As usual, warning for episode spoilers (and this one was a doozy!).
First of all, I really REALLY want to commend Freddie’s skills as a director, especially with this being his first time in the chair. Some of the shots he pulled off are genius, and helped make this one of the most powerful (and one of the best, IMO) episodes of the series.
We pick up right where last week’s episode ended, with Norman calling the police and confessing to the murder of Sam Loomis. The sheriff is in the living room with Norman, his eyes screwed shut so he cannot see a furious Mother trying to intervene. Dylan is in the dining room, getting that nasty cut on his head taken care of. Norman agrees to go to the police station if and only if they get his medication and let him take it immediately. He thinks that’ll keep his visions of Mother at bay as he takes responsibility for what he did, but obviously, it won’t be that easy. He’s taken to the station, and worried-mother-hen Dylan runs after them, assuring Norman he’s getting a great lawyer to work the case.
This is when Mr. Highmore’s directorial skills truly emphasize just how wild Norman’s situation really is. He’s in the stark and dimly lit interrogation room with the sheriff, sitting in front of the two-sided mirror, one single light above their table. The sheriff asks Norman to describe the area where Sam’s body was dumped, but each time she asks him, he points to a different place on the map. She also lets him know that they found bodies in the lake (which Norman saw himself that night): Jim Blackwell and an unidentified woman. At this point he’s truly rattled and slowly losing it. And of course, Sheriff Greene claims that Norman’s mental illness isn’t real, and it’s just a ploy to get attention. Since he’s just a child and all, and we all know children are attention seekers. Not cool, lady.
Norman’s truly shaken at this point, and is just trying to tell her that he really did kill Sam. He is not aware if the other murders were his fault, but he committed this particular act of his own volition. He looks truly upset and remorseful about it, since it was the first murder he was mentally present for. It almost makes me want to sympathize with him, until I snap back to reality and realize what he did.
He’s then brought to a small holding cell, where he can take his meds in “peace.” I put that word in quotations because, duh, it’s not gonna be that easy for him. Mother makes her triumphant return, and throws Norman around the room like a rag doll, then forces him to throw up the pills so she can stay with him and guide him through this ordeal. It’s a violent and disturbing scene, made all the more upsetting by Mother’s saccharine tone and the way she cradles Norman after it happens. The poor boy is just trying to own up to what he did, and she’s trying to make everything worse for him by covering it up.
And having the point of view coming from behind the toilet seat? Genius. It makes this room seem even smaller, and this little world shared between Norman and Mother the whole focal point. (Go Freddie!)
Sweet, sweet Dylan is meeting with his lawyer to try and catch her up to speed on what’s happening with Norman. The poor boy is ill, he says, and is a good person deep down; he just has a lot of mental issues that need to be addressed and taken care of. Dylan wants Norman to get help, even though he knows that the violent tendencies may point toward him being guilty of these murders.
Back in the holding cell, we can see that it’s Mother’s reflection in the glass, so she is now in charge of what happens with Norman while he’s in here. She’s going to look our for him, as she said. This means he can’t accept responsibility for what he did and the situation will likely only get worse for him. “Norman” wants to get his lawyer now, and then leave the jail since he came here on his own and wasn’t being held. But of course, things don’t work like that. The sheriff then reads him his rights and arrests him for the murder of Sam Loomis.
(By the way, the difference between Norman and Mother in body language, tone of voice, and way in which they speak is staggering, making it surprising that the sheriff did not pick up on those cues.)
But in more important news, CHICK IS BACK!!! (Yet again, Freddie’s directorial tricks just improve the quality of this episode greatly, with the camera affixed on the door of Chick’s car. It shakes as he drives, and swings along as the door opens and shuts, and we nearly get close enough on his face to count each individual beard hair.) He pulls up in the lot of the motel to see it swarmed by cops and yellow tape, and fears the worst. “Oh deary, deary me,” as he puts it. It’s not as bad as he thinks, though. There was just a little bit of murder going on here, but it wasn’t Norman who died. Charles “Chick” Hogan takes his dead raccoon that he was gifting to Norman, shoves it in the back seat of his car and drives off, now with even more fuel for his book.
Mother meets with Julia the lawyer back at the sheriff’s office, in her spiffy little cable-knit sweater and collared shirt combo. The lawyer wants to try and spin it, say that Norman was having a mental episode and was out of his mind when Sam was murdered so it may help his case a bit. But the fact that he gave them an exact location for the body doesn’t bode well for him, especially if the cops do in fact find the corpse. Mother asks what happens if the body is discovered, and Julia says that there needs to be an explanation as to why Norman lied about murdering Sam. You can practically see the pieces slowly fitting together in her mind as she devises a plan for the inevitable moment when the body is discovered and she will need to pin the blame on someone else.
