Her mom is so freaked out by his violent death that she got rid of all of his things, so Bradley has nothing left of her dad. She was hoping that by visiting his office, she would feel like she was with him again.
The speech moves Dylan, and he agrees.
“You sure?” Bradley asks.
“No. But I’m gonna do it anyways.”
Man on Fire
At school, Miss Watson is effusing over an incredible short story Norman wrote about a man who’s literally burning up on the inside. She wants to help him get it published, promising to help him edit it if he stops by after school. Also, she’s been reviewing his quarter grades, and they’re straight A’s. “I think this school’s gonna be good for you,” she smiles.
When Norman does come by the next day, Miss Watson starts waxing poetic about how he understands things beyond his years, “things about how hard life can be, about how we’re not really meant to be happy.” It’s a little odd—I feel like maybe we'll hear more about her personal life in the seasons to come. She snaps out of her lament and tells Norman to check with his mom to make sure she’s okay with it being published, since he’s still a minor.
Let it Slide
The hippies are singing the Goo Goo Dolls’ “Slide” on the motel porch. I’m suddenly transported back to my junior year of high school and a mixtape I made for an ex-boyfriend. I have a feeling that Carlton Cuse and crew are focusing on different lyrics than I was, though. “We’re gonna let it slide,” lead hippie sings, and that’s exactly what Officer Romero is about to do.
He walks up to the motel, presumably to follow up on the Flowers of Doom, and the trimmers freeze. When Romero asks where they’re working, the guitar player says they’re out at Gil’s dry dock.“You want some veggies?” he asks the sheriff. Norma is peering out between the blinds, hoping that Romero is going to bust them. He is not.
“No, I’m good. Thanks.” He almost cracks a smile, then heads inside to chat with Norma. It's not good news: he has no leads, because Jake Abernathy doesn’t exist. All of the information he gave when he registered was completely fake. Romero asks to dust room number nine for fingerprints, but Norma’s already cleaned it, and now there are a bunch of stoners in there.
“God knows what they tracked in with them," she moans.
“It’s sort funny how you went into the service industry,” Romero says, wryly. “You’re don’t seem very keen on serving anybody.”
“I’m as keen as I need to be,” she responds, and asks what he intends to do about Abernathy.
The answer? Nothing. He has no leads, no evidence, no license plate, no locations he might be going. To appease her, Romero says he’ll have her house patrolled on the half hour.
“Let me know if anything else happens,” he says, and walks out the door.
After a moment, Norma thinks of a good retort (isn’t that always the way?) and flings the door open to yell after him, “Oh, like what? Like he digs up a couple of more dead people and puts them in my bed?”
“Yeah, like that,” Romero deadpans. “Goodnight, Norma.”
The stoners are baffled.
This is Emma on Drugs. Any Questions?
Earier in the day, Emma caught one of the trimmers smoking weed on the porch. When she goes to "bust it up immediately," he asks if she wants some.
“No, I don’t want some," she says. "Do you want me to blow up?”
“You won’t blow up," he assures her. "I’ve seen smokers with O2 tanks in Vegas. You know, playing the slot machines...” He chivalrously offers Emma some “killer” weed cupcakes instead. She declines and asks him to put the joint out so she won’t get fired. He obliges, then watches her walk into the office, intrigued.
The cupcake magically appears on the reception desk later. There’s a card attached that says “Emma - Hope I didn’t get you in trouble. Gunner.” He's signed it with a peace sign, obviously. After she answers a wrong number phone call from someone looking for “Dave," she decides to give the laced cake a go. And man, does she dig in with gusto.
Upstairs, Norman is at his laptop, presumably working on his story about the man living in a constant state of internal combustion. Norma enters and announces that she’s found them a beautiful little cottage in Oahu.
“I won’t do it,” Norman tells her. “This is just another of your stupid ‘starting over’ ideas and I’ve been through enough of them. I like it here.”
Norma, unfazed, insists that they will be able get jobs in the hotel industry now that they have experience.
“We’ve been open for three days,” he hisses.
“They don’t have to know that,” she shrugs.
“No matter where we go, things will always be the same. Because you do things that don’t make sense. YOU. You’re crazy!” he yells. After a brief pause, he apologizes. “I’m sorry mother. I didn’t mean that.”
Comic relief! Emma appears out of nowhere and reports that there may be video monitoring equipment in the office. She felt like she was being watched, which made her nervous, so she came up to see Norma(n).
“Have you ever thought about how long those stairs are? I just kept climbing, and climbing...” she says in a dreamy tone of voice.
“Oh my God. Are you high?” Norma asks.
