Bates Motel: “A Boy and His Dog”

Good lord, Norma.  What in the world have you gotten yourself into? The most recent episode of Bates Motel finds Norma Bates acting as the cautionary tale to all of us misfits. “Fitting in” is just another way of fitting into something you may not want to be a part of. Something far more dark and sinister than being a little quirky.  Norma began all of this with the idea that she and her darling son were going to have a “normal” life and here she is, waist deep in crazy. White Pine is one hot mess of ugly and there isn’t a single thing normal about it.

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The man in number nine is giving her the intimidation what for, Romero is decidedly NOT on her side, her son is referred to a therapist by people who notice his “behavior” at school.  His behavior is exacerbated by mean girls at school, Bradley’s cold shoulder, and poor Emma just can’t keep her trap shut, trying to protect her friend by telling the whole truth and nothing but the truth in a bathroom confrontation. This just leads to more awkwardness for Norman, and his reaction to Bradley telling him that she doesn’t want anyone to know (she is ashamed of their brief romantic encounter) is to leave the school, be confronted by his teacher, and then roughly brush her off. This leads to suspension, a parent/teacher conference of epic awkwardness, and therapy recommendations.

The therapy…ah, the therapy. When the doctor says he wants to see Norman, in the usual way, “same time next week”, Norma stands in front of that effort. She is protecting Norman of course, knowing what she knows about her son.  But when the doctor implies that she may need therapy for her control issues after very decidedly leading the session that included Norman, she freaks out. When he suggests that she feels out of control in actuality, she starts out calm and then screams the poor doctor down. She is “in control of every aspect” of her life.  She “does not feel powerless…EVER.” So that’s the end of that. Fortunately Norman has found solace in the quiet, if somewhat creepy art of taxidermy, under the tutelage of Emma’s father, Will.

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Norma returns to her motel with her confused son. The man in 9 plagues her with passive aggressive (and sometimes downright aggressive behavior), but after her therapy session she lays down the law. “You have no power over me.” she tells him, after he throws Deputy Shelby in her face, his knowledge of their relationship and the extent to which she “knew” him. Then she throws his money in his face and gives him five minutes to get his crap together and get out.

He does. Later, when Dylan arrives, she’s feeling good. He brings a truckload of his “business associates” (pot trimmers) with him and needs rooms. She’s so happy to be rid of Room 9, she suggests they go into town and have dinner together. Though a bit confused, he acquiesces.  When she runs upstairs to change, what she finds in her room, laid out on her bed, causes her screams to be the last thing you hear of her in this episode.

Damn if it just doesn’t stop for poor Norma. The lady couldn’t catch a break if it fell in her lap.

I would like to say that the Lychian intrigue of the man in room 9 compelled me within the story, but at the moment it feels as if so many different things are happening to the Bates’, it’s impossible to focus on what’s more twisted: watching Norman become a monster, watching Dylan become a budding kingpin, or watching Norma slowly disintegrate under the pressure of her inability to face reality. I’m not giving up on the Bates, or the story. I just don’t want to feel like, on some level, I am pressed to watch by the grossest of reasons; voyeurism.

 

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