It took until the final moments of tonight’s Bates Motel when I finally decided: “OK. I’m definitely going to add a season pass for this show.”

Finding out that deputy Zach Shelby is holding on to a “memento” Norman took from Keith Summers’ dead body is a shocking event in and of itself to make this episode stand out.

But finding out he’s keeping a Chinese sex slave in the basement: that’s on quite another level in terms of shocking, out-of-nowhere endings.

Since his portrayer is a regular character on the show, it’s not likely that next week we’ll see his boss Alex Romero arresting him. Instead, it’ll be interesting to see the ongoing storyline for Shelby and more importantly how he potentially contributes to Norman’s future life as a psycho.

We saw last week the anger that Bates will need to possess to fulfill his future role, but this week, we started to get hints of the actual craziness he’ll have to cause him to impersonate his mother and kill a woman in the shower.

For starters, he completely forgot he nearly attacked his half brother Dylan in last week’s episode with a meat tenderizer. He doesn’t even believe Dylan when he informs him of it.

Norman also has a fainting spell in school when he imagines his attractive female teacher in a variety of the sex positions illustrated in the Chinese pornographic diary he stumbled across. A hidden desire? Or something he plans on (subconsciously) doing in the future?

Emma, meanwhile, wants to continue looking for answers to who is in that diary, even if part of the reason is just so she can continue to hang out with Norman. (Thus far, Norman’s other love interest, Bradley, seems oblivious to Emma’s interest in Norman. Then again, she’s probably focused on her father’s collapsing health.)

With Emma’s help, Norman discovers the Chinese sex slaves somehow wound up at the Bates Motel–one of whom is now likely the woman in Shelby’s basement.

Norman finds the sex dungeon because he’s in Shelby’s house looking for something else: a belt he took off of Keith Summers’ dead body. Shelby found it after Romero used a search warrant to have all his deputies search the motel for evidence of foul play in Summers’ disappearance. Shelby then told Norma he had it, and would protect her and her son, after she went to his house for a sort of date.

Norman doesn’t have a good answer for his mother on why he kept it. He calls it a “memento,” but it seems to go deeper than that. While Norma suggests you only want to keep a memento from happy moments, Norman seems to think you can also keep them during unpleasant ones.

It’s Norma that convinces Norman to go and retrieve the belt — except it isn’t really her. Norman has a waking dream of her telling him to go get it.

This is the first episode to show so many different potential personality disorders Norman will one day exhibit. It’s a lot to digest in only the third episode, but it’s that cliffhanger ending that will have me coming back for more next week.

Other stray thoughts:

– Dylan doesn’t get much to do in tonight’s episode except remind Norman of the meat tenderizer incident. We do, however, get to see him at his new job which is guarding a pot farm–likely the same pot farm Emma and Norman stumbled across last week.

– Is Shelby really interested enough in Norma to use corny dialogue such as, “You are so beautiful it just makes my heart hurt.” Or is he planning to use her for some other nefarious purpose?

– I really hope we’re not building between a cliche high school love triangle involving Norman, Bradley and Emma.

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(Image courtesy of A&E)

Alan Danzis

Contributing Writer, BuddyTV