Bates Motel Season 3 Episode 6 – TV Review
And I thought Vera Farmiga acted the house down last episode.
Norma Bates doesn’t let up.
TL;DR Norma has a mini breakdown and goes out and fucks around for a bit; she eventually comes home and has an emotional reunion with Caleb; Dylan and Emma try to care for Norman who doesn’t handle Norma’s abandonment well; Romero fucking murders Marcus.
That’s one down, an entire Arcanum Club to go.
So it turns out Norma didn’t go to Romero or to Tutor Guy: she went out to buy some new clothes, a new car, rent a motel room, and get drunk with some hot young dude in a bar. An uncomfortable blowjob proposition sends her to Tutor Guy’s place, though, where she melts down and admits all the pressure Norman’s non-normality puts her under. And they have sex at Norma’s insistence. Then it’s back home to reunite with her sons, and reunite with her rapist brother. It is surprisingly tender. Meanwhile, Norman goes balls-to-the-wall crazy when he thinks Norma is doing her usual routine of leaving when things get shitty and she’ll never come home. This includes hallucinations, catatonia, and pretending he’s Norma (sadly, no wig to complete the ensemble). Dylan, understandably, is freaked out, but Emma offers to stick around for the night and help watch over Norman. And Romero gets shot in a drive-by. He survives, but Marcus comes to his hospital room to promise the Arcanum Club will kill him later, unless he teams up with Marcus. Romero’s response? Shoot Marcus to death while he’s getting in his car.
It’s a system that’s worked with antagonists for two whole seasons so far. If it ain’t broke.
I don’t think there is an honestly bum note this episode.
I mean, this is I Just Hate Everything, so I have my minor grievances. But Each of the major plot threads are relevant to the arcs and powerfully performed.
I know this is only our twenty-sixth date, and I don’t want to rush things, but I think I might be in love, Bates Motel.
Why I hate this episode:
Tutor Guy is still a bit of a nothing, flat character. And he doesn’t have the handsomeness or the cool sister or the money that George did. He also still refuses to decide which side of the professionalism line he’s on. He allows a drunken almost-patient to come stay at his house at 2am, hears all her dark shit, but when Norma tries to get dat dick, he’s all like “I could lose my licence.” I think that ship has sailed, buddy.
It also only takes a little bit more encouragement from Norma, and he’s down for the sex. What was that licence thing you seemed so concerned about a few seconds ago?
Dylan’s level of WTF at Norman’s Norma impersonation is a little lower than I would have expected.
Oh, and Dylan and Emma get an odd shiptease moment when he randomly has to help her beat some fluid out of her lungs. The last one of Norman’s girlfriends he flirted with was Bradley, and that bitch got shipped off to Michael Bay’s dungeon. Emma may not be the most vital character, but I don’t want to see that happen again.
But it’s not all bad:
The scene is rooted in an honest bonding moment: Emma says how important this family (the Bates family) is to her, yet she feels like an outsider. As does Dylan. So their connection was real. Just unappreciated on my part. Boo, I say.
Norma Bates is back in the glorious Bates Motel spotlight this week. She retreats into her old pattern of up and splitting when things get tough. She fucks off to Portland, buys some skanky new clothes (which she rocks, obviously), a crappy new car, and gets shitfaced at a dive bar. Some hot young dude pays her attention all night. Because Vera Farmiga is hot, yo. She doesn’t exactly love it when he tries to force her head down on his dick, though. How presumptuous of him.
Naturally, this setback makes her realise she’s being a fucking lunatic, so she spends the night with Tutor Guy. She airs all her worries about Norman’s mystery affliction. Including that he killed his dad, and that she lied to the insurance company. Tutor Guy seems cool, but I’m not sure he’s that cool as to keep insurance fraud and murder to himself. She gets dat dick, tho. Despite his feeble protestations. You don’t say “no” to Vera Farmiga, honey.
And then in the morning, she’s back to her old, stoic self, grimly returning to her sons so she can go meet her rapist, incestuous brother.
Their meeting turns out to be achingly tender and beautiful, though. Out of all the things I thought Caleb was, they weren’t among them. He immediately crumples and cries at her feet about how sorry he is. Norma is impressively conciliatory, as she hugs him and cradles his face. A quick flashback earlier in the episode showed how as children they would hide together from their parents’ fighting. Despite all that followed, their sibling bond evidently still endures.
Dylan’s reaction to the scene is a warmed heart. Norman, however, looks ready to cut a bitch. Ain’t no family members gonna get that close to Norma’s boobs except him, baby.
Norman sells his Psycho schtick well enough during the episode’s other major plot thread. His complete devastation at Norma’s abandonment is alarming. The showstealer is when Dylan finds him cooking breakfast in Norma’s dressing gown, and thinking he’s her. His impersonation of her is spot on, too. It’s mesmerising in its fucked up-ness.
Norman also hallucinates that the house is falling down, and that his taxidermy animals are alive. This manifests as catatonia, and Freddie Highmore has clearly locked down his Slasher Smile. Creepy.
Dylan anchors the other side of that plot thread as the utterly helpless brother. He leaves Norma a slew of messages before she stops on her drive to Portland, throws her phone on the ground, and shoots it. I lol’d.
He is grateful that Emma offers to stay and help watch over Norman. I was, too.
Best line of the episode goes to Norma, who reprises her Season 1 Episode 10 best line, when she rebuts Bar Dude’s abuse following their aborted hookup: “Screw off!” She’s consistent.
Romero’s subplot is lighter on runtime, but keeps the White Pine Bay drama bubbling. He is shot in a busy car park outside a grocery store. Which is already pretty ballsy. But then Marcus doubles up on the audacity by stating in no uncertain terms that they (Bob, Arcanum Club, etc) will kill Romero. They simply will.
Marcus tries to be a slippery snake and says he’ll offer Romero protection, against the Club’s wishes (they just want him dead. Full stop), if Romero will concede the position of Sheriff and become his bitch. Romero’s response is to surprise Bob in his car (still in hospital gown, mind you. He even uses his IV tree to smash Marcus’ window), take his gun, and blast his arse. The last we see of Romero this episode is him speeding away in the car. I presume Bob is next.
There are a couple of shots of an Arcanum goon following Norma while she’s out on her mental breakdown bender.
Romero’s first priority when waking up in the hospital is to get his phone to try to warn Norma. Her phone already has a bullet in it by this point, but goddamn, that’s some sexy looking-out-for-someone, Alex.
Given Norma’s reaction to the request to see Caleb, Dylan chooses Norma over his father and tells Caleb to pack up and go early in the episode. Norma is just swimming in a sea of noble men. Well, except Norman. And Caleb. And Bob.
Caleb accepts the job offer from Nosy Neighbour.
Oh, and do you think Caleb’s whole plan was just to get in a sneaky tit nuzzle? It worked on Nicki Minaj.