Bates Motel returned with a creepy season three premiere last week and posed the question for the audience: did Norman kill young and beautiful motel guest Annika Johnson?
The episode begins with Norma knocking on Annika’s door to give her some fresh towels but no one answers. Annika’s car is parked out front but her guest is nowhere to be found. Norma peers inside her window to see that it doesn’t look like she slept in her bed the night before. Strange… Downstairs Norman is working on a taxidermy project in the basement and Norma confronts him to ask him about their missing hotel guest. He’s is uncomfortable with the questioning (he doesn’t tell Norma that he rode with Annika into town) and instructs her not to worry. Later that day when Norma returns from the grocery store, she asks Emma if anyone has seen Annika yet. She says no but reveals that Norman rode with her into town, causing Norma to get very angry and confront Norman. He admits that he did ride with Annika to the bar in town and brought her car back but only because Annika knew she would be drinking and thought it’d be best for him to drive the car home. Norma points out that given his past experiences (ahem, Blair Watson) he shouldn’t be getting into cars with “slutty” women and that perhaps Norman has a way of attracting “unhinged women.” You said a mouthful there, Norma!
Norman shows Norma to the bar in town where he dropped Annika off and Norma is highly suspicious of Norman. While she goes inside to check it out, Norman watches intently. Norma returns to the car with no answers, exasperated. She tells Norman she doesn’t know how long she can keep doing this. Norma is getting close to her breaking point and Norman appears to be losing control of himself. Oh boy. This doesn’t look good for the mother/son pair.
Meanwhile, Dylan drives up to the cabin to find Gunner and Caleb working together to build the structure of their legal marijuana farm. Dylan is still uneasy with Caleb’s presence and later in the night, the guys are sitting outside the cabin by a fire drinking beers. Caleb tries to get Dylan to stay and have drinks but he refuses. All of a sudden a pretty mean looking dog shows up and the cabin dog, Rex, gets into a fight. Caleb takes out a gun and shoots the aggressive animal from a distance. Caleb is a pretty good shot and he is packing. Noted.
Back at the motel, Norman finds Norma in her bathroom getting ready for bed. He declares that he is going to start dating Emma and Norma approves. The next day, Annika still hasn’t returned to Bates Motel. Emma tells Norman that she can trust him and reaches for him, putting her hands in his but Norman is uncomfortable with her touching him. He pulls away and tells her he has to leave but he will see her for their date that night. Later that day, Norma is still concerned about her missing tenant. Emma suggests that maybe they look inside her room and see if there are any clues about where she might have gone. Norma finds an invitation to an event for a local hunting club called “The Arcanum Club” in her things. As Emma and Norma are leaving, Norma notices Sheriff Romero is moving out of his room. Norma seems sad to see him go and they share an awkward friendly kiss goodbye. She remarks that she always felt safe when Romero was around. As he drives away, Norma looks scared. Of Norman? Dylan’s colleagues?
At Dylan’s cabin, his neighbor Chick Hogan (played by Sons of Anarchy star Ryan Hurst,) a messy looking guy, approaches looking for his dog, assumedly the one Caleb shot the night before. Dylan says he hasn’t seen the dog and Caleb emerges to confirm the story. There is a tense moment and Chick hints that he knows that they’re planting weed on the farm and since the DEA wiped out most of the previous crop, there’s probably a lot of selling opportunity. Later that night, Caleb and Dylan track down Chick’s house to try and retaliate for his strange visit earlier in the day. There’s a woman out front with a baby and Chick approaches from behind with a gun. He asks what they’re doing there and Dylan apologizes for shooting his dog. It’s clear that Dylan is nervous but Caleb is not. Chick tells them he doesn’t have a dog and invites them into his house and offers them a drink. Is he a creeper or just a super high hippie? Either way, Caleb isn’t buying the schtick and is on edge when it comes to this guy. Ultimately, Caleb informs Chick that from now on they will have boundaries and to leave them alone.
That same night, Norman and Emma go on their date. They talk about their sexual experiences and Norman confesses that he feels overwhelmed after having sex, like he feels like the act is another part of him. There’s also some dialogue about Norman being like Peter Pan which is cute considering Highmore had a major breakout role in the film Finding Neverland. One thing of note is that the character of Norman Bates is proving in this scene especially is that considering his skittish nature, for as uncomfortable as he gets around certain subjects, he can actually be quite charming when the moment calls for it. A quality that he can use for good and, well, not so good, too.
At the same time, Norma drives to the party at The Arcanum Club still trying to track down Annika. She presents her invitation at the gate but doesn’t know the password and is told to leave. Not taking “no” for an answer, Norma hides her car and attempts to climb the wall in her gown to get into the party. She’s successful, and silly, and ultimately makes her way into the event. It’s a classy affair with mostly men in tuxedoes drinking out on the terrace. A few men leave the group and go around back to a small house and Norma peeks into the location to find a sex party. Romero spots her outside and asks her what she’s doing there and she tells him that she’s there to check in on a guest of her motel who has been missing for two days. Romero is clearly not concerned until Norma reveals that Norman was the last one to see her alive; remember, Romero and Norma are the only two who know that Norman’s seman was found inside Blair Watson the night that she died. Romero tells her to leave, that it’s not safe for her to be there. She listens and leaves. On her drive home she passes construction on the “Lee Berman Memorial Bypass,” the thing that will end her business. She parks her car and proceeds to try and beat up the sign, throwing orange road cones at it and hitting it with a barricade. I mention this mostly because what other Academy Award nominated actress besides Vera Farmiga would ever be able to do something like this, not to mention play a character like Norma Bates, with such class, sympathy and controlled insanity? No one. Farmiga is an incredible actress and Norma Bates is the role that showcases her incredible versatilit, and she makes it look easy.
Emma drives Norman home after their dinner date and kisses him. After they make out for a little bit, Norman abruptly pushes her off and makes up an excuse for why he needs to stop. After Emma drives away and Norman is walking up the stairs to the house, Norma arrives in her now damaged car. They talk and Norman mentions that he’s worried about his mother, that she seems a little different lately. He tells her to stop worrying and promises her that it’s all going to be good.
The next morning, a dog is barking at something in the lake. We see a naked, female body face down in the water. She has blonde hair…
What did you think of this week’s episode? How are you liking season three so far? Let us know in the comments below!