Norma and Norman continue their dance, but Norman's actions have them pulling in different directions.
"I don't know why, but unhinged women seem drawn to you," Norma tells Norman in Bates Motel Season 3 Episode 2. It becomes apparent, however, that the woman who is drawn to him, Emma, is quite normal.
It is Norman who becomes unhinged when he is drawn to women, such as Miss Watson, and Annika. Heck, if we're to take that sexual grunt/sigh at the thought of having sex with Emma as any indication, he's fighting very hard to remain hinged with Emma, too.
It was amazing watching Norma try to come to grips with the fact she can't control Norman. She's known this for a while, but she seems genuinely appalled to think he's so utterly unaware of the consequences of things like getting into cars with questionable women, or that he wouldn't even know enough to recognize said questionable women considering his recent past.
The look on Norma's face when she learned Norman was in the car the night Annika disappeared would have been comical if you couldn't actually feel her heart rate rise and practically see the steam come out of her ears. The photo in this review is from the scene, and frankly it doesn't do her justice.
Thank goodness she had some time from the moment of discovery to confronting Norman because if he had been at her side when that information came to light, it could have been very ugly, indeed.
Norman sounded more petulant than usual as he made excuses for spending time with Annika and the look on his face when Norma was in the restaurant trying to glean information about her made me a little queasy. It's getting difficult to tell what bad behaviors he's aware of and what he's not, and I'm wondering if we'll ever learn the difference.
From what we've seen, he hasn't blacked out or had any kind of episode in some time. Have they become so seamless they're undetectable, or is he more in control of them?
The times I'd question are when Norman is around Emma. When they were planning their date and she took his hands in hers, he was noticeably distressed. While it could be chalked up to first date jitters, it seemed much more than that, as if he knew what might come and if he let go she could be next.
Why that's different is it didn't seem like an "I know I might hurt you because people said I could" deal, but an "I know I might hurt you because I know exactly what I did to others" deal, if you know what I mean.
Emma's observations of Norma's relationship with Norman keeping him from becoming an adult and their resulting discussion about Peter Pan and Wendy were not only well thought out, but led to that guttural reaction from Norman at the idea of sex with Emma. Everything in his performance is so subtle, and watching Freddie Highmore shiver and shake and sigh his way through the scenes is amazing.
A lot of people wanted Annika to be safe, but what are the odds the floater is some other blonde who happened to go missing? While the body is screaming red herring, it's not necessarily because Annika's not dead.
The installment was titled "The Arcanum Club," so there has to be more to it. What we see next of Tracy Spiridakos may very well be in flashbacks showing what happened to Annika leading to her dead body floating in the pond. Since her body wasn't overly bloated, she could have been killed at the club. Kevin Rahm was watching a shaded chick have sex at Arcanum. He's not going to be a one andd one character. Chalk him up to the conspiracy!
Unless Romero did some really good sleuthing inside the Club, Norman will likely be the lead suspect in Annika's possible death, which will pinch Norma's face right up. While Norman was so certain everything would be OK, it will probably cause a blackout making something else very not OK. Isn't that how these things work?
Or, I'm completely off the mark, Annika really was a cool, but misunderstood paid party girl who just wanted Norman to drive her car back to the motel for her for an otherwise mysterious reason and she'll pop up alive and happy (as happy as one can be after that crappy party). But, sex 'em up and dump 'em seems more likely in that situation, right? Norman's in trouble.
But Norman wasn't the only Bates boy in distress this week. Things on the mountain aren't going to be idyllic for Dylan, but perhaps having Uncle Daddy around isn't going to be all bad. It's still not easy to understand where he truly stands, but Caleb has no intention of letting anyone bully his son.
Caleb is also a very good shot. What he hell was with neighbor Chick? Why did he drop by whistling with the story of a dog gone missing only to later claim he didn't even have a dog? That was lost on me. Is that an in-joke in the marijuana business that I'm unfamiliar with (as would be all the jokes)?
It made me laugh when Caleb said oh, yeah, sure, we'll just drop everything if we see your dog and let you know. He was being nice and terribly cocky at the same time and it just worked. Kenny Johnson has a knack for these types of characters; there's a reason he's a wanted man for similar roles.
While it's nice to see Dylan, I really don't want two completely separate storylines for Norma and Norman vs Dylan and Caleb, so I hope there is a master plan of convergence in action. I get it doesn't necessarily make sense for them to spend time together, but Dylan off in the woods just doesn't sit well, especially when the material between him and Norma is begging to be explored.
I'm all for the mother/son and father/son bonding moments (Did you catch the hug between Norma and Norman when Norman clung just a nanosecond too long, making it suddenly uncomfortable?), but let's make them more relevant to the overarching story and not general thuggery.
If you're here, pop a thought or two in the comments. You came all this way, after all, and this series warrants discussion!! Who knew, in 1960, we'd still be talking about Norman Bates?! Amazing. If you haven't seen the premiere, you can watch Bates Motel online via TV Fanatic to catch up.
Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer for TV Fanatic. She's a member of the Broadcast Television Journalists Association (BTJA), enjoys mentoring writers, wine, and passionately discussing the nuances of television. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.