Bates Motel S4 E3 Review: “Til Death Do You Part”
This week’s episode, “Til Death Do You Part” takes us even further into the mythos of the Norman Bates we know from the films. Emma and Dylan go for a walk where they discuss their future. Norman meets new people and makes new friends, Alex Romero scores a comp’d meal, and a problem on the motel grounds is buried forever. Norma frets, Romero packs, and Norman finds a way to live in a world without belts. Spoilers for Bates Motel S4E3, “Til Death Do You Part” follow.
It’s the happy day of the Bates-Romero wedding. These two are totally ready to be married. Except that they have no rings, and barely know each other, and haven’t discussed where they’ll live. Norma doesn’t even seem to realize what an enormous risk her new fake-husband is taking in marrying her. Of course it has to look real. Of course they have to live in the same home. But there’s more going on here. In the final act of Hitchcock’s Psycho, it’s discussed that “Norman murdered his mother and her lover.” In the original story, Mother’s beau was married to someone else. He promised to leave his wife, which no man in history has ever lied about. The point is that when Norman kills his Mother later on this season (you know it’s coming, don’t lie), there’s a very high chance that he’ll kill Romero as well. If he doesn’t, Romero will have no doubt that Norman is the killer.
Being that the girl getting a lung transplant and her drug-dealer boyfriend are the cheerful parts of the episode (thanks, Beck!)—the mood lightens considerably when Dylan and Emma go for their walk. Emma and Dylan are both total wild cards at this point. Dylan has been a great character. But mythos-wise, he can’t be part of the main story. And he would also know that Norman killed Mother. Emma deserves to live happily ever after. But honestly, what are the odds of that? They discuss Dylan firing Gunnar and getting out of the drug biz. She thinks that’s a fine idea.
Norman is highly resistive to being at Pineview, and doesn’t really care how much trouble it was to get him in there. Rules in the nut-house are annoying as hell, so I feel his pain. As far as he knows, his mother made him go there so she could continue murdering people. Nice work if you can get it, right? Norman is rude to the staff, screams at the doctor, and makes no effort to get along with anyone. All of this is highly unlike the Norman we’ve known up until now. But then, he has a lot on his mind(s). All he wants is to get some medication for his blackouts. I’m not sure there’s a medication that helps you remember not to kill people. Back at the Bates-Romero home, Alex scores a free meal and takes his new wife out to a fancy restaurant. Can I just say that the ring Romero gave Norma is stunning? I want to say it was his mothers, but I’m not positive.
Norman doesn’t understand even the basics of therapy. He feels powerless, and is really super angry. His tone is dismissive and superior, which is surprisingly common among mental health patients. This scene films Norman in a weird way that gives him a huge shadow. I was mesmerized by that shadow, even while Norman was yelling. In true Norma fashion, she calls the hospital and freaks out at not being able to talk to Norman right away. Still not getting it, she leaves him a sappy and basically meaningless message. At dinner, Norman meets Julian (played by Marshall Allman of True Blood and Mad Men). Julian thinks that, “Sometimes a person thinks someone needs help—because THEY need help.” He also thinks parents are optional.
Norma’s dinner with her new husband is charming. They discuss their previous marriages and random hookups. Romero has been married before. We’re also reminded that Norman’s father’s name is Sam—a clear allusion to Psycho. Turns out, Sheriff Sexypants has been getting his giggity on with a lady from the bank. She used to launder money for Bob Paris, which I guess means she’s looking for a new gig. We expect Norma and Romero to sex it up after their fun dinner date. They don’t though. Watch for Norma to declare that, “Sooner or later, I’ll break my neck on those stupid stairs.” No Norma, I’m pretty sure you die via poisoned tea. When Norma wakes, she sees that Alex hired some dudes to fill in that pit. This is a blessing and potential problem at once. Emma’s mom’s body is probably still there. And one of the construction guys found her hideous earring.
Norman doesn’t want to go to yoga, which is declared in colorful terms. Ha! Out at the farm, Dylan arrives to fire Gunnar—and sees that he can’t fire Gunnar because he quits. Not in a jerk way, but in a sweet apologetic hippie way. Dylan is pissed, as he was totally looking forward to firing a hardworking guy for no good reason. Nice, Dylan. Not. He’s on his way out when Chick from last season turns out to be still alive. Surprise! He wants to mess up Caleb, since Caleb messed him up too. That’s an ugly situation that could go any number of terrible ways. Romero heads to his house to find bank lady there, supposedly looking for her lost pink socks. What is she, twelve? He thinks she might have been there to steal his giant stash of cash, but it looks like she couldn’t find it. After she leaves, Romero takes the opportunity to move his dough to Norma’s. Watch for Romero to tell his wife flippantly, “I was just hiding a bunch of money down here.” SMH.
Norma is delighted to see Dylan, and happy that Emma is doing better. He’s not that cool with Romero marrying Norma and thinks Sheriff Sexypants probably wants something in return. It’s not sex, so what else might it be? Is Romero just being a good guy because his mother gave him empathy for crazy people? Norma is still worried about her youngest—not just his well-being, but what he might say about the things he’s done in the past. Norman eventually starts talking during therapy. Watch for him to say, “She’s the most wonderful person in the world!” with a crazy amount of anger. She does ask too much. She does want too much. He’s snapping from the stress. Since season one though, Norman has gone from “There’s something wrong with me,” to “There’s something very wrong with Mother.” That’s the brain protecting him from his own nuttiness.
Dr. Edwards is fantastic. A great combination of empathy, truth, acquiescence, and actual therapy. That’s why I was shocked and bummed that he let Norma visit with Norman ahead of the approved schedule. That never should have happened. When it did though, Norman lets loose on her. “I don’t forgive you,” “I’m afraid of you,” and “I’ve never been so disappointed in anyone,” are all uttered. It’s kind of amazing, except that he’s so damn deranged. Security listens to this conversation, for whatever that’s worth. He’s supposed to be there to get help, but he can’t tell the truth—any truth as he believes it. Poor Norma. She’s far from perfect, but she doesn’t deserve this. After this meeting, Norman needs to see Dr. Edwards immediately. Odd that Edwards didn’t plan for this by having the meeting at a time he’d be available.
Back at the house, Alex is bummed to see his new wife so upset. He’s sure Norman will get over it, but she’s beside herself. Predictably, this is when they decide to sleep together. So it’ll be highly uncomfortable when they’re both feeling differently the next day. When Norman finally does get to see Dr. Edwards, he explains that he has reason to believe that his mother is “insane and might be killing people.” Edwards explains that he’ll have to reveal that to the authorities—you know, the guy Norma just married. Norman does, which means he’s willing to send Mother to a psyche hospital, or prison.
This was a great, if tame episode of Bates Motel. Norman took some big steps toward becoming the killer we know is lurking there. Sure, he’s already killed people, but we also know that he’s just getting started. Norman has already killed as many people as he does in the mythos for the first Psycho movie (4). Let’s see how many sequels they get through by the end of the fifth and final season.
See you’s next week!