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Recap/Review: Bates Motel "What's Wrong with Norman" [Spoilers]

Quinn Banford ’15/Emertainment Monthly Staff

Max Thieriot in Bates Motel "What's Wrong with Norman". © 1998-2013, A&E Television Networks, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
Max Thieriot in Bates Motel “What’s Wrong with Norman”. © 1998-2013, A&E Television Networks, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Episode 3 of Bates Motel has more character development and even more plot development than the last episode. While plot development sounds intriguing and exciting, this episode finds more static than anything else. At this point in the show you won’t want to jump in without seeing the previous episodes, as the major events only matter if you’ve invested your time into these characters and the surrounding plotline. But I can assure you, if you’re on the edge of watching this show, it will be worth the time and effort because of how much is being packed into each episode. Don’t be dissuaded by the loose ends just yet.

We learn that Dylan has ganged up with the local drug trade, falling under the wing of a man named Ethan. They had met in a bar last episode and spoke about Bradley’s father (the man who was burned and crashed his car into a ditch). Now the two thugs are a team, guarding a large pot field, which coincidentally is the same one which Norman and Emma had stumbled across just the other day. Dylan’s involvement in this drug trade reveals the town’s tendency to shove things under the carpet. Here’s some important stuff to know that Ethan informs us about: 1) The drug trade is owned by a few families in the town, 2) The pot fields are worth millions of dollars, 3) The town is corrupt as all hell. For now, Dylan is just a pawn in the drug trade game, but his position is key for us viewers to understand the strange happenings in this small town.

While Dylan is living his life against the law, Norma is flirting alongside it with a sexual interest in one of the cops in town. She and the blond cop, Officer Zach Shelby (Mike Vogel), become closer after the Bates household is subjected to a search warrant. Unbeknownst to Norma, a belt from the man she murdered lay beneath Norman’s bed. Norman kept it as a keepsake, because who wouldn’t want to clean their hands of a suspicious murder? Since Norman is a dumb kid, he gets away with it. Actually, it’s because of Officer Shelby that neither Norma nor Norman get in trouble. Shelby found the belt and decided to keep it, because he has a little cop crush on Norma. This evidence is incriminating, and Norma appears to be worried about it. They have sex and another problem arises in the show. But hey, this town is small, and if you’ve ever heard of places like Twin Peaks or Smallville or Wisteria Lane or Sunnydale, you know that conspiracy is the only thing that keeps their worlds turning.

Norman Bates starts to lose control of his mentality. While in class he has a hallucination while he is supposed to be taking a test. In this surreal moment, he has the hots for his teacher, having visions of her bound up in leather, a BDSM kind of nightmare. He passes out and ends up in the hospital. We’re slowly watching Norman lose his mind. While in the hospital, Bradley visits him because her father is still in the hospital. Her father, we learn, will most likely not make it to the end of the season as his burns are pretty severe. When Norman gets out he goes back to school. Emma confronts him about the drama from last episode (where they came across the pot fields) and she then admits that she has an uber crush on Norman. Ermergerd, romance.  But Norman must not be digging it, because later on in the episode he freaks out at her. But before that happens, Norman and Emma go to the room where Norman found that notebook (the one with the pornographic images, remember?) and they match up Asian lettering from the book to the underside of a bathroom sink. Something strange is going on, and now we’re wondering what was going on in the Bates Motel before the Bates lived there. Slowly, the conspiracies unravel

Norman’s got 99 problems, probably more actually, and at the end of the episode he is sleepwalking over to Officer Shelby’s house to find that belt. It gets stranger. While he is snooping about, he ends up in the basement. Of all places, the basement is the place where nothing good happens. In television shows, the basement might have a murder operation table with excessive amounts of saran wrap laying around, a crack/meth/pot den, prostitute speak-easies, or chained up women. Well, Bates Motel finds itself dealing with the latter, and the episode ends with Officer Shelby arriving back at his wholesome household. Oh shit.

While a bit of a plain episode, the development of more tension keeps us fanboys and fangirls watching. We want to see Norman lose his mind. Honestly, he is a bit boring when he’s just another teenager. The dwindling mental state is my biggest interest and it will be interesting to see where it takes Norman and the rest of his world. Ignore the high school romances if you want to enjoy this show for its better aspects. Bradley is a lame character who fulfills the attractive high school girl quota, acting as the foil to Emma’s shining personality, who is clearly a better fit for Norman. Keep your eyes on Dylan (Ladies, you’ll dig him. Guys, you’ll think he’s a cool cat) because he’s fighting the law and is bound to get into some serious shenanigans. Norma and the cop are developing and they both have baggage to carry. Not some normal baggage, but some crazy weird illegal business that you’re not supposed to bring on airplanes, or anywhere for that matter. People in this town are crazy, but now it’s a race to see who loses their mind quickest. Stay tuned for next Monday @10pm on A&E for another night at the Bates Motel.

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