When we last saw Norman Bates, he had just passed a polygraph test proving that he had nothing to do with the death of his high school teacher, Ms. Watson. Of course, the reason Norman passed was because he had a hallucination of his mother, Norma, confessing to the crime. As Season 3 of ‘Bates Motel’ gets underway, Norman seems to be creeping closer and closer to becoming full-on psycho.
The episode begins just about as creepily as you can get, with Norman cuddling with his mother in bed. Dylan comes home and finds them together. When he gets the chance to talk to Norma alone, he tells her how weird it is. After Dylan leaves, Norma gets a phone call from a lawyer who informs her that her own mother has died and left her some money. Norma, however, doesn’t want anything to do with her inheritance and hangs up on him.
It’s Norman’s first day of his senior year, but as his mother drops him off at school, he refuses to get out of the car. Norma has to get out and drag her son out of the car in front of all the other students. Later in the day, when he’s eating lunch in the cafeteria (alone, naturally), Norman has a vision of Ms. Watson and sees blood spilling out of the knife slash in her throat. He bolts out of the school and runs all the way home.
Dylan, who is now in charge of White Pine Bay’s drug operation after the events of Season 2, meets up with Sheriff Romero in one of the local diners. Romero tells Dylan that he wants a bigger role in the drug trade, but Dylan tells the sheriff that he’s thinking about going “legit” – in other words, running a small operation with all the legal permits and distributing marijuana for medical use. Romero is less than happy about this and tells Dylan that if he chooses to go that route, he’ll no longer be able to protect him. Dylan wonders why he would need protecting if he was operating within the law. Romero just stares him down.
Back at the motel, Norman tells Norma what happened to him at school. While she’s consoling her son, a woman arrives looking for a room. She introduces herself as Annika Johnson (Tracy Spiridakos from ‘Revolution’), and already Norman can’t take his eyes off of her. Later in the episode, Norman will learn that she’s a high-priced escort and in town to entertain some businessmen. That night, Norman is once again in bed with his mother when she tells him that she thinks he’d be better off home-schooled. She also wants him to become the new motel manager. However, she insists that they stop sleeping in the same bed and sends him off to his room.
Dylan is driving along when he notices a van following him. He pulls off to the side of the road and pulls out his gun, demanding that the driver of the van reveal himself. It turns out to be Norma’s brother Caleb (Kenny Johnson), who informs Dylan that he’s almost certain now that he’s Dylan’s father. (For those of you who don’t remember, yes, Norma and Caleb are BOTH brother and sister AND Dylan’s parents!) Dylan still wants nothing to do with him, but winds up helping him the very next day when he sees Caleb’s van broken down on the side of the road. Later, Caleb says he just wants to spend time with his son for a few days, and Dylan (somewhat reluctantly) relents.
In case you’re wondering where Emma is during all this, she finally makes an appearance late in the episode. Norman meets her in the motel office and tells her that he’s going to be home-schooled from now on. Emma has some news of her own – and it’s not good. She tells him that her lung capacity has diminished. Norman has two suggestions: first, he thinks that Emma should be home-schooled as well; and second, he thinks they should start dating. Emma happily agrees to both.
That night, on his way back up to the house, Norman spots a raccoon rooting through the trash behind the motel and runs over to shoo it away. While back there, he notices that Annika has the window to her room propped open. Norman creepily goes over to take a look. Annika (naturally!) is in her bra and panties and about to get in the shower. Norma catches her son peeping into the room and drags him back to the house.
The next night, Norman and Emma are once again in the motel office when Annika comes in and asks for directions to a local restaurant. Instead of giving her the address, Norman offers to go with her and show her where it’s at. On the drive, Norman asks more questions about Annika’s escort work. As she answers, Norman seems to be getting pretty worked up over it. As this week’s premiere ends, we see Norman returning to the motel in Annika’s car, with no sign of Annika anywhere.
Of course, the implication of the final scene is that Norman killed Annika, but I doubt that’s what occurred. Most likely, when they got to the restaurant, Annika realized that Norman didn’t have a way home and told him to drive back to the motel and pick her up later (possibly even the next morning). As episodes go, this wasn’t a bad one, although the show is still suffering from some of the after-effects of Season 2, most notably continuing to deal with the drug trade in the town (which I’m pretty sure very few viewers actually care about), and sadly – for the most part – lacking the wonderfully dark sense of humor that Season 1 had. However, this still turned out to be a solid, if unspectacular, return for the series.