Monthly Archives: September 2014

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S2ep3 “Caleb”

Original air date: March 17, 2014

Strap yourselves in tight for this episode, it’s gonna be a wild, scary and emotional ride!

I wasn’t expecting the Bates Motel show writers to bring in Norma’s brother so soon; I figured it might happen in the future after a few more seasons, but that’s another reason I love this show so much. It can hit me in the blindside with a shocker I didn’t see coming. That’s not the easiest thing to do to yours truly, either.

Norma is an incredibly strong character who stands out from everyone around her, yet she’s strong while carrying around some part of herself that’s broken inside, broken because of the repeated rapes she suffered at the hands of Caleb back when they were teenagers. Actually, she was barely a teenager herself when he first started forcing himself on her. Sexual abuse like this within families is tragically all too real, and I feel enormous amounts of empathy for anyone who’s gone through this living nightmare. I don’t think anyone can live through that without incurring some serious emotional and psychological damage, the kind that never fully goes away. It might get compartmentalized, it might eventually be dealt with better, but it’s as permanent as the scar on Norma’s upper right leg. Every time I think about this horror she went through, my heart breaks for her all over again.

What in the hell possessed a teenage Caleb to start raping his sister? If there are some strains of evil in Norma and Norman’s family tree, this is a strong contender for being an origin of it.

When Caleb first shows up in White Pine Bay, he’s got (I would imagine) the entire fandom disliking, even hating, him for what he did all those years ago. But then that annoying rationalism and logic slowly start creeping in. There’s no solid evidence we yet know of that he raped Norma as she said. It’s essentially a case of “he said, she said.” And Caleb swears that Norma’s lying.

Before she learns that her brother has shown up, Norma gets some possibly hopeful news regarding her efforts to stop the bypass road. Nick Ford doesn’t want it built either, for reasons that aren’t yet clear–but at least she now has one ally. An ally who’s dangerous to anyone who crosses him, but she doesn’t know that yet.

Norma also gets the bad news that she didn’t get the lead in “South Pacific,” which had prompted Christine to quit directing the musical. At first, I like Christine. She tells Norma not to care or worry about what the town gossips say because they’re “just idiots with nothing better to do.” True, that–I’m sure. Christine also seems genuine and down-to-earth, even though she belongs to White Pine Bay’s upper crust. It seems nice Norma may have made a real friend.

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“I think you went through something terrible, and you handled it with incredible bravery.”

No truer words have been spoken about Norma–true in more ways than Christine could possibly imagine.

I imagine it’s due to Christine’s intensity, but there are fans out there who ship Christine and Norma. I make it my business to keep social-media-tabs on things like this *smirks. Hey, if Norma ever wanted to take a swing at bat for the other team, she could do worse. It just becomes more apparent over time that Christine has some ulterior motives, though I’m not entirely convinced it’s that kind of extracurricular activity, so to speak. It’s something, but we don’t have a clear idea of what.

Now that I’ve gotten that tangent out of the way, the first Bates family member to meet Caleb is Dylan. Given the past where he’s stepped in and saved Norman and Norma from dangerous individuals, I’m glad to see that Dylan’s suspicious of any stranger coming around looking for his mother. Yes, I noticed it too: he and Caleb have the same hair color. But that doesn’t automatically mean we have to conclude they’re father and son…right?

“So why don’t you just say what you want?”

Dylan never knew Norma had a brother until now; she’s gone that far in trying to bury the ugly past. But it won’t stay buried and the truth will come to the surface. The scene where she walks into the kitchen and Caleb gets up from the table: I still have a little stab of fear at that moment. I don’t think I’ve been that fearful for Norma since Keith Summers. Is Caleb going to get violent too? Turns out he doesn’t as she’s the one who rather violently throws him out. It’s like every nightmare Norma’s ever had just came to life, so I think it’s understandable she came unhinged. It’s remarkable to me she pulled it together that quickly in the aftermath.

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Some of the warmth I’ve felt towards Dylan is starting to freeze back over, though. He’s being a shitheel for not believing his mother about Caleb raping her. Even if Norma’s lied about other things, anyone with a heart and half a brain can see and feel her strong emotional reaction to this situation, and it doesn’t look to me like that can be faked. Not when it’s that strong.

Norman can tell something’s wrong when Norma does a 180 on the musical, saying it’s stupid like he originally did in “Shadow of a Doubt.” She reluctantly tells him about Caleb but then tries to minimize it, saying he’s gone and not to worry about it. I think “Norman, I’m trying to vacuum!” is a little much, Norma. Norman’s just concerned, he loves you more than anything, and it’s unfair to snap at him like that–in my opinion.

