Bates Motel (S05E02) “The Convergence of the Twain”

PHOTO CREDIT(S): A&E

Pain. Grief. Suffering. These are words the characters in Bates Motel know all too well. The show and its central plot is nothing if not a Greek tragedy, one where the audience knows the downfall of its characters before the characters do. Sometimes however, it does seem that Bates Motel wants us to treat these characters and their troubling paths with more consideration than a television show normally would. It asks us to consider all the sides of the story and sometimes we the audience may discover, we simply do not want to. The show at its core is the story of Norman and Norma, which is why at times the show can seem over focused when it branches out. Most of the time, the show does a great job with this, but at times it falters. This week’s episode is plagued a bit by this over-exposure that has occasionally happened. For as much as I have lamented this show’s subplots, I do have to say that this week I could have used more time spent with them.

Early on the episode, Caleb has left after last week’s episode in which Emma told him that leaving would be the best option for the Massett family. Caleb decides to head into town and after he cannot find anyone home in the Bates Motel, he decides to stay at a place he once stayed at before, back in season two. We spend very little time with Caleb, until via a desk clerk he discovers that Norma Bates has died…a year and a half ago. Caleb is upset understandably, but his emotions feel unearned at least at this point.

Caleb goes and visits Norma’s grave and begins to cry, and its supposed to be an emotional scene. Unfortunately, the scene is too short and before you know it, we’re off for Caleb to confront Norman at the Bates Motel.

Norman, on the other hand, is quite enjoying the fact that it is only he who knows that (head)Norma is still alive. Norman is still looking at Madeline from a far, this time drinking coffee instead of eating a cookie. Highmore’s performance here is phenomenal as “David Davidson” is revealed to Madeline’s husband. Norman has a talk with Sam Loomis, and Sam Loomis threatens him. And then, Norman literally pulls up his collar and exits the room like he is the coolest motel manager you’ve never known. The effect here is hilarious and makes me a bit disappointed that Highmore is going into drama this fall (if the pilot The Good Doctor gets picked-up ) when he is perfect at comedy.

Norman later agrees to go on a dinner date, but even that is short lived as his date is a former actress turned website designer. Norman goes to escape to the bathroom and wash his face in the sink. This happens shortly after he throws some major shade at Sam Loomis. In the bathroom, Norma comes in making sure to ask Norman what in the world he is doing on a date when he could home learning French with her. Norman scolds his mother for walking through the restaurant when she is supposed to be dead, and makes her go out the bathroom window.

Norman eventually leaves his dinner date and (head) Norma is waiting for him in the car. (head) Norma then decides she has had enough and decides to go for a drink. The camera switches back and forth as Norman, in the personality of Norma, talks about her troubles to the bartender. The scene is great example of just how much Farmiga is still able to encapsulate so many ranging emotions, even as a figment of Norman’s mind. Highmore again does a great job here, which is worth saying again and again. Farmiga and Highmore have done and continue to do so much alternating between which one might be one episode’s tour-de-force that it’s hard to imagine Bates Motel existing without them.

When Caleb eventually meets up with Norman at the end of the episode and the two story lines converge, Caleb discovers Norma’s frozen corpse in the basement freezer. It is not long until Norman (in Norma’s clothes) comes and knocks him out, only for Chick to show up for what will probably go down as one of the top five moment’s in the show history.

After-Thoughts

  • So Chick keeping all of his notes of Norman and what has been going on in a notebook. I’m theorizing that perhaps everything comes full circle and perhaps Chick will publish a book called Psycho. (I actually hope this is not the case, and that Chick’s contribution to the show as a whole will be more of a spiritual one).
  • What did Chick bring this week? This week it was apples. They looked fresh.
  • How amazing is it that even Norma in Norman’s head refuses to confirm she no longer has feelings for Romero.
  • I really hope this is not the last we’ll see of Caleb (outside of the motel-wise) because I could really enjoy some more different ways that Caleb showed up at the Bates Motel.
  • Madeline unknowingly quoted Norma. This is just not going to end well for her, there’s no getting around that.
  • Sassy Norman is the best Norman
  • “Well now you know Chick, I’m still alive.” Never leave me Bates Motel.
  • Romero’s prison is located in Fairville, a clear callback to Fairville, California in Psycho.
  • This week’s episode title comes from a poem by Thomas Hardy about the Titanic. The poem talks about the sinking of the Titanic and the two halves coming together and colliding. I can’t see why the chose it.
  • Days without murder at the Bates Motel: It’s really hard to say, but nothing happened *this episode* which was at least eight hours. So yeah, 8 hours.
  • The amount of words on Norma’s gravestone is so totally Norman. It’s perfect in every way. Pretty convenient there’s a space next to it to.
  • Next week should be back to normal with the time this review is posted, barring any unforeseen circumstances.
  • Collars up, everyone! Eight to go on this season of Bates Motel, and the series as whole. This episode was super fun, but let’s hope that this momentum can be kept up for the remainder of the season!
  • I’d be happy to discuss this week’s episode with you, so either leave a comment or contact me via my Twitter.
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