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Bates Motel “What’s Wrong With Norman” 

Photo Credit:A&E
Photo Credit:A&E

Norma Bates (Vera Farmiga) just wanted to move somewhere with her son, Norman (Freddie Highmore), to escape their past and make a fresh start.  White Pine Bay appeared nice, beautiful, had fresh air, and basically seemed like the perfect location for the two to get on with their lives.  Well, that’s until some super-strange events started happening in the town and “strange” meaning perhaps a little too eerie even for their own tastes.

The first event happened with Keith Summers before they even get their things unpacked.  Summers is pissed about losing the property to foreclosure and takes it out on Norma by brutally raping her.  Norman comes to the rescue, and both of them kill Summers right on Norma’s kitchen floor.  For whatever reasons that I still don’t understand yet, both refuses to contact the Police and dump Summers’ body in the bay.  After a couple of days and Norma’s squirrelly behavior, the Sheriff shows up at the Bates Motel with a search warrant.

Norma really isn’t worried much due to confidence in her own CSI abilities, but Norman is petrified because he kept Summers’ belt, instead of dropping it in the bay like the rest of his belongings.  I don’t know about the rest of the viewers, but this totally creeped me out more than anything.  I know killers often keep “trophies” of their crimes, but this stabbing wasn’t really a crime of Norman’s own – it was 100% self-defense, and plus, Norma was the one who actually killed Summers.  Regardless, Deputy Shelby (Mike Vogel) finds the belt, and now, Norma has to become his personal sex slave to keep the belt a secret.  Now, that’s one screwed-up situation.

This is where things get….well, interesting.  Norman doesn’t like the arrangement with the Deputy for two reasons.  First, it’s keeping his mother bound to this creep, Deputy Shelby, and as long as he and his mother remain in White Pines, it’s never going to stop.  Secondly, Norma’s late-night trysts with the Deputy is taking precious time away between him and his mother.  Nighttime is supposed to be the time for Norma and her son, not time with some creepy sheriff’s deputy who would blackmail a woman for sexual favors.  Norman decides to take matters into his own hands and steal the belt back.

What Norman finds in Deputy Shelby’s house isn’t the belt but something a lot worse.  We all remember the creepy journal that Norman found in the Bates Motel, right?  Yeah, the same one that Norman is so fixated on and the same one that Emma (Olivia Cooke) is also glued to, almost to the level of obsession.  Well, one of the Chinese girls depicted in the journal Norman finds chained in Deputy Shelby’s basement.  Holy crap!

This looks like the break Norman was looking for.  After all, maybe the Deputy will give him the belt back if he agrees to keep his mouth shut about the girl in the basement.  Well, there is one, big problem – how do we know that what Norman saw is real?  Ever since the Pilot, we have been trying to figure out who is the main antagonist in the show.  Is it Norma Bates, who may be having some kind of incestuous relationship with her son?  Or, is Norman the real problem, and how?  This episode is key in that we finally get to see that perhaps Norman is the one with issues, with the main one being his seeing people and things that do not exist.

Photo Credit:A&E
Photo Credit:A&E

So, the big question mark is: Is the kidnapped Chinese girl real?  Or, is it just a figment of Norman’s imagination?  That leads to even bigger questions.  What about other people in Norman’s life?  Are Emma and/or Bradley Martin (Nicola Paltz) even real?  For what it’s worth, I do think Emma is real, even if she is on the super-weird side.  If Norman wanted to create a girl in his mind, I think it would be one like an ideal, someone who is nearly perfect.  Emma certainly isn’t perfect… but Bradley is pretty damn close.  Hmmmmm…

For the most part, I thought this was a very good episode.  It explained the torching of the two men from the previous episodes, as well as the marijuana operation that was behind it all.  It also laid the foundation for the rest of the series with the realization that Norman, with his blackouts and memory loss, may be at the center of all of the strange events in town.  Well, everyone, welcome to White Pine Bay.

Bates Motel airs on Monday nights at 10 p.m. EST on A&E.

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