Norman and Mother Live La Vie en Rose on BATES MOTEL


Season 5, Episode 2 “The Convergence of the Twain”
Written by Alyson Evans and Steve Kornacki
Directed by Sarah Boyd

[Images courtesy A&E/Cate Cameron]

Thomas Hardy’s 1915 poem “The Convergence of the Twain” describes the inevitable meeting of two objects: the great ocean liner Titanic and the North Atlantic iceberg that sank her in 1912. This episode avoids overtly catastrophic collisions; but it does set several characters on an inescapable route back into the orbit of Norman and Mother in White Pine Bay.

 

 RELATED ~ Review – Bates Motel Season 5  Episode 1   “Dark Paradise

 

Norman (Freddie Highmore) triggers the first return journey when he visits Alex Romero (Nestor Carbonell) in jail. Norman knows how much Alex must hate being confined, since Norman too was cooped up against his will at the Pineview Institute; he believes Romero engineered that confinement to get Norman out of Norma’s life.  Their little chat ends with Romero promising Norman, “I’m coming for you when you least expect it.”

 

Good News – Romero has a visitor. Bad News – it’s his stepson Norman.

After a fight with another inmate lands Romero in the prison infirmary with a concussion, Alex latches onto the suggestion that someone found out he used to be a policeman and targeted him. His lawyer is confident he can get Romero transferred to a work farm for his own safety. Alex agrees. Now that he’s had time to deal with his wife’s death, Romero realizes he has a “responsibility to take care of the son she left behind.”

Dylan and Emma (Max Theriot and Olivia Cooke) instigate the second return journey of the episode. Emma’s gentle but very straightforward insistence last week that Caleb (Kenny Johnson) could not stay in their home did the trick. Caleb leaves a note for his son/nephew and his wife, then heads for White Pine Bay – and Norma.

Norma’s car is parked by the hotel, but the house and hotel are empty. Norma’s room looks very lived in, while Norman’s bedroom is pristine – save for a copy of The Lost Art of Mummification on his bed.

Caleb hikes back to town to find a room, only to discover from the clerk at a local motel that Norma is dead – a suicide everyone knows about because it made the papers. Stunned with grief, Caleb later breaks down, sobbing at Norma’s tombstone.

 

Caleb Calhoun can’t believe what his nephew Norman wrote on Norman Louise’s tombstone either.

 

The suspicions Caleb expressed to Norma about her son are reinforced by a memorial inscription (written by Norman) that’s so over the top it must be quoted in full to appreciate the full batcrap crazy overwrought-ness it expresses.

Lovliest Mother, Sweetest Friend, Most Beautiful Woman, Dearest Heart; Purest Soul, Happiest Playmate. Wife.

This World has lost an Angel. You Will Always Live in My Heart. I Will Never Forget You Dear Mother. There’s a Cord Between Our Hearts, Forever and Ever Until the Sky Comes Down.

Always.

Love.

Norman.

 

Turns out the hotel and house were empty because Norman stopped for coffee in town after his oh-so-pleasant trip to see his stepfather. It is a  COMPLETE COINCIDENCE  that Norman chooses the coffee shop across the street from Madeline Loomis’ Village Hardware. It is also TOTALLY ACCIDENTAL that he sits next to the door where Madeline (Isabelle McNally) can’t help but see him.

Norman makes his way through some painfully awkward chitchat before Mrs. Loomis says something he’s interested in. Can she set him up on a date? That’s not the part Norman find interesting; rather it’s the arrangement of a double date Madeline’s friend Joanne (Andrea Brooks) with Norman. Madeline’ll be accompanied by her husband Sam (Austin Nichols).

When Sam arrives at the coffee shop — and turns out to be none other than the “Mr. David Davidson” Norman rented a room to recently — how can Norman refuse?

 

At least Mother got out of the house, even if it’s only to spy on Norman’s double date.

