Monthly Archives: March 2015

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S3ep1: “A Death in the Family”

Original air date: March 9, 2015.

The premiere of Bates Motel Season 3 has a handful of promising things, a couple of new revelations, something I (sort of) saw coming, and something that doesn’t truly raise my eyebrows anymore. In the weeks leading up to the long-awaited new season, I was getting more and more anxious over two possibilities: 1) Norma would be murdered by the end of this season and 2) her hooking up with Romero would be the very-ill-advised root cause of that. At least my latter fear is temporarily laid to rest. Yeah, I am a die-hard NoRomo in that department. We’re just going to have to agree to disagree if you feel differently, and hopefully we can still be friends :) I’ve been debating publishing a page on here detailing all my arguments/reasons why. I’ll make that decision some time before the end of Season 3. Anyhew, the Sheriff has his hands more than full and may be dealing with threats to his own life from another source. Romance is usually the last thing on anyone’s mind when they’re in that situation.

We learn Norma’s mother was still alive up until now, and her name was Francine. Thank you, writers! But this is the saddest part of the story so far, and my heart’s breaking for Norma by the end of the episode. Her mother was sedated most of the time as Norma lived through the hell of her rapist brother and abusive father, never there for her, never doing a damn thing about any of it. I’m venturing some mental illness was the underlying cause–seems to run through this family in various forms. Norma coolly dismisses the lawyer who calls her about Francine’s estate, but the news wears her down emotionally by the end of the episode. As much as she’d built up those mental defenses over the last 20 years, they slowly crumble as Norma realizes she never truly had a mother, and now that door is closed forever. One single positive memory Norma has: her mother talking about wearing a blue ribbon in her hair to a high school dance. Norma always hoped Francine would turn back into that happy person. But it never happened.

Norma tries to minimize it when she tells Norman his grandmother died, and Norman’s immediately concerned even though he must never have met Francine if Norma hadn’t spoken to her in 20 years. He wants to stay home with his mother, also looking for a concrete reason to stay home from the first day back to school. I can’t say I blame Norman for never wanting to go back to school after Blair Watson’s death. Even though Norma doesn’t want him to make a scene as he refuses to get out of the car, she ends up making one herself as she yanks open the door and pulls him out. True to form, and this is some of the spitfire Norma I know and love.
Unfortunately Norman isn’t totally alone at school as he has a vivid hallucination (or hey, maybe it’s her spirit) of Ms. Watson sitting next to him in the cafeteria, talking about T.S. Elliot until she starts to bleed from the slashes in her throat. A throwback of sorts to Season 1 as Norman runs out of the cafeteria and up the school stairs, spurred by the sight of blood. Except this time it’s all in his head, and this time he keeps running all the way back home. Obviously Ms. Watson is no longer there in physical form to tell him he needs a pass.

For the record: As far as the existence of ghosts, spirits, souls, whatever you what to call them, some part of us that can survive physical death and sometimes walk among us: I do believe. I could write a whole other post about why. But that’s another story for another time.

Anyway, Norman no longer hides his vision/possible precursor to a black-out from Norma. He tells her everything after he bursts into the motel office. I think this is a hopeful sign. They’re no longer keeping secrets from each other about it and trying to deal with it–the best they can, anyway.

We meet up with Sheriff Romero as he and a DEA agent watch 27 of White Pine Bay’s pot fields being burned. WHAAT?!! How did this happen? The last time the town’s economic livelihood was disrupted, a blood-soaked drug-family war broke out. This is an anti-climax by comparison. I had a feeling the weed industry in White Pine Bay was going to be shaken up somehow, probably because of legalization–since you often can’t flip through the current news without hearing something about that debate. imageimageimage

I was about halfway right. The feds come in, shut in all down in their perfunctory way, pat Romero on the shoulder, and tell him he must be a happy man now that the “trash” is gone. If only the DEA knew the whole truth. What’s interesting to me: this is the first time we see the outside world–in the form of federal law enforcement–encroaching on the insular world of White Pine Bay. I’ve been exploring the same theme in my fan fiction, along with the substantial ripple effects everyone feels from it. Interesting..