Julia and “Norman” (Mother) go to meet with the sheriff after he’s been charged with murder, and Mother admits that he doesn’t actually know where the body is. He made it up for attention, since he was so in love with Madeleine and didn’t want to feel so lonely anymore; Sam was a bad man who didn’t deserve someone like Madeleine, she deserved someone better. Mother makes up a story about Madeleine coming to the motel looking for Sam, and found him with his mistress. She was distraught and left with him, then came back to the motel later that night, alone. She told him that Sam was dead in the woods, and just wanted to be back with Norman. The sheriff isn’t buying it, though, even though Norman’s tears are pretty convincing.
Sheriff Greene then brings Madeleine in to the station, to let her know that they’re sure her husband is missing, and also possibly dead because of Norman. She asks Madeleine how well she knows Norman, which she admits is not that well. They’re acquaintances, but Norman is really infatuated with her. Madeleine leaves in tears, calling Sam to let him know that the police are looking for him. When she turns around, she sees Norman being lead down the hall by police, with this wicked glint in his eyes as he looks at her. Talk about shivers down your spine.
The sheriff then goes to find Dylan at his motel, and lets him know that the unidentified body they found in the lake was that of Audrey Ellis, Emma’s mom. That just confirms Dylan’s suspicions that Norman had something to do with her disappearance as well as his suspicion that the sheriff is trying to get Dylan to flip on Norman and work with the police to get him the jail time he deserves.
In another surprising twist, we see Alex again! He’s finally got his gun back from the friend he’s staying with, and he’s outta there and on his way to the Bates Motel to finally confront Norman. He goes through the empty house, reminiscing about the few good memories he has of the place and of Norma. Her ghost appears to him, looking happy and full of love. It brings him to tears. Those tears dry up quickly though, when he hears noises coming from the basement.
Upon further investigation, it’s Norman’s voice he hears, and some kind of weird clicking sounds. It turns out to be Chick, sitting on Dead Norma’s throne and covered in animal pelts, typing away as he listens to recordings from his chats with Norman. Alex is appalled at what Chick is doing, how he’s trying to benefit from the poor twisted lives of the Bates for his own gain. Chick attempts to defend his actions, and give reason as to why he’s taken such interest in Norman, but it’s not working.
Alex emphasizes the fact that Norman killed his mother. Chick counters with the fact that he loved his mother as well. Chick also informs Alex that Norman is currently in jail on murder charges, and that he’s in the basement because he’s writing a book based on the lives of the Bates family. He wanted “the muse” to strike him in the most important room of the house.
Alex is confused, and Chick explains that Norman dug up his mother’s body and kept her in the house in a highly adorned room so she could be treated like the queen he always thought she was. Chick laughs at the formulaic nature of the relationship between Norman, Norma and Alex, and how the element of surprise perfectly serves his book. Alex latches onto that element of surprise, and BANG! Shoots Chick in the head, causing him to slump over onto his typewriter (how iconic is this image, though?!).
You probably know by now just how much I dig Chick as a character, so needless to say I was shocked when he was shot (I gasped so loud and so suddenly I hurt my throat a bit). BUT, he was honestly a pretty lousy dude. After everything that happened with Caleb and Dylan, I was surprised to see him come back and try to be close with the family who hurt him so badly.
I was even more surprised to see him getting so close to Norman when he knew for a fact that the boy wasn’t mentally stable. Chick stood by this entire time and instead of getting help, he used the pain and suffering and well-being of Norman for his own gain. The novel he was writing, and the juicy details of what was going on in the Bates’ home took precedence over everything else, including justice for those who were killed, closure for those who were hurt by it (Dylan and Alex, especially) and seeking help for Norman.
So, while I’m a bit shocked and sad that he’s gone, when I remember what he did, how he diminished all of this just so he could have inspiration for his novel, I don’t feel as bad. Especially since the context in which his death happened was pretty rad.
The episode ends with the cops trudging through snow in the woods to get to the well Norman spoke of. And, of course, they pull Sam’s body up. They cut back to Mother in the interrogation room facing the sheriff, who is also charging Norman with the murders of Jim and Audrey. It abruptly ends with no dramatic music (like they usually have) and just the slamming of the door.
As sad as I am to see this show end, I’m excited to see how they’re wrapping it all up with each episode this season topping the last.
Finally, I’m just going to leave this here because it’s AWESOME.