“My son and I have always been very close. Maybe too close.”
Well things certainly haven’t calmed down since last week, have they?
Right from the start of Norman’s pained, hollow “Did I do its?” as he stares at Annika’s dead body, the episode is in pretty heartbreaking territory. Before Norman was at least sure of his innocence, but after the events of last week, that resolve is gone. His walls are coming down. To see him naturally assuming himself as the murderer when girls end up dead at the Bates Motel is appropriately chilling and part of the next step of Norman’s transformation.
This dovetails nicely into Norman experiencing feelings of distance with his mother and generally questioning who he is in all of this, especially with Dylan seeming more and more competent and not being the sibling that is heaping all of this stress on their mother. Unfortunately, it kind of just leads to Norman moping around and being despondent over all of this, which might be something we’re riding out over the next few episodes.
On Norma’s side of all of this we get the admission that she doesn’t trust her son anymore, which also isn’t anything new. Norma’s confusion that Norman’s planned picnic with Emma was for her is ridiculous enough, but when she then starts dressing Emma down, insisting she’s just around to make her jealous it gets pretty painful. What’s worse is when Norma practically begs Norman to tell her that he won’t have sex with Emma because he can’t have sex with her due to her condition. She holds Emma’s sickness over her, as if saying, at least you could still have sex with me, Norman.
The continual splintering of Norma and Norman this season is the definite highlight of the year so far, but it’s also going to mean that some episodes are going to contain lulls and filler in the area, while others push them forward, and this episode is certainly in the former as it continues to plant its heels in what its established.
We’re treated to more familiar beats of the tension between Norman, Emma, and Norma escalating as she walks in on them in the middle of a make out session. We continue getting the same tastes of scenes here, which are all nice and awkward, but it’d be better if this started causing more of a severe rift already.
For instance, when Norman actually stops himself from having sex with Emma because his “mother says he shouldn’t,” it feels like more of a contrived roadblock than one that’s been earned. Norman even knows that Emma isn’t a virgin, so this instance of Norma getting in his head and becoming an obstacle is pretty groan inducing.
Someone else who can’t stop thinking about Annika’s death is Sheriff Romero, who is now looking at the death of two hookers and is eager to start connecting the dots. Obviously this is building somewhere, and one would think that the Arcanum Club is certainly involved, but this isn’t the episode to answer those questions. Still, this background chatter is more entertaining than the drug mess from years ago.
What does work out of all of this is seeing Dylan and Norma get closer. The hug that they share speaks volumes and as the rest of Dylan’s life is slowly spiraling out of control, seeing him actually lean on his mother is genuinely nice. So when Norman starts threatening Dylan later on and policing him around the house, it’s merely the progression of where all of this has been heading.
Naturally we also get the next piece of Norma the Detective and her Phantom Flash Drive as she tries to figure out what could be on it. Believe it or not, smashing in random passwords isn’t the best method of getting through. Nor is asking the Asian computer whiz at the Starbucks. Hopefully this item doesn’t dominate several episodes while Norma tries to crack its code as its information is held over our heads. Just get to it. If we—and Norman—have learned anything from this show, it’s to not drag stuff out.
Oh, and Caleb whines a bunch and fell on his face. We all caught up?
Now can’t we all just go on a picnic?
“Do you still like me?”