PHOTO CREDIT(S): A&E
Norman Bates is a complicated fellow. An understatement, that is well, understated. For the past five years the audience of Bates Motel has gotten to see the descent of Norman into his predestined psychosis. This season has shown us that Norman is only ten percent of his normal self, operating between visions of Norma to defuse the pain he feels of his mind closing in. He also becomes Norma now and acts as she would, at least in his mind, but even that is not all the layers that divides his emotional state. At the beginning of this season we saw hints that perhaps not even Head Norma would be able to deal with facing Romero, and as we later learned, Chick. A sharp contrast to what we would believe Head Norma (Mother) to be, a murderer. Whereas last week’s episode marked a line being crossed as Head Norma decided to commit her first personal murder, an act not guided or even suggested by what Norman might think his Mother would have done. In that episode, Mother did the unthinkable: attempt to murder Caleb, an act that could not have been previously happened due to the fact that Norman’s mind would never deal with such a issue like that, because he was always thinking of how Norma might handle things. No longer is that the case. Mother is beginning to lose her depth and personal bonds as she becomes more than just comfort food, but a symbol for the culinary disaster in the Bates Manor.
So far it seems Norman’s mind seems to be attempting to present pale imitations of past events that Norma and Norman went through. The season opener recreated the murder and disposal of Keith Summers, even down to camera shots themselves. But, there is more to all of this supposed reenactment because while it does provide a basis for Norman’s mind to build its fantasy world upon, it also works as a bit of nostalgia for Norman. Norman’s troubled mind is creating fictional Norma by using the structure of past events and trying to convert them to the present day, yet Norman must also be feeling some relief in knowing that this is like before. Deep down part of Norman can see that he simply re-sculpting this nostalgia in order to feel at peace, because even his mind has limitations. Head Norma is not supposed to be simply a recreation for the mind of Norman to feel at ease. The reason Norman Bates gets caught in Psycho is not because people are concerned about him talking to someone who is not there, it’s because Norma by that point had became something beyond Norma herself, a deranged psychopath. Norma became what Norman could not stand to deal with. Back in perhaps my favorite episode of the series, The Box, Norman realized the murder of Mrs. Watson among other things. After that episode though it was only a down hill slide. Norman cannot stand to know what he has become so he deflects, although in a much more dangerous way than a psychology textbook might have you think, to put his misdeeds as the actions of Norma.
The scenes in the woods in the episode perhaps is the greatest example to understand the current mind of Norman/Norma. In the season opener, we saw Norman briefly visit mother’s body in the basement, showing us that part of him knows she is dead. But that part is fading, and fading fast. The woods may always be out there, but pretty soon it’ll only be one person out there taking walks. Like many cultural beliefs out there, shout-out to Chick, the soul can work as tormented being split in two halves pulling and pulling the person to and fro. The relief? As it stands in many cultures , the belief is that the one half cannot truly be at peace, taking into account they are troubled to begin with, unless one of the halves takes over. The same mythology applies here. Norman can never be truly at peace unless he becomes all Norman or all Norma. Knowing this doomed character as we do, we know that in order to feel at peace he must become all Norma.
In the scene in the woods, Norman and Head Norma get into a bit of spat, about the placement of that dead fellow from the season-opener. The argument escalates, but Norman’s mind cannot handle what we the audience of come to expect as a full-on back and forth argument. Norman’s mind must divide the two. In Dark Paradise, Norma gets to the be one to go-off as Norman sits complacent. Here, Norman gets to the be one that yells, as Norma becomes more and more recessed from emotion. In both cases one part of Norman’s mind must balance the two in order to survive. But here, Head Norma seems weak. It is hard to tell at this point where the line is between how much of Norman, if any, still believes that Norma is dead deep down. Part of him must, but here, he feels the need to silence head Norma, forever. Here, Head Norma becomes an obstacle in the Norman, the one deep down, trying to fight this illness. For a minute she stills seem, he eyes become a milky puddles reflecting in the light of the woods, and then she is awake. For Norman Bates there will be no silencing Norma. Norma will have to be the one to silence him.
More happened in this episode, but the scene in the woods stand to reason as without a doubt a crucial moment no just in the season, but in the series as a whole.
When Chick gets kicked out of the house, he becomes a byproduct of Norman’s internal struggle, as Norman sends him off fearing that Chick’s presence is not good for mother, and also because the part of Norman that knows Norma is dead, that little sliver, does not need someone else playing along as well. Chick is upset in this instance, because despite all of his story writings he feels for Norman and the Bates family as a whole.
Chick lives in a teeny tiny trailer as Norman discovers when coming to visit. Norman is here to apologize before switching the subject to his problem at hand: how to compound a car. Chick agrees to help trying to get his way back into the Bates household. But it does not seem like he is going to be let back in Norman’s life anytime soon, seemingly dashing my hopes for a Marion-Chick scene (fingers crossed).
Elsewhere, Madeline invites Norman over for dinner because she just wants someone to talk to and have a companion with. The dinner goes well, especially because earlier in the episode Norman gave Madeline one of Norma’s old dresses, but we’re not going to even get into that. Madeline asks if Norman would like some cake, but apparently has not made yet because she wants to die. As they began mixing the batter, they lock eyes as Daniel Johnston’s True Love Will Find You In the End chomps up the creepy atmosphere. Then suddenly in a deft-defying move Head Norma cock blocks him from his mind and it appears as though Madeline is toast. Luckily Norman did not plug in the toaster, as it turns out to be a vision Norman sees in his mind of what might happen to Madeline if they continue. Norman runs out in a rush, but Madeline does not think anything else except the fact that he probably does not want to commit adultery. That trusting attitude is not going to suit her well in the end, but for now it gives her an endearing quality to the show as a whole. Everything will be alright.
Well, almost, unless you are Romero who just got shot. No worries though, just keep on running until you end up at a pay-phone. Romero decides to call an ambulance to an apartment building across the way instead of taking my suggestion, which I chanted at my TV during the episode, CALL DYLAN! CALL DYLAN! Romero gets himself all healed up, except for his broken heart. Romero ends up at Maggie Summers’ house for what should an interesting side-story (fingers crossed) as Rihanna checks in next week.
The episode ends as Norman returns home trying to find mother in what sometimes must be quite the hard game of hide-and-seek. The closing shot of the episode finds Norman resting his palms on the table and staring. Something is happening.
Norma Bates has been found.
- “Is it alright if I come inside, Chick?” Okay, so either Norman is being sincere or kind of a dick. I sense a pattern.
- What did Chick bring this week? He brought information about a car compounding place and also some CHICKen but it looks like he won’t get to cook it. *eyes Norman*
- I honestly thought Romero was going to steal the ambulance.
- I did not mention the introduction of the new sheriff because I plan to talk more about her in an article coming soon about Bates Motel (not the regular-review type).
- The moment when Norman hears music when throwing Norma’s dresses away. No further comment.
- CONGRATS to Torrey Speer and the entire Bates writing team on another fantastic episode. Props to the cast & crew as a whole, especially to first time director Max Thieriot.
- I hope to see all of you sooner than usual with a post hopefully arriving before Monday’s episode.
- I would love to discuss and talk about this week’s episode with you. Make sure to contact me through the comments or on my Twitter.