Bates Motel, Season 2 – “The Box”

bates motel - the box - norman in box

bates motel - the box - norman in box

“What’s in the box? What’s in the box?”

It was never a mystery about what was in the box, unless you’re talking about Norman’s alter ego (or caged psyche). And while that reveal was intense and wonderfully executed, it was also remarkable how everyone’s storyline, and everything this season has been working toward, converged in this penultimate episode of Bates Motel, Season 2. The thread that ties it all together is Dylan, with a little support from Norma and Nick Ford.

Throughout Season 2 there’s essentially been three worlds: the Bates’ world, the drug world, and White Pine Bay. At this point, so near the end of the season, it’s a little unclear what purpose Caleb and Cody played, other than to show us the increasing frequency and severity of Norman’s blackouts. And, of course, the violence that he’s capable of. Nonetheless, worlds collided.

As we left off last week’s episode, “Meltdown,” Norman had been kidnapped while Norma spent the night at George’s. When she returns home in the morning she discovers that Norman is gone and his room is untouched. Shortly thereafter, she receives a call from Nick Ford, who tells her that he has Norman and that Dylan will have to do what he asked him to do if she ever wants to see Norman alive again.

From this point on Norma is an emotionally charged panicked mess. It was both hilarious and heart wrenching to see her silently jumping up and down and screaming at the security camera at Dylan’s. But when she does get Dylan’s attention and tells him what’s going on (“we have 24 hours… and that was 30 minutes ago!), she’s more than willing to help Dylan do whatever it is that needs to be done… until she learns that it involves Dylan killing Zane. He demeanor visibly changes as she realizes the consequences of what it means to kill someone, but she’s still determined to have it done to save her beloved Norman.

While the parental love between Norma and Norman might be slightly left of center, it’s true that parents will do anything to protect their children.

It was a bit humorous how Norma tried to blame Dylan for Norman’s predicament, especially after last week’s confrontation with Ford in which he told her that she is beholden to him, but that she’s “just too ignorant to know it.” She surely knows it now, as she quickly shifted gears when Dylan put the blame back on her for getting involved with Ford, but she definitely doesn’t want to accept the responsibility of it. Is that guilt though? Or is it fear because she knows how dangerous Norman can be and what this stress might do to him?

Actually, the stress of the situation does do something to Norman. First we see Norman’s “inner mother” consoling him in his fear, telling him, “I’m always with you,” and to think of her when he’s scared. That, by itself, wouldn’t be a bad thing. It might very well be a voice we all have to some degree or another. But with Norman, that “inner mother” combines with a very evil part of him to create an evil inner mother.

The second look into Norman’s mind takes place on the night his teacher, the late Miss Watson, picked him up as he walked down the street in the rain. This inner mother sequence reveals to us beyond a shadow of a doubt, because we were never 100% certain, that Norman did kill Watson. Why? Because his inner mother, appalled by the fact that an older woman successfully seduced her son, told him to do it… though not in so many words. The shock of the revelation snaps Norman out of the “vision,” and now he’s aware of his alter ego. Oh, how interesting a future Norman will be.

A ton of other stuff happened in “The Box” as well, since the episode didn’t exactly focus on Norman.

As I said, world’s collided in this episode. Bending to Ford’s demands, and Norma’s pleas, Dyan does go to kill Zane. First, however, he has to find out from Jodi where her brother is holed up. Apparently she’s OK with her brother getting offed. But when Dylan arrives at Zane’s hideout, he discovers that Zane is heavily protected and doesn’t trust him. To get out of the situation, Dylan basically has to swear allegiance to Zane.

Murder plot botched, Dylan goes to inform Ford of the situation, and in the ensuing conversation he presumably kills Ford. It’s hard to believe that just after Ford’s henchmen presented him with his daughter’s necklace and newspaper clipping found in Norman’s pocket that this storyline would be dropped. So, what will become of this incriminating evidence?

Romero has a hardon for Norman. In addition to pressuring Norma to question her son, he’s gone to his father’s ex-partner, who’s an expert at administering a polygraph test, to ask him to give Norman a lie-detector test. The test is to be conducted under the radar since someone else has been convicted for Watson’s murder, but Romero just needs to know the truth.

It was pretty impressive how Norma, despite her panic and her numerous frantic calls to Norman’s voice mail, that she was able to hold off Romero for as long as she did. In the end, though, she tells him of the situation, but it’s only too late since Dylan had just killed Ford… or at least rendered him pretty damn unconscious.

Less impressive was Norma’s cold acceptance of poor Emma’s two-week notice after she expresses a heartfelt desire to be included in the Bates family. You could tell that Norma had made an emotional disconnect when Emma said that she was quitting, and you know that she’s acting in what she feels is the best interest of Norman, and not in the interest of her heart — because she adores Emma.

Odds and ends:

-Norman: “You must have gotten the wrong person. I go to high school.”
-Dylan is probably the most sane and honest person on the show, despite his shady career choice.
-Norma: “… that was 30 minutes ago!”
-Will Romero be able to give Norman the polygraph test?
-Will Romero find Ford dead? And will he find the necklace and newspaper clipping?
-Is it me, or is George pretty desperate?
-What will Norma say to Norman about his having sex with Watson?
-How will Norman be found?
-What will Norman’s return home be like?
-Norman: “Noooooooo!”
-What will the new Norman be like?

Rock Hard \m/

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