In this week's episode of Bates Motel, "
several underlying themes begin to bubble more prominently to the surface; most notably punishment and atonement. This is treated heavy- handedly in the case of Norma and Norman's relationship after she is arrested for murdering Keith Summers.
Her sons visit her in jail and offer to help. But Norma is angry with both: Dylan for encouraging Norman to go out and meet a girl, and Norman for putting some distance between them. it wasn't just that he snuck out to be with a girl, but also that, for a brief time, Norma's worst fear was realized. Norman wasn't around when she needed him. Their co-dependency is evolving into something slightly more insidious as they start to gain a better understanding of each other's flaws.
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Dylan knows the bond between Norma and Norman isn't normal. He has his own agenda when it comes to his mother. He's holding a grudge because she hasn't shown any penitence for how she treated him and his father. Almost every word that comes out of Dylan's mouth, his every action, his every choice since he arrived has been designed to injure Norma emotionally. Of course, the best way to make Norma pay is to have her precious Norman start to see more clearly the level of dysfunction in their relationship. This doesn't mean that Dylan is simply using Norman as a pawn, on some level I think he cares about his younger brother and hopes to save him from continuing down this dark path with their mother.
Norma and Norman's relationship has been in a state of constant flux since their arrival in White Pine Bay. When Norma began her affair with Shelby, Norman felt guilty because he thought Norma was doing it strictly to protect him. And Norma's motives regarding Shelby remain unclear. Trying to protect the life she is building for Norman and herself was her primary goal, but she also began to appear genuinely aroused by him.
This episode, Norman did his best to be Norma's dutiful son but things have started to change between them. Norma questions his devotion to her since he was out "getting laid" while she sat at home worrying about whether the police were going to come and take her from him. Norman's first sexual encounter is intertwined forever with his mother's disappointment. She's torn between wanting to know the details and being disgusted by his actions. Norman is no longer her little boy. There are girls who can distract his attention from her own needs. He's more like a man now, and Norma's feelings towards men overall leans towards the negative. This is illustrated by the mystery scar on her thigh, the vicious interaction with Summers and the mysterious circumstances surrounding Norman's father's death.
Norman admits to his mother that she scares him at times. Norma is hurt and angered by this revelation. She remains convinced that all she has ever done is what is best for her son. Instead of trying to comfort him when he is vulnerable, she abandons him. When Norman is a "good boy," he is rewarded with his mother's love. Often even to the point of it becoming oppressive and smothering. When he fails to live up to her twisted expectations, she inflicts punishment from her arsenal of weapons: guilt, anger and physical rejection.
Norma rejects her son in favor of Shelby. He apologizes profusely for the role he had in her incarceration. In his presence, she always acts soft and wounded. Shelby tells her that he's in love with her. Norma doesn't reciprocate his sentiment, but she does tell him not to do anything stupid or get caught when he vows to find a way to help her. I do believe Norma has developed an emotional attachment to Shelby, but she manipulates him just as she does her youngest son.
Once the charges against Norma are dropped, she returns home ready to resume her role of loving matriarch. When Norman finds out that Shelby is responsible for Norma's freedom his reaction reeks of Dylan's influence,"So, Mr. Wonderful saves the day again. What's he gonna make you do for this one? What do you expect me to think mom?"Related: TV's Most Messed-Up Mother/Son Relationships
Even though Norma is free, tonight's revelation that Shelby has a second job trafficking sex slaves is bound to put a strain on the relationship. Dylan's hit and run could spell more legal woes for the family as well as draw unwanted attention from the town's mysterious marijuana magnate. And Bradley's abandonment of Norman after his first and only sexual encounter is likely to send him running right back into the loving arms of his mother.Bates Motel
airs Mondays on A&E at 10 p.m.
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