Ah, Psycho at long last we have arrived. After five and half seasons we now jump into the story in quite the familiar place.
Marion checks in the first moments of the episode and signs her name “Marie Samuel” as everything seems to be following quite the path set by Psycho. Norman gives her the key to Room Number One and Marion enters her room. Not before she asks if there are any food places around. Luckily, the Bates Motel offers its own complementary room service. Norman Bates offers a ham sandwich and who could say no to that? (Caleb, probably). Norman comes back with her sandwich and they have a nice little chat about personal traps and taxidermy. You know, the usual.
Marion is only slightly unsettled by this occurrence as she just has a regular chit-chat with Norman. It’s like the slogan always goes: All is always well at the Bates Motel. Again the scene is straight of Psycho but with its own little special nuances. There’s the little things like Norman telling Marion he leaves with his mother (perhaps his inner conscious mother telling him that Marion wants to sleep with him, who knows?) After all he told Madeline the truth, why not Marion?
After that Marion decides to call Sam and after DISRESPECTING the Motel (I don’t care if your Rihanna if Norman Bates makes you ham sandwich you have no right! No right ! I kid, of course). Marion tells him the room number and tells him where she’s at so that he can find her. Meanwhile Sam who is so bad at lying that Madeline has to say “Are you really on the phone right now?” Sam addresses Marion and Madeline and tells them even more lies because that’s seemed like a sure-fire solution so far. To be fair though it makes the Sam’s death at the end of the episode feel even more deserved. I think it goes beyond just a fake-out it places it very well in the Bates world. The person who gets stabbed in the show has had a six-episode arc up to this point and they’ve been explained. If the shower death is a metaphor trying to wash sins away (as Marion attempted to do in the original film) then Sam fits that Bill. When Sam finally does get his comeuppance (Gosh, I wish Orson Welles could’ve lived to the days of premium cable and you get this aside, I love you) its to the tune of Roy Orbison’s Crying because that’s what Bates Motel does. Pivotal moments in the show’s history have always been tied to a throwback song and here its another great choice. Weeks ago I was afraid that they might try to recreate the shower scene, but I did have sneaking suspicion that Marion wasn’t going to bite the dust (at least not in the shower) but here they decided to go more brutal with the shower scene. We as an audience feel more aligned with Norman (yes, Norman delving more into that in a moment) because Sam has been a complete asshole and I feel the hate right along with him, maybe not to the extent of murder but at least it does not seem like killing for the sake of killing, which Norman can also do. He specializes in many things.
The most important aspect of this episode lies in the relationship between Norman and HeadNorma (whose nickname I temporarily switched to Norma/n a couple of weeks ago but am now returning to this) because in the moments leading up to the shower scene Norman discovers the truth i.e. the reason Norma is with him. It is because he cannot allow himself to feel the pain so he created her to commit the murders so he himself could avoid the pain. I could write a 20+ page essay on the complex ideas and all the many layers that this represents, but I digress. The shower scene a hallmark and probably the hallmark scene when people think of Psycho has been re-purposed to mark the turning point when Norman Bates will kill for the first time, knowingly. This unmarked territory we are about to head into with Norman allowing himself to feel the pain and therefore kill.
So when the knife finally does make its deathly stabs it is not to the sound of screeching and its not from the shadow of a mysterious figure. It is not the first of many incidents which will reveal a twist. It is not the story of a woman who steals money and her sister and boyfriend come looking for her. This is the story of the Bates Motel a place where hopes and dreams come to die but not before suffering first. This story is about more than a psychopath its about pain, its about reality. And yeah, life sucks but Bates doesn’t attempt to gloss over life to present a nice portrait it sticks the audience right in the front seat of this tragedy it shall unfold and we have the honor witnessing the pain and the grief.
Illusions commend themselves to us because they save us pain and allow us to enjoy pleasure instead. We must therefore accept it without complaint when they sometimes collide with a bit of reality against which they are dashed to pieces.
- My decision to go Freudian is something that we’ll not discuss, okay?
- “I like to stuff things” I don’t even know how to react to these lines anymore but I will say PervyNorman is my least favorite Norman.
- “Tragedies do not make sense, Dylan. That’s why they are tragedies” Some tragedies make too much sense, Norman.
- It looks Dylan will be rolling up to the Bates Motel next week. Talking about a sibling rivalry.
- Marion Crane makes it out alive. Maybe she’ll become a singer.
- Phil Abraham uses less references to all around Hitchcock in this episode less than the last episode but its all the more worth it. This is not just a prequel. This. Is. Its. Own. Story
- Shout out to the cast & crew especially the ever-awesome Highmore and the writers Carlton Cuse & Kerry Ehrin. I know say I saw this all the time and many others do to but WHERE ARE THOSE EMMYS?!?!?
- Feel free to contact me on Twitter @atwrites let’s discuss this killer episode