Season 5, Episode 6 “Marion”
Written by Carlton Cuse & Kerry Ehrin
Directed by Phil Abraham
Last week “Dreams Die First” gave us Bates Motel Presents – The Marion Crane Story. This week, “Marion” goes towards, into, and beyond the most shocking moment of the first slasher movie (spoiler alert – it concerns a shower).
Former Sheriff and Current Prison Escapee Alex Romero (Nestor Carbonell) is (we hope) still recuperating. Emma and Dylan (Max Theriot and Olivia Cooke) learn of Norma’s supposed “suicide,” and experience the callousness Norman (Freddie Highmore) displays towards any family member not named Mother. And, of course, Marion Crane checks in at the Bates Motel.
Norman, Marion, and Mother
Marion (Rihanna), a bit soggy but still looking fabulous in her crushed blue velvet coat, waits for Norman to descend the looonnggg set of stairs from the house. Norman nervously offers Marion an “off-season stormy middle of the night” rate of $60.00 (he doesn’t mention Room One’s Peeping Tom special). Marion signs in as “Marie Samuels.” Norman helpfully points out the Bates Motel stationery before going back to the house; he’s going to make Marion something for dinner.
Norman prepares a ham sandwich for Marion while beginning an episode long knock-down drag-out battle of wits between what’s left of his sanity and the Mother (Vera Farmiga) in his head.
It starts quietly. Mother nitpicks Norman’s choice of wheat for a ham sandwich. Norman uses a very large knife to Marion’s sandwich while deflecting Mother’s verbal jabs. “What game are we playing tonight, Mother?” Mother slices an apple. Norman argues, “You don’t exist. I made you up … You have no power over me and I’m going to prove it.”
Norman’s big act of rebellion? Having dinner with an attractive woman. Norman watches Marion eat “like a bird” and they exchange sad stories of their respective childhoods. Norman’s stuffed birds blindly observe.
Marion spins a mix of probable truth (only child, mother died early, shunted off to an aunt in Miami) with some lies (she’s from Los Angeles). Norman paraphrases one of Anthony Perkins’ most famous lines, bemoaning “the private traps that everyone lives in” including the family trap. “We need people, but that need can destroy us.”
A call from Lying Philanderer Sam Loomis (Austin Nichols) breaks up dinner. Norman gets an earful of Marion tearing into Sam while his handy spy hole offers a voyeurs-eye view of Marion preparing to take a shower in Room One. Norman becomes more aroused. Mother reminds him, “I’m with you Norman, don’t forget that. This is why you need me.”
Now Bates Motel takes a major swerve from the original Psycho story. Marion stops her shower, hastily dresses, and insists on seeing the motel registry. She heard Madeline (Isabelle McNally) screaming in the background during her call to Lying Sam. If Norman would be so kind to let her look at the register, she can make sure he’s OK.
Norman sees a golden opportunity to get even with Sam Loomis. Last week he spilled the beans to Madeline Loomis about her husband’s affair; now he informs Marion that her boyfriend is married. She doesn’t have to check the register. Norman knows the address and happily writes it out for her.
Marion sees the truth and trashes Sam’s car. Sam runs out to confront his girlfriend. Madeline sees the truth and promptly locks Sam out of their house.
Back at the Bates place, Norman attempts to make another sandwich, ignoring the feast Mother has prepared. He rebuffs her attempts at domesticity. “Don’t pretend you’re her.” In retaliation, Mother trashes the kitchen, screaming “Is that real? Say I’m real!” as plates smash on the floor and dinner is swept off the table.
Norman buckles and admits Mother is real. She turns off the fury and embraces her son. We see Norman standing alone, leaning into her embrace amidst a disaster zone of food and broken crockery.
Norman returns to the motel and sees Marion’s car is back. Marion herself is kneeling in a room strewn with clothes, gazing at the $400,000 she stole for Sam. Norman gingerly moves some undergarments out of the way and sits on the bed next to Marion. Bad decision. He becomes more and more agitated. He begs her to leave: “Get out of here while you still can.”
She does. Marion takes the money and hightails it out of White Pine Bay. A cell phone flies out the window as she speeds away.
But someone has to get murdered Room One! Thankfully, Sam Loomis stumbles in. No girlfriend around to hear his (fake) apology? Sam decides to clean up while waiting for Marion to respond to a message she’ll never get.
In the motel office, Mother gives Norman the fruit of the poisonous tree — knowledge of good and evil. “You get the truth Norman, but also the pain.” Mother exists because of men like Sam Loomis. Mother kills for Norman because as a child he couldn’t protect Norma from Sam Bates’ physical abuse. Now Mother and Norman are “equal partners.” It’s time for adult Norman to do what the child could not.
Norman protects Madeline the way he couldn’t protect his mother. He stabs Sam Loomis to death and asks, “Mother, what have I done?”
Dylan and Emma
Back in Seattle, Emma shows Dylan the White Pine Bay Current headline from two years ago — “Norma Bates, Business Owner, and Local Sheriff’s Wife, Found Dead in Apparent Suicide.” Dylan calls Norman, who is cold, flippant and dismissive to his half-brother. Dylan changed his phone number and cut off contact. It’s Dylan’s own fault Norman didn’t tell him their mother was dead. After a few minutes, Norman cuts Dylan off with a curt goodbye and hangs up.
~ Composer Chris Bacon’s music throughout this episode channels the surging nervous energy of Bernard Hermann’s iconic all-strings score for Psycho.
~ Poor Sam Loomis. From Philandering Lying Liar Who Lies – to Philandering Lying Liar Who Is Now Dead.
By assigning the Shower Scene to Sam, there’s an interesting change in the dynamics of the Psycho story, along with a shift of the meaning of this scene within the overall Bates Motel story.
In Psycho, Marion was murdered by Norman As Mother because she was a woman and (in my opinion) she made a choice to break free of her trap. Marion chooses to return to Phoenix and face the consequences of her actions. Norman, stuck in his own trap, can’t stand to see anyone else break free. Most importantly, we knew Marion; we understood her motivations and were shocked by her death.
Sam Loomis is murdered by Norman as Norman because he is just like Sam Bates. Because he’s been pretty much a constant lying jerk to everyone he’s met, the murder of Sam Loomis is, while not meaningless, more like the murder of (as TVTropes.com calls them) The Unlikable Victim (well, they call is something else that begins with an A- and ends with -le).
Sam isn’t really a character whose death we care about except in how it moves the story along; watching him die is not much different than observing Jason murdering Stupid Camp Counselor #1 in a Friday the 13th movie.
~ Actor Austin Nichols, in an interview with Yahoo, mentions that there were certain aspects of Psycho they show runners wanted to adhere to, and The Shower Scene is one of them. Check out this anatomy of the Psycho shower scene from The Guardian then re-watch the last few minutes of “Marion” to compare the two.
~ Nice bit of symbolism of the apple handled by Mother, uneaten by Marion, but given to Norman when he learns the truth of what Mother represents in his mind.
~ Since Marion sounded like an only child, looks like we won’t see a sister named Lila snooping around the Bates Motel. Previews for next week’s “Inseparable” show Madeline Loomis looking for her missing husband instead.
Bates Motel airs Monday 9/8 Central on A&E.