There are not enough accolades to give out about Vera Farmiga and her performance as Norma Bates during "The Vault."
Considering Norma's story was only a portion of Bates Motel Season 4 Episode 6, we were treated to an absolutely fantastic hour of television.
It's as if Dylan sharing with Norma that Norman was doing so well in Pineview somehow freed her from all restraints. She was just done with the lies and wouldn't stand for them any longer.
Norman was doing really well in Pineview. He had already figured out the connection between his conversations with Mother and his blackouts, even if he's unlear on much else.
Whether discussing them with Dr. Edwards will, in the long run, benefit the situation or not, we'll know somewhere down the road.
What's nice now is how well Dr. Edwards is treating Norman and his Norma, giving us a chance to learn about little Norman along the way, helping us understand why his mind fractured and created a second version of Norma to help him cope with all the trauma.
There was certainly a lot of trauma in their lives.
The situation Faux-Norma described about leaving and being brought back to the house by Norman's father, Sam, when she was raped on the bed, a position that left her hands on the floor, putting her in direct contact with Norman hiding underneath so his little hand grasped hers during the assault, was atrocious.
Norman wouldn't have wanted to remember that, and it would have been unlikely Norma would have ever been able to broach the topic. He was her little boy, for goodness sakes. So in Norman's mind, he created a version of her that did deal with it, but just enough to bury it and keep it from him forever.
I wonder what he'll remember during this therapy that might make him want to kill the version of Norma that he can't control. Or maybe she won't die at all on Bates Motel. She's such a magnificent woman, I can't stand the thought of losing Norma Bates.
Norma picked a good man to go up against. Chick wasn't all that threatening of a bad guy. It was obvious he really liked Dylan, and did like Caleb before it all went to crap. His conversations with Norma about having sex with her brother also seemed oddly friendly in nature.
As much as Chick tried to be a harrowing bad guy, he had a gentlemanly feel about him as he did it. Calling Norma polite and noticing how she moved rather theatrically weren't one-off observations. He was very astute.
I can't get Caleb killed, and I can't kill you, so I'm screwed. I'm screwed! You got me! All I wanted was my frickin' window fixed, and now you're gonna destroy my frickin' life, so just go right ahead. JUST GO RIGHT THE HELL AHEAD!!!Norma
When Norma reconnected with Caleb, it was the most difficult thing she ever did. But she came to terms with the hell that was her life and the incredibly odd and horrifying way she and Caleb got through it. It was unconventional, and frightening and ultimately very ugly, but out of it came Dylan, who is beautiful.
Norma had to reconcile all of that in order to become the sane and caring person she is today, the one who has allowed herself to fall in love with Alex Romero.
When Dylan warned her off of doing something destructive, she knew he was right. She decided it was better to let the truth fall where it may than to be responsible for more darkness in her life.
Chick: You know what they say. You never know what you're capable of until you're tested. Isn't that right?
Norma: What are you sayin', are you sayin' that we all have things hidden inside us? Secrets that we don't want anyone to know? Things that other people might know and hold over your head even though you personally have done NOTHING to them?
Romero: He's just talking about the window, Norma.
Norma: You're going to be packin' your bags soon, so just, just stay out of it. Go ahead, tough guy. Do what you're gonna do. Break the woman in half. Because you know what? I'm not broken. I am still standing, so go ahead. DO YOUR BEST, YOU GIANT LAME ASSHOLE!
Chick: I hope you enjoy your new window, Norma Bates. [kisses her on the cheek]
That scene was astounding. She didn't for an instant believe she had made any sort of impact on Chick, because Norma isn't confident enough (or she wasn't) to believe she could make such an impact. But she discounted how strong and beautiful the truth can be.
Chick realized he had to let Caleb go, or at least let go of Norma's involvement, because it wasn't her fight, and he saw in her a lot of himself. That astute man knew strength of character when he saw it, and if Norma was willing to let it all ride, he'd deliver her that frickin' window.
What came after, with Norma explaining her history in its entirety to Romero, including how she had never loved anyone enough to feel obligated to tell them the truth was so incredibly moving. Once again, Norma was certain her new husband would rather pack a bag than remain with a tainted woman like her.
But if he's packing a bag, he only wanted to know where they were going, leaving Norma weeping in his arms with relief. It's a love Norma's never had before, one about which she can be honest and not feel guilty. Except when it comes to Norman, who still doesn't know about her marriage.
Her love for Romero might be so strong that telling Norman, at least a non-institutionalized Norman, would be a frightening prospect. Hopefully, Norma can share with Romero all of her life secrets, including any she's holding back about her son. Their lives may depend upon it.
However, Dylan discovered the letter and bear from Audrey to Emma. Dylan was still planning on moving to Seattle, but that may change things. He's about to investigate. All he knows so far is she checked in, but she never checked out.
Given what else he knows about Norman pre-Pineview, he may or may not let that derail his own future and that of his family. We know those Bates, they never let anything rest.
This was one of the best episodes of the entire Bates Motel series, the second to occur during Bates Motel Season 4. Who would have expected so many good hours with Norma and Norman separated? Yet, here we are.
If you haven't watched, please watch Bates Motel online. Keep an eye out for our Bates Motel round table later this week. We're sure to have a lot to talk about! For now, hit the comments with your thoughts on this spectacular episode.
Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer and critic for TV Fanatic. She's a member of the Critic's Choice Association, enjoys mentoring writers, conversing with cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film with anyone who will listen. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.