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‘Bates Motel’ Season 3 Episode 6 Recap: “Norma Louise”

bates motel norma louise

I’ll continue to say this after every episode: I pity you greatly if you aren’t watching Bates Motel because it’s just that good. (I don’t know why you’d be reading this if you aren’t, but anyway).

The episode picks up right off after last week’s episode with Norman (Freddie Highmore) throwing an angry fit in the kitchen because “Mother” won’t come back. Dylan’s (Max Thieriot) able to stop him from destroying anything else by knocking him out, but this just causes him to lose himself in his mind. “To feel strange. Like [he’s] outside [his] body.”

Dylan doesn’t have to worry about dealing with this all alone for too long, though, because Emma (Olivia Cooke) shows up completely willing to help. She offers to sleep on the couch for the night.

You didn’t really think Paris would so readily agree to Norma’s (Vera Farmiga) deal about the USB, did you? The situation’s pretty clear that it won’t go down as easy as Norma thought it would when Romero (Nestor Carbonell) gets shot out of a grocery store. He’s recovering in the hospital, but he can’t get a hold of Norma to tell her that she’s not safe because she shot it. Oh, dramatic Norma. She could’ve just turned it off.

Oh, and remember that guy who wanted to be Sheriff so badly? Well, Romero shoots him. And all while wearing his hospital gown. He drives off with the body still in the car.

Speaking of Norma, she does a lot of things on her night away from her boys. She attempts to reinvent herself by buying a completely different outfit, a new car, and lying about who she is (Norma Louise Calhoun) while drinking at a bar. After an almost-tryst with a stranger, she ends up at her therapist James’ (Joshua Leonard) house. Sobbing, she tells him the truth about her husband’s death, that Norman did it. When she realizes what she’s done, she blames it on the a-a-a-a-a-a-alcohol. Even though she’s emotionally vulnerable and James knows he shouldn’t, they end up having sex. He really shouldn’t have done that. Especially as a therapist, I shake my head at him. I hope he loses his license.

Being apart from Norma really does a toll on Norman’s brain as he envisions several different horrifying scenarios happening. The first is him waking up and heading into her room to find thousands of bugs flying in there and the ceiling cracking open above him. The second was more disconcerting with him practicing his taxidermy. As he’s cutting open the bird, it comes back to life in his hand. With his dog (R.I.P. Juno) watching on, he kills the bird with his bare hands.

Emma and Dylan find him in this trance-like state and take him up to his mother’s bedroom. Emma suggests it might help him. They don’t stick around long enough to see if it’ll help because Emma starts wracking her lungs out. She asks Dylan for help in banging on her chest to get the “crap” out of her lungs. He readily agrees in the same way she willingly helped him out with Norman.

In a very cute, but somewhat awkward way, Dylan bangs the liquid out of her lungs using a cupping motion with his hands. I actually don’t even want to call it awkward because the entire situation was very endearing. Here we have two characters who are immensely alike and completely welcoming of each others’ company. There’s no disgust on Dylan’s face, as Emma supposed there would be when she attempted to clean up the liquid from her lungs. Instead, there’s concern.

They both care too much, so much so that they’re willing to give themselves over completely to be a part of the family Norma and Norman have constructed. Despite how much this family means to them, they’re never really in it. That relationship is far too deep to delve into, so they’re forced into the outskirts as outsiders. Emma discloses how much she wants to belong and when Dylan agrees, the relief is evident on her face. They’re not alone in this. They never were. It just took them awhile to find each other.

After a short nap, Dylan awakens to find Norman up and ready in the kitchen. He’s acting a little weird though… He’s acting a little like Norma! And thus, the beginning of Norman’s acting and dressing like his mother. Dylan plays along although the confusion’s clear in his eyes. After making breakfast at about two in the morning, he falls back asleep in Norma’s bed. Dylan lies down alongside him to sleep for a little while.

They get awoken a little while later with Norma storming into the room telling them to get ready to see her brother. And they do go see him.

Now, I thought long about I should approach talking about this scene since it really is a difficult situation to think about. We have Norma confronting her rapist and brother after all these years and we have him, Caleb (Kenny Johnson), who’s been wanting to see her all those years. At first, they don’t know what to do. There’s just shock and fear. Norma starts walking away until he holds her back and falls to the floor, sobbing, “I’m so sorry.”

Norma ends up falling to the floor too and embraces him, also crying. She doesn’t actually say it, but we can take it to mean that she forgives him. I’ve read quite a few comments online about people believing the show’s trying to get us to like Caleb, but I disagree. They’ve given us sufficient evidence to show that he’s still very much “in love,” or as I like to call it, infatuated with her. I do believe he’s sorry for inflicting her such pain, but we’re not supposed to forgive him so readily.

Notes

  • Of course the first person Romero thinks of when he wakes up in the hospital is Norma and her safety.
  • Anyone else notice that the boy working at the motel Norma almost stays at looks almost like Norman? He’s lanky and could almost be Freddie Highmore’s stunt double (if he even needs one).
  • Emma, girl, you’ve been looking at the wrong brother the entire time. Also, that loving gaze was about 15 seconds long. Yes, I counted! Dylemma is one of the few shining beacons of light in this show. Everything else is angst.
  • Dylan cares so much about everyone. Even after he’s seen what Norman’s capable of, he still feels the need to protect him.
  • “Parents do not have needs. Did you ever read the book “The Giving Tree?” It’s about a tree and this kid keeps coming and taking stuff from it his whole life until there’s nothing left but a stump. And then the kid sits on the stump. That’s being a parent.” Best. Line. Ever.
  • Where is Vera Farmiga’s Emmy? This was probably the most emotionally tasking episode she’s had to do.