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'Bates Motel' recap: 'Unbreak-Able'

Emma and Norman spend some time on their own, while Dylan’s relationship with his parents continues to grow. Meanwhile, Romero unearths new clues about the mystery of Annika Johnson.

Posted on

James Dittiger

Bates Motel

TV Show
Mystery and Thriller
run date:
Vera Farmiga, Freddie Highmore
Current Status:
In Season

Raise your hand if you thought Annika Johnson was going to make it. (No? Just me?)

Look, I’m not saying that she won’t pop up in flashbacks, which seems increasingly likely. (And Tracy Spiridakos would have not been billed as a “recurring” character if this and the premiere were her only two appearances.) And obviously, whatever she gave Norma is an essential part of this season’s story line, not to mention something that will have a hand in defining the relationship between Norma, Norman, and Dylan. But I really thought that after last week, we would open assuming the worst, only to have the writers pull the rug out from underneath us. Surprise! She lives after all!

But, this is Bates. Death (and taxidermy) comes with the territory. And Annika is very much dead. Norma tries to protect this fact from Norman, who ends up finding out about Annika after being woken up by all the hoopla. Naturally, he’s unsettled, because now he’s unsure again—did he kill Annika, after all that? Norma assures him that he’s totally clean this time, considering the circumstances, and the fact that Annika was clearly shot when he wasn’t around.

Romero, though, questions Norma incessantly, even after she defends her son. He finds it odd that Annika would come to the motel specifically after being shot and is convinced that there’s something Norma’s not telling him. It’s an entirely heated moment between Normero, and one that leaves the two on less than cordial terms. Four episodes in, and we’re in a very different place than we were even an episode or two ago, when Norma clung to Romero and looked at him like a safety net.

In the safety of her room, Norma takes Annika’s flash drive and attempts to figure out what its contents are. But that would be too easy. Turns out the file is password protected, and nothing works. Not ANNIKA, not JOHNSON, not even SEXCRAZED. (High five for that one, Norma.) This is the point in which the flash drive takes over Norma’s life, basically. She tries to get a random computer nerd in a coffee shop to help her, but the program is apparently so good, the guy can’t override it. And when Professor Finnegan catches Norma later in the library, she’s in the computer section, looking for books on hacking.

But we’ll get back to that meet-cute in a sec. For now, let’s focus on the fact that even though Annika’s death was not Norman’s fault, he’s still not over his mother’s treatment of him in last week’s episode. And he’s doing his best to be as “defiantly moody teenager” about it as possible. During a study session with Emma (they’re really taking school seriously on Bates, which is more than I can say for other shows… looking at you, Once Upon A Time), he inappropriately starts making out with her for no reason after Norma sees them. While Emma apologizes, Norman is as caustic as ever, a strained moment that comes to a head later on when Norma catches Norman preparing food for a picnic. She rightfully assumes that her sweet son is preparing a picnic for her, until Norman says it’s for Emma, who has suggested that due to the stress of Annika’s murder, they should take some time for themselves. Norma thinks that he’s using Emma to get back at her for being close with Dylan, which leads to another argument, as Norman thinks she’s trying to make it all about her. Norma goes one step further, forbidding Norman to sleep with Emma, lest he hurt her. Norman pretty much ignores this warning, but as we’ll later see, even underneath all his anger, he’s still carrying his mother around with him. Everywhere.

Meanwhile, the mystery of Who Killed Annika Johnson continues. Romero finds out that she was shot at least 20 minutes before she got to the motel, and even more interestingly, that the car Annika was driving wasn’t registered to her… but rather, to the other girl who was recently murdered. Our intrepid sheriff makes a visit to Bob’s house, because two dead girls in two days with links to his club isn’t exactly something he can ignore. Bob isn’t so forthcoming with information, though he does bait Romero by asking if Annika had anything on her. (He doesn’t, however, hint about what he might be looking for.) In any other situation, this would make Bob more suspicious, but instead, it sends Romero straight back to obsessing over Norma’s involvement. When Norma catches him at the motel going through Annika’s belongings, he calls her out for lying, because he’s sure she’s hiding something. Norma, in turn, calls him out for lying. “I’m not lying,” Romero explains. “I’m not revealing everything. That’s my job.” Ah, the trials of love. (But really, Bates…don’t make Normero sad!)

Romero goes to interview a girl who apparently knew Annika and Lindsay, the other woman who was murdered. The girl opens up about how involved Lindsay was with Bob, to the point where the friend was asked if she wanted to participate in a three-way. She didn’t, so someone else stepped in: Annika Johnson.

NEXT: Dylan and the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day