Bates Motel Season 3 Episode 8 – TV Review
This episode breaks my heart.
What little of it that hasn’t been pickled yet.
TL;DR Norman admits his feelings for Norma to Norma; Emma and Dylan get cutesy; Dylan and Caleb’s gun smuggle goes bad; Romero painfully turns his back on Norma; Bob gets dirt on Norma; Bradley shows up at the end.
She’s back, bitches. And her hair is still brown and awful.
It’s hard times for the Bates family this week. Things look like they’re going well for Norma when Bob unexpectedly starts construction on that pool she demanded when she blackmailed him, and Romero seems closer than ever to outright admitting he’s in love with her. But Bob isn’t really digging a pool hole, and instead spends his episode torturing James for deets on Norma. Which James gives up. Bob passes on the truth about Norma’s husband’s death to Romero, who in turn gives Norma one final chance to not lie to him. She doesn’t take it, and it’s goodbye, Romero. I wept for their UST. Norman isn’t doing much better, as his talk with James last episode about how he wants to fuck Norma is screwing him over mentally. He tells Norma about it in what could be the most powerful scene of Bates Motel yet (and that’s saying something), but she assures him it’s only natural to be attracted to female anatomy, and that he doesn’t actually want her. Norma can only bury her tension for so long, though, and when she finds out shit’s hitting the fan with James and Bob, she rants at Norman. Which sends Norman running out of the house, and running into Bradley. At long last. And over on the Dylan side, Caleb insists on accompanying him on the gun smuggling run for Nosy Neighbour. But it turns out it was all a set up for the receiving party to murder Nosy Neighbour (did Nosy Neighbour know?), and they don’t get the Emma surgery bribe money. Emma will be crushed when she finds out, I’m sure.
Or at least her lungs will be. By the fluid filling them.
I must say, my heart goes out to Romero. All he wants to do is murder gangsters for the flighty, mess of a woman he secretly loves. And all she does is lie to him.
And keep going for cheek kisses when a perfect pash opportunity is right there for the taking.
Why I hate this episode:
Romero’s affection for Norma graduates from subtle yearning to full-blown worship at breakneck speed. If I wasn’t such a proponent of them getting together (or at least having sex), I’d be more offended by it. It’s honestly bizarre to see him all sheepish. Like a tittering schoolgirl.
And it hurts my heart to watch Norma keep up her lie about her husband’s death, even when Romero directly tells her it’s her last chance to be truthful. Romero is an ally you need, Norma. I dread how you’ll fare in White Pine Bay without him.
Likewise, Dylan and Emma level up their relationship super quickly. Dylan’s all smiles and blushes when he calls Emma while out on the smuggling run. And Emma leaves Dylan a cute gift of brownies at the farm cabin for when he returns. Good grief.
Norma’s way of assuring Norman that his feelings for her ain’t no thang is to hug and wrestle him on her bed, before moving into a lover’s position and nuzzling noses. Yeah, that’s not going to be arousing for the teenage boy who wants to fuck you at all.
In an ineffective attempt to resist Bob’s interrogation, James plays the “I won’t break doctor/patient confidentiality.” Oh, honey. Professional integrity is not your strong suit. And Bob knows it.
Oh, and Caleb saves himself and Dylan from the deal-gone-bad by stashing a gun in a nook of the trailer. The plan only works because the goon squad has Dylan and Caleb kneel and face the trailer at the exact spot where he stashed the gun. How convenient.
But it’s not all bad:
Caleb ingratiates himself to me more than he ever has when he fucks the goon squad’s shit up like an absolute pro. The leader was about to execute Dylan and send Caleb back with his body as a message to Nosy Neighbour. I never thought it’d be a thing, but thank God for Caleb, right?
The only relationship the Bates Motel universe seems to be in favour of this episode is Dylan and Emma’s. Emma gets out of the infidelity zone by breaking up with Norman. She rightly claims that they’d always forced themselves together, and it isn’t doing much for either of them. Norman’s reaction is to go sit catatonically in a rocking chair for several hours, which I guess means he’s okay with it?
The gem of the episode, and probably the entire series so far, is Norman’s tense admission to Norma about what James had said to him. Norma is flabbergasted that he would say such a thing, but then Norman follows it up by telling her that he thinks James might be right. Vera Farmiga has always outshone Freddie Highmore, and boy does Vera give some good reaction face during this scene. But for a rare once, Freddie absolutely rocks everything in this moment. The quiver, the tears, and the truth, baby. The immutable truth.
Norma’s assurance that it’s not attraction to her and it’s only animal instinct band-aids the problem for the moment, but then she goes to James, who is leaving town after his brutal torturing from Bob. James admits that he told Bob everything she had told him, and Norma has to then tell Norman. Norman is shockingly furious, which only feeds Norma’s stress levels.
This leads into the episode’s best line from Norma, with trademark Norma shriek levels by the end: “Because, Norman, you have no idea what it’s like to be your mother. To see you having blackouts. To worry about you night and day. It’s killing me. It’s killing me, you’re gonna kill me, Norman!” I say this without (well, mostly) hyperbole: epic.
And we’re not even done yet. Norma storms off and is immediately replaced by Apparition Norma, who tries to assure Norman that she’ll always be there for him. Flirtatiously. In what could be the greatest surprise of the episode, Norman actually fucks her off and runs out.
He sees the taxidermied dog as alive again, and chases it ages down the road. Which is where he encounters Bradley. Thank God she’s back. We don’t need Cody, though. Just a tip, Bates Motel.
Romero anchors the rest of the episode. He goes to the used car dealer and gets Norma her old car back, for which she is very grateful. They have a moment that would have been perfect for a pash, but Norma goes for the cheek again. Oh, the aching.
Then Bob calls Romero in after his talk with James and tells Romero the truth about Norma’s husband’s death. Romero struggles with his feelings for Norma, but the quest for the truth wins out. He confronts Norma, and is deadly serious when he gives her the last chance she’ll have to tell him the truth. Norma puts Norman first, though. Romero’s response to the lie is a soul-destroying “Goodbye, Norma,” as he leaves. You can taste the deflation.
Romero caps off his time this episode by mulling over the USB, before making a call to the DEA. Suck shit, Bob.
We don’t get to see most of what Bob does to James, but we do get to see him have one of his goons put a nailgun nail through his foot. It’s cheeky.
The cover story Nosy Neighbour gives Dylan and Caleb for the trailer is that it’s a delivery for one of his sculptures. Apparently, Nosy Neighbour actually is a selling artist, so it’s a tight explanation. I lol’d.
I presume Nosy Neighbour knew the receiving party was going to try to kill him. The goon squad says that several of Nosy Neighbour’s previous recipients have been getting caught after their deliveries, which is why they planned to murder him. I knew all that backwoods hospitality and long hair couldn’t be trusted.
Norman causally stares at Norma’s bum early in the episode. As you do.
Bob doesn’t say what the pool hole is for, but it’s not a pool. It’s unusually deep.
Emma runs into Gunner at the farm cabin. I think he still wants dat, but she don’t want dat. She politely brushes him off.
Bob gets a close second best line of the episode for pure “ikr” factor when he’s interrogating James: “Do all of your patients spend the night?” Omg ikr.
Oh, and welcome home, Bradley. I don’t know how she’s going to get around the fake suicide issue, but again, this is White Pine Bay. That’s pretty on par for these parts.