With only one episode to go, we find ourselves moments from the public hearing of Norman Bates, charged with three counts of murder carrying a maximum penalty of death. Amidst the mug shots, fingerprints and a brutally honest meeting with counsel, anyone and everyone who is part of Norman Bates is frozen with fear. “Serial homicides”, “multiple life sentences”, “maximum security prison”, “not guilty by reason of insanity”…these phrases hold more weight than even Norman’s strongest personality can handle. The mother/son/protector morph is once again portrayed as two bodies in one outfit. The change from one personification to the other seems to happen at the flip of a coin although the reflection of Norma in the cell window is once again magnificently orchestrated.
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About Colleen Conway
Colleen Conway has been a contributor to Horror News Network since 2015.
Entries by Colleen Conway
Let’s start by saying that I’m glad my neighbors didn’t call the police. If I heard me scream like that, I totally would have. Luckily, I let loose an equally loud (albeit awkward) laugh just to let anyone listening know that I was okay. If you’re unaware of why I shrieked, read on…
This week’s episode picks up moments after Norman’s frantic 9-1-1 call. Sitting in the front room with Sherriff Greene, he is still lucid. Terrified, but lucid. He begs to be out of that house and on his meds. While in the interrogation room, Norman haphazardly recalls the details of Sam Loomis’ murder. He can’t remember where the well is or why he killed Sam, mimicking a blackout that occurred after the act instead of during. Greene accuses Norman of making it all up to gain attention. In the holding cell, Norman takes his medication. Distraught that his confession is being questioned, he is unable to keep his doppelganger away. She angrily appears and tosses him to the floor. After forcing him to puke up the pills, she cuddles him and soothingly tells him that the world is cruel place undeserving of his kind soul. She then knocks him out cold on the corner of the stainless steel commode to remove him from the situation. At this point, Norman as we know him is gone….at least through the end of this episode. Possibly through the end of this series. And while we’ve grown accustomed to “seeing” Norma as Norman, she is now wearing his clothing, a step toward a deeper merging of both personas. Our views of Norman smoothly transition between the physical forms of male and female – so fluid that Norman’s reflection in the holding cell window has long, blonde hair. For crying out loud, what do I even call this incarnation going forward? How about “Norman”? Sure. Let’s go with that.
For those us still reeling from last week’s merging of 1960 and 2017, Episode 7 coaxes us back with the iconic close-up of a lifeless, dilated pupil on the bathroom floor of Room #1 at the Bates Motel. We are now presented with the new reality we had 7 days to forget: the Norma we see is a coping mechanism created by Norman who just happens to look like his mother. Don’t get me wrong – it’s not like I thought Imaginary Norma was really Norma but….it feels different. Now that the secret is out, she has no more boundaries. She does not have to pretend to be anyone but Norman’s protector at any and all costs. And while Norman still refers to her as “Mother”, he is projecting fewer restrictions on her. He is giving his alternate psyche the same freedom of personality she had back in Norman’s pre-orphan blackout days. Only this time, he is aware of the inner workings of their special relationship. Let’s see where this goes…
Let’s jump right into the water here. Marion Crane checks into the Bates Motel on her own (as Marie Samuels, that is) with more than enough cash to take care of the debt her lover claims is keeping them from living happily ever after. Marion is understandably disoriented by the crime she just committed. And as if the next steps of her life weren’t dubious enough, she finds herself eating a late night ham sandwich in the Bates Motel office surrounded by stuffed birds. Despite the motel manager’s lascivious stares, Marion is polite and appreciative. She knows she that being in White Pine Bay is one step closer to a hopeful future with her boyfriend. But when Sam finally calls her, she hears a woman yelling in the background and then a dial tone. (Well, not really a dial tone but you get the effect.) Waiting for Sam to call back, Marion decides to take a shower…in Room #1…with Norman watching from the office peephole. Gulp. Just when I have no more nails to bite, the shower curtain is ripped open!…by Marion, who has decided Sam is not going to get away with his lying liar lies. She finds Norman in the office straightening the wall art and flirts her way to Sam’s address. Unfortunately, Norman lets her in on the little secret that Sam has been deceiving both Marion and his wife Madeleine. She doesn’t want to believe the truth but witnesses it for herself as she watches Sam and Madeleine fighting through the front window of their home. Marion introduces a crow bar to Sam’s car windows before speeding back to the motel. She feels foolish and defeated, having been neglected and taken advantage of her whole life. She finds comfort in Norman when he checks in upon her return from the Loomis house. Despite feeling frightened and forsaken, she heeds his advice to start a new life. She hugs Norman, leaves behind everything but the money, and burns rubber – tossing her phone out the window along the way. Adieu, Marion. Don’t forget to write.
