Bates Motel – Episode 3: “What’s Wrong With Norman?”

batesmotel5What’s Wrong With Norman? – Episode 3 – Original Airdate 4/1/2013

Lost Syndrome:  A television show inspired by the success of ABC’s hit show Lost, that introduces several intriguing characters and mysterious plotlines very early on.  In most instances, one gets the sense that the shows’ creators are making it up as they go along.  Most of these shows, howsoever good the initial premise, do not get renewed for a second season, if they even get through the first.  (See Flash Forward, Alcatraz, several others.)

Is there a chance that Bates Motel could succumb to the same fate as the many Lost wannabees that have come and gone?  The Lost  comparison is certainly apt here in one respect;  many of Bates Motel‘s producers, directors, and writers worked on Lost.   This show is different from all those shows that have failed to recapture the success of Lost, namely in the connection to the Psycho storyline.  And there are no worries about a second season, because it has already been renewed for next year.  But the thing which I find the most exciting about this show is also the thing that most worries me:  it’s ambition.  So far it has exceeded expectations.  Let’s hope it can maintain its momentum.

So what’s new in White Pine Bay?  Without giving everything away, we have Norman passing out at school, and ending up in the hospital for several tests.    Norman is clearly attracted to Bradley, whose flambe’d father dies in this episode.  And Bradley likes Norman, although it’s a little unclear if her feelings run to the romantic.   There is no question that Emma is attracted to Norman, but he is uncomfortable with her because of the the secret they share, namely the kinky hand drawn journal which Norman found in the first episode, and which now appears to be reality, not fiction.

The sheriff, increasingly suspicious of Norma and her possible involvement in the disappearance of Keith (the asshole she stabbed to death), obtains a search warrant for the house and motel.   It turns out that Norman kept Keith’s utility belt, under his bed of all places.   Yes it is a little cliched, the blossoming killer keeping his first trophy item from a victim.  But it is made all the creepier in this instance by the simple fact that Norman is still an endearing character, and he can’t even explain himself why he kept the belt.  Needless to say Momma Bates is not happy that he kept it.  She stages an early release from the hospital for Norman, and freaks when Norman discovers the belt is gone from under his bed.  Why didn’t the police arrest Norma if they have the belt?

Because the deputy sheriff found it, and kept it himself.  Of course, he offers to “protect” Norma, and we all know that kind of protection comes with a price.  A price it would seem Norma is more than willing to pay!    It is a kind of twisted  mutual seduction,  each person using the other, recognizing that they are being used, and enjoying it all the same.


Meanwhile Dylan has begun his new job, which consists of guarding the massive pot fields outside of town.  And somehow Dylan now seems to be the most normal, balanced member of the family.  He has a bonding moment with his half-brother Norman, even joking about the fight between them in episode two, a fight that Norman doesn’t seem to remember.

Norma has already exhibited a very clingy, protective attitude towards Norman, which certainly fits in with the psychological profile of Psycho.  She definitely does not like Norman spending time with his new female friends.    And the most cringe-worthy moment of the entire series to date (which actually occured in episode two) had Norma changing her shirt in front of her son, and when he appeared uncomfortable she said “I’m your mother.  It’s not like it’s weird.”   Ewwww! A great line for all the fans of Psycho, because we all know  this is the most messed-up mother-son relationship since Oedipus jumped on Jocasta.

The episode ends with Norman being told by his mom (or a hallucination of his mom) that he needs to retrieve the belt from deputy sleazeball’s house.  So Norman breaks into the house, and he doesn’t find a belt, but he does find out just what inspired the drawings in that journal of asian women in bondage.  This town gets creepier by the episode.

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One thought on “Bates Motel – Episode 3: “What’s Wrong With Norman?””

  1. This one is interesting as it is frustrating. I am beginning to question everything Norman sees by himself. To the point where I wonder if he imagined what he saw in the basement.

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