Fans of Bates Motel will remember that last week ended with Norman discovering that his brother Dylan has developed a close relationship with his Uncle Father Oscar, I mean, Caleb, and has rushed off into the night to tell Norma about it. This week’s episode, “The Deal,” begins at sunrise and we see that Dylan hasn’t gone home to the motel that night; he’s sleeping in his truck outside of a bar.
That morning, Norma is out driving and is pushed off the road by a black Mercedes with tinted windows. She can’t see who the driver was but it certainly wasn’t an accident. She’s stranded in the middle of a field and the Mercedes returns. The driver gets out of the car to reveal that it’s one of Bob Paris’s goons, who strongly recommends that Norma call Paris at The Arcanum Club. Meanwhile, out on the marsh, Romero sees a local man, Stan, clamming and begins to ask him questions about the tides. He’s curious about where Lindsey Davis, the dead girl who was found floating in the marsh weeks earlier, might have been dumped. Stan tells Romero that it could have been anywhere within a mile of where her body was found. He does mention that the day before Lindsey’s death was reported in the paper, he noticed a boy in a small boat sitting in rain near where her body was found. The boy claimed he was birdwatching but didn’t have a camera or binoculars. Does “strange young bird enthusiast” sound like anyone we know? Hmm…
Norman is sleeping and Emma is in his room with him. He awakes to find her there but she tells him that his mother asked her to stay with him while she was gone. They discuss Norman telling Norma about Caleb. He felt like he had to but Emma asks if he really did. The answer is, of course, no. Dylan is at the house and as he’s leaving he gets a phone call saying that Norma is in the ER. He runs to get her and apologizes to Norma for what’s been going on. Norma has no idea what he’s talking about–wait, what? She doesn’t know about Caleb but after being run off the road she knows that the flash drive that Annika gave her before she died must be worth a lot to someone in that town.
Later, Romero finds Bob Paris at a restaurant and Paris levels with him: he needs the flash drive back and if he gets it all of the chaos, including Marcus Young trying to take Romero’s job, will end. Dylan returns to the motel to confront Norman who thinks he has told Norma about Caleb. When Dylan confirms that he hasn’t he tells Norman that he is going to tell her himself.
Meanwhile, Norma is waiting for the bus and Professor James Finnigan (whose name I only learned because I looked it up on IMDb–for reals, has anyone ever said it on the actual show?) offers her a ride home. They grab a bite on the way and talk about parents, relationships and things like that. Norma starts to consider that maybe he could help her. She point blank asks him if he’s attracted to her which he confirms. Mmkay, Norma, mmkay!
Back at Dylan’s cabin, Caleb is feeling sad and decides he needs to chop down a tree. It’s like the Caleb version of Footloose punch dancing in the woods. Here comes Chick with a gun, who follows Caleb around the woods. What the hell is going on with this Chick guy, by the way? Chick invites Caleb to have a drink of whiskey with him and he goes because, sure. They share a few hits of a pipe and Chick offers Caleb a job driving his illegal weed around. Ryan Hurst’s character Chick Hogan proves to be one of the most bizarre characters in White Pine Bay and that’s really saying something.
Back at the motel, Norman confronts Norma in the kitchen. He doesn’t remember her outfit that she’s wearing and he asks her if he talked to her in the morning. She tells him that she thinks he had a blackout and Norman decides to not tell her about Dylan and Caleb. Norman goes upstairs into Norma’s closet and finds his favorite of his mothers dresses. He smells it and holds it close to him. He seems comforted until Norma calls him for dinner. He hides her dress under his mattress and runs downstairs.
At the cabin, Gunner is playing video games. He gets up to address the timer and it breaks open and the flash drive falls out. He cracks the password and calls Dylan to tell him what he’s found. Dylan finds Norma in her bathroom at the house and tells her that there’s a financial ledger from the drug trade on the drive. It will put a lot of people in jail. Dylan wants to tell Romero to protect his family that he’s come to love so dearly but Norma isn’t convinced. She goes to Romero’s house and tells him she has the flash drive. Romero has just found one of Paris’s men dead in his car so he’s extra suspicious. Norma reveals that she will not be giving it up so easily and that she wants to make a deal with Paris. Romero, of course, refuses and Norma spins out of control, screaming at Romero, “If I was a man, one of these douche bag criminals who lives here, you would say this is totally do-able. You’re just saying it’s a bad idea because you think I can’t handle it because I’m a woman. Because I’m a mother. I can. I have seen how it is done and I will handle it without you if I have to.”
This is the point where Vera Farmiga goes for broke. If this season is about “family,” motherhood is at the center. From Norma’s own psychotic mother and her failures as a parent to Norma’s responsibility to her sons, for better or for worse, and her job as their protector. I’ve often wondered how it’s possible for the character of Norma Bates to make terrible decision after terrible decision and yet still have us remain on her side. The answer to that question is Vera Farmiga. Kudos to her co-star in this scene and the director of this episode Nestor Carbonell for really letting this scene rise to the occasion.
Later, Alex agrees to take her to see Paris. She plays hardball asking for an exit to her motel off of the bypass, advertising for her motel, approval on the advertising and a pool for the motel. Paris wants to know if he can trust Norma. She assures him that he can and that if he agrees to her deal, she will never ask him for anything again. He agrees. Hm. Can Paris, the murderous monster with heavy connections, actually be trusted?
Dylan finds Norman in the basement working on his taxidermy. He warns Norman he’s going to break the news about Caleb to Norma when she gets home and that he might want to clear out before he talks to her. Dylan knows that Norma’s reaction will be intense. Norman feels like it’s partially his fault the way things have gone and he wants to be there with Dylan when he talks to Norma to support his brother. The two boys sit at the kitchen table and wait for Norma as she returns home giddy from her successful meeting with Paris. Dylan breaks the news to her and begs her to consider meeting with Caleb. Norman supports his brother, trying to reason with Norma, like he’s promised to do. Norma remains mostly silent and then ascends up the stairs to her bedroom, packing her suitcase in a frenzy and paying no mind to the boys. She blows past them, out of the motel and into her car and the episode ends with Norman having a full blown meltdown as Norma speeds off into the night.
The show sure seems to be increasing the tension at a steady incline this season, don’t they? I think the series is stronger than ever and I am loving watching this family spin off into their own directions while still being tied together. How about you? Are you enjoying the third season of Bates Motel now that we are about half way through? Tell us in the comments!
Bates Motel airs Monday nights at 9/8c on A&E.