Someone else temporarily distracts Norman when he goes to drop out of the play: Bratty Cody Brenen. Honestly, this girl missed her calling and threw away her potential by dropping out of high school. The way she cross-examines people, she could’ve become a lawyer, a detective, or worked in the audit department of the IRS. Norman doesn’t seem to mind much (much less than I would), and he leaves with a job doing theater tech.

Dylan meets back up with Caleb and wants to know why Norma’s so mad at him, but he doesn’t get much in the way of a specific answer. Looks like Caleb’s possibly hiding something he doesn’t want to say.

“Yes, I’m all right. Stop asking me if I’m all right.”

This little scene with Norman and Norma hits a nerve with me. With that exchange, it’s like the show writers took a page straight out of the book of my own childhood. But anyway, Norma’s chilly demeanor tells him she absolutely does NOT want to talk about Caleb; she’ll talk about anything else with Norman, but not that.

I almost didn’t pay much attention to the beachside memorial Emma’s set up for Bradley, since everyone now believes Bradley’s dead. Yeah, Norma’s right: it is a sweet and lovely thing to do. They don’t have time to dwell much on that as Christine calls Norma and refuses to take “No” for an answer when she invites Norma to her garden party. They’ve known each other, what? one day? Seems awfully pushy this early on in any type of friendship.

As Norma tries to decide what to wear to the garden party, she gets a look at the inevitable reminder of what Caleb did: the scar on her leg. Dylan tries to get the truth out of her about why she was so upset, but of course she brushes him off. This exchange between them is rather sad to me; Dylan wants Norma to let him in, to let him be a real part of their family instead of such an outsider, but it’s not going to happen. Not the way he wants it to.
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“Something happened with you and your brother, Norma. What was it?”

Norma does pull it together and heads to Christine’s. It goes well, although she finds out Christine’s trying to fix her up with George–her own brother. Given Norma’s past history with men who’re interested in her, this is probably going to end badly at some future point. Something I’d like to know: Why is Christine so hell-bent on (right away) setting up Norma with her brother? What kinds of skeletons might be rattling around in that particular family’s closet? There always are some of those.

Dylan and Caleb seem to bond over dinner, though it’s creepy as fuck how Caleb says that he and Norma used to get “as close as two people can get.” In every way, Caleb? Is that a veiled confession there? He also goes on about how he hoped enough time had gone by for her to forgive him, though he only says it’s for failure to protect her from their dad. I still believe Norma, though. Dylan makes a rather ill-advised decision to front Caleb the money for his Costa Rica hotel venture.

It’s rather sweet and goofy how Emma meets up with Gunner at the beach memorial, gets drunk and ends up passed out in his motel room, after she manages to check him into one. The music playing at the memorial is “I Only Want You” by Eagles of Death Metal.

Norma meets Nick Ford on her way home from the garden party. I can’t help but like him for now, since he commends her for letting everyone have it at the city council meeting. I’m in agreement.

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With the ending of this episode, I was vaguely starting to suspect the horrid truth that’s going to surface between Norma and Dylan. But the way it’s set up doesn’t make it any less of a figurative blow upside the head. Although I might not always like what he says or does, I feel sad for Dylan because he really tries to understand Norma and give her sympathy for the hell she experienced growing up. Or what he thinks is that hell she experienced. He seems to want to bring everyone together as a family, as much as it can be done with all the emotional damage, because a family is something he never truly had. It’s not meant to be, and Dylan’s going to get a piece of news about who he really is–something that’d be so tough for anyone to process, let alone carry with them.

But even before the revelation, the tables get turned on Dylan with Norman–since Norman jumps him and beats him down to the floor. Quite a big difference compared to when Dylan overpowered and beat up Norman in season 1. All provoked by Dylan hurting Norma and refusing to believe her. He really does cross the line this time with what he says to her.

“I never had a choice in anything, and that includes being your damn mother!”

Caleb’s Dylan’s dad. And his uncle at the same time. With that issue of incest, the family terms can be a bit hard to wrap your head around at first–not to mention the awful revelation Dylan now has to face, How the hell is he going to deal with this? It’s something he’ll never be able to escape.

Just like its title, this episode has Caleb at its center–and this part of the story at least temporarily overshadows other threads of the storyline that are going on within the same time frame. But this is understandable with the bombshell that just got dropped on Dylan’s head. This is going to change everything with the dynamic between him, Norma, Norman and Caleb. We’ll have to wait until “Check-Out” to see exactly how.

4.75 out of 5 blue hearts:
4hearts .75