by Autumne Montague
Now that we know that Caleb is Dylan’s father, I think we can all agree that this information explains a lot about Norma and her treatment of her two sons. The vastly different ways she treats them actually. Norman is hers, period. He is her all, her confessor, her secret-keeper, her favorite. Dylan is the mistake laid upon her, her cross to bear to be dramatic as Norma is wont to do.
This episode of Bates Motel is all about knowledge; who knows what and what they do with what they know. Dylan believes that Norman knew everything, although he only knew about the abuse. Emma doesn’t know what happened that night between her and the boy at the party (for the record, nothing). The Sheriff tells Morgan he doesn’t know how things work in town anymore.
Dylan goads Norman by telling him that maybe there’s secrets even he doesn’t know about.
Dylan tells Caleb he knows that he is his father. Caleb tells Dylan that Norma is lying. At home, Norma pleads with Dylan to put it behind him. Dylan argues that he’s a consequence of her actions, insinuating that she’s still lying about being abused by her brother. Dylan asks why Norma had him and doesn’t get a reply. Dylan says that he was an excuse to get out of her house; that she used him by lying about who his father was. Norma actually tells Dylan that it’s not his fault. This is a rare moment that Norma isn’t focused solely on her own feelings. It doesn’t last long because the next words out of her mouth are “it’s not my fault either.”
Norman asks Norma why she didn’t tell him that Caleb was Dylan’s father. He tells her that she can tell him anything. It seems Norman wants to be the Norma’s sole confidante. Norma cries that she wanted to confront Caleb and let him know that she’s not afraid of him anymore, but she couldn’t do it. Norman climbs into bed to comfort her promising that Caleb will leave town and that he will take care of her. The filming of this scene is not subtle at all. Norman’s role as substitute spouse is very apparent with him having an even odder role in his relationship with his mother. He is her protector and will take on her burdens. When she leaves for a date with George, he is the worried father. He will never leave her. This is made very clear by a comment made by Christie when she is trying to convince Norma to go out. She says “…you are a beautiful, young woman living alone with your teenage son…he won’t be here forever and people aren’t meant to live alone.” If only Christie knew.
Norman eventually goes to meet with Caleb alone and repeats verbatim everything his mother had wanted to say to her brother….as though he is his mother speaking in that moment. This could be the first time that we witness Norman Bates taking on the role of his own mother. It’s scary but even more so because he doesn’t break character as he physically fights with Caleb. He is in a trance like none before. He even begins to rub his thigh in the same spot that his mother has her scar. He becomes his mother.
Dylan’s point of view was heard throughout the episode but I thought we could have used more focus on Dylan processing what he has learned. His reactions and interactions are heavily Norma- focused but it would have been interesting to see how he is coping on his own, besides getting passed out drunk. This should be a beginning of a sort of unraveling for him. Since we met him, he has been the outsider of the family; this should solidify that status in his mind and drive him to places that hopefully will further shape him as a character. The funny thing is that he is the odd one out of his family, but seems to fit in more in White Pine Bay than the rest of his family.
I argue that a gentler side of Norma was shown tonight. Her neediness and victim status were firmly in place but her one sentence absolving Dylan from what he came from showed some maternal emotions that she may harbor for her eldest son.
I wonder about the title of the episode “Check Out.” The only person who leaves or “checks out” is Caleb.
Norman is experiencing a sort of metamorphosis. We are now witness to his inner thoughts during his trance-like states. I’m surprised we were given a glimpse so soon in the series of what Norman is to become. The best part of the episode was the nod to the movie in Norman’s assumption of his mother’s persona. It was chilling yet exciting to see the Norman Bates we are expecting begin to emerge.
[Photo via A&E]