We all knew the good times couldn’t last. While Norman and Norma have been growing a little more stable thanks to therapy and a healthy relationship, respectively, tonight put the pieces in motion for the inevitable downfall that we’ll experience during the last three episodes of the season. And if the setup is any indication, we’re in for quite a ride.
Norman wakes up with Dr. Edwards after realizing he’s blacked out again, and Norma wakes up with Romero, well…yeah, Norma and Romero are VERY aware of what they’re doing and how they’re spending their morning. And it’s about damn time, if I say so myself. At Pineview, it’s arts and crafts time. Julian makes a self portrait (a ball of nothing), and Norman makes his dog, Juno, out of papier-mache. While looking at newspaper strips, he sees a picture that catches his eye and manages to piece together enough of the paper to see the picture of Romero and Norma from the holiday fest — as well as the caption that Romero is Norma’s husband. So, yeah, this looks bad.
At home, Romero finds Norma in the basement, where she’s looking at options for home improvement. He offers to help, but that only makes Norma feel guiltier because, as it turns out, she’s in trouble financially with the house and the motel. With everything going on and no money coming in (darn all those murders that drive away guests), she kind of gave up on the house. So what does Romero do? He gives her Bob Paris’ money that he’s hidden in the basement. Norma’s hesitant to take it, but Romero urges her to use the money for something good. Besides, Norma deserves something good. A phone call interrupts the sweet moment, and it turns out to be none other than Norman. Unfortunately, Romero is the one that answers.
Granted, this would’ve been bad either way since Norman already knows about Norma and Romero. But he doesn’t let on that he knows, and when he asks Norma what’s going on, Norma lies right back about Romero being over. Norman, in response, tells her he’s coming home. He signed himself in voluntarily, so he can sign himself out voluntarily. Norma is thrown off guard, but Norman challenges her on whether there’s some secret reason why she shouldn’t come home. Hey, he’s gotta protect his mother. Unfortunately, the procedure for checking out isn’t quite as simple as Norman thinks. There’s protocol that needs to be followed, including a letter… Oh, and they tell him his stepfather’s insurance approved his coverage for three months. Oops.
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Emma, meanwhile, is fighting with her dad about her mother. Dylan comes home in time to catch the fight, and Emma learns that he met her mother in the hospital and didn’t tell her. In a quiet moment alone, Emma admits they were fighting because her mom’s phone was turned off and they couldn’t figure out why. Emma was worried, and naturally, Dylan — already suspicious from the letter he found — makes it his mission to find her. He comes home looking for Norma, whom he finds in a peppy mood, making drapes for the house and listening to “Beyond the Sea.” That mood drops instantly when Dylan asks about Norman and if she knew about the letter from Emma’s mom…the one that ended up in Norman’s bedroom. Norma didn’t know about that, but she does admit to knowing Emma’s mom stayed at the motel. She tells Dylan she didn’t say anything because she wanted to stay out of the drama, which is the same reason she didn’t take the letter for her. But Norman did. Upon finding out Norman was alone with Audrey, Dylan immediately becomes suspicious because she never checked out. Norma gets defensive and essentially wants Dylan to admit he thinks that she thinks Norman hurt or killed Audrey, but God knows she’d never think her precious angel son would do something so violent. Dylan, however, is well aware of what Norman might do when he blacks out and isn’t giving him any more excuses.
NEXT: A mother’s love
Edwards finds Norman at the computer instead of therapy, where he’s working on his letter. Norman admits he’s checking himself out, and he’s proud of how self-assured he feels and how much he’s thought this out. He’ll get meds, he’ll continue working with Edwards on an outpatient basis, but he just needs to come HOME. Later, he’s sitting angrily with Julian and imagining Norma and Romero going at it before Julian snaps him out of his daydream. He tells Julian he’s getting out, and Julian is a little surprised. But Norman quickly puts him in his place. “I’m not normal,” Norman tells his friend, and man, he doesn’t even know how true that is. “But I’m also not like you.” See, Norman is SMART. Norman realizes he can use what people see in his personality, his empathy and his gentle nature, and manipulate them into giving him what he wants. It’s safe to say Julian is acutely terrified, and yes, Julian, you should be afraid. Norman is smart. And the smartest people are often the most dangerous.
Norma meets with Edwards and says she doesn’t want Norman to come home. Good news: Edwards doesn’t, either. Unfortunately, there’s not much he can do to stop him except petition the court that he’s violent. Or Norma can state he’s no longer voluntary when it comes to his decisions. Norma refuses to go behind his back and asks if it would be helpful to speak to him. Norman isn’t so happy to see Norma, though, and it’s not their usual reunion. He’s distant and cold and picks up on her language and the things she’s not saying. Norma is too emotional over seeing Norman to notice until Norman reveals the paper that he’s found showing Norma and Romero’s relationship. Norma immediately backpedals, assuring her son she only married him for show, for him — “Everything I have ever done is for you.” Norman challenges her to prove it by letting him come home, and backed into a corner, Norma agrees. This whole exchange is immensely uncomfortable, especially when Norman starts interrogating Norma about if she’s sleeping with him, and it’s even more uncomfortable to watch Norma give in to Norman’s manipulation. But it also makes me feel bad for Norma Bates, who is just as screwed up as her son when it comes to being affected by her past. She just isn’t, well…psycho.
Dylan brings Emma the letter from her mom, which was apparently her mom wanting to explain why she left, i.e. say bad things about her dad. Coupled with the fact that Dylan found out she was evicted from her apartment for not paying rent, Emma no longer has an interest in finding her mother, who she believes really did leave because she wanted to make them feel sorry for her and bail her out of her issues. Poor Emma. I do love how Dylan genuinely cares about her, though. In a show full of dysfunctional relationships, it’s nice to see that something genuine can grow.
Edwards visits Norman after hours (Norman’s papier-mache dog, by the way, is coming along splendidly). He asks Norman what changed about wanting to go home since they seemed to be on the same page until recently, and Norman gets angry when he realizes Edwards wants him to admit he’s scared. And guess what? Norman is. In Freddie Highmore’s second insane performance of the hour, Norman breaks down and tells Edwards how much he means to him and how much he’s willing to work with his meds to be better because he hates how he acts during his blackouts. Edwards relents on signing the release, with the caveat of having three sessions a week. Ah, manipulation.
Norma returns home and finds Romero…and a 60-inch television because nothing says love like an oversized TV. (And two movies, one of which is The Third Man, which is about investigating a murder. Hmmm.) Norma is thrown off by the gesture and then tells Romero about how Norman is coming home. Romero is hurt and upset that Norma made the decision without asking him first, but Norma is steadfast in her decision. After all, that’s HER kid. She even tells him how she had to tell Norman they were only married for his sake because of COURSE she couldn’t be honest with him — because of COURSE she had to protect him. She suddenly realizes she’s screwed up, but Romero ends up forgiving her, even vowing to be a decent father figure so they can get through this. Alex Romero, too good for this world.
And so, Norman leaves Pineview under the watchful eye of Edwards. He exits into the arms of his mother and arrives home with a smile. Manipulation or not, Norman Bates is exactly where he need to be.