Emma is still carrying on about the stairs. “Like it was an escalator. That you climb. One more step just kept coming out of nowhere like I was in space or something...”
She then confirms that she got baked on baked goods.
“I heard it’s fun, but I’m not having any fun yet. When does the fun start?”
To help counter Emma’s bad reaction, Norma tells Norman to get her some toast and juice. Will that really stop a bad high? Norman doesn’t seem overly concerned about Emma’s condition, high or otherwise. What he is concerned about, however, is about apologizing for his little outburst. “Mom. I’m sorry. I don’t think you’re crazy.”
“Get the toast,” Norma snaps.
Inappropriate Relationships x2
Dylan and Bradley have just jumped down from the rafters into Gil’s warehouse when someone starts shooting at them. Lucky for Dylan, it’s just Remo—but he isn’t impressed that Dylan has a stowaway. He’s even less pleased when he realizes who the girl is.
“You got any idea what kind of a position you put me in, bringing her down here?” he asks Dylan. Dylan promises that they’ll be no more than 10 minutes; Remo reluctantly gives them the go-ahead.
Bradley immediately tears up when she sees her dad’s office.
“Everything’s just how he left it,” she says. Dylan asks if she wants a minute.
“No. I like having you here,” she says. She searches desk drawers for a meaningful gold pocketwatch, but finds a stash of love letters instead. I caught a glimpse of the line, “My one and only Master”—was Bradley’s dad in on the sex slave trade, or is he just a bit 50 Shades?
The letters are signed “All my love, B,”—and “B” isn’t Bradley’s mother. Bradley drops the letters and runs out of the warehouse.
Dylan picks up the letters and I think he takes them, then runs out after Bradley.
“People are complicated,” he tells her. “He’s still your dad. He still loved you. I know that he had to love you, because who wouldn’t?” Oh, what a line. She thinks so, too, and they hold each other tight.
At home, Norman’s holding someone too. Norma came in and asked if she could sleep with him, because she’s understandably still freaked out by rotting body in her bed and her weirdo sex slave ringmaster stalker.
Norman agreed and offered to sleep on the floor so she could have his bed, but Norma wouldn’t have it. And that’s why they’re now cuddled up close in his tiny twin-size bed. After reminiscing about the sleepovers they used to have in her room when Norman was just a tot, Norma puts an arm over his chest. She apologizes about her latest moving kick. “It’s alright mother," he assures her. "I’m sorry I said you were crazy. You’re not crazy.”
She kisses him and snuggles into his neck. It’s ... not normal.
Norma's Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day
Back at school, Norman has changed his mind about having his story published. He doesn’t think his mom would approve. There's no point in even asking, he says. “She wouldn’t get it.” A beat later, Miss Watson wants to know how the therapy is going.
“I went once,” Norman shrugs.
Miss Watson sighs, then suggests that perhaps Norman doesn't really need to tell his mother about publishing the story.
“That doesn’t seem right,” he says.
Miss Watson gets weirdly close—personal space, lady—and says that she’s had a lot of troubles in her own life, so she can see when things aren’t fair. “What I’m saying is that, what is the likelihood she’ll ever know?”
Real estate agent’s office. Our pal Matt sees Norma coming and tries his best to avoid her, but it’s too late. She wants an update on the open house, which is when he lays it all out for her.
“There’s not gonna be an open house. I looked into it, and there’s no market for your property, not with the new bypass road going in. I can’t get you your money back.” In fact, he’s not even sure he can get half of her money back. He advises her that it’s probably just best to walk away.
“Are you kidding me? I will sue you!” she yells at him.
“Uhh, you can,” Matt smirks. “But I’m 30,000 in debt, I live with my girlfriend, and my mom owns my car, so...” Norma shows him the business end of her purse, smacking him with the full force of it. Repeatedly.
Then she goes outside and gets in her car, where she has a ticket. Could this day get any worse? Oh yeah, it could: “Jake Abernathy” is in the back seat, and he’s got a gun to her head.
Turns out that he’s been searching for $150,000, the cash Shelby owed him from the last batch of girls. It’s gone missing, and none of their mutual contacts has it. That leaves one person: Norma. He wants her to bring him the money tomorrow night at midnight. (A flair for the dramatic, I think.)
Norma agrees—and maybe she’s just playing along, but she seems genuine. Did she really take the money? Whether she did or didn’t, she’d better show up with the payout, because Abernathy isn't playing.
“I know where you live,” he tells her. “If I have to go to your house, I’ll kill your sons first. And then I’ll kill you. Goodnight.”
I do so prefer that my murderous blackmailing sex traffickers are polite, don’t you?