Bates Motel recap: The Vault
Still haunted from last week’s standoff with Chick and Norma, where Chick threatened to spill Norma’s incest secret to the world (and her new husband)? Don’t worry, so is Norma, who can’t sleep and has to stop herself from calling Caleb. She tries to put her effort into life with Romero, walking in as he’s getting ready for work and sharing a sweet moment. “It’s funny, isn’t it? After everything, we’ve finally made it,” says Norma, who just wants to be HAPPY. Because she finally is! It feels like a dream to have a good life, and a good husband who actually cares about her.
Speaking of dreams, Norman is having his own dream, reliving his own trauma of being trapped in the box again. He’s in another therapy session, and Dr. Edwards is asking if he knows what happens when he blacks out. You see, sometimes when you have traumatic life experiences as a child, they disappear inside you. He tells Norman the person he spoke to at the end of last week’s session wasn’t him, but a version of his mother. Norman wants to know what Norma said, and Edwards wants to know if Norman was aware he was slipping into Norma!Trance. You can see that Norman WANTS to say no (god bless Freddie Highmore’s acting), but he admits that he was. Edwards tries to get him to talk about his early life, which they haven’t talked about much, but Norman can’t seem to remember much. Just that his dad was gone a lot, he spent a lot of time with his mother… you know, his life was normal. Right. Totally normal. (I do like that this season has specifically shown Norman making the real effort to get help because, like Norma realizing what she needs and has missed in her life, it’s going to make it that much more heartbreaking when the inevitable end comes.)
At a diner, Norma is getting some therapy of her own, meeting Chick, who asks if he thought about their talk. He wants Norma to admit to her sins (a.k.a. sex with her brother) — it’s a nice, calm conversation while ordering food, like you do. He claims she can’t accept her past and wants to know where Caleb is. He just wants to do him justice, you know? He’s not a nice person.
Dylan comes to visit Norman, who asks about Emma. Before Dylan can admit that they’re kind of a thing, Norman picks up on it… and strangely, he seems okay with it. He even says he’s happy, before changing the subject to ask what Dylan remembers about their real dad. He doesn’t remember much, only that he wasn’t nice to Norma. But hey, that was then. This is now! Norman’s getting better, his brother is happy… we don’t have to constantly live in our pasts and be haunted by them, right?
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When Dylan comes home, he talks with Norma about Emma, while Norma tells him about how good things are going with Romero. Look, a real mature relationship talk between Dylan and Norma! It makes me so happy. Turns out they still haven’t told Norman about Norma’s marriage; Norma’s reason is because “we’re very close, and he’s fragile.” In Dylan’s view (and the view of the world), making people fragile doesn’t always end well.
The conversation quickly veers into the awkward when he tells Norma he’s planning to move to Seattle with Emma and her dad. Like, soon. As in a few days from now. He promises he won’t disappear, but it can’t be easy for Norma to listen to this and not feel like her son is choosing a whole new family. Before Dylan leaves, Norma tries to ask him about Caleb, raising Dylan’s suspicions if nothing else as this is the second person today to ask about his father figures. Dylan tells Norma to leave him alone, but gives her a breadcrumb of the motel name that he used to work at.
NEXT: A window into your soul
Norma, naturally, calls and finds Caleb. He admits he left because he was worried about the fallout (not because of Chick, riiiiight) and asks how Dylan is. Norma tells him he should call his son, who was understandably hurt when he left. Before they hang up, Caleb tells her he loves her… but Norma can’t make herself say it back. Caleb does call Dylan, who is shocked but not surprised to hear from him, given Norma’s questions earlier. Caleb apologizes as much as he can and says leaving wasn’t what he wanted to do. He promises he’ll come back as soon as it’s safe, but Dylan obviously doesn’t tell him he’s going to Seattle.
In therapy, Norman is assessing his own daddy issues, how he remembers being only 7 when his mom told him to hide in his room because his dad had been drinking. He came down anyway and saw his dad passed out, before his dad woke up and more or less freaked him out, but man, Freddie is selling this memory — Norman is clearly haunted by it. Edwards wants to know more about his father, and suddenly, Norma is there with him, reassuring him he doesn’t have to talk about things he doesn’t want to. Edwards quickly realizes Norma is “there” and watches as Norman slips into a trance, telling Edwards (as Norma) that he needs to protect her son and that she doesn’t want him to remember these things. Not!Norma apologizes profusely for not knowing who she married and tells the story of how she tried to leave one night, but she couldn’t find Dylan and ended up driving around looking for him. Their dad found them instead, threatened them at gunpoint, until Norma relented and made him back off. When they got back to the house later, Norma was forced into sex… but Norman was hiding under the bed, and ended up holding his mom’s hand throughout one of her most traumatic experiences. Yep. That’ll do it.
Norma goes to meet Chick. She attempts to shoot him but finds she can’t. So we get a Norma Bates breakdown instead, because Vera Farmiga is so damn good at flying off the handle without making the moment too insane. “I can’t get Caleb killed and I can’t kill you, so I am screwed!” She’s out of her depth, she’s out of options, and all she wanted was her window fixed. Instead, she’s going to get her life destroyed because when can Norma EVER be happy?
She comes home and is angrily interrupted from making dinner by Dylan, who has come to collect his stuff. In doing so, he finds the stuffed rabbit and letter from Emma’s mother, which was clearly never received, leading his concerns to rise. He pulls up her info, noticing she checked in but never checked out, and takes down her address.
When Romero returns home later, Norma is in a much better place, calm and happy (or at least pretending to be happy)…until Romero tells her Chick is replacing the window. Although Chick brings the window over and is completely amicable and respectful (albeit a little creepy), he doesn’t even blink an eye when Norma defensively tries to get him riled up. Because, you know what? Norma Bates has been through a LOT of crap, but Norma Bates is a damn strong woman who is not going to let herself get stomped on. “I am still standing, so go ahead, do your best you giant lame asshole!”
Chick leaves without incident, which causes Romero to wonder what the hell is going on. Remember when Chick accused Norma of not being able to tell anyone in her life her secrets? Well, she breaks down and admits everything to him — her affair, her brother, how Chick knew Caleb and Dylan and threatened to expose her secrets through the town. Romero, who obviously didn’t know any of this, simply holds Norma protectively, and this might be the first time Norma’s actually felt safe and protected by a father figure.
See? Norma Bates does deserve good things.
- “It’s Norma Louise.” I love these little moments of storytelling where Norma obviously has a history with Caleb in that she’s the girl from her past and not the Norma we know now.
- What’s going to come of Romero giving Rebecca the key to the vault? Your guess is as good as mine, but something’s going to go down.