When we last left Bates Motel, Norma had enlisted the help of Nick Ford to stop construction of the bypass, Norman and Emma were having summer romances (just not with each other), and Dylan got hit by a car saving the life of drug distributer Zane.
Episode six sees Norma attempt to distance herself from Ford, Dylan learning more about the boss lady, and Emma engaging in some risky behavior in the name of fun. But the main attraction is Norman’s continued mental unraveling, leading to yet another person’s death.
The episode opens with Norma reading the newspaper story of Lee Berman’s demise. She’s so uncomfortable with the news that she even forgot to make Norman’s breakfast. When a bottle opener and a beer cap falls out of Norman’s jacket, the cat’s out of the bag that Norman has been drinking. Norma gets upset – more by the fact that Norman was secretive about the drinking versus the actual drinking itself. She scolds him, telling him if he’s going to get a driver’s license he needs to make better choices. Sounds reasonable enough, Norma.
Meanwhile, Dylan gets some TLC from Jodi Morgan, Zane’s sister and the big drug boss. When Dylan’s discharged from the hospital, Jodi drives him to her house so he can fully recover in peace. When she asks if he has any family she should call, hesays his family doesn’t care about him. Poor Dylan, he feels so alone, even if he is wrong. Norma does care about him, and so does Norman. They’re just so wrapped up in each other, theysometimes don’t know how to reach out to anyone else.
Norma goes down to the docks and tries to call it quits with Nick Ford. She mentions how sad it is that Lee Berman died, and Nick replies, “Sad and convenient.” Troubled by his response, Norma tells Ford that she no longer wants his help. But Norma is being naïve. She’s under the impression she could just walk away. And Nick does let her – for now.
Christine goes by the motel and suggests Norma try for the open city council seat that was vacated by Lee Berman. Christine’s husband plays golf with the mayor and can get Norma a meeting, and Christine’s lawyer brother can help Norma prep for it. Despite Norma’s suspicion that Christine might be trying to throw her brother and Norma together, she agrees.
Cody comes to pick Norman up (music blasting again), but first,Norma has to jump in Cody’s car and have a private conversation with her. Normatells Cody she doesn’t want Norman drinking, citing medical reasons. When Norma gets out of the car, she tells Norman she won’t make a scene (how very un-Norma of her), but she doesn’t want Norman driving with or hanging around Cody anymore.
When Cody and Norman stop at Cody’s house for more alcohol, her father unexpectedly comes home, and she and Norman hide in the closet. This gives Norman flashbacks of hiding with his mom in a closet as his abusive father rages, looking for them. This very briefly puts Norman in another fugue-like state, until Cody brings him out of it.
Norman and Cody go to the river, and Norman tells Cody he’s sorry that she’s scared of her dad. Though it appears from flashbacks only Norman’s mother was abused by his dad (and it seems very doubtful that Norma would ever let Norman be harmed), Norman can relate to those intense feelings of fear.
Soon, Emma and Gunner (still going strong romantically)alsoarrive at the riverbank. It’s uncomfortable for Emma and Norman, but Cody suggest they all hang out together. Theyclimb the rocks and swing from a rope, splashing in the water and having fun. But after Emma wistfully expresses an interest in joining in, Cody encourages her to jump. Norman warnsEmma against it, but Cody continues, accusing Norman and Gunner of treating Emma like glass. Emma jumps in, and the cold water makes her very short of breath. Norman grabs Emma out of the water and helps her put on her oxygen. He yells at Cody for encouraging Emma, telling her if Emma died it would have been Cody’s fault. That of course, isn’t true, but Norman’s anger is getting the best of him.
Back at the motel, Sheriff Romero and Norma have another niceexchange. He’s wearing a suit, and she even subtly checks him out. She’s going to call him Alex from now on, and she asks for tips in getting Lee Berman’s city council seat. Romero knows how things work in the town (though he doesn’t know who’s helping Norma), and tells her getting it will be very tough. And then Romero awkwardly lets Norma know he could see through her bedroom curtains at night. And he knows this because –well, he’s obviously been looking. This is a very short scene, but like the ones in the previous episode, suggest the possibility of Norma and Romero coming together at some point. At least that’s what I’m telling myself.
