Bates Motel: The Calm Before The Storm

James Dittiger/A&E
James Dittiger/A&E

It’s hard to write a review about Bates Motel and talk about something other than Norman and Norma Bates. They are the epicentre of this series, the reason why we’re all watching. If it were not for Norma Bates, there would be no Norman—and there would be no Psycho. She is the heart of this series, as I have said before. So, to see her go through this pain and this struggle, it’s like watching the blood running through the veins of the show. Her most trying moments are the heartbeats of Bates Motel. With each tear running down her face, with each scream from the top of her lungs and with each home cooked meal that she fills with her own denial, she keeps the series moving.

This week’s episode, the aptly titled “The Last Supper,” implied that this is the calm before the storm. In its religious context, the last supper was a dinner that was held because of the knowledge of what was happening next. Norma Bates knows what’s coming and she held an impromptu dinner to pose as a night of happiness to remember during the struggle that she is about to face.

In last week’s episode, Norma acknowledged her son has a problem. He is not normal, as she said. Norma has taken the first step towards an acceptance of her fate. Here she tried to help him by letting James talk to him. However, that didn’t go well. By the end of the episode, Norma knew she wasn’t coming back from these cards that she was given. This is her life. This is her son. And it’s not going to be easy.

Norma began the episode by finding it insane that everything changed because she went away for one night. Yet, by the end, she acknowledged that this is her life. She can’t change anything, from Dylan to Caleb, from Alex to Norman. This is her existence. Besides the fact that Caleb is who he is, she invited him for dinner. She wanted so badly to see at least some part of her dream come true, where friends and family can converse over dinner—where people can be normal. And if she’s not going to get that completely, she’s going to pretend long enough to catch a glimpse of it at this dinner.

Before dinner began, Caleb asked Norma to play the piano for him. The song they played is one from their childhood. It’s obvious that they used to play together as kids, and in this moment we can see what they must have been like. If we pretend like their past never existed, like they were doing this entire night, we can see what could have been. The song, “Tonight You Belong To Me,” played once more in the episode, at the very end when Norman walked into Norma’s room. He sat down next to her bed and felt the shape of her legs as she slept. Norman gained control over his birds and James. He can control Dylan and Emma. Next, he will control Norma. She will soon belong to him.

Everything in Norma’s life is about to turn upside down. Emma’s coughing is getting worse and she knows that she is going to die. Alex Romero knows about his attraction to her and is most likely going to act on it this season. Caleb can’t peacefully stay in White Pine Bay with his past with Norma. Dylan can’t respect his mother while living with his father and keep a healthy conscious about it. Nothing will remain the same by the end of the season.

Meanwhile, Norman is getting more and more manipulative with each passing episode. He will become a notorious killer and the beginnings of that fate start with his manipulation. When James came to talk to him, Norman was in his element. He was working with his animals, a bird to be exact, and he was in his basement. James threatened him by asking questions. In this basement, Norman controls everything and the only way to keep that control with James is to make James feel uncomfortable. Instead of James asking the questions, Norman makes him think that he will answer them, but instead turns them around on James. Norman can control his birds. He can control what happens to them after the die. They are his. And in that basement, everything is his. Norman loses control of James at the stairs, where they lead to Norma’s house with Norma’s decorations and Norma’s control. Soon enough, the entire house will be Norman’s. Until then, Norman will attack anyone that threatens him in his world.

 Overheard at the front desk:

  • “You’re acting like a twit. It’s not masculine and it’s not attractive.” — Norma wanted Norman to change his behaviour while they were in the phone store, sparking Norman to become entertainingly passive aggressive.
  • “Why does everyone immediately jump to ‘I died?’” — The things Norma does not know about her own fate are endless.
  • “That’s nothing new for Norman. There’s always something dead in the basement.” — Norma debunks Dylan’s theory that there’s something wrong with Norman because there are dead animals in their basement.
  • “But I’m keeping him home, he’s going to be safe.” — Norma says this weakly. She knows that she can’t keep Norman safe forever.
  • “I am your mother and I always will be.” — Norman doesn’t like that things are changing and Norma reassured him that she will always be there — she just doesn’t know exactly how much.
  • “We all go a little mad sometimes.” Norma explained that her actions were justified, but also referenced this amazing scene in Psycho, where Norman talked about Norma and how much she controls.
  • “Life is so hard, isn’t it.” — Norma and Alex shared a moment where they acknowledged that their lives are difficult.
  • “I think you’re beautiful.” — A drunk Alex told Norma that she is beautiful, and sent us all on a love trip that we can’t come back from.
  • “I had this dream when I was little of a home where the door was open and friends could come and go and stay of dinner and talk and everything would be lovely. Thank you all for giving me that.” — Norma relished in this one last night before, what she knows, will be the beginning of the end.

What did you think of “The Last Supper?” Sound off in the comments below.

Bates Motel airs Mondays at 9 p.m. ET on A&E.

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