Norman tries out life outside of Pineview. Norma tries out life without Norman.
In this week’s installment of “Norman goes crazy,” there were strippers. And break-outs. And makeouts! And someone needs to give Vera Farmiga an Emmy, or at least a Golden Globe already, because she’s doing work that’s far too outstanding to never be recognized. Freddie Highmore, too.
At Pineview, Norman is awaiting his morning wake-up and morning meds (and imagining his mother killing his dad, and imagining killing Ms. Watson.) He’s not happy about taking meds but relents when he learns he can’t leave his room without doing so. After pulling some Girl, Interrupted work to throw them back up, he runs into Julian, who basically is on a mission to have Norman become his BFF.
But Norman has more important things on his mind: namely an elusive private phone call. Julian can help with that! He breaks his new friend into the office for the night staff because butter knives are just great for that sort of thing. The call Norman wants to make is to Dylan to alert him that Norma is in trouble. Dylan is rightfully confused and concerned to hear from his brother, especially when Norman starts telling him how he’s getting out of Pineview and about how the police are going to show up now that everyone’s secrets have been spilled. Dylan placates his brother, who realizes that everyone thinks he’s the problem and that no one is taking him seriously. “The world has gone mad, but I’m not.” YET, Norman Bates. Not YET. Meanwhile, remember that nice night Norma and Romero had last week? Apparently they have to deal with the awkward post-sex morning talk. Norma, who was self-assured and willing last we saw her, is now hesitant and drawn back. But she agrees to Romero’s suggestion to open a joint checking account, and Romero asks Norma to come to the winter festival with him. Norma declines because she needs to visit Emma (and the moment of Romero finding out about Emma and Dylan was wonderfully sweet), but Romero can tell she’s holding back. And Norma realizes she is, too — when she finally leaves, she allows herself a moment alone where she seems to finally understand her true feelings for her new husband. (It’s about time. It’s been like, four seasons!)
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At Pineview, they make you do things like talk about your feelings in group sessions, which Norman is absolutely not into. Besides, he’s being released today! Dr. Edwards comes to talk to him and assures him that they have reported Norma based on his accusations, but they need to continue working in the meantime…a.k.a he’s not leaving. Norman takes that as Dr. Edwards not believing him and angrily tries to leave, unsuccessfully. Julian rescues him from getting into more trouble and then promises he can get him out…that is, if he wants. Norma arrives to visit Emma, who is surprised and happy to see her surrogate mom. Dylan’s been keeping her in the loop about Norman, so she knows what he’s going through, and Norma admits how scared she is. Wise Emma tells her that maybe this is a good thing — a chance to be away from Norman, to be on her own, to think about herself. And you know what? For the first time in probably this entire series, Norma seems to agree.
NEXT: Tell me how to say no to this
Romero gets a text from Rebecca alerting him to come to the bank, where she asks point-blank if he killed Bob Paris. Obviously, Romero doesn’t fess up, but Rebecca tells him that Bob had tons of money (like, $3 million worth of it) in the safe deposit box. Only problem is, a safe deposit box requires two keys, and the bank only has one. Presumably, Romero has the other, right? Well, kind of. Romero returns home and goes to where he’s hidden the money in Norma’s basement and rips open a few packages of cash until he finds Bob’s passport with the key hidden inside. Norma returns home and does a little thinking about Emma’s words, going so far as to pick out a new outfit and even putting away Norman’s framed photo.
She surprises Romero at the winter’s fest, and he gets her both funnel cake and a hot toddy, which basically makes him the best boyfriend in my book. When Romero is pulled away to do important photo ops, Rebecca introduces herself to Norma — who later asks Romero about her while they slow dance. They return to the house happy and affectionate, but their mood is broken when they realize someone has broken in…and although he doesn’t say anything, a guilty and worried Romero knows exactly why.
As promised, Julian helps Norman sneak out (always good when mentally ill people cause a commotion and distraction) via Julian sneaking a key card from the office and then getting out the window. They attempt to hitchhike, where Norman finds out a little more about Julian: He’s been there for four years, he comes from a high-class family where he feels like he doesn’t belong, and he really is all about having these amazing outings. Norman, for his part, is realizing that he doesn’t really share Julian’s reckless attitude, but hey, too late now. (I’m glad that they had a bit of trouble finding a ride because it would have been too easy to just get the first car to stop for them, but really. Does no one in this town care about their safety?)
Where is Julian taking Norman? To a stripper joint, apparently. Julian is all about the girls and the dancing and the freedom, leaving Norman to his own devices while he parties up with the VIP people. Norman, however, is completely out of his element and not enjoying this at all. One of the girls tries to rile him up by getting him into one of the VIP rooms, but Norman is the complete wrong audience for this type of thing. He’s not even turned on by anything his companion is doing. “This isn’t a place for Norman,” he says, while the clueless girl attempts over and over again to seduce him. Norman escalates into Norma, and while I know we’re watching this from Norman’s point of view, let me just say that this entire scene was worth it to see Vera Farmiga in a strip club while kissing another woman. Their moment (complete with a feather boa) is interrupted by a ruckus, thanks to Julian getting in a fight with the bouncers outside. A scared Norman watches his friend get attacked and tries to defend himself, but ends up watching helplessly.
Dr. Edwards arrives to find Norman sitting in the back of an ambulance, cuffed and in shock, and tries to take care of him. Norman asks if anything bad happened, but according to Dr. Edwards, nothing did — and for once, it’s the truth. Dr. Edwards takes Norman back, and while they sit together in his car, he explains Julian’s situation: how it’s not the first time he ran away, how he does it for attention, hoping someone will care enough to come after him. Dr. Edwards tells him he knows he’s not taking his meds but that he can’t help Norman if Norman won’t let him. And whether it’s the events of the night or something else entirely, Norman breaks down. He cries and admits his blackouts, he asks if Norma killed anyone, and he tells Edwards how he never knows what’s real or not. Norman wants help. Norman needs help.
By the end of this season, I am going to absolutely going to end up having sympathy for Norman Bates. And that’s what makes this show one of the best shows on television.