“Bates Motel” Recap: Norman Goes… Abnorman

Norma shares secrets about Norman. Norman shares another horrifying gaze.


Uh, well! If you were concerned that Bates Motel was moving too slowly, teaching us too much about Cystic Fibrosis, or threatening to hit us with another 150 episodes of circumspect intrigue, fear not! We learned a big, big secret this week, and it’s basically all I care to talk about. I’m thrilled, dammit! Look, the original Norman Bates himself, the effete and debonair Anthony Perkins, is ready to weigh in with his review.

This week, Mr. Perkins is…


Tony loved this week’s episode, even when it was off-the-rails implausible. Because honestly? So is this life.

Here are the most notable things about last night’s Bates Motel.

1. Emma: Get away from these people before they go super-Hitchcockian on you.

Bates Motel

Emma had a short but somewhat humiliating appearance on the show this evening, as she had the nerve to announce, “No one will believe that there was an Asian sex ring without her!” when referring to, yes, that Asian sex slave. This storyline is both too creepy and too boringly insane, and Emma’s constant Nancy Drew tactics feel more forced with every episode. When she exchanged an overlong hug with Norma, that was “forced” in a hilarious and weird way. I want to see a show where Norma Bates is forced to hug random people for an hour straight. She’d run through 70 different and distinct grimaces, I guarantee it, while wearing one very flattering Ann Taylor Loft shawl.

2. Norma, stop nailing that sexual criminal feet from where you’re storing his victim.


I’m not saying Detective Shelby isn’t attractive. I would even call him very attractive! Fills out a pair of jeans. Grins in rugged outerwear like a devilish Eddie Bauer customer. Sexy eyes. But then there’s that other thing about him: He is a confirmed kidnapper and deranged sexual monster. I couldn’t buy that Norma, who is acutely aware of his moral shortcomings, would schtup him while housing his Asian Sex Slave (TM) in her motel. I also wouldn’t buy that he’d snap to attention during their sex sesh, immediately realize that the Sex Slave was lurking in her motel, and barrel around the premises with his gun drawn. That struck me as farfetched. But since it served as a prelude to the show’s greatest act of the season, I can kind of tolerate it.

3. Norma will think about that Escaped Asian Sex Slave in a second, but first: Norman, why are you being so mean?!


Look. I know that crazy Norma is crazy. Crazy. I understand her crazy priorities are a little crazy too, but was it not weird as hell when Det. Shelby pushed Norma to the ground, ran off into the woods to shoot the Escaped And Very Fast Asian Sex Slave, and Norma got up and promptly chastised Norman for announcing he was leaving to live with Dylan? Hey, Norma: A GUNMAN IS GONNA PICK YOU OFF. ACT MORE THAN PERTURBED. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. Or being asked to understand. But I guess the important thing is that sex slaves have the agility and speed of a young Mary Decker Slaney. Go for the gold, slave-o!  

I said this last week, but I am always on the fence about Vera Farmiga’s work on this show. Are there ways to play Norma other than “tired and headache-y”? Because I’d like her weirdness to amount to more than the first half of a Tylenol PM commercial.

4. Aw, Norma’s other kid pulls through!


Loved the little shoot-out between comely Dylan and dastardly Shelby in the Bates house. As the nefarious cop attempted to kill off Norma, Norman, and Dylan, I knew he wouldn’t succeed, but I didn’t quite guess that Norman would try to attack him (and utterly fail) and Dylan would recoup and shoot his zany face. It was a little ridic when Shelby stumbled out of the Bates residence with his eye blown to smithereens, staggered down a massive amount of steps, and finally perished at the foot of the hill. There was a nice Night of the Living Dead suspense to his zombified stroll, but it didn’t really register as scary or even that threatening. But anyway. Shelby is dead! Guess he’ll never get to try South American Sex Slaves. Lighters in the air, everyone.

5. Oh, can you believe it? Norman is a killer. 


The strangest thing about Bates Motel is that it hinges on a twist we already know about. Yes, Norman Bates is going to be a serial killer. A wacky one who dresses up as his mother and channels her essence when committing his crimes. True glamor.

And while we don’t quite know how Bates Motel will continue to illuminate his backstory in any meaningful way, I have to give the show props for laying a lot of it on the line this week: Norma confessed to Dylan that Norman killed her husband in their home following a spousal argument, and Norman didn’t even appear to remember his deed afterward. Turns out Norma is protecting her dear Norman and his obvious madness from the cops. Dylan finds this quest so noble, it appears he’ll be assisting Norma from now on. What a turnaround! And also, what a twist that completely muddles the future of this show. Who else is there for Norman to kill? How is his streak going to begin? How long before he gets beyond-just-a-crazy-stare crazy? I’m pretty psyched to find out (ho!), even though this show is garbanzo-beans craycray without an alibi.

What about you? Did you find this episode a big-ass, Perkins-pleasing spectacle too?