George helps Norma prepare for her appointment with the mayor. She’s informed and organized, but George tells her she has to showcase who she is – that is, a powerful, engaging woman. Norma’s small smile (and Vera Farmiga shines in these subtle moments) says it all. She’s starting to like George.
The character of Dylan needs something to do in this episode, so Jodi Morgan gives Dylan the tour of her “garden,” recountinghow her parents got into the marijuana business and how sheinherited it after they died. She asks Dylan to watch impulsiveZane, making sure he doesn’t go off the deep end. It was pretty predictable that she and Dylan would sleep together, and Max Thieriot’s talent could be so much better utilized than it was in this side story, but his understated performances are always interesting to watch.
Emma goes to the Bates’ basement to see Norman (where he isabout to stuff a crow) and thank him for helping her when she got into trouble. He asks if his behavior was a bit over the top, but Emma is actually grateful that he showed his concern for her.She gives him a kiss on the cheek, and the moment istouching. Emma brings out the “normal” in Norman. And inthis specific situation, Norman didn’t seem to be that out of control. He just seemed protective of Emma, which was really kind of sweet.
Later, Norma is in her bedroom practicing her speech, and Norman walks in. As Norma relates how nice George has been to her, reassuring her that she was the best part of herpresentation, Norman takes Norma’s scarf off her dresser and repeatedly twists it – tighter and tighter (while ironically smiling and telling his mom to listen to George). It’s a subtle action,but it speaks volumes about Norman’s feelings of possessiveness over his mom. It’s these small, telling moments about the psychology of the characters that this show knows how to weave into the narrative, making it all the more compelling.
During Norma’s meeting with the mayor, he brings up Nick Ford, telling Norma that Nick wants her to have the seat, and tells her she clearly got in with “all the right people.” By now,it’s dawning on Norma that Nick Ford is most likely bad news. But then again, he is helping her get what she wants.
Cody goes to see Emma, apologizing for pressuring her into jumping in the water, and then asks about Norman’s out of control behavior. Once again, though he may have overreacted a bit, he wasn’t that out of control. But the show is leading us in this direction for a reason, so I’ll go with it. Cody tells Emma about Norman’s blackouts, just in case it’s something serious. Cody puts the ball in Emma’s court to do whatever Emma thinks is best with the information. So it’s easy to guess what that will be.
Norma does get the city council seat (no big surprise, there), and Norman is about to go for his driver’s test. All seems right with the world, until Emma calls Norma. She tells her right then and there about Norman’s blackouts. Afterward, Norma rushes and tells the driving instructor, and so Norman will be unable to geta license for the next three years.Norman is incredulous about his mother’s actions. On the car ride home, Norman grabs the wheel and makes Norma pull over. He gets out and walks, and Norma goes after him, but he tells her go home. It’s clear that whenever Norman pulls away from Norma, she clings to him all the tighter. Usually it works. But this time Norman is too angry.
Feeling betrayed, Norman heads straight to Cody’s house and yells at her for telling Emma about the blackouts, which we all knew would inevitably lead to Norma knowing about them.Cody warns Norman to be quiet, for fear her dad, who worked all night, will wake up. It’s a very reasonable request, but Norman just gets angrier. Cody’s dad does wake up, coming out of the bedroom to investigate the racket. Norman gets in his face, and the father punches Norman, then grabs Cody in a head lock. Norman tries to get Cody’s dad off of her, and it’s pretty obvious where this is going. Norman pushes the dad, and Cody’s father falls down the stairs. He’s dead when he hits the floor. And so an altercation with Norman results in a person’s death – again.
This episode was a little slower than previous ones, but in the end, served its purpose. And that was to tell us more about Norman’s unraveling psyche. He’s slipping out of reality more often, and he’s becoming controlled by his emotions, rather than the other way around. But even with this behavior, Norman has been surrounded by people who care about him:Ms. Watson,Cody, Emma, Dylan, and Norma. The problem is, Norman seems to be on the path to haphazardly destroying these people one by one. Ms. Watson is dead, Cody’s father is dead (and thus his relationship with Cody is destroyed), and more will follow.As it stands, Norman – and those who care for him – will have to deal with the consequences of yet another deadly encounter.