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'Bates Motel' recap: 'A Death in the Family'

Norman and Norma’s relationship intensifies, and a new motel guest brings a different vibe to the town.

Posted on

Cate Cameron

Bates Motel

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

For almost three years, we’ve seen tendrils of Psycho snake their way into the DNA of Bates Motel, teasing the larger story that we know has been hiding underneath Norman’s increasingly strange behavior and Norma’s deteriorating stability. Maybe the full transition could’ve happened sooner, but we needed the buildup, the shocking moments and the understanding of how Norman could go from sweet, innocent boy to disturbed teenager… so that when we finally did get to the meat of the series, it was something that felt deserved and warranted.

And so it’s fitting that our first shot of season 3 is Norman lying in bed next to his mother. If that doesn’t give off enough uncomfortable vibes, he turns over and starts cuddling her in a way that is obviously meant to make us shudder. It’s Bates Motel‘s way of telling us that it’s going to pull no punches, and also its way of welcoming us to a season that will no doubt be full of disturbing moments and images, as we wade deeper into the waters of Norma and Norman’s complicated relationship.

Dylan wakes up, and upon finding his brother and his mother in bed together, calls Norma out for not realizing how strange it is. Because it is strange to have an 18-year-old sleeping in the same bed as his mom, right? But Norma doesn’t think it’s weird at all (nor is she concerned) and tells him he’s overacting. Besides, this kind of thing happens all the time—they start talking, they fall asleep together… you know, the usual. To his credit, Dylan drops the conversation, and Norma’s interrupted by a phone call alerting her of her mother’s death. It’s clear that she’s apparently more upset about this news than she wants to be, but she tells the law firm that she’s not interested in any of her mother’s assets.

Onto more important things, though: It’s Norman’s first official day of senior year. He doesn’t really want to go, as he’s spent the summer with Norma, and, well, he’s gotten used to being around his mother. This should probably be more of a red flag, but considering the Miss Watson incident, it’s at least a little valid as to why he would feel nervous about returning. Norma casually drops the information about her mother’s death as they’re leaving for school, which of course prompts a barrage of overprotectiveness from Norman, who is absolutely convinced his mother needs him to comfort her.

But Norma’s fine. Really, she’s fine. She’s so fine that she’s going to drag Norman out of the car in front of all his classmates and make a scene about it. Norman seems to do okay for a while, at least, up until lunch, when he has a disturbing image of Miss Watson sitting next to him. It’s not exactly a friendly ghost visit—her throat is cut, she’s oozing blood, and she’s clearly in pain. Norman freaks out and runs home… straight into the arms of his mother.

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