‘Bates Motel’ 1.09 Recap: “That’s What Lysol’s For”

The penultimate episode of this freshman season of ‘Bates Motel’ is everything that loyal viewers could have hoped for. Full of mystery, dread and perhaps the best performance Vera Farmiga (who plays Norma Bates) has given all season, ‘Underwater’ is a perfect set-up to next week’s season finale.

After finding the rotting corpse of Deputy Shelby in her bed, Norma calls the police and tells Sheriff Romero (Nestor Carbonell) that she believes Jake Abernathy (Jere Burns) is responsible. Later in the episode, Norma receives an anonymous bouquet of flowers that she believes Abernathy is behind. The sheriff promises to look into the matter, but doubts that he’ll be able to dig much up.

The group of marijuana “trimmers” are now staying at the motel, and Norma isn’t happy about them smoking pot out in the open. They just laugh at her and ask her if she realizes what the town’s primary source of revenue is. Norma makes Emma promise that she’ll stop anyone from smoking if she sees them, but one of the younger workers leaves her a pot-laced cupcake in the motel office, and Emma can’t resist scarfing it down.

Bradley discovers that Dylan is working in the same building where her dad had an office, and asks if she can get in there to look for some things. After an uncomfortable encounter with his boss, Dylan is given the office and sneaks Bradley inside after hours. There’s a tense moment where Dylan’s co-worker Remo pulls a gun on them, but all is worked out and Dylan and Bradley are allowed access to the office. Bradley finds love letters addressed to her father from a mysterious woman who has signed each letter as simply “B.”

Norman’s English teacher, Miss Watson, is impressed with Norman’s writing abilities. She asks if she can submit his short story for a contest, but Norman doesn’t want to do so without his mother’s permission. There’s definitely some sexual tension coming from Miss Watson, as she hints at having a background not all that different than Noman’s.

Meanwhile, Norma is determined to move out of town. She visits the real estate agent that sold her the motel and asks him to put the property up for sale. Later, however, she finds out that there’s little chance anyone would be interested in buying the place. She threatens to sue the agent, but he informs Norma that he’s already in debt so taking him to court would be fruitless.

Norman admits to his brother that he’s been having dreams about drowning Bradley. Dylan shows concern, but Norman says not to worry because it was just a dream. Let’s hope so!

Abernathy returns to confront Norma, and we finally find out what he believes Norma has. Shelby owed him $150,000 for the Asian girl he was holding captive, and Abernathy thinks Norma has the money. He threatens to kill her and her sons if she doesn’t get him the cash. Not knowing what else to do, Norma promises to get the money to him.

This week’s episode, of course, is primarily a lot of set-up for next week’s finale, but it’s done in an extremely entertaining way. This is probably the most humorous of the episodes we’ve seen to date, and – as I noted at the outset of this recap – Vera Farmiga is absolutely fantastic in it.

Next time: The Finale!

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