The last couple weeks, I commented about how recent episodes of ‘Bates Motel’ felt like filler material, but they were still quite watchable, thanks to the actors. Well, we get even more of that this week, and since this episode marks the halfway point of Season 4, I think it may be time to admit that the writers are treading water this year. I remember back in Season 1 when ‘Bates Motel’ had enough story for three seasons of a series. This obviously isn’t that show anymore.
As this week’s entry gets underway, Alex Romero helps Norma clean up the house, which was broken into and ransacked in the last episode. Norma points out a stained glass window that has been broken, which will play a pivotal role in the storyline later. She also asks Alex if Bob Paris might have been the one who did this. Romero assures her it wasn’t him, but it is someone who wants to send a message to him, not to her.
Norma drives into White Pine Bay to visit a hardware store about getting her window fixed and, unbeknownst to her, she’s followed there by Chick (a character I really can’t stand, so thanks for bringing him back again, show-runners!), who overhears the conversation. Later in the episode, Chick shows up at the Bates’ home claiming to be from the hardware store and offers to fix the window. Of course, what he’s really after is information about how to find Norma’s brother, Caleb.
Dylan brings Emma home from the hospital and the romance between the two continues, although Emma has been told by her doctor that she can’t participate in any sexual activity for four to six weeks (which takes us right up to the season finale, where Norman will catch his brother in bed with Emma and kill one/both of them, right?). They pass the time by comparing scars, which not only reminded me of ‘Jaws’, but apparently reminds Dylan of it too, as he goes into a Robert Shaw impersonation that, honestly, is pretty good.
Dylan also has a job interview in Seattle. He wants to get hired at a hops distributor, hoping his background in marijuana dealing will make him perfect for the position. He’s warned by Emma’s father not to bring up the fact that he’s been growing weed for the last couple of years, but Dylan can’t help himself and uses that info to convince his interviewer that he’s perfect for the job. As of the end of this week’s episode, Dylan hasn’t gotten a job offer but feels his chances are pretty good.
While all of the above is going on, Norman is still at Pineview and still under the care of Dr. Edwards. When we first see him this week, it’s obvious that Norman is telling the doctor exactly what he wants to hear – admitting he lied about his mother killing other people and hoping that Edwards will be able to help him. But Norman starts to become a little more unstable when the doctor asks a round of questions about Norman’s father. Norman tells Edwards he’d like to make a phone call to Emma, but when he gets permission to do so, he actually calls his mother and leaves a message on her answering service about how much he misses her.
Walking outside on the facility’s grounds, Norman is visited by Norma. He tells her how much he loves her and she tells him to just do what they tell him to do so he can get out of there soon. However, when Norman is back in therapy later, Edwards tells Norman that he knows he called his mother and that he wasn’t visited by anyone. He imagined his mother being there. Norman flips out and pounds on the door to get out of the room. When Edwards finally gets him to calm down, it’s obvious that Norman has once again transferred into his Norma personality. Realizing what has happened, Edwards asks Norman questions as if he were really Norma.
Not a whole lot more goes on this week. Alex runs into his redheaded ex-girlfriend Rebecca a couple of times – first meeting her at a café to tell her he knows she broke into the house, and then finding her stalking him outside the police station after work one night. Oh, and Alex finally confesses to Norma that he killed Bob. Things wrap up with Chick returning to the Bates house to reveal to Norma who he really is and that he wants to kill Caleb. Norma claims she doesn’t know where her brother is and demands that Chick leave. He tells her to keep thinking about where her brother might be.
As is typical on this series, the best scenes involve what’s going on with Norman, but other than the fact that Edwards has finally seen him in full “Norma” mode, there’s not much plot progression. Edwards seems to genuinely want to help Norman (unlike some other doctors who have crossed paths with him in the past), so it’s almost a guarantee we won’t see this character again next season, isn’t it? Otherwise, I couldn’t care less about Alex and his ex, Chick’s obsession with finding Caleb, or Dylan and Emma’s plans to move to Seattle. Sadly, I feel that these storylines are going to be the focus of the show for a while.