[Images courtesy A&E/Cate Cameron]
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. His Worst Day Ever 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, the young actors playing Norma and Caleb, are wonderful in this snippet of memory. This brief, heartbreaking moment gives us the roots of the Bates family dysfunction and indicates the greatest monsters on this show have never been seen – the maternal grandparents of Norman Bates.
Chick arrives in the basement with some food, which he eats while pressing Caleb for information about Norma and their horrible childhood. Chick declines to interfere in whatever Norman and Mother have planned for their prisoner because “I’m just an observer between you and Norma.”
By the time Caleb’s coughed up enough information for Chick, he’s slamming his head into the pole, weeping that Norma was his “everything.” Yup, Chick certainly loves “helping” people.
“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 Norma just said.
Basement Caleb miraculously manages to free himself. He sees Norma in the cold storage room, again lit by that hazy golden glow. She’s so happy to see him – “You can always find me.” As they embrace, her body transforms into a corpse and Caleb awakes still chained to the pole.
Norman watches Caleb, then talks to Caleb as Mother. Caleb attempts to free himself, playing along and talking to “Norma.” “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 with the shotgun she helpfully loads for her son. “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 is so preoccupied with dictating his true crime novel into his phone, he doesn’t notice Caleb fleeing across the road until Caleb is smashed against the windshield. At least Chick doesn’t flee the scene.
Former Sheriff Alex Romero makes semi-good on his promise to “take care” of Norman. His escapes from the custody of the two cops (Cameron Forbes and Panta Mosleh) transferring him to the work farm using a convenience store restroom break excuse to steal the male cops gun, then targetes a schmuck named Jason (Joshua Hinkson) for My First Carjacking by Former Sheriff Alex Romero.
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 himself. Romero attempts to steal a car left out in the open with the doors unlocked and the keys on the inside only to have a pimply-faced farm kid (Malcom Craig) shoot him in the gut.
~ Last week Chick was scribbling out a story that paralleled (or maybe created?) the current Bates Motel storyline. In “Bad Blood” we see him dictating text and buying a manual typewriter. The sales clerk asks Chick what he’s writing. “A novel … True Crime.”
~ Chick name drops manual typewriter-using authors Ernest Hemingway, (Raymond) Chandler, and (Dashiel) Hammett. It’s a bit puzzling that he neglects to mention the writer of one of the first and most influential “true crime novels” ever written – In Cold Blood by Truman Capote.
~ Like Petyr “Littlefinger” Beylish of Game of Thrones/Song of Ice and Fire fame, Chick may be in danger of outsmarting himself. While he’s got the upper hand on Norman and Mother now, it remains to be seen if Chick really understands what he’s gotten himself into.
~ 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 – why is he so intent on insinuating himself into the Bates family?
~ Madeline Loomis (Isabelle McNally) takes up some time with a useless appearance to bring cookies, complain about Sam, and ask Norman “Can we be friends and hang out, even though I’m married?” I’m sure Mother will be JUST FINE with that idea.
~ No Dylan, Emma or baby Kate this week, thank goodness. The less we see of them, the more hopeful I am about their survival past the last episode.
Bates Motel airs Monday night 10/9c on A&E.