Season 5, Episode 3 “Bad Blood”
Written by Tom Szentgyorgyi
Directed by Sarah Boyd
Last week’s episode of Bates Motel (Convergence of the Twain) set a couple characters on collision courses back to White Pine Bay and their common enemy – Norman Bates. Alex Romero (Nestor Carbonell) received a thorough beat down in prison, then used that to finagle a transfer to a work farm.
Caleb Calhoun (Kenny Johnson) actually arrived in town, learned of Norma’s suicide and wept at her grave. He topped off a Very Bad Day ended with Norman as Mother knocking him into Dreamland.
“Bad Blood” sees some delays for Romero on the road home, while Caleb encounters everyone at the Bates place – Norman, Norma Louise, and Chick – before a final hit and run with Destiny. The most interesting part of the episode belongs to creepy off-the-grid bon vivant Chick Hogan, who makes himself at home in the Bates House of Hallucinations.
Firstly – Caleb. He wakes handcuffed to a pole in the basement of Chez Bates and sees Norma (Vera Farmiga) in a golden halo; she apologizes for hitting him. Caleb relates the happy news about Dylan and Emma’s baby, but as his vision clears Caleb realizes he’s talking to Norman (Freddie Highmore) as Mother. Caleb plays along, telling his “sister,” “You know you can let me go now Norma.” Mother sadly replies that Caleb can’t leave, since he knows Norma is faking her death.
Norman as Mother goes upstairs and finds Chick (Ryan Hurst) tapping away on his phone. Mother observes that Chick has been a good friend to Norman, and wonders why.Chick’s disingenuous reply is completely unbelievable to anyone not named Norman Bates – “I like helping people.” Mother asks Chick if she can trust him. Chick answers with another whopper – “You can trust me, Norma.”
By end of this scene Chick talks his way into Permanent Houseguest status; Norma will need him to protect her and Norman if Caleb is in the house (and still alive).
Norman wakes up in his mother’s bed, remembering nothing of the night before. After Mother urges his to get some rest and “stay out of the basement,” Chick appears at the door with breakfast and a matter of fact admission that plays one way to the audience and another to Norman. “I know about her … I’m not here to judge you. We’re all in this sideshow together and then we die.”
Basement bound Caleb dreams of childhood – huddled and clinging to Norma while their parents raged in another room.Travis Breure and Mira Eden as young Norma and Caleb are wonderfully sad. This brief, heartbreaking moment gives us the roots of the Bates family dysfunction.
Chick brings down some food, which he eats while pressing Caleb for information. Chick declines to interfere in whatever Norman and Mother have planned for their prisoner, “I’m just an observer between you and Norma.” Chick eats while pressing Caleb for details about Caleb’s childhood with Norman and their “crazy” mother. By the time Caleb’s coughed up enough information for Chick, he’s slamming his head into the pole while weeping that Norma was his “everything.”
“Bad Blood” manages to top last week’s Norma/Norman bar scene with a quietly deranged dinner between Chick, Norman and Mother. Turns out that in addition to being “useful and discreet” Chick is a pretty good cook (curry and naan bread for dinner) AND can pretend to “hear” what Norma says to him; all it takes is manipulating Norman into “repeating” what she just said.
Caleb miraculously manages to free himself. In the basement cold room, he sees Norma, so happy to see him. “You can always find me.” As they embrace, her body transforms into a corpse and Caleb wakes, still chained to the pole. Norman watches Caleb, then talks to Caleb as Mother – Norma is not well. “If you unchain me, I promise I’ll help you take care of Norman.” He wishes it could be like when they were little, “in that pure place … I love you Norma Louise.”
Mother sends Chick into town for shopping. While Chick dawdles over manual typewriters, Mother instructs Norman to kill Caleb, who knows too much to live. “Fast and true, right through the brain, right? That’s my boy!”
Norman chooses to free Caleb, only for Mother to take over as he flees chasing him down the stairs to the motel. Chick, again dictating into his phone, doesn’t notice Caleb fleeing across the road until he’s smashed into him.
Former Sheriff Alex Romero makes semi-good on his promise to “take care” of Norman. His successful escape from the custody of two cops (Cameron Forbes and Panta Mosleh) transferring him to the work farm starts with using a convenience store restroom break excuse to steal one cop’s gun and then carjacking a car in the parking lot belonging to a schmuck named Jason (Joshua Hinkson).
Problems set in after Romero ditches Jason (who begs for his life by mentioning his wife, child and mother) several hours walk from the highway. The stolen car develops a flat, forcing Romero to walk. Hours later, he’s gut shot by a pimply-faced farm kid (Malcom Craig)as he’s attempting to steal a car left out in the open with the doors unlocked and the keys inside.
*Last week Chick was scribbling – now dictating and typing. Asked what he’s writing – a novel what kind? True Crime
*If a manual typewriter is good enough for hemingway, Chandler, Hammett, it’s good enough for Chick Hogan!
*Like GoT’s Littlefinger, Chick may be in danger of outsmarting himself.
*While we know a lot of details about Chick – he can cook, fancies himself a writer, likes to wear a kimono – what we don’t know is – why is he so intent on insinuating h imself into the Bates House of Hallucinations?
*Another useless appearance by Madeline Loomis (Isabelle McNally) to bring cookies and complain about Sam. Making the moves on Norman could we be friends and hang out, even though I’m married?”, which is not going to make Mother happy.
*No Dylan, Emma or baby Kate this week. Which is a relief. The less we see of them, the more hopeful I am about their survival chances.