Let’s talk about the elephant in the room. But instead of a gargantuan tusked pachyderm, let’s make it a Barbadian bombshell with hypnotic hazels. Rihanna effortlessly delivers Marion Crane in the broad sense of the classic character: she’s seductive, elusive and totally committed to a better life with her beau Sam Loomis. She is preyed upon in the workplace and quick to fake sick to stick it to the scumbag who flaunts his cash as a pickup line. A&E’s “Bates Motel” owns the rest of THIS Marion Crane. Unaware that her boyfriend is already married, criticized for her lack of education and, most importantly, already a past guest at the Bates Motel, Rihanna brings a coy angst to a character who is redefined in this century. As show creator Carlton Cuse told Vulture, “Fundamentally, it was not going to be possible to make Marion Crane an empowered woman of 2017 if she just died in the shower.” (http://www.vulture.com/2017/03/bates-motel-casting-rihanna-marion-crane.html)
If Driver A is traveling south at a distracted speed while Pedestrian B is running north at an equally distracted speed, and the two collide, how revolting will it be to find that Pedestrian B is dead as a doornail? And so begins Episode 5, with Chick standing over the roadkill of Caleb, confirming what I (unsuccessfully) willed was not going to happen in last week’s review. I whimper yet part of me is relieved. An already simple and impetuous man, Caleb would not have survived a world without Norma and Dylan. He would have self-imploded – killed or been killed in a short matter of time. Upon being released from the basement, he cried, “I don’t know what to do. I don’t know where to go.” That decision was serendipitously made for him. Godspeed, Calhoun.
Did you ever get the feeling that you know something you’re not supposed to know? And then next thing you know, you’re in the thick of it….this secret cosmos you weren’t supposed to know about suddenly and openly playing itself out? So begins Episode Three, breaking down the fourth wall we have hidden behind until this point.
We pick up exactly where we left off with Caleb recovering from his bash upside the head and Norman still in his wig, frock and high heels. (Go, Freddie Highmore for working those pumps better than I ever could.) Our heart crumbles at the sight of Caleb, beaten both physically and mentally, as he regains consciousness handcuffed to a support beam in the basement. His blow to the noggin allows him to see his sister for a moment until she morphs into his demented nephew. Before the closing credits, we see the character of Caleb in all his glorious dichotomy. Bound to a pole through the majority of the episode, his physical strength is robbed from him and we are left with a weak, fragile man. He has always been incapable of accepting his relationship with his sister but his love for her is unrivaled. Enraged and unable to negotiate his release, Caleb drifts through dreams and flashbacks that are horribly intertwined with the reality of Norma’s death. Pure anguish personified. Norma-via-Norman visits Caleb and tells him that both her son and her brother are in love with her and therefore, the three of them cannot live happily ever after. This is the final push for Caleb who now no longer sees Norman’s face but that of his adoring sister. He professes his love while holding her hand and goes to a place beyond despair – a place with no sister, no son, no purpose.
To quote the esteemed Chick Hogan in the final line of this week’s episode of Bates Motel, “Holy shit.” We are pulled deeper into how the world of Norman Bates – and the greater White Pine Bay area – has been functioning since the untimely demise of everyone’s favorite mother.
Norman’s interactions with those outside of the home begin with a determined confidence. He boastfully visits an incarcerated Romero to flaunt that he’s alive and well. And despite additional threats from his stepfather, Norman manages to maintain those fluttering blinks that sweep the bridge between his sanity and psychosis. When he conveniently bumps into Madeleine at the coffee shop across from her hardware store, Norman appears to be engaged behind his semi-paralyzed grin. He declines Madeleine’s offer to set him up on a date but bounces back once he learns it will be a double date (or a ménage à trois?). Norman exhibits a never-before-seen machismo when he meets Madeleine’s husband Sam Loomis when they both immediately recognize each other in their roles as Hourly-Rate Room #1 Guest and Motel Desk Clerk. Norman maintains his bobblehead superiority even when Sam threatens to kick his butt if his wife learns about last week’s afternoon delight.
With three sparkling 2017 People’s Choice Awards in hand(Favorite Cable TV Drama, Favorite Cable TV Actor (Freddie Highmore) and Favorite Cable TV Actress (Vera Farmiga) Bates Motel returned for its fifth season on February 20th. At the San Diego Comic-Con last July, the show’s panel “officially” announced that Season 5 will be the end. We have known this for a while, with executive producers Carlton Cuse and Kerry Ehrin professing their 5-season vision all along. And according to Ehrin, “It’s going to be cathartic as shit. Bring your tissues.” (Yahoo!TV)
Recap by: Lady Bastard
Synopsis: Norman upholds his promise to help Bradley; Norma skirts conventionality to keep Norman close and safe; Sheriff Romero attempts to keep the peace about town
Summary with SPOILERS: Bradley confesses to Norman, who stashes her in the basement while he plans her escape from White Pine Bay via hair dye, sunglasses and a bus ticket to Boise. When Norman cannot break away to drive Bradley to the bus station, he calls Dylan, tells him the entire saga and asks him to take her to catch her ride. Sitting in the diner waiting for the bus, Dylan easily convinces Bradley to write a staged suicide note in order to keep her safe from the guys looking for Gil’s murderer.