‘Bates Motel’ 5.04 Recap: “Nothing a Few New Shower Curtains Can’t Fix”

On ‘Bates Motel’ this week, we learn the fate of Caleb, find out how Sheriff Romero is dealing with that shotgun blast, and join Norman on a cake-making date with Madeleine. It’s a pretty entertaining week in White Pine Bay.

Yep, he’s dead. After being chased out to the road by Norman and “Norma” and then getting smashed by Chick’s car, Caleb’s lifeless body lies on the road. Norman wants to call the police, but Chick talks him out of it – noting that the police might want to check inside the house and, specifically, the basement. With an assist from Norma, Norman agrees to let Chick get rid of the body. For some reason, Chick gives Caleb a Viking funeral, placing his body on a floating pyre and sending it into the lake on fire. It’s a beautiful visual (and a nice final send-off for the character), but you’d think all that smoke would cause some suspicion from the locals, wouldn’t you?

Despite my theory that Alex would wind up being nursed back to health by the mother of the kid who shot him, I’m actually happy to report that the show’s writers take things in a totally different direction. Sending the boy back into the farmhouse to retrieve a first aid kit, Romero uses the distraction to run off. A few hours later, he comes across a public pay phone (those things actually still exist?) and makes a call to 911, using a false name and saying that a guy has overdosed in the nearby apartment complex. When the EMTs arrive in an ambulance and rush inside, Romero sneaks into the back of the vehicle and takes the first aid stuff that he needs, also lifting one of the EMT’s wallets in the process.

Later in the episode, after doing what he can to bandage himself up, Romero makes his way to the house of Maggie Summers. Maggie is the sister of Keith Summers, the guy Norma killed all the way back in Season 1 of the series, and she hasn’t appeared since then. Looks like maybe Alex is seeking an ally who will want Norman dead as much as he does.

Since Alex was sent away to the slammer, the town’s new sheriff is Jane Greene (Brooke Smith, who’s a familiar face for fans of ‘Silence of the Lambs’, ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ or ‘Ray Donovan’). She heads out to the Bates house with a few questions for Norman about Jim Blackwell. She wants to search the house, but Norman talks her out of it (and she doesn’t have a search warrant).

Later that evening, Sheriff Greene shows up again down at the motel office hoping to look for strange names in the motel register. (Oddly, she doesn’t mention the “David Davidson” entry that must be in there.) Norman makes a side comment about Blackwell’s hometown, which makes Greene suspicious since she never mentioned the town to Norman. She then asks Norman if he’s seen Blackwell’s missing car. After Greene leaves, Norman runs up to the house in a panic and asks Norma what happened to the car. His mother tells him she hid it in the woods. He insists that they both go out to find it, although Norma has evidently ditched the keys. This leads Norman to going out to see Chick (whom he has forbidden from staying in the Bates home) the next day, asking if he knows how to hotwire and get rid of a car. Chick eventually agrees to help him – seeing it as a way to get close to Norman once again so he can continue the novel he’s writing.

The final portion of this week’s episode has Madeleine invite Norman over to her house for dinner. When Norman gets there, she’s wearing one of his mother’s old dresses, which Norman was originally going to donate to a local church but instead decided to give to her. (I know, pretty creepy, but Madeleine doesn’t pick up on any of these bad vibes.) After dinner, she asks him if he wants to help make a cake. I have no idea if there’s some kind of sexual innuendo from pouring milk into a mixer, but it’s enough to get these two kids to start making out passionately in Madeleine’s kitchen. However, Norman then sees his mother in the room, followed by a vision of him slashing Madeleine’s throat and killing her. This is enough to get Norman to race out of the house and head back home in his car. Upon re-entering the house, Norman sees it (for the first time?) as it really is… a total mess with no sign of Norma at all. Has he finally snapped out of his delusion?

Episode Verdict

While neither Dylan nor Emma appear in this episode, fans of the series will be interested to know that this entry was actually directed by actor Max Thieriot, and he does a really good job in what, according to IMDb, is his first-ever directorial credit.

As noted above, I was surprised (pleasantly so) that the Alex subplot didn’t go in the direction I thought it would. It’s kind of interesting that the show-runners seem to want to tie things back into events that happened in Season 1. It will be fun to see what Alex and Maggie have in store for young Norman in the weeks ahead.

Without spoiling too much, next week’s preview suggests that Norman is going to once again spend an episode or two trying to get help for his psychosis. I’m not sure that’s the best direction to go at this point since so many episodes of past seasons were devoted to it, and we all know that Norman isn’t going to be cured. However, we’ll have to wait and see how things progress.

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