 

The double date goes about as well as can be expected — which is to say, horribly. The “conversation” lurches from Joanne’s nattering on about her job dissatisfaction to Sam and Norman trading veiled barbs regarding “David Davidson” and Sam’s threat to beat Norman to a pulp if he revealed anything to Madeline. The mention of his mother’s suicide sends Norman over the edge and running to the bathroom.

Where, of course, Mother appears. Not for her a boring evening at home drinking, smoking, and listening to depressing Edith Piaf records. She’s tracked Norman down and confronts him with “when did you start lying to me?” Norman shoos her out the bathroom window and back to the car.

Wandering into a bar after the dinner, Norman as Mother unloads her resentments to a bartender who sees Norman sitting before him. “I hate my job,” Norma complains that she’s stuck as a “caretaker for a mentally ill person.” Norman as Mother then makes it home without a blackout and slips into a robe.

Even as a figment of Norman’s imagination, Mother sports a fabulous cloche hat.

There is a convergence in the final act: grief-stricken Caleb reunites with White Pine Bay’s favorite creepazoid forest dweller/stained glass artist, Chick Hogan (Ryan Hurst) at a local waterfront watering hole. Chick’s been “helping” Norman with odd jobs around the house, sharing fruit he steals from the neighbor’s trees, and finding specimens for Norman to preserve and Chick to sell.

Chick and Caleb were involved in a “business arrangement” last season that ended with Caleb having all of Chick’s money and Chick beaten to a pulp. So this is not a happy reunion.

Caleb warns Chick to leave him alone; in the course of their conversation, Chick realizes Caleb just learned of Norman’s suicide.  Chick backs off, observes Caleb ranting about Norman’s responsibility for Norma’s death, then decides to follow Caleb back to the Bates place. Knowledge is power, and Chick is, in his way, the Littlefinger of White Pine Bay.

Has Caleb fallen victim to that most of fatal TV Tropes – Curiosity Killed the Cast?

 

In his drunken desire for revenge on Norman, Caleb breaks into the main house and makes his way, eventually, to Norman’s workshop in the basement. He has one horrified moment witnessing his sister’s corpse before a robed and bewigged Norman knocks him out cold.

Chick steps from the shadow, exclaiming “Holy Sh**!” Norman as Mother turns to him. “Well, know you know, Chick. I’m still alive.”

 

Psycho Notes

~ Norman leaves for his double date as Norma listens to “La Vie en Rose” (Life in Rosy Hues) by French chanteuse Edith Piaf (1915-1963).

~ The inevitable, doomed meeting described in “The Convergence of the Twain (Lines on the loss of the Titanic) could refer to many clashing characters on Bates Motel – Norman/Romero, Chick/Caleb, or Dylan/Norman. But I believe it refers to the upcoming fateful encounter between Norman and Marion Crane.
“Alien they seemed to be;
No mortal eye could see
The intimate welding of their history,
Or sign that they were bent
By paths coincident
On being anon twin halves of one august event …”
~ An interview on the February 24, 2017 Variety magazine podcast “Remote Controlled” features a joint interview with Executive Producer Kerry Ehrin and Freddie Highmore and it is worth worth a listen.

~ The local Pine View paper Norman pretends to read while stalking Madeline has a very interesting headline – “Citizen Raise Concerns Over Pineview Institute‘s Security.” Pineview is the mental health institution Norman blames Romero placing him in last season.

~ Madeline Loomis may (or may not be) the Bernice Worden of this season.  As Kerry Ehrin describes it in a TVLine interview , “I always looked at Marion Crane’s situation with Sam [in Psycho] and was like, “What is his issue? Why won’t he just marry her?” I always in the back of my head thought that there has to be some other woman involved. And this was just an opportunity to tell that story.”

But it’s hard for a Bates Motel fan in Wisconsin to meet Madeline Loomis, owner of a hardware store in a small town who strongly resembles Norman’s dead mother — and NOT think of Bernice. So it’s still my Crackpot Bates Motel Theory until proven otherwise!

 

Bates Motel airs Monday night 10/9c on A&E.

 

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