Bates Motel is connecting the dots: Norman Bates believes he is his mother. We have been waiting a while for this moment, three seasons to be exact. Bates Motel has carefully placed tracks throughout every episode, leading us to this end result (which was just more tracks). The series has not only constructed this moment, it has earned it; the moment when Norman finally embodies his mother. When Norman Bates becomes her psychosis.
On the surface of this week’s episode, “Norma Louise,” was Norma’s complete breakdown (portrayed by the astounding Vera Farmiga — somebody give her the Emmy already!). At the end of the previous episode, Norma’s sons asked her to talk to Caleb. She quietly sat for a moment and then immediately packed a suitcase and left. Here we find that her breakdown was caused by the fact that she had done everything for Norman, but he still expected her to talk to her brother. Norma finally admited that her son is not normal. He might appear normal, but there’s something very wrong with him.
Norma’s relationship with her brother goes far beyond that of a man that raped her. Caleb was with Norma throughout her childhood. He was there when their parents were drunk and fighting. In flashbacks, we see that Norma was young and confused. Although we have not seen Caleb’s story, the ending of “Norma Louise,” proved that there are layers to their relationship. Bates Motel is not excusing the idea that Caleb raped Norma, but instead explaining a much deeper story that exists prior to any of the horrific events that Norma faced.
Norma leaves Norman under the care of Dylan, who tried his hardest to protect his younger brother. With Emma’s help, Dylan made it through the night with Norman. Emma and Dylan don’t know how to handle Norman — nobody really does. All they can do is exactly what they did. They put Norman in Norma’s bed to make him feel more comfortable and they let him experience his blackout.
Yet, the next morning, Dylan woke up to the sound of pans rattling in the kitchen — as if Norma was cooking. He knew Norma could not be home. She packed a suitcase and left. As he walked into the kitchen, he saw his brother cooking. Norman was dressed in his mother’s robe and spoke as if he were Norma. His blackout took over his life and controlled his every move. The simple movements of making breakfast suddenly became more feminine. His voice was higher and the robe defined his waste. Norman was not only acting like his mother, he was his mother.
There are two moments in Bates Motel that will forever define the series — and they connect directly to Psycho. The first is when Norman becomes his mother. The second is when Norma dies. We as an audience, know that these two have to happen. However, this series is proving that, even though we know these are going to happen, it will still be just as shocking as if we didn’t.
Psycho is a horror film that allows for pages upon pages of analysis. It’s what makes Bates Motel possible. There’s more to the film than that famous shower scene. Blending these two stories together, bound by one character, is a tricky thing to do, but when done right, it makes for a wonderful experience. I, for one, want to go back and tell my 18 year old self, sitting in a class called “Introduction to Film Analysis,” that analyzing Psycho will one day pay off. I still might not be able to answer my professor’s question about what that bird/sandwhich scene is all about (I don’t think it’s just one answer), but I can now say that Psycho has another layer to it, and that is A&E’s Bates Motel.
What did you think of Norman’s transformation? Sound off in the comments below.
Megan's TV addiction began with Gilmore Girls. Television taught her everything, from how to survive on an island to how to get away with murder. She will talk TV all day and every day. Follow on twitter @meggh11