This week, Norman found a father figure much better-suited to his unique temperament and interests, Norma fought to play some kind of hand against her many obstacles, and Dylan showed what kind of potential leader he could be for Gil and the organization.
Once it was clear through the promo photos and the episode title that part of this story would deal with Norman learning the craft of taxidermy, it would have been too simple to overplay his new hobby for purely a sinister effect. Instead, his tutelage under Emma’s father brought the boy a sense of purpose along with another male figure in his life—don’t worry because Norma still tried to step in on what she deemed a less than normal activity for her son to partake in.
Kudos to Mr. Decody for standing up to her and for her son’s actual well-being by defending his interest in something he could be quite adept at. It’s good for his self-esteem and sadly I think Norma could understand that if she wasn’t going through so much internally that she refused to process.
Most of Norma’s scenes this week dealt with her struggle to find success and a chance to fit in for herself and her family in order to restore their name, and more importantly make herself feel like she’s in control of something following her various victimizations at the hands of Keith Summers and Zack Shelby respectively. Unfortunately for Norma, her sloppy threats made against Sheriff Romero and her combative reaction with Norman’s principal, teacher, and later his therapist served to show the cracks in Norma’s veneer. Of course, the very shall we say, close, relationship she has with her son sends up just the kind of red flags to other members of the community that make the idea of fitting in an impossible goal to reach in the first place.
However, it’s important to realize just how much Norma sacrifices for the sake of Norman. She has changed her entire life for the good of her son and since she stepped foot into White Pine Bay, things have been going from bad to worse for her. Watching Norma stubbornly proclaim that she was completely in control of her own life as she was barely able to speak the words was heartbreaking. We know the truth, we know it was Norman that killed her husband and it’s brutal to watch this fairly average woman thrust into terrible situations all because she wanted to protect her son from the world.
Her current bad situation is the arguably the most nasty one yet as the mysterious man in room number nine, Jake Abernathy, becomes Norma’s latest adversary. Sure he’s shady, skeevy even, but we didn’t actually know much about what he’s capable of until now. After Norma’s caught following him around late at night, and after a rather uncomfortable confrontation when Norma comes around to clean his room, she takes out her frustrations in feeling powerless deep down on Abernathy by threatening him. She demands he leave right away to which he replies, ‘if you wanna play, we’ll play.’ He also claimed to be the top run of a ladder where Keith Summers is on the bottom—my theory about his involvement in the sex trade gaining traction. But he could also be the vague ‘big boss’ that Remo mentioned to Dylan when he said Gill wasn’t the true man in charge of their operation. Jake Abernathy can get at anyone though as he proved with the horrific sight of Deputy Shelby’s decaying post-autopsy corpse placed on Norma’s bed. Apparently, that’s what we’ll play means.
Until the end of the episode, Dylan was off on his own story with Remo as they went to collect a group of ungrateful hippies who work as trimmers for Gill. Those are the people that cut the marijuana from the plants so it can be sold, Dylan shouldn’t feel badly about not knowing that slang as I sure as hell didn’t. His need to prove himself to Gill makes me that much more curious if he basically told the big boss, Abernathy, to fuck off last week. That’s going to be awkward for the sake of staying on in the organization. His best scene involved Norma reaching out to her half-son and offering to spend time with him as a means of showing her gratitude for Dylan basically busing in some motel patrons. I ship Dylan/future happiness so badly but I just know that my OTP is probably never going to be canon on such a dark show.
There are only two episodes left even though it feels like the series has just started, but that just shows what an engaging ride it’s been so far. Is everyone going to make it out alive? Probably not, but I have a feeling that we might just see the emancipation of Norman Bates if the promo is any indication of where things are going. That would be a truly nifty twist on the mythology of the character.