Bates Motel Episode 3 Review and Recap
What's Wrong With Norman
“Bates motel” is shaping up to be one of the surprises of 2013. “What’s Wrong With Norman” certainly lived up to the title as it delved deeper into the pscyhe of Norman Bates. One thing I’m beginning to notice about this show is that it packs a lot into a single episode. It is fast-paced to say the least, and missing one minute could mean missing a vital detail in the developing story. There was a different feel to the story this week with a new writer and a new director on the episode (Jeff Wadlow and Paul Edwards, respectively).
The episode opens up with Dylan standing in front of a mirror with his new gun attempting to do his best Eastwood. It is plainly obvious from this that Dylan is no gangster (at least not yet). I found the scene to be a nice touch of comic relief in this mostly dark series.
At school, Emma confronts Norman about what they saw in last week’s episode (a field of marijuana plants and what is most likely an unmarked grave). She claims to be consumed with guilt (about the grave). Norman gets agitated and demands she give the dead-girl illustrations back. “It’s pornographic! We’re at school!” I really like Freddie Highmore’s performance as Norman Bates in this series so far. He plays awkward so well.
In the next scene, Norman then has a panic attack in the middle of class while thinking of the dead-girl illustrations. He then is taken to the hospital where the doctors perform tests on him.
In the next scene, Dylan finds out exactly what his job entails as he and his new associate (Ethan) head to the middle of the woods to guard a giant field of marijuana. (Dylan made a joke about the movie, Deliverance. Does anyone else notice there are already a number of classic movie references?)
Later at the hospital, Norman gets a visit from his crush, Bradley. There is a sweet exchange between the two when they connect through empathy (Bradley’s father is dying and Norman’s dad passed away). It is found out in their dialogue that Norman enjoys watching old-fashioned movies because actors in them seem “happy.” Bradley gets on the hospital bed and begins watching an old movie with Norman and weirdly says, “I just want to be happy.” It was indeed a strange thing to say, and to the cut the scene abruptly made the line speak higher volumes than any other one in the scene.
Back at the Bates' residence, much to the dismay of Norma, the police enter the property with a search warrant. Norma goes back to the hospital to tell Norman and finds out that his tests were negative when she arrives. The doctor tells her that he wants to keep Norman under observation for a night, but Mrs. Bates won’t have any of that. She exercises her controlling ways and takes Norman out of the hospital.
On the way out, she informs him of the search and Norman makes a poorly disguised grimace of utter fear. We find out that he kept Keith Summers’ belt after he and Norma dumped the body. He goes home to discover that the belt has been found. This is where we get the title of the episode when he begins to frantically ask himself, “What’s wrong with me?”
Norman reveals to his mother that he kept the belt. He begins to sob (another great scene from Highmore). Norma tries to figure out why Norman would keep the belt and he tries to summon up an answer, but all he can come up with is a tearful “I don’t know.”
Dylan’s backstory begins to take shape in the next scene while he is guarding the giant field of marijuana. (I also think that it’s worth noting that the phrase, “eye for an eye” was repeated for the second straight episode). Dylan spent time in South Dakota and his father grew up in Kansas. He knows how to use guns because he used to hunt on his otherwise boring weekends in South Dakota. He doesn't’ even sure where his mother is originally from (which is incredibly strange) and he doesn't speak to his biological father anymore. It is also revealed that he is not close with Norman (did anyone else see a hint of regret in his eye when he was asked about him?).
Emma comes over to Normans house wanting to talk more about the information they found out from the dead-girl illustrations. After some investigating, they find evidence that the Chinese woman from the illustrations was indeed at the motel before she died.
Norma goes to the deputy to put the feelers out about the belt that Norman took. He makes it obvious that he knows something about it and offers to tell her about it over dinner at his place. She accepts and is clearly perturbed by the whole thing.
When she goes over to the deputy’s place, it is revealed that he found the belt before anyone else did. He kept it from being seen by any other officers (man, he has really got a thing for Norma). He vows to take care of her and then takes advantage of her (it would be hard to say no to the person who now holds your fate in their hands. I mean, in a way, it’s almost sexual blackmail).
During the next scene, while Norman is watching an old movie again, Dylan sits next to him and attempts to be courteous with his brother. Dylan tells Norman about him swinging a meat hammer at his head and nearly killing him. Norman has no recollection of it and assumes he’s either joking or lying. When Norman realizes he is serious, he apologizes and Dylan forgives him (Dylan seems to be a pretty decent guy for forgiving attempted murder. They don’t make a hallmark card for that). This is the first scene that we find out that Norman suffers from a delusional disorder of some kind (most likely brought on by the untold past with his father).
When Norma finally gets home, Norman finds out that Deputy Zack has the belt and is essentially holding it over her head. Norman doesn’t like the idea of his mother being used and she does her best to reassure him of their safety. Norma then attempts to find out exactly why Norman kept the belt. He tried to compare it to keeping mementos, which his mother couldn’t understand (she was wondering why he could keep a memento of a sexual assault and a murder). It appears as if Norman is beginning to cruise down psychopathic avenue. His face when she forgives and cuddles up with him was the creepy on all kinds of levels.
Later on, Emma confronts Norman about the dead-girl illustrations again. She tells him that she is going to go the police and Norman lets a little bit more psycho spill out and begins screaming at her (I know I’ve said it a lot in this review, but Freddie Highmore is really showing his range throughout this episode).
Norman’s mental issues jump up to another level when he hallucinates his mother scolding him over keeping the belt and then ordering him to go steal it back from the deputy. He breaks into the deputy’s house and makes a hugely chilling discovery. Hidden in the deputy’s basement is one of the Chinese sex slaves he had been reading about in the dead-girl illustrations (at least I assume. She had one of the symbols around her neck). So, now the audience is left to wonder if he imagined seeing that girl or not. Both are entirely possible.
“Bates Motel” continues to impress as it goes on. Freddie Highmore and Vera Farmiga work well together as mother and son and are proving to the cornerstone of “Bates Motel.” I have to admit, I had my doubts about this show at first, but it is really turning out to be a provocative series. It’s not a carbon copy of anything out there, and it seems to be driving towards something. What that is exactly is still anyone’s guess.