Over the last five seasons of ‘Bates Motel’, stars Vera Farmiga, Nestor Carbonell and Max Thieriot have all helmed an episode or more of the series. It seems only fitting that before the motel closes for business that Freddie Highmore should get a shot as well. This week’s episode marks Highmore’s directorial debut, and he does a fine job.
After Norman’s phone call confessing to murdering Sam Loomis, Sheriff Greene and her deputies arrive at the Bates’ home and start searching the grounds. Greene asks Norman to give her more information. However, Norman insists that he must first take his medication, which the sheriff has withheld. As Greene takes Norman back to the station for further questioning, Dylan tries to stop them. He also begs Norman to request a lawyer, but Norman is oblivious to his brother’s pleas.
In the interrogation room, Greene tries to get the truth out of Norman, but he’s unable to pinpoint the location of the well where he claims he dumped Loomis’s body. Greene becomes suspicious about whether Norman is actually telling her the truth or if he’s just making up a story to get attention. She decides to keep Norman in custody and places him in a holding cell for the night. His meds are given to him and Norman takes them, but Norma appears shortly thereafter, throws Norman’s body to the ground, sticks her finger down his throat and makes him vomit the pills back up. She then slams his head onto the toilet, knocking him out, and says that she’ll handle things from here.
When Greene returns, it’s now Norma doing the talking. Speaking as Norman, she says that he was confused due to being off his meds but is feeling better now, and that he didn’t actually kill anyone. She demands that the sheriff either charge him with a crime or let him go. The sheriff promptly places Norman under arrest and reads him his rights. Norma is furious.
Chick is back! My least favorite character drives into the motel parking lot, in the midst of all the deputies and police tape covering the establishment. One of the deputies stops Chick and asks him what he’s doing there. Chick’s biggest fear is that Norman must be dead, but he gets enough information from the deputy to realize that Norman is still alive and is quite pleased by this fact.
At Maggie’s house, Alex sneaks into the living room looking for his gun while Maggie sleeps on the couch. He doesn’t see anything in her purse, but finds it tucked underneath the throw pillow next to her. He carefully removes the gun and leaves the house. No points for guessing where he’s heading.
Dylan retains the services of attorney Julia Ramos (Natalia Cordova-Buckley from ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’) to defend his brother. When she meets with Norman, he (well, Norma) makes it perfectly clear to her that she works for him, not for Dylan. Julia puts the idea in Norman’s head that he might avoid going to prison by pinning the murder on someone else. When Greene interrogates him a second time – this time with Julia present – Norman tells the sheriff that he became infatuated with Madeleine Loomis and suggests that she killed her husband. Greene brings Madeleine in for questioning, and it becomes quickly obvious to Madeleine that Norman is trying to frame her.
Greene pays a visit to Dylan at the motel where he’s staying. She informs him that the second body pulled from the lake has been positively identified as Audrey Ellis, Emma’s mother. She asks Dylan to work with her in trying to put Norman away and warns him that if he doesn’t, it could tear his family apart.
Alex sneaks onto the grounds of the Bates Motel at nighttime and makes his way up to the house. Ignoring a police seal on the door, he rips it off and enters. Inside, he sees a vision of Norma and follows her up to the room where he found her dead body. He falls asleep on her bed, but is awakened to the sound of Norman’s voice coming from the basement. Following it downstairs, he discovers Chick typing away while listening to the audio recordings he made of Norman. Alex pulls his gun on Chick and demands to know what he’s doing there. Chick tries to explain (a little too eloquently) that he’s writing a book about Norman, but Alex just sees him as an accessory to murder and shoots him the head. Buh-bye, Chick! This might be the only death on this series I’m actually happy about.
As the episode ends, Sheriff Greene and her deputies find the well and pull Sam Loomis’ dead body from it. Returning to the station, Greene tells Norman that he’s also being charged with the deaths of Jim Blackwell and Audrey Ellis.
With only two episodes remaining, it’s pretty obvious that a big showdown between Alex Romero and Norman Bates is coming that will climax the series. In the meantime, it’s hard to know where the writers will go with Norman’s pending trial. They’re going to have to take a jump ahead in time if they want to cover it. (Justice is swift, but even in small towns murder trials don’t take place until months after charges are filed.)
No, I’m not going to miss Chick, but I’ll admit that the show used him to better effect this season, as opposed to past years when he was just a drug-dealing adversary for Dylan. I’m less thrilled with the way Romero has been handled. The show has turned him from a more or less upstanding policeman into someone strictly out for revenge, which is unsatisfying even if it’s not totally unbelievable under the circumstances.
Even under his own direction this week, Highmore gives another fantastic performance as Norman/Norma. I’ll continue to wave the Emmy flag for this kid until I stop writing these recaps. He’s given the best performance I’ve seen on TV this year.