Last week, I praised ‘Bates Motel’ for delivering what was perhaps the best episode of the entire series. I’m glad to report that this week’s entry keeps the quality up.
Dylan stops into the office of the Bates Motel to thank Emma for all the time she spent with Norman. He asks if he can take her out to dinner, but before they can agree on a time, Emma’s father shows up and insists that she go home immediately. Apparently, Emma’s medical condition is a lot worse than she’s been letting on.
Meanwhile, Norma and Norman stop at a store where Norma picks up a new cell phone (after having shot bullets into her old one). As soon as she gets it hooked up, she sees a message from Alex telling her that he’d been shot. Speaking of Alex, he has left Marcus’ car – along with Marcus’ dead body inside it – in Bob Paris’ driveway with a note saying, “I officially withdraw my candidacy for sheriff.”
When Norma and Norman return to the house, Alex is waiting inside to talk to Norma. He wants to know where the flash drive is. Norma finally relents and tells him that it’s at Dylan’s farm.
Dylan goes to see Emma’s father, who says that Emma only has a few years to live – if that – and is pretty low down on the donor’s list for a lung transplant. He mentions that if he had $20,000, he could get Emma to the top of the list at a hospital in Seattle.
Alex goes out to Dylan’s marijuana farm and orders Gunner to show him what’s on the drive. When Alex sees the ledger, he looks upset. He then goes to see Bob Paris and demands to know why his long-dead mother’s name is on the ledger. As it turns out, Alex’s father placed it there in order to continue collecting drug money even while serving time in prison. We learn that Alex’s mother committed suicide and Alex blames his father for that.
Loyal readers of these recaps know that I haven’t been too happy with the character of Chick or his subplot in the series. Finally, however, it looks like the writers have been setting it up for good reason. Caleb declines the job Chick offered, only to have Dylan jump in as a replacement when he learns the job – which is running guns – will pay $25,000. Dylan tells Caleb about Emma, but Caleb insists that this is not the best way to deal with it and tells him not to take the job.
Psychology professor James comes to pay Norma a visit at the house to talk to her and Norman. However, Norman insists that he talk with James alone. When the two are alone in the basement, Norman asks James how his mother was in bed. When James suggests that Norman might want to sleep with her himself, Norman freaks out and chokes him. He eventually lets go, and James runs from the house – telling Norma that she needs to get help for her son. Obviously not him, of course! I wonder if James will stay far away from the Bateses now or if we’ll even see his character again.
Alex calls Norma at the house and asks if she can come give him a ride. It seems that he’s gone out and gotten drunk after visiting with his father in prison. Norma brings him back to one of the motel rooms. They almost kiss, but Norma pulls back and leaves him to sober up. Before she exits the room, Alex tells her how beautiful he thinks she is. She assures him that he’ll regret saying that in the morning.
The episode wraps up with all of the main characters having a pleasant dinner together. Norma talks Dylan into bringing Emma over as his dinner date. Caleb shows up to thank Norma for coming to see him, and she invites him to stay (although she still insists that they can’t be friends). Even Alex gets invited when he stops by to tell Norma that he’s heading out (after having sobered up). In the final scene after everyone has left for the night, Norman creepily looks over Norma’s sleeping body in bed. He runs his hand over her thigh as the episode closes out.
This episode has some wonderful chemistry and witty banter between all the actors, not the least of which is the playful back and forth bickering that takes place between Norma and Norman – particularly in the opening scenes at the cell phone store. That humor was really missing from Season 2. It’s nice that the showrunners have finally figured out that it’s a strength in the series, as it’s been much more present this year.