Previously on Bates Motel, ‘A Danger to Himself and Others’
Bates Motel went full slasher/horror movie and it was fantastic. Freddie Highmore’s portrayal of silent rage was terrifying. When he was questioning Norman about the groceries, I was ready to hand over some receipts to make it stop.
Now that Norman is himself again, he’s having memories of locking Emma’s mother (still very much alive and fighting) in the basement freezer, but he doesn’t see himself doing it. He believes it’s Norma’s actions.
The two spend the majority of the episode in a game of cat and mouse as Norma tries to keep Norman home and none the wiser that she plans to have him committed, and Norman attempts to catch her in a lie. When Norman finally confronts her about killing someone and hiding the body, he does so as a concerned son. If Norma will just admit what she’s done, he can get her the help she needs. This was a masterful role reversal as Norma has tried this very thing with Norman before.
On the flip side, Norman’s questions only alert Norma to the fact that her son has killed again. She assumed Emma’s mother checked out. With the freezer empty, Norma suspects he hid the body in the pit where she’d planned to install the pool. With Norman keeping a close and creepy eye on her, she has little time to investigate.
Romero drops by to apologize for turning down Norma’s marriage proposal, and he realizes that Norma is frightened of Norman – despite her claims that she’s not. He takes a sizable portion of his hidden money to Pine View, where he bribes his way into getting Norman a spot. He then calls Norma with the good news and says he will marry her. Norman can get admitted to Pine View soon, unless he’s a danger to someone else or himself. Norma lies and says he isn’t. Since Norman is 18, he’ll have to sign the forms, but Norma wants some time to ease her son into the idea of going into treatment.
Too bad Romero had the forms faxed to the motel like it’s 1991, and Norman sees them.
Believing that his mother is trying to have him committed for her crimes, including killing his father, Norman terrorizes her first by yelling at her after she cooked him a lovely turkey pot pie (rude!) and later by threatening to shoot her with her own gun (super rude).
Norma leaves a message for Romero saying she changed her mind about that whole “not being a danger” thing, and then confronts Norman in the basement… with a giant butcher knife hidden behind her back.
Even when Norman starts talking about killing her and them himself, Norma makes no move to use the knife. Thankfully, before anyone could get hurt, Romero arrives to take Norman to the county mental facility. Norma tearfully begs Norman to sign the papers so he can go to Pine View instead. Surprisingly, Norman signs.
Bates Motel S4E2
I can’t remember an episode of Bates Motel that felt more like a horror film than this one. Freddie Highmore was downright terrifying yelling into Vera Farmiga’s face. He went from having genuine (and creepy) concern that Norma might be a murderer to murderous outrage at thinking she was trying to frame him, and finally to sad acceptance that his mother and he needed to die, all with frightening ease. In turn, Farmiga really sold being terrified and heartbroken at the same time. And when Norma used the fact that Norman seems to be in romantic love with her just so she might have a chance of taking the gun from him, it made me so uncomfortable – like I was watching a true moment between a defeated mother and her troubled son instead of actors in a scene.
It was a nice surprise that Emma’s father wanted Dylan to be with his daughter now that she has a future, even going so far as to advise Dylan to stop selling pot. Not just because Emma is too good to be with a drug dealer, but because Dylan is too good to be selling illegal drugs. It was the precious look on Dylan’s face after being told he matters that has me convinced that man is going to die soon.
Oh, Can Romero and Norma just hook up already?