Tweetable Takeaway: Norman has trouble adjusting to the changes that occurred while he was away in #BatesMotel
On this week’s episode of BATES MOTEL, entitled “Unfaithful,” Norman starts to deal with all of the changes that have occurred in his life while he was away, and his inability to accept Norma’s marriage threatens the peaceful status quo that had developed in his absence.
After weeks of anticipating how Norman would react to learning about Norma and Alex getting married while he was away, last week’s episode felt like the calm before the storm. While Norman connived his way out of Pineview and returned home, eager to resume his place as the only man in Norma’s life, it was clear that the home he had left behind at the beginning of the season was no longer the same place he once knew. This week we got to see the storm approaching ever closer as Norman found out that Norma and Alex’s marriage, which was entered into solely to provide insurance for his treatment, had become very real in the intervening time and the two were now in love.
The first three seasons of Bates Motel saw the intertwining of Norma and Norman to the point of them being inseparable, which has made this season, which largely featured the two of them apart from one another, a breath of fresh air. Now that the two are together again, it’s evident that whatever indefatigable bond previously existed between them is no longer there and is never coming back. We see Norma and Norman sleeping together in her bed at the beginning of the episode, something they’ve done many times in the past. This time it’s not done out of an inability to be apart from one another, rather it’s done out of necessity, because their heater is broken and their house is freezing. And after spending the past several nights in bed with her husband, it’s obvious to both the viewer and Norman that this isn’t what Norma wants, no matter how convincing she tries to sound when she says that it is.
Norman is cognizant of this emerging distance between he and his mother and takes immediate steps to remediate the issue. He visits Alex at his office and thanks him for what he did, but informs him that his service is no longer required. Instead, Norman plans to get a job outside of the motel so he can get his own insurance, which will allow Norma and Alex to get divorced. Alex is uncomfortable, knowing that he and Norma had planned to continue their life together despite Norman’s return home, and afterward he tells Norma that she can’t keep stalling anymore about telling Norman the whole truth. She bristles at this, not wanting to be forced into a situation where she has to choose between her son and her husband, but it appears that the choice is inevitable.
Instead of telling Norman the truth right then, Norma pushes it further into the future, even though it’s unclear what she expects to change that could make the bitter news go down easier. In the meantime she plans for the family, including Dylan and Emma, to go out and get a Christmas tree for the house, but that event is spoiled after she learns about the plans that Norman made for her life without her consent. When Norman confronts Norma, she unloads on him, telling him that she’s not some doll for two men to fight over, finally admitting that she actually likes Alex, which causes Norman to vomit.
A little later in the episode, over an awkward dinner that Norma mediates between Norman and Alex, she makes it clear to Norman that she loves Alex and wants him to remain a part of her life, regardless of how Norman feels about the situation. While this is a great moment in which Norma stands up for herself against not just Norman and Alex, but all of the men throughout her life who have tried to control her, Norman’s accusations of hypocrisy that he then levies against her do hold some merit. Norman reminds Norma that it was she, not he, who shut everyone else out of their life and made him reject any form of love that didn’t come from her. Norma is entirely responsible for the codependence that she has fostered in him, and though she had the right intentions in seeking treatment for him this season, she’s managed to mishandle the dismantling of her relationship with Norman at every step.
After the dinner, there’s an incredibly tense moment in which Alex confronts Norman outside while he’s chopping wood to relieve his frustration. Alex tells Norman to consider his mother’s feelings for once, and throughout this scene I was on the edge of my seat, worrying that Norman was about to permanently remove Alex from his mother’s life. Thankfully, the situation resolves itself peacefully, with Norman chopping his axe into the house and proclaiming his hate for Alex without any bloodshed. Afterwards, Alex tells Norma that he’s moving back in with her because he’s afraid to leave her alone with Norma.
With only two episodes left, I fear that Alex will be the major casualty this season, although it remains to be seen whether his demise will come by Norman’s hand or if he’ll have to answer for his past crimes. Earlier in the episode, Rebecca Hamilton tried to flee town before the DEA caught up to her, but she’s apprehended at the airport before she can leave. The DEA tells her they know she laundered drug money for Bob Paris through her bank, and they pressure her to turn on her associates, including Alex. Nothing we’ve seen about Rebecca would suggest that she’d be willing to go to jail to protect Alex, so the odds are that his reckoning is coming soon one way or the other.
Elsewhere in White Pine Bay:
- There were some quality scenes with Dylan and Emma this week, most notably Emma finally visiting with Norman after the two have spent almost an entire season apart. I believe the last time the two had seen each other they had just ended their short-lived relationship, and now Emma is coming to see Norman before she leaves town to live with his brother in Seattle. Surprisingly, and in stark contrast to how he handled the news of Norma and Alex being together, Norman is very supportive of Emma and Dylan’s relationship, going so far as to say that the two are perfect together and that he’s surprised they didn’t get together sooner.
- Later, Dylan and Emma have sex for the first time. Though Dylan is reticent, out of fear of hurting her, Emma convinces him that she wants to do it. As far as we’re aware, Emma and Dylan should be out of the town and on their way to Seattle by next episode, so hopefully the two can get a temporary reprieve from the craziness that’s bound to occur between Norman and Norma next week, although I suspect they’ll have a reason for returning soon enough.
Eric Colasante | Contributor