S3ep3 “Persuasion”

Original air date: March 23, 2015.

The opening shot of “Persuasion” I really like. It shows Norma walking down a dreary hallway at the medical examiner to identify Annika’s body, which turned up in the tidal flats at the end of the last episode. The mood is straight from classic horror, and it just exudes gloom, dread and despair.

I’m sure we’d all look somewhat different if we ended up on the slab under those circumstances, and yes the corpse looks a lot different in the face from the made-up and alive Annika. The way Norma gets sooo close to her face though! Norma, you’re less squeamish than I’d be around a real dead body. And for god’s sake, occasionally you don’t know when to shut up! First the comment about thinking it IS her from the toenail polish, then saying it isn’t her after getting more up close to her face. I think it would’ve been a hell of a lot better (and smarter) to have kept it to yourself about the toenail polish. Those contradictory statements are just going to stir up Sheriff Bulldog’s suspicions and place them squarely on you and Norman. That frankly frustrates me! Sometimes we think we’re helping when we’re truly making things worse.image

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Norman’s at home pacing impatiently in front of the hillside stairs when his mother gets home from the morgue. Apparently Norma threw up on herself in the car, which is looking pretty worse for wear between that and the damaged front bumper. Norman needs some convincing that it wasn’t Annika, though Norma just wants to put it all behind them. Adding to the stress, Norma’s starting her college class the same day. Norma, you’re gorgeous–quit worrying if you’re older than the other students; that doesn’t matter. Anyway, it does bring up a bit of a sad reminder what she missed out on due to the hell she went through over 20 years ago.

“It’s sad and it’s messed up, but it’s not our problem. So just stay out of it.”

I just know Norman won’t stay out of it though.

Who sits in chairs in a circle in a business marketing class? It looks more like an AA meeting. FYI: that happens to be my college major, and classes consist of everyone in lecture hall desks–a lot of us buried in screens. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t prefer it that way. But digression aside, I’m already not a fan of the professor for singling Norma out just because of the spot she’s sitting in. Dude, it was the only chair left, for fuck’s sake! She’s already nervous and feeling out of place enough as it is. But true to form, she tells him to go get another one; that’s the Norma I’m so fond of!image

Turns out, Norma’s in the wrong class–Psychology 101. Ironic and intended.

The next scene is unexpected. I wonder how many others thought for a second it was Annika, alive and somewhere else, getting into the sexy dress and lingerie. Turns out, it’s Emma. She’s going to get Norman into the next level, by whatever means necessary. The song playing in this scene is “Elephant” by Tame Impala. Get a load of some of these lyrics from it:

“You know that you’re dreaming about being loved by him
Too bad your chances are slim.” -Tame Impala

Very good fit. And I don’t just mean the dress on Emma.

Obviously I don’t own those. *Disclaimer on the home page, so chill your own ass about it :)

Anyhew, I feel pity more than anything else for Emma at this point. She’s still a sweet and naive girl, in a lot of ways. Having one previous (and brief) romantic relationship does not a grown woman make. Neither does one’s chronological age. She still believes there’s no real darkness in Norman, lingering under the surface. And she still (far as I can tell) believes there’s nothing beyond regular mother-son feelings under the surface of Norma and Norman. Ripple effects of this are going to happen; I can already tell.

Norman’s meanwhile watching as Annika’s car gets towed away. Romero goes back to the Arcanum Club and starts asking about the dead girl found in the tidal flats. He gets nowhere except stone-walled and reminded about the town’s loss of its main economy under his watch. His next stop is the Bates house, and it’s not a social call.
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“What’s the problem, Mother?”

Just like I figured, Norman’s under suspicion and the Sheriff wants to question him about the dead girl because Norma had mentioned he was the last one to see Annika alive. She tries the semantics game that recalls a scene from Season 1, but it doesn’t work. This time, Norman’s right there to intervene–which starts to bring a smile to my face. I swear, if Norma comes unglued and screams at Romero, I’m giving any episode where that happens four hearts out of five minimum–off that alone.

I also like how Norman’s acting more like a grown man than the boy he was in earlier seasons. He doesn’t need his mom there to speak for him, and he sends her back to the kitchen to finish dinner. Norma still listens in on them though, unable to help herself. Norman’s wanting to stand on his own feet now, and this tension erupts into a fight between them. Norman figures out exactly what Norma was doing at that party.

“I think one of us has a problem, and I’m tired of the assumption being it’s me.”

Emma ends up with a delivery of pot plants to deliver up to Dylan’s farm, which strikes me as a pretty funny (if awkward) situation. She also gets introduced to Caleb as Dylan’s uncle. Oh boy. She’s going to figure out Caleb’s really Dylan’s dad; I know it! And Emma can’t keep her mouth shut either, so Norma and Norman are eventually going to find out Caleb’s in town. I don’t care what she promises to Dylan.

Norma gets a deserved apology from the psychology professor who has the theory of “damaged upbringings.” Maybe Norma might get more out of trying therapy again; who knows thus far?

The dead girl gets ID’d as one “Lindsey Davis,” another escort. So it definitively isn’t Annika Johnson who’s dead, not that anyone knows for sure anyway at this point. Romero meets Marcus Young, his challenger for the upcoming sheriff elections. Game on.

George and Lenny..oops, I mean Caleb and Dylan, keep sparring over the lumber Dylan didn’t want Caleb to buy, but it gets bought all the same.

Norman confides in Emma that he and Norma had a fight, and that he’s frustrated over his mother’s micro-managing everything. The perceived lack of trust surfaced in Season 2, and here it is again–under slightly different circumstances, but it’s going to keep being a problem. Norman gets upset to the point it’s scary, storming away from Emma and glaring at his mother on his way up the stairs.

“I stayed in this world for you!”

I was watching this with my breath held: Norman in this state seems severely close to being dangerous, to Norma and to anyone else who tries to get near him. In the bathroom, his mental version of Norma surfaces as he draws a bath.

“Recreate the feeling of being trapped in a box.”
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Norma should really just leave him alone for a while and let him soak under the water. He’ll come out when he’s ready. OH MY GOD! There’s a flash in Norman’s mind of Norma swinging something at someone’s head..Is that..A BLENDER?!?!? She’s wearing the same clothes she had on the day Sam died. This is becoming more and more of a twisted labyrinth all the time, and we can increasingly apply our own version of reality–if we’re willing to mentally stretch it that far–to what’s really happened. Just when we the audience become certain it’s Norman who’s been blacking out and committing these murders..there’s a ghost of a chance it’s not..We’re unsure of our own memories, of what’s real and what’s not, of what really happened and what didn’t–in a way, just like Norman is. I feel like my own conclusions and even perceptions have once again been turned on their heads.
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As if we needed even more of a twist! Annika comes back, alive but shot. She hands Norma what looks like a flash drive before expiring. More secrets to be revealed…about who and what, exactly?

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The jaw-dropping events of this episode’s ending push it into 4.5 out of 5 hearts from me!
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