'Bates Motel' recap: 'The Last Supper'
“The Last Supper” felt like classic Bates Motel, in that we got an episode filled with some of the heaviest storytelling…but also some of the show’s most tender moments. It was unclear how the show would move forward in the aftermath of Norma’s return—clearly, the affect that that her leaving had on her sons needed to be addressed, but with only three episodes left after tonight, Bates also had to move the story forward in a way that could set up the last few hours of the season.
In opening with Dylan and Emma, we sort of bring to light a story line that was nudged at last week—a friendship that, after tonight, might end up being more than a friendship. That’s purely speculative on my part, but as I’ve said before, I can absolutely see that relationship happening… if nothing else than to provide another instance for Norman to unravel.
At any rate, Dylan wants to take Emma to dinner as a thank you for staying and helping during Norma’s disappearance. They’re interrupted by Emma’s slightly uptight dad, and it’s clear that Emma’s more than a little embarrassed at how much she’s being coddled. But it’s interesting to me that the show used tonight to demonstrate three different kinds of protective parents: Emma and her dad, Caleb and Dylan, and Norma and Norman. All are trying to protect the people they love in different ways, even if, according to Norman, his mother is the only one treating him with such security.
Meanwhile, Norma’s at the phone store with Norman. Norman’s basically grilling his mother about what happened the night of her disappearance—where she went, who she saw. But Norma isn’t really paying attention, because with her phone back in commission, she finally gets to see the dozens of text messages from Dylan… as well as the one from Romero about being shot. Clearly, this onslaught of chaos is the last thing Norma expected after disappearing. “Can I get into a mood for one night without the world coming to an end?” Apparently not, Norma. Apparently not. (Vera Farmiga’s reactions and lines in this episode were gold, by the way.) When Finnegan makes a phone call to check and see if Norma’s okay, Norman grabs the phone before his mother can. He basically overhears Norma implying that she did something with him during the night, but because it’s Norman, he pushes his emotions under the surface and acts calm. Good ol’ Norman.
Norma gets the surprise of her life when she gets back in the house. Romero’s waiting for her, and wants to know where she’s been. Norma really needs to get the message people are actually worried about her, and for good reason. The two end up in another heated argument about who shot Romero, and how Norma could be in danger because of what they did with the flash drive. Romero wants to know where the flash drive is and call it defeat or call it trust, but Norma actually tells him. In fact, she tells him where it is specifically, who she gave it to, and who can open it. I never thought I’d see the day when Norma stopped protecting that flash drive while knowing it could be a big part of getting her out of her life in White Pine Bay, but maybe a drunken night puts things in perspective.
Anyway, Romero arrives at the farm, much to the dismay of Caleb and Gunner—because friend or not, a sheriff van is not what you want to see rolling up to your weed farm in the middle of the day. Gunner gives him the flash drive and opens it after Romero basically cuts to the chase about why he needs it. Seriously, I am really enjoying this new side of Romero. It’s so nice to see Nestor Carbonell having more to do this season and the writers giving him another layer to play with.
Dylan tries to approach Norma again to bring up Norman’s blackouts. “That’s nothing new for Norman,” Norma scoffs when Dylan tells her about how he found him in the basement with one of his dead pigeons. Well, of course not. Your son is Norman Bates. But Dylan lays it all out on the table, alerting Norma to Norman’s creep-tastic behavior when he cooked dinner in Norma’s robe. And at least, to her credit, Norma looks a little freaked out about it.
Good. We’re making progress. (Maybe.)
NEXT: Growing Pains
Once Romero can access the ledger, he finds a name that unsettles him: his mom’s. He visits Bob at the shooting range to find out more information, because she’s been dead for 22 years… so how did her name get on there? Bob tells him it wasn’t him that put his mother’s name on there, but rather, his father, who was the one who set up the account.
Romero visits his father at the correction center, and his dad is, at first, confused as to why his son is so upset. He made money! For a lot of people! Romero wants him to take his mother’s name off, because he still believes his father is responsible for the overdose that caused her death. His father claims he’s not, however. This will most certainly come back around in the next few weeks, so keep this conversation in your back pocket.
In other dad news, Dylan goes to talk to Emma’s father, who brings him into the taxidermy basement and tells him point blank that Emma is pretty much dying. She needs a lung transplant, and she is on a list, but there’s a good chance she won’t make it. There is, however, a hospital in Portland that can up your name on the donor list should you be, well, a little more financially stable than Emma and her dad are. You can almost see the wheels turning in Dylan’s head. I want to believe that he’s doing this out of the goodness of his heart, that he’s trying to reform himself and truly does care about Emma… and I believe all of that. But to be honest, the whole thing does come off as a little desperate. And I can’t imagine Emma’s going to be okay just accepting his help like this once she finds out.
This all segues nicely into an impromptu meeting with Chick, who stops by the farm to give Caleb some updates on the job he’s taking. Except, wait! Caleb’s not taking the job after all! With all the stuff going on with Norma, he’s turning over a new leaf, and backs out again. Perfect opportunity for Dylan to realize that Chick’s job—“gun running”—makes about 25 grand, which is probably more than enough for Emma’s transplant. Caleb’s not exactly thrilled about letting his son do this, even when Dylan explains what it’s for. He’s just trying to be a good father, you guys!
