Bates Motel 4.3 finally allowed Alex Romero and Norma to get together, even if it was for their fake marriage. Meanwhile, Norman raged against his commitment at a mental health facility, and Emma and Dylan bonded some more at the hospital. Ultimately, “Til Death Do You Part” showed us what happens when Norma and Norman are separated: Norman’s anger escalates as he blames his mother for everything, but Norma actually gets a respite from her guilt and anxiety, learning there are actually other people in the universe besides her son.
At the start of this episode, Norma is looking at Norman’s empty room, her guilt weighing heavily on her. Luckily she can’t dwell on it, because she has a wedding to attend – hers. Norma meets Romero at the county courthouse where they have to pretend to look like an excited couple on the happiest day of their lives. They go through with the ceremony, and Alex even has a beautiful ring for her (though she has nothing for him). They seal their fake marriage with a kiss, and it’s a done deal. Norma will get health insurance for Norman’s treatment.
Romero is all ready to move into the Bates home, but Norma is reluctant to let him; it’s been her and Norman against the world for quite some time now. But Alex reminds Norma that he is an elected official, so their marriage has to look real. Norma acquiesces, and before long, Romero is moving his things up to that infamous house. The sheriff’s decision to room with Norma will most likely be a fateful one – it may even cost him his life.
Over in side story land, Emma is still in the hospital, but recovering quickly. She and Dylan go for a walk, and for the first time she doesn’t have her oxygen. Dylan tells Emma he’s thinking about leaving the pot growing business and firing Gunner. Emma likes the sound of that – she really does seem to want a future with Dylan. As I’ve stated before, there is a real chance for these two. In the Psycho movies, Norman didn’t have a brother, so the character of Dylan pretty much has a clean slate to end up anywhere – even happily ever after with Emma. Given how Norma and Norman are destined to end up, it’s quite possible the show will allow Emma and Dylan to walk away intact – and with each other.
Norma calls Pineview to talk to Norman, but the receptionist tells her she can’t speak with him for 72 hours. Once again, Norma is physically (as well as emotionally) separated from her son. It’s been happening a lot lately and she’s not used to it. She leaves a sentimental message for him, clearly feeling lonely. Only this time, Norma isn’t alone. She actually has someone by her side, even if her marriage to Romero is one of convenience. But Romero is playing his part well – in fact, maybe not playing at all. He wants to take Norma out to a dinner his buddy gifted them, but Norma refuses. She’s worried about Norman, and though she says she can’t go out and pretend she’s happy, it’s probably more that she feels guilty because she wants to go out. Romero gently encourages her, comically stating “that’s what alcohol is for.” Romero has always been good for Norma, and she really needs him right now.
At dinner, Norman isolates himself at an empty table, until a troublemaking patient named Julian sits down with his – of all things – turkey pot pie. It’s clear that unlike Dr. Edwards, Julian won’t be a good influence on Norman. But he’s around Norman’s age, and his joke about being able to live without parents makes Norman smile for the first time since he arrived at Pineview.
Norma and Romero’s dinner is a delight to watch, and Vera Farmiga and Nester Carbonell have such a great chemistry together. Norma and Alex talk about their prior marriages (Norma had two and Romero had – surprise – a brief one while in the Marines). They’re able to laugh and just enjoy each other’s company. It’s so noteworthy because usually when they’re together it’s because something bad is happening to Norma, Dylan, or Norman. After dinner, Romero helps a drunk Norma upstairs, and while it would be easy for something to happen between them, the sheriff is a total gentleman and tells “Mrs. Romero” to sleep well.
The next day, Norma wakes up to a wedding present from Romero and a note saying he’s having the pit filled in. The sheriff may have murdered a few criminals and stolen lots of money but he sure is a nice husband (that’s a joke – mostly). When Norma goes outside, one of the workers gives Norma an earring that was recovered right near the hole. Of course Norma knows it’s not hers, and viewers recognize it as Audrey Decody’s. It seems Norma was on the right track when she was sloshing around in that pit in her matching rain gear.
Meanwhile, Dylan goes back to the farm, but Gunner is already on his way out, quitting before Dylan can fire him. Just then Chick comes back, asking Dylan about Caleb. Chick was mildly amusing last season, but he was part of the drug/gun running side story that I have no interest in revisiting. This season has been so good thus far, we certainly don’t need any mediocre B plots in the mix. Needless to say, I hope that’s the last we see of Chick.
As Romero finishes packing at his old house, a woman from the bank that he was involved with is already there, looking for her favorite socks (what a lame excuse). I’m guessing her introduction will fuel some side story as well. She’s not happy to learn he’s now married and angrily returns her key, but after she leaves Romero runs to check and see if the stolen money is still there. This prompts him to move the money and hide it in Norma’s basement. The ironic (and humorous) part is when Norma catches him down there and he actually tells her the truth, but she just laughs it off.
Dylan returns home and Norma tells him about her new marriage. Dylan can clearly see how Romero feels, even if Norma can’t. She tells Dylan she’s too worried about Norman to think of anything else (which isn’t entirely true), and that she doesn’t like Romero “like that” (which is really not true). Norma is scared all the family’s secrets will come out at Pineview, but Dylan tells her it will all be ok if she allows it to be. Too bad that’s not true either.
Norman has another session with Dr. Edwards, and only wants medication for his “blackouts” (AKA murderous rampages while taking on the persona of his mother). But he lets his guard down enough to tell his new doctor about the horrible position he finds himself in, wanting to tell the truth but needing to protect his mother. This time, an emotion other than anger comes out – and it’s fear. It’s simultaneously fascinating and heartbreaking to watch this profoundly insane boy express what’s inside him for the first time in a long time. Clearly, his perceived dilemma is tearing him apart.
Norma goes to Pineview to see Norman, which is a terrible idea. I don’t buy that Dr. Edwards would even let Norma do it, especially after witnessing Norman’s tearful, angry rant about his mother. But go she does, and even though Norman has that flash of relief and happiness when he first lays eyes on his mother, he quickly reverts back to rage, telling her he can’t forgive her for putting him in a facility and he’s never been more disappointed in anyone. To Norma this is a nightmare, but when she returns home Romero calmly tells her she did the right thing and Norman will get over his anger. Norma takes comfort in Romero’s arms, and the two finally consummate their marriage.
After Norma’s visit, Norman is full of rage and lands in solitary confinement. When Dr. Edwards goes to him, Norman is no longer torn about the situation: He tells Edwards his mother is insane and she may be killing people. Freddie Highmore is always excellent, and the vengeful and smug way he presents the information to his doctor was chilling. And talk about a case of transference! Clearly, there’s going to be major ramifications from Norman’s declaration.
This was another great episode, though perhaps a bit more slow-moving than the others this season. But 4.3 wasn’t about advancing the story; instead, it was about placing Norma and Norman in situations they weren’t comfortable in, and watching how they handle it. Norma found a bit of peace in the company of her new husband, only to go right back to her emotional, impulsive ways the second she saw her son. Norman, on the other hand, stewed in his anger and the “injustice” of his situation, only to lose control and lash out the instant he was near his mother. These reactions have now formed a pattern that doesn’t bode well for Norma and Norman, and one that is likely to inform their future interactions together. Ultimately, the writing is being written on the wall, and neither Norman nor Norma will let go of the pen.