‘Bates Motel’ 5.06 Recap: “Oh Mother, What Have I Done?”

Although few of us realized it going in, this is the episode of ‘Bates Motel’ we’ve been waiting to see for the past five years. The infamous shower scene finally takes place. But few of us could have predicted it would happen like this. Let me take a stab at describing this week’s wet and wild episode.

When Marion Crane (Rihanna) arrives at the motel in pouring rain, nobody is in the office. After she rings the buzzer, Norman comes down from the house to greet her. We can tell he’s immediately smitten with her – in that creepy Norman Bates way, of course. She signs in under the name “Marie Samuels” and tells Norman she’s from Los Angeles. He gives her the keys to Room #1 and helps her inside. Marion asks if there’s anywhere nearby where she can get a bite to eat, but the hour is too late for that so Norman offers to make her a ham sandwich.

Out in Seattle, Emma tells Dylan that she found a news article online stating that Norma died. The headline says it’s a suicide, but Dylan doesn’t buy it. Later, he calls his brother, who is very evasive about what happened. Norman claims that he didn’t call Dylan because the pain was too great and because Dylan said he didn’t want any more contact with the family. Norman eventually hangs up on him, leaving Dylan very suspicious about his younger brother. Does this mean that Dylan may be on his way back to White Pine Bay in the weeks to come? Probably.

Norman spies on Marion’s room from the peephole in the back of his office. He watches her strip down and get in the shower. Just when we think Norman is about to go over there and start stabbing away, Marion finishes her shower, gets dressed and comes over to the office. She asks if she can see the motel registry because her boyfriend, Sam Loomis, isn’t answering her calls and she needs his home address. Norman tells Marion that he knows Sam… as well as his wife. Marion insists that Sam isn’t married and that Norman must be lying for some reason. Norman gives her the address, probably guessing at all the trouble that will cause.

Marion drives to Sam’s house, still not believing he could be married, but sees him arguing with Madeleine inside the house. Furious, she gets out of her car, takes a tire iron from her trunk and smashes all the windows in Sam’s car. Sam runs outside to see what the hell is going on, but Marion just speeds off. Madeleine throws a glass of whatever she’s drinking (it looks like it might be wine) all over Sams’s shirt, runs back inside, and locks him out of the house. Women always find out, Sam… always.

This week’s episode has some entertaining scenes between Norman and Norma where he tries to convince himself that she’s not real, only to have Norma scream back at him that she is. One of the best moments takes place in the kitchen of the Bates house when Norma tries to prove her existence by smashing things and throwing stuff on the floor, then hugging her son. The final shot of this sequence shows Norman in a trashed room leaning into an embrace with nobody.

Returning to the motel, Marion tells Norman she’s leaving but that she’s done things that will prevent her from returning home. Fighting the urge to do something bad, Norman rushes to help her pack (she decides to leave most of her things behind, except the money she’s stolen, of course) and get her out the door. Marion races off in her car, throwing her cell phone out the window as she heads down the road. This is a huge “Hey, wait a minute!” moment for the audience, as none of us expected Marion to make it away from the motel alive. Then we all slowly come to understand the bait-and-switch that show-runners Kerry Ehrin and Carlton Cuse (who both co-wrote this episode) have given us.

Sam Loomis follows Marion to the motel in his wrecked car, but she’s gone by the time he gets there. Finding some of her discarded clothing in the room, he assumes she’s coming back and calls her cell phone (which, of course, she’s ditched) to tell her he’ll wait for her to return to the motel. He then notices the stain on his shirt and decides to take a shower. Uh oh.

Meanwhile, in the office next door, Norma is talking to Norman about how Sam is a man just like Norman’s father – who treats women badly. She also tells him that he’s no longer a boy and that he’s man enough now to take care of the situation. If you didn’t already see it coming, Norman enters the motel room, heads into the bathroom, and we get a recreation of Hitchcock’s shower sequence, except it’s a man instead of a woman on the other end of the blade this time.

Episode Verdict

Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. Many of us have spent five seasons wondering how this series could possibly hope to do that shower scene justice, and I’m guessing very few of us saw the victim change coming. When Marion got out of the shower the first time, I was ready to bash this episode for a copout, thinking at the time, “She’ll just return to the shower a few episodes down the road.” Nope. Marion gets to survive in this world, but look at all the evidence that may be pointing towards her as Sam’s killer. I have no idea if the character will be in future episodes, but if Norman is looking to frame someone else for the crime, he has a perfect patsy to use.

Sheriff Romero is missing from this episode again (he wasn’t in last week’s, either), so he’ll almost certainly be back next week. I assume that Dylan is about to make the mistake of returning to town as well. (Will he pay for it with his life?) No Chick in this episode, which, of course, I’m just fine with.

What did you think of the big shower sequence? Pure genius or a disappointment?

2 comments

  1. It’s a shame Rihanna isn’t a better actress. She barely gets by.

    Other than that disappointment, this was an amazing episode. The shower scene not only subverted all expectation for what would happen, it’s also shockingly brutal. Despite of course having seen the shower scene from Psycho countless times, this one actually made me wince at how violent it was.

    One thing Shannon didn’t mention is the conversation where Norma lays all her cards out on the table for Norman and acknowledges that she’s just in his head, but insists that she’s still every bit as real as he is. The performances from Freddie Highmore and Vera Farmiga are so, so good on this show.

  2. TKFopp

    The great thing about the shower switch is that it’s clear now that they planned this from the beginning, with the set up of the abusive father death in the first season (the pilot, really) laying the ground work for the attack on Sam Loomis. This show has had a lot filler storylines (I still can’t believe the history of the Bates family included a DRUG WAR), but this shows they’ve always been laser clear on their ideas and arcs for Norma and Noman.

    And those scenes of Norman & “Mother” in the kitchen and before the attack were great, Highmore’s best stuff. In many ways those scenes feel the culmination of Norman’s arc (the same way last season’s “The Vault” was for Vera Farmiga’s Norma). I’ve always felt throughout the show that Norman was bit removed as a person. When he does “good” things, like helping save the Asian sex slave in S1 or being a friend to Emma, it never felt like he actually felt those things, he was just doing it because that’s what good people are expected to do. But Norman denying Mother’s existence in the kitchen was the first time I actually felt like there was someone genuinely trying to do the right thing. And then we find out why Highmore’s performance had been that way previously: Mother is there to keep Norman from feeling pain, and pain, like it or not, is part of what makes us human. Really nice long term planning performance here (and part of it is Highmore getting better over the years, yes).

    Really curious how this will all end up. I was wondering why we never heard any casting about PI Arbogast or Lyla Crane, but now we know why. I’m guessing Dylan and Emma will fill the role of Sam and Lyla from the original movie when they return, but who knows with Romero and Chick out there still.

    Also, when they faked out on the Marion shower and she got out, I thought for sure they were going to have her go to Sam’s house and freakout (as she did) but it then would be Marion killing Madeline in her home shower. I’m glad they didn’t do that but for a moment I believed they might, becoming the Ryan Murphy show that Bates Motel has always teetered on the edge of becoming in its campier moments.

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