And Norma’s trying to be a good mother. So much so that when Finnegan shows up at her door, because he was genuinely worried about her after everything she had said the other night, she asks him to talk to Norman. TAXIDERMY ALERT FOR THE SQUIRMWORTHY. Norma brings Finnegan down to the basement since that’s the perfect place to have this kind of conversation, though the only way Norman will talk is if he’s left alone. And, well, we know this isn’t going to be a civil meeting. (Freddie Highmore is so good in this scene, you can’t take your eyes off him.)
Norman opens up about how taxidermy makes him feel: “I find it very peaceful.” (Norman, most people who want to feel peaceful and shut out the world just binge watch a bunch of Netflix.) After some waxing poetic about his feelings, he asks Finnegan point blank about how it feels to have slept with his mother. Norman then becomes more frenzied, threatening him, questioning him about Norma’s behavior. When Finnegan turns the questions on him (and I could be wrong, but I believe this is the first time we’ve actually addressed someone calling Norman out for being obsessed with his mother sexually), he freaks, attacking Finnegan and almost killing him. Before Finnegan runs out to safety, he begs Norma to get her son some help. I’ll give Finnegan a little credit: he tried his hardest to be professional about the whole thing, considering that I’m sure Norman isn’t one of his usual charges. But he certainly got a full dose of “crazy Norman” for his troubles.
So what does Norma do in response? She goes downstairs to comfort her son, of course. This dysfunctional relationship is just so twisted, I can’t stand it. Norman cries about how much he misses the way “things used to be,” and Norma assures him that she’s still his mother. (How many times are we going to hear this before the end of the season?)
NEXT: The Last Supper
Romero calls Norma and asks her to come get him because he’s drunk, he’s a mess, but there’s continuity, at least, when he asks Norma what happened to her car. Norma puts him up at the motel and we get so, so close to a Normero kiss—and it’s not even a stressful moment. It’s a tender conversation, an intimate exchange rooted in the fact that both Norma and Romero are so lost in their lives, but at the very last second, Norma withdraws. It doesn’t stop Romero from telling her that she’s beautiful, though. (Half-drunken state or not, I’m pretty sure he’s not lying. I need this kiss to happen before the end of the season.)
Norma wants to have a big family dinner, which of course is happening the same night Dylan planned to go out with Emma. Norma suggests inviting her over, and hey, Emma really did want to be part of this family anyway, right? But why stop there? Because when Norma goes outside, she comes across Caleb, who is trying to sneak away and leave some flowers. (Her favorite, to thank her.) This scene is actually one of the best moments of the episode, and makes me want to give an MVP to Kenny Johnson, who did terrific work. Between him and Vera Farmiga, I was almost crying as the two struggled to keep their feelings locked down to the point where they could pretend they don’t care about each other.
Except Caleb clearly does, and you see it in the way he reacts. And Norma clearly does, because she invites him to stay for dinner. Besides, the whole family’s here! And are they ever. Everyone is literally in Norma’s house, including Romero, who barges in unexpectedly to tell Norma he’s leaving and gets coerced into joining the party. Caleb gets Norma to play the piano again and not only do we get more Vera Farmiga singing (I’ve never forgotten the Cabaret performance of a lifetime) but we get a sweet bonding moment between Caleb and Norma, as well. Which means Norman (who walks in as the song is finishing up, just in time to observe all this) isn’t happy. Especially when he learns that Dylan didn’t invite Caleb into the house… Norma did.
The thing is, you expect this dinner party to turn terrible, especially with only a few minutes left in the hour. It doesn’t, though. Not really. Norma gives a heartfelt toast and then Caleb shares his own words, which are, in hindsight, probably the wrong ones to use in front of his psychotic son. And the occupants are shown eating, laughing, enjoying themselves… until they all fade, one by one, leaving Norman sitting by himself. Premonition? Maybe. That’s not even our last shot, though. No, our last shot would be Norman creeping into Norma’s bedroom to watch his mother sleep… before starting to touch her tenderly. Yes, in that way. Cue my internal shudder. And I believe this is the first time Bates has gone there with Norman and Norma, right?
Be afraid, Norma. Be very, very afraid.
- Line of the night: “Norman, stop it! You’re acting like a twit!” Did I mention Vera Farmiga is amazing?
- Romero dropped off now-dead Marcus Young at a private residence, with a sign that says “I officially withdrew my candidacy for Sheriff.” Yeah, that’s not going to go over well, and even if Romero didn’t do it in the first place, he would still be a pretty good first suspect.
- Loved the fact that Emma stood up for herself when she talked to her dad. I’m glad they’re at least giving her something to work with this season.
There’s really no way to describe how the end of the episode made me feel—creepy and unsettled is just the tip of the iceberg. Clearly, we’re building to something big… and whether or not that’s Norma’s death or the death of someone at the table tonight, it’s going to be intense. Drop your guesses in the comments below, and get ready for your final three hours in White Pine Bay (for this year, anyway).