Previously on Bates Motel, “The Body”
I’ve often raved about Vera Farmiga’s and Freddie Highmore’s performances in this series, but not enough has been said about the work of Max Thieriot and Olivia Cooke, who play Dylan and Emma, respectively.
Though Dylan was supposed to be the “bad one,” he consistently put others before himself, usually in attempt to fit in wherever he could in the close and unsettling relationship Norma had with Norman. Dylan showed compassion for Caleb even after learning how Caleb came to be his biological father, he got involved with an illegal deal with Chick to save Emma’s life, and he never stopped trying to connect with his own mother until he couldn’t take it anymore. And even that was done in the hopes that it might finally push Norma to get Norman the help he needed.
Now, he’s literally caught between his loyalty to his brother and his mother, and the commitment he’s made to Emma and their new family. Dylan has suspected for a long time that Norman was capable of murder, but he also knows this is because Norman suffers a mental illness that has received little to no treatment. While he’s disgusted by his brother’s actions, Dylan understands that Norman isn’t solely responsible for them. They can lock Norman up for life, but he needs psychological help as well. Thieriot impressively portrays Dylan’s inner struggle.
On the other side of his decisions he has Emma and their baby girl to consider. Emma’s reaction to the news that her mother’s murdered body had been found was understandable. She’s shocked, of course, but then she goes straight into caregiver mode; first towards her daughter, making sure Kate is with her father in Seattle, and then with the dead mother she never really knew. Emma goes through the motions of taking care of her mother’s remains in a daze, randomly blurting out the raw, honest, and painful truths sitting on the tip of her tongue. When Norman’s attorney, Julia Ramos, says she knows how Emma feels, Emma counters, “Oh, did your brother-in-law murder your mother?” At the funeral home, she inquires about Norma’s burial service and tells the morticians that “her son murdered my mother.” It’s almost as if she has to say it out loud in order to process that it truly happened.
Emma spends more time at Norma’s grave than she did spreading her mother’s ashes; she shows more emotion during the former as well. It’s possible Emma blames herself a little for inadvertently putting her mother in Norman’s crosshairs. She might also feel ashamed of having a more emotional response to Norma’s death. And it’s highly likely that she, like Madeleine Loomis, blames Dylan for not doing something about his brother sooner.
All of those are fair reactions and that’s why it was so heartbreaking to watch Emma and Dylan try to navigate those emotions honestly. They’re in love, married, and they’re parents, but Emma is forthcoming with her doubts that they’ll make it through this.
It’s a good thing for Norman’s sake that Dylan isn’t all he has; his attorney is pretty damn amazing. Julia Ramos (Natalia Cordova-Buckley) believes Norman is mentally ill and she’s one of the few people without an emotional tie to him that could get in the way of making sure he receives the medical attention he needs. She tries to impress upon Dylan the importance of humanizing Norman before the court. They’ll most likely see a monster and not a man suffering from an identity disorder. Every time Cordova-Buckley was on the screen I gained more respect for her as an actress and it makes me hope that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D will utilize her more.
Norman received two surprise visitors this week. First, Emma couldn’t go back to Seattle without looking Norman, the guy she once considered a friend and love interest, in the eye. However, she quickly realizes she’s not in the presence of Norman, and Mother has no intention of waking him up. Emma is left to ask that Mother deliver a message to Norman: “Tell him I miss him.”
Romero’s lust for vengeance is somewhat satiated after he learns of Norman’s arrest. He forces his way into the jail and Norman’s cell, leaving a few deputies locked up as he forces Norman to take him to Norma’s body.
This episode wasn’t filled with a lot of action or even the intense chills we’ve come to expect from this series or that we’d expect from a penultimate episode, but it did focus on the two people with any real shot of a happy ending: Dylan and Emma. They may not get one, but they certainly deserve one.