Even though the latest episode marks the return of one of my least favorite characters in the series (more about that below), ‘Bates Motel’ continues to impress in its final season. This week, Caleb returns to White Pine Bay and finally finds out what happened to his sister.
After hearing Alex’s voice on the other end of that phone call in last week’s premiere, Norman can’t help but go pay him a visit in prison. He still blames Alex for putting him in the psychiatric facility. Alex warns Norman that he’s coming after him. Later in the episode – after getting in a fight with another prisoner and winding up in the infirmary – Alex talks to his lawyer about getting transferred.
Out in Seattle, we get a short scene with Dylan and Emma (their only moments in this episode). Dylan finds a goodbye note from Caleb. Emma admits that she asked him to leave, so that they won’t have to worry about answering uncomfortable questions about him when their daughter gets older.
Caleb makes his way from Seattle to White Pine Bay and arrives at the Bates Motel. When he goes up to the house, no one answers the door. Finding a way inside through a back door, he sees what a mess the place has become since the last time he was there. Caleb doesn’t wait around, but instead heads into town and rents a motel room. While trying to make small talk, the desk clerk inadvertently tells Caleb that Norma has died.
In true stalker fashion, Norman sits at a café across from the hardware store so he can keep an eye on his new crush, Madeleine. She spots him there and stops in to sit down and talk. Madeleine asks Norman if she can set him up on a date with a friend. He isn’t interested until she suggests that it should be a double-date. She’ll be there as well with her husband, Sam. A moment later, Madeleine’s husband shows up, and Norman discovers that he’s the guy who rented a room at the motel under the name “David Davidson.” The man obviously recognizes him as well and silently panics. Norman doesn’t say anything to Madeleine except that he’s suddenly very interested in doing that double-date.
At this point in the episode, my least favorite ‘Bates Motel’ character makes his return. Chick brings some apples over to the Bates house, along with a dead peregrine (that’s a falcon) that he thought Norman might like to taxidermy. In fact, that’s why Chick has shown up. He’s out of money, but he has a business proposition for Norman. He’ll bring him dead animals that Norman can stuff and make presentational, and the two of them will sell them for profit.
During the big date, Sam pulls Norman aside and warns him to keep his mouth shut about the affair Norman knows he’s having. Of course, this doesn’t stop Norman from making a few innuendos about Sam at the dinner table, none of which Madeleine picks up on. At one point, Norman excuses himself to go to the bathroom and sees his mother there spying on him. Norman makes her leave through the window and tells her to wait for him in the back seat of their car. After the date is over, Norma comments on how much Madeleine looks like a younger version of herself. Norman denies seeing any resemblance.
At a local bar, Chick makes notes to himself in a journal (or is perhaps working on a book?) about Norman when he sees Caleb arrive and order a drink. Chick goes over to talk with him and, of course, it isn’t long before Caleb tries to start a fight. During the altercation, Caleb spouts out that he thinks Norman killed Norma.
The final scene this week has Norman returning to the house, where he pulls one of his mother’s dresses out of the closet. Caleb then storms up to the house, breaks in, and starts screaming for Norman – yelling, “I know you did it!” Searching through the house for Norman, Caleb walks down to the basement and comes across Norma’s preserved body. Before he can even react, Norman – now fully dressed like Norma in her dress and a blonde wig – sneaks up behind and knocks him out. At this point, Chick also arrives at the scene. Norman turns to him and says, “Now you know, Chick… I’m still alive.”
With all the fuss about other supposedly great shows on television and streaming services, I think a good argument can be made that ‘Bates Motel’ is one of the best currently airing. While this episode is more about setting up certain plot points for the rest of the season than any big shockers, it’s still immensely entertaining.
I don’t think Norman actually killed Caleb when he knocked him out. The episode doesn’t give that impression. It will be interesting to see what happens next week. I get the sense that Chick is going to be Norman’s partner in crime for a while, so what are they going to do about Caleb? Keep him chained up in the basement, perhaps? And what about Alex Romero? Is he planning to make an escape when his transfer takes place – and is that really the smartest move? This episode reveals that Alex is serving five years on a “trumped-up perjury charge,” so why risk adding to that sentence?