Last week I said that Norman better skin a cat pretty soon if Bates Motel was going to keep viewers interested. And in the following episode, “What’s Wrong with Norman,” Norman didn’t exactly skin a cat, but we did get to see some of his repressed (or emerging) character come to the surface.
At the same time, the town’s true character is emerging as well. The dark underbelly is more than just a marijuana industry that the police turn a blind eye to, and it’s not something from the past either, as Emma assumes it might be. This is a very real and ongoing evil that Norman discovers while on another mission.
The reveal that Norman has a split personality hit hard, dramatic emphasis being derived from the fact that his rage was directed at Emma, a fragile girl whom he likes. He likes her, but not as much as he likes Bradley. And all of his rage stems from his unnatural love for his mother and his need to protect her.
Norman’s desire to protect his mother goes beyond legal protection, but also that of honor. We saw this last week when Dylan has his caller ID say “Whore” when Norma calls and Norman flips out on him. This week, however, we learn that Norman has no recollection of it. Seemingly, Norman’s two personalities shift effortlessly, and the more evil of the two comes to the front whenever there’s a threat. This, of course, leaves the “good” Norman rocking back and forth, sobbing, “What’s wrong with me?” over and over again.
As disturbing as some of Norman’s character reveals were in this episode of Bates Motel, the most shocking might have been his imaginary conversation with his mother. Of course, this has been the most direct homage to Psycho so far in the series. It’s a little sad, though. As in a conversation I had with King Hazard, he expressed a notable lack of Hitchcockian influence on the show. And it’s true; there’s not even a cinematic effect that resembles the Master of Suspense. But of course we understand that not every episode in an entire season can be filled with suspense, but so far we’re three episodes deep and there hasn’t been much suspense. Like I said last week, the show is pretty linear.
I do like, however, how in this latest episode the showrunners played down Norma’s and Dylan’s evil arcs in order to draw attention to Norman’s and make him appear exceptionally disturbed. However, even his evil can’t exceed that of what lurks beneath at Deputy Shelby’s house.
Rock Hard \m/