Thursday, May 30, 2024

Bates Motel Turns Up the Suspense

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If you’ve seen Hitchcock’s classic Psycho, then you know to expect even more suspense and crazy storylines from its prequel. It’s the final season of Bates Motel and it seems that the writers have turned the crazy up to eleven (which is impressive, considering the whole show has been a wild ride so far). This week’s episode, “The Convergence of the Twain” had Norman having more conversations with his dead mother; Caleb finally heard the news about his beloved Norma Louise; Dylan had to continue pushing his father away; and Chick seems to be writing fanfic about the Bates family.

Let’s dig in.

Town sheriff and husband (now widower) of Norma Bates, Alex Romero, is doing five years in prison for a puffed up perjury charge. He’s all beefcake-y and working in the prison’s dish room when he’s notified of a visitor; it turns out to be Norman, arguably the last person on Earth he wants to see. Norman’s there in his nice little sweater, looking all innocent, and tells Alex that the hitman that was hired to kill him did not succeed. Norman lets him know that it won’t be easy to kill him, but have no fear! Alex reassured him that he’s not done trying to take the kid down. Big tough guy versus little scrawny psycho (ding ding ding there’s the bell! Two guys enter, one guy leaves).

Cut to Dylan and Emma, living their happy little life away from (most of) the drama. Caleb’s visit was short lived, with Emma asking him to stay away, both for their sake, and the sake of their young daughter Katie. She emphasizes the fact that they need to be open and honest with each other in order to maintain the straight path they’ve been on since leaving home, which is pretty funny, since Dylan’s keeping a big ole secret from Emma about what happened to her mom. The look on his face says it all: “Oh God, here we go already.” Can’t wait for that little tidbit to be revealed down the road.

That’s it, that’s the face!

The scene beautifully segues into Caleb arriving at the Bates Motel, fresh off the bus with his bag over his shoulder and his sad little puppy eyes all ready to go. And like a normal person, when no one answers the door, he just heads right to the back of the house and jimmies that door open. He finds the house dark, dishes piled high in the sink, and dog food spilling onto the floor from a full dish (damn Norman, that’s commitment to the whole ‘dead dog’ thing you’ve got going on). And like an even more normal person, Caleb wanders through the whole house calling out for Norma the entire time (She ain’t gonna answer buddy, just go home). When he reaches Norman’s room, he snoops and picks up a book, titled The Art of Mummification. Red flag alert.

Norman continues to watch the new hardware store owner/Norma lookalike, Madeleine, closely. He’s asked to go on a double date with Madeleine and her husband, as well as her single friend. Turns out her husband is David Davidson, the man who hooked up with a faceless woman at the motel a few days prior. Drama ensues.

Our lovely deceased Norma is learning French to bide her time while she’s “trapped in the house.” Seeing how complex Norman’s fantasy gets is pretty funny; he even pictures her with bright red lipstick and an ascot, and later on, a beret.

“Pretending to be dead isn’t as fun as I thought it would be!”

Chick returns, bringing Norman a gift and a proposition. He will acquire the dead bodies of animals, bring them to Norman to turn them into ~art~, then he will help sell the ~art~ to a dealer so they both can make some money. He’s an odd fellow, this Chick. And it makes me wonder just what his motive is with the Bates/Massett/Calhoun clan. Is he just gathering all of the dirt he can on this family for his fanfiction (or novel.) Not sure yet what he’s writing about? Is he lonely and found some weirdos he can bond with? Or is he just trying to get revenge on Caleb for nearly killing him? I find myself caring more about that plotline than the main one with Norman. That may just be because of my ridiculous love for Ryan Hurst, though.

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And poor, poor Caleb finds out about Norma’s death from some rando dude at a motel he checks into. Kenny Johnson just perfects the kicked puppy look and makes this scene, and the next when he visits her grave, heartbreaking (even though Caleb is an absolute scumbag for what he did to Norma and I hate him for it). The heartbreaking moment is cut short once we see the essay written on her headstone:

“Loveliest mother, sweetest friend, most beautiful woman, dearest heart, purest soul, happiest playmate, wife. The world has lost an angel. You will always live in my heart. I will never, never forget you dear mother. There’s a cord between out hearts forever and ever until the sky falls down. Always. Love, Norman.”

That’s not creepy at all.

Norman’s AWKWARD double date with Madeleine and co. ends with Norma smooshing her face against the window in the backseat of the car and scolding him for dating someone who looks just like her. It’s true, Madeleine kinda does resemble Norma, and that’s probably why the figment of his imagination is harping on it so much.

It’s then that Norman has one of his blackouts, where “Norma” takes over him (which seems to occur only during stressful situations) and sits at a bar drinking bourbon and talking about helping a mentally ill person.

Cut to Chick at a bar, voice-over reading what seems to be a story all about the lives of Norman and Norma. It makes me wonder if this is the reason why Chick wants to work with Norman, for more of their story to fuel his book. He stops writing mid-thought when he looks up and sees Caleb at the bar. They share some heated words, Caleb acts like an tough-guy teen saying something like “don’t talk like that. I’ll kill you.” He leaves in a hurry, but Chick follows him out; Caleb thinks that it’s Norman’s fault, then rushes off to go confront him (and again, Chick follows).

Once again, Caleb works his way past the door and goes into the Bates home uninvited and shouting for anyone who’s home. He searches the house for Norman, looks high and low, then ends up in the basement. Where he finds Norma. Dead. Posed in a grand chair with a fur coat on, making her look like some kind of royalty.

It’s only moments later when Norman appears behind Caleb, knocks him out cold. Then Chick crashes the party and sees Norman in a blonde wig and vintage dress, clearly still taken over by Norma. He speaks for all of us when he mutters “holy shit.” And Norma(n) creepily reminds him that she is, in fact, alive.

And fade to black.

Images courtesy of A&E

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