It appears Romero and Dylan might clash in this season, since Dylan is done with being a drug boss and wants to start his own pot farm for people who need medical marijuana. He’s going to do it the legal way, though (ironically) Romero isn’t happy about this and warns him that he won’t be protected from the former drug-family workers who are still hanging around, righteously pissed off their livelihood is no more. I see some serious trouble coming for Dylan, and he’s well-advised to watch his back. Speaking of watching, his father’s back in town and has been watching him. Caleb now has no family now that Francine’s passed away, and all he wants is some kind of relationship with his son. It’s rather sad and pitiful on one hand, but on the other: he raped Norma over and over–now he even admits he’s Dylan’s father as a result! Can anyone blame Dylan for not wanting a thing to do with Caleb? I sure as hell don’t!

Norman and Norma have been sleeping in the same bed. Not just sleeping, but spooning up with each other. Coming from this married woman, that’s a very intimate way to sleep with someone–emotionally as well as physically, and drifting off or waking up in that position feels like the best thing in the world with someone you truly love. This is likely going to set fans buzzing, but to be honest: It doesn’t disturb, bother, or even surprise me anymore. I know, what a weirdo, right?

But I’ve been on an existential journey of sorts, with my exhaustive research into this. It’s still ongoing as I find more documented accounts of it. Watching Norma and Norman’s rather intimate behavior towards each other now makes an almost insanely crystal-clear kind of sense to me, like watching puzzle pieces connect with each other when you didn’t even know those pieces were there before. That’s probably not the best analogy in the world, but it’s the closest I can come to explaining it.

Dylan’s become my (usually) third favorite character, but still: he needs to mind his own fucking business on this issue, in my opinion. They’re hurting no one. Yes, most people would argue it isn’t “healthy” mentally for Norman, but that’s fallacious as far as I’m concerned. Norman already has some serious problems going on in his psyche, and simply sleeping in the same bed with Norma is not likely to make a bit of difference one way or another. It’s going to take more than that to make him spiral down further. I’m with Norma: It’s not a big deal.

After the vision of Ms. Watson on the first day, I think it’s a wise decision that Norman does home-schooling to finish high school, and he’ll have Emma right beside him as they do their schoolwork from the motel office. The second-saddest part of the story: we don’t know how long Emma might have left, even as she says her death isn’t eminent. It’ll be interesting (and probably bittersweet) to see how their relationship progresses after Norman asks her to go out with him. Gunner is apparently far in Emma’s past as far as she’s concerned, not even worth a mention.

I’m not sure what I think about Anneika, the new character staying in the motel. She’s a call girl, which doesn’t elicit much reaction from me either–IMO to each their own as far as women who willingly choose that profession. What puzzles me is: does she really have that much clientele in a small town like White Pine Bay instead of the big cities? Apparently enough to make it worth the trip, although with the pot business down the drain, how much longer will all the rich men be willing to blow money on big parties? Time will tell, I suppose. Norman’s right; she does seem nice. Though it would be extremely stupid for her to try seducing him. I get the feeling that’s what’s going to happen, and it will end in a very ugly way.

Norma catches Norman spying on Anneika taking a shower (great Psycho foreshadowing!) and justifiably reams him for it. Yeah, he can’t be doing that–especially now as the new motel manager! I think the following scene in Norma’s bedroom is very sweet. He shows some of that remaining naivete as he mistakenly thinks she’s crying over his indiscretion, but it’s really over the fact she never truly had a mother. Now she’s also realizing Norman’s growing up, probably fearful she’s going to lose him too–at some point in the future. Lose him in what way? That could be any number of possibilities. But he promises her he’s not going anywhere. I think it’s safe to say that’s a promise he’ll do whatever he can to keep.

“Move over, you silly woman!”

Back in the same bed the two of them go. The ban on that lasted..what? One day? Not a surprise, either. But then again Norma’s so sad, and I feel sad for her. I’d imagine Norman does too. Who could really begrudge her some comfort in this situation? I know on some level it’s dictated that I’m supposed to feel uncomfortable about this, but…um, I don’t..

The ending of “A Death in the Family” sees Emma driving home and Norman driving back from the village in Anneika’s car after dropping her off on a client date. He said he was going to walk back after driving her, so why’s he driving her car back? We’ll have to see next week…

A few things that could’ve been explained better and explored more in this episode, but all around a solid start to Season 3. I know–when I want backstory and admittedly sometimes obsessive little details, I can go spin those out in fanfiction land.

3.75 out of 5: 3hearts