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Moment of Goodness

Norma Admits Her Truth to Romero in Bates Motel “The Vault” 

Photo Credit: Cate Cameron/A&E Networks, LLC
Photo Credit: Cate Cameron/A&E Networks, LLC

Hey there. So, I’m going to barrel clumsily into this and hopefully come out the other side with a coherent point. I haven’t been wholly down with this season of Bates Motel so far, partly because by putting Norman into treatment, they’ve split his arc away from Norma’s, creating two separate tracks, which then sidelined the Emma and Dylan arc that snuck up on me and that I’d waited to return to.

I’m a fan of Norma with Romero, and as I said last season, I wanted them together if it wasn’t a rage thing, and we got there with a sort of needed favor that quickly turned into genuine affection, and tonight, they admitted they are in love with each other. But what got us there was a rape flashback–of two rapes committed against Norma by men she loved.

The first, with Sam, is a violent confrontation mirroring the brutal kitchen attack in the pilot, which Norman witnessed under the bed when his father raped his mother after she tried to take Norman and leave. He’s suppressed it all these years, but NotNorma reveals it in therapy.

The second rape, which has remained thankfully offscreen, of Caleb raping Norma when she tried to break up with him, comes slamming back into her life when Chick threatens to out Dylan’s paternity to Romero and all of White Pine Bay. For about a minute and a half, she entertains the idea of handing Caleb off to Chick to kill, until she calls Caleb, and he’s kind, and she remembers that somewhere, once, she loved him.

So she pulls a gun on Chick but doesn’t kill him, then tells Romero that she loves him, and he reciprocates. Chick arrives with the window, and in so many words, she reveals her truth in front of Romero and dares Chick to out her. Chick realizes he has no leverage, and he kisses her cheek goodbye.

A flummoxed Romero asks Norma to explain, and very quietly, and very calmly, and then a little less calmly, she does. She tells him about Caleb and Dylan and that she genuinely loved Caleb once, and she asks him if he knows how horrible it is to be raped by someone you love–which we know didn’t happen for her just once, or with one man–and he listens. She tells him he’s the first person she loved enough to feel that he was owed her truth. She finishes, telling him to go pack his bag, sure this will be the thing that sends him running away from her.

“Okay,” he says quietly, taking in all of her pain and guilt and love, and then, “Where are we going?” And everything about her lets go. She reaches for him and they hold each other.  She’s emptied her vault of all the terrible things she’s held onto and he accepts all of her.

We know what Romero is capable of as far as violence and rage go, and I seriously hope it’s never directed at Norma. I hope we’re done with raping Norma in the present and in flashbacks, and talking about raping Norma. I don’t need to see Norma treated that way again in any episode of the remaining season and a half. There was a trigger warning on tonight’s episode, as there should have been.

We knew something awful dissociated Norman. Now we know what it was. Let the good Doc figure out whether Norman can be stitched back together before NotNorma makes the decision for him, which could be construed as a threat against him or Norman, or both.

All kudos to Vera Farmiga and Nestor Carbonell for their scenes together tonight. I love that Norma and Romero have found each other, even if it’s only for a little while.

Bates Motel airs Mondays at 9/8c on A & E.

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