Recap by: Lady Bastard
Synopsis: Norman spends some quality time alone; Norma and Dylan join forces; Romero searches for the truth.
Summary with SPOILERS: Norma tiptoes back home after her sleepover at George’s house. She is unable to find Norman in the house or by phone. During her umpteenth left voicemail, she tells him to cut the shit or she’s going to report him as a missing person. Norma receives a call from Nick Ford telling her he has kidnapped Norman because he is tired of being dicked around. He tells Norma that if Dylan does what he’s been asked to do in the next 24 hours, Norman will be returned to her. Ford warns her that if she tells Romero about his demands, Norman will be dead. Norma charges to Dylan’s office and insists that Dylan do what he’s been asked, even after she learns that it means murdering his boss. While waiting for things to unfold, Norma leaves a voicemail for Norman telling him that she loves him more than anything on Earth or in heaven. George visits Norma at the motel office with flowers and a grin. When he kisses her from behind, she loses it and yells that people like him sit in their playhouses with no real troubles judging everyone else. He denies this but she kicks him out regardless, only to run after his retreating car hollering her apologies.
Emma confronts Norma and Sheriff Romero about keeping her in the dark. When she lashes out at Romero that she is sick of everyone ignoring her, he tells her she should take a break and get some fresh air. Feeling excluded from the family she once felt so close to, Emma gives her 2 weeks notice to Norma. Norma accepts the resignation and tells Emma that they’ll miss her while closing the front door, confirming Emma’s alienation. Emma sticks around eavesdropping in the parking lot and is able to offer comfort to Norma when a jilted George burns rubber.
Romero meets his father’s ex-partner at a diner and asks him if he’ll run a polygraph test on a teen about a murder – off the record. He tells him that he’s put another man in jail for the murder and that he just needs to know the truth. When the elder lawman points out that sometimes the legal system has flaws, Romero mocks that if he followed the letter of the law, White Pine Bay would be boarded up. Romero visits Norma and asks to see Norman, whom he is told is very sick and asleep. He tells Norma about the DNA /Blair Watson and insists that he see Norman as soon as he’s awake. When Romero returns and charges upstairs to speak to Norman, Norma tells him the truth about the kidnapping and ultimatum from Ford. Romero quickly leaves, telling a broken yet trusting Norma that he will take care of it.
Dylan visits Jodi and demands Zane’s location after learning of Nick Ford’s ultimatum. When Jodi hesitates, Dylan reminds her that she gave him the green light to do what needs to be done. Dylan arrives at the Morgan hideaway under the guise of bearing groceries only to discover that Zane is being kept safe by three armed cronies. Zane is suspicious of Dylan and tries to get him to confess his true feelings of disapproval of Zane’s leadership. He orders Dylan to convince Jodi that they need to get Nick Ford off the map and sends him off with his emptied weapon. Dylan goes to Nick Ford’s house, apparently invited, and tells him that Zane was too guarded for him to get close enough. He reveals Zane’s exact location, telling him that Nick will have to go up there with a bunch of guys for a shootout. When Dylan confirms that he can be of no more help working alone, Ford directs him outside with the barrel of a gun as his guide. Dylan complies, then turns and attacks Ford, starting a fight that ends with Dylan cracking him across the face with a fireplace poker. He throws himself onto Ford and shouts for Norman’s whereabouts, only to discover that Ford was killed by the blow. He bolts out the back door before anyone responds to the ruckus.
Norman is brought to a dark field in the pouring rain, unsuccessfully attempting to convince his handlers that they’ve got the wrong guy. He is tossed into a metal box with cracks and openings in the sides where he spends the night and morning screaming for someone to help him. Daylight comes and Norman lies in the box with a traumatized smile on his face reciting Gary Cooper’s speech from “Meet John Doe”. When his kidnappers come to check on him with a sandwich and some water, he tries to take off but is recaptured. During the tackle, Blair Watson’s obituary and pearls fall out of Norman’s coat pocket onto the ground. Norman offers no explain and gets tossed back into the box. Night falls and Norman slips into the corners of his mind, seeing visions of his mother assuring him that everything is going to be alright. As he remains in the dark box covered in cold rain, Norman falls further into a subconscious state and dreams of the night of Blair Watson’s murder. Scenes of Blair’s seduction of Norman reflect in her bedroom mirrors as the voices of Norma and Norman argue over Blair’s intentions. Norma has the final words when she tells Norman, “You know what you have to do.” He slits Blair’s throat, rinses the knife in the bathroom sink and snags the pearls. Norman snaps into consciousness and stares through an opening in the lid of the box, seemingly unsure of what he just experienced. Just as the viewer loses sight of Norman’s eye, his cry of denial thunders through the raindrops.
Opinion: Episode 9 is tight and neat, with each storyline staying right on topic. We learn that Romero is (at least) 2nd generation law enforcement and we are still teased by his motives. We see a pattern in Dylan’s survival instinct resulting in some serious damage. Norma is exceptionally distracted (what canoe?) but proves that she can uphold any and all facades when it comes to Norman’s safety. It was a no-brainer that Norman being locked up in that box under those conditions would incite delusions..Bruce Banner, anyone?
“Keeping the Creepy” Score: 5 – Norma’s appearances while Norman was in “The Box” earn this week’s score. “Everybody’s mother always lives inside of him.” Creepy. Predictable and cliché, but creepy. And another fabulous Hitchcock nod: the Norma/Norman morphing face flicker in Blair Watson’s bathroom mirror. They wouldn’t hurt a fly…