Bates Motel Season 3 Episode 7 – TV Review
So Norman and Norma are reunited.
It takes a few rough turns to get there, though.
TL;DR Norma’s worries for Norman mount, and Tutor Guy only seems to make things worse; she puts them aside for the sake of stability, though; Romero discovers the USB contains ghosts from his family’s past; Dylan and Emma continue their flirtation; Caleb is sticking around.
Hopefully Norman will put a stop to that soon.
So things aren’t quite back to Normal at the Bates household following Norma’s return from her very temporary abandonment. Norman is still a pissed off little shit at her, so when James (Tutor Guy was a terrible moniker. I apologise) comes calling, Norma sends him down to have a chat with Norman. It goes poorly, with insinuations of incest. And choking. Norma assuages Norman’s mania just to keep the peace, and later cooks a family dinner for everyone. “Everyone” includes Caleb, who is taking baby steps to having a relationship with Norma again. He also turns down Nosy Neighbour’s job offer, but Dylan takes it up, instead. The reason? To get money to help Emma move up the list for a lung transplant (Emma’s dad tells Dylan about it, and can’t afford it himself). Dylan and Emma have dinner plans (he’s thanking her for her help last episode), but they get reassigned to Norma’s family dinner. Meanwhile, Romero views the USB ledger and finds his mum’s name on it. Bob informs him that Romero’s dad, who we learn is a hardened, imprisoned criminal, is responsible for that one, as Mama Romero killed herself twenty-three years ago. Romero drinks his pain, flirts with Norma, and ends up at dinner, too.
The only one missing was Bradley. Bitch better hurry up, because Emma is blowing up her spot. With both brothers.
After the soaring, Vera Farmiga-led power episodes of the last couple of weeks, we were due for some downtime. Action-wise, at least.
As I live on a diet of mainly CW supernatural soap opera rubbish, it kind of amazes me that a scene of people just watching Norma play the piano can be so impactful. The TVD version of that would be much shorter, and nowhere near as subtle.
Why I hate this episode:
Norma goes from “We can’t ever be friends, Caleb” to letting him sing with her and sit arse cheek-to-arse cheek at the piano a little too rapidly. Like, the space of a few minutes rapidly. Calm down.
James keeps up his streak of being a fucking awful therapist. His approach with Norman is insane, especially considering he knows Norman is capable of murder. He goes from some pussyfooting about how Norman is evidently protective of his mother, to straight-up asking Norman if he wants to fuck Norma. Do you treat all your patients like this, or just the ones who are capable of killing you?
The Dylan and Emma flirtation is out of nowhere. Yes, it’s cute that he’s risking it all to do Nosy Neighbour’s gun smuggling run to help her, but that’d make more sense as a platonic, friends thing. Their private dinner arrangements connote otherwise. Dylan needs to set his sights away from Norman’s girlfriends. Even the ones Norman doesn’t really want.
Romero leaves Marcus’ body in Bob’s driveway to taunt him, but then Romero later rather casually walks up to Bob while he’s playing golf to ask about his mum’s name on the ledger. Bob actually helps Romero, and doesn’t even make any threats of his own. Weird.
Emma’s dad got recast. It’s noticeable.
Norma is blasé about Romero getting shot. Rude.
Norma drops the “We all go a little mad sometimes” line kind of clumsily. Meh.
Oh, and Romero makes a move on Norma when he’s drunk. Norma almost goes for it, but pulls out at the last second. I appreciated her unwillingness to take advantage of him, but goddammit. Again?
But it’s not all bad:
Romero emerges as the surprise MVP this episode. We learn that his dad was a dirty cop, and evidently involved in the drug trade, and Romero blames him for precipitating his mum’s suicide. Romero Sr is in prison now, so I’m guessing he got caught. But he implies that Romero should be grateful for what he did to secure that drug money. Does that mean that’s where Romero’s money comes from?
Of course, like any rational human being, Romero’s course of action to deal with the aftermath of the prison visit is to get near-blackout day drunk. He calls Norma for a lift, because he has nobody else to ask. Aww. He wants her to just take him home, but she insists on bringing him to the motel so she can look after him.
After she puts him to bed is when he makes his move, and I was already slipping on my seat on that alone. But then he just has to go and bag himself the episode’s best line. Drunk or not, it’s the truth, baby: “I think you’re beautiful.” Omfg.
Norman is runner up for best line, with this stab at James after their talk has devolved into Norman interrogating him about fucking Norma: “So what was she like?” You mean you don’t already know? Disappointing, Norman. Get a move on.
I’m actually thankful for James’ alarming lack of professionalism, because the talk is fantastic. I can only imagine James’ affection for Norma is what makes him so hostile, but he’s not at all afraid to hit back about how Norman appears to want to be the only man in Norma’s life. And yes, he does ask Norman if he would like to have sex with Norma.
Norman’s response is to almost strangle James to death. Which is fair.
Emma finally gets some exposition on her part. Her dad tells Dylan that he’s worried Emma’s recklessness will shorten her life even more. She only has a few years left, at best. He also says he’s found out about a hospital in Portland that will happily accept a $20,000 bribe to push someone up the lung transplant waiting list.
So what a nice surprise it is when Dylan is present as Caleb shoots down Nosy Neighbour’s job offer, and that job just happens to pay $25,000. He can even keep a few for himself. Hurrah.
While the recasting of Emma’s dad is plain to see, I like the new guy. He was the guy who got beheaded by the truck in Banshee, and the weirdo gangster in Squatters. It’s just that his look is a lot harsher than the old actor, who was very cuddly and non-threatening by comparison.
Norma complains about how she now misses her old car. So say we all.
Romero leaving Marcus’ body in Bob’s driveway is awesome. Vintage White Pine Bay underworld message.
Dylan pleads with Norma that they do something about Norman’s condition, and he tells her how he thinks he’s her sometimes. Norma ends up dodging the issue after James runs from her house screaming. Which is good. Let it fester.
After Norma invites Caleb in for dinner, he encourages her to play the piano and sing like they used to when they were kids. My God, it’s jubilant.
Oh, and the family dinner turns out to be lovely (despite a little awkwardness from Caleb). Norman is the only one perturbed by it. So Caleb better keep that bathroom door locked when he showers next.