THE BODY (of Evidence) Points to Norman on BATES MOTEL

Season 5, Episode 8  “The Body”
Written by Erica Lipez
Directed by Freddie Highmore

[All images courtesy A&E/Cate Cameron]

Last week, Freddie Highmore made his Bates Motel writing debut with “Inseparable.” This week Highmore again pulls double duty; working behind the camera as director as well as starring as Norman Bates in “The Body.”

This third to last episode moves with intensity as it chronicles Mother’s increasingly desperate attempts to fix the awful “pickle” Norman has landed them in.

 RELATED ~ Review – Bates Motel Season 5 Episode 7  “Inseparable”

Norman (Freddie Highmore) sits in the Bates home living room, eyes shut. We hear Sheriff Greene’s (Brooke Smith)  voice as if from the bottom of a well. She asks, “Can you open your eyes? Can you look at me?” But if Norman opens his eyes, he’ll see Mother stomping furiously towards him.

He shuts his eyes – then opens them. Mother is gone.  Norman works up the courage to defy Mother and speaks directly to Greene. “I need my meds … I can’t be in this house. I’ll tell you everything.”

Dylan (Max Theriot) doesn’t even wait for the EMTs to finish stitching him up before racing out the door. Before Norman’s driven away, he promises to get a lawyer for Norman, “Please let me help you.”

In the police interrogation room, Norman may be fuzzy on the exact location of the well where Sam Loomis rests; as Norman explains, “I just was not myself that night.” Greene speculates that Norman is just acting out for attention but he’s emphatic on that point. “I am not lying about this. I killed Sam Loomis.”

Norman can’t look under the bed – or over his shoulder. Mother is everywhere.

A deputy does give Norman his meds – but doesn’t bother to stay and make sure Norman takes them. Which, surprisingly, he does. Mother senses the threat to her existence and forces Norman to vomit up the pills (Vera Farmiga’s face as Mother daintily drops the toilet paper she used to induce Norman’s vomiting? Priceless)

After the abuse comes the forgiveness. Mother takes Norman in her arms and croons,”You’re sick. You’re weak. You’re not equipped.” She’ll take care of everything.

Norman replies that this is one situation Mother can’t take care of. Mother agrees; she can’t – “not with you here.” Last episode Mother sweetly volunteered to take over if things got to be too much for Norman to handle. With so much at stake, she takes the lead and bashes Norman’s head into the toilet seat. She’ll wake him up after things are safe again.

Hope Dylan saved up some personal time at work. He might be taking care of Norman for some time.

Turns out Dylan hung on to some mementos from his Season One and Two pot-farm employee days, like business cards for local criminal defense attorneys. In a very Twin Peaks-esque diner, attorney Julia Ramos (Natalia Cordova-Buckley) finishes her eggs, bacon, and coffee. Dylan explains (or tries to) the complicated Bates family history to an outsider. Missing mother-in-law and glass-smashing brother included.

Dylan believes Norman “needs to be in a mental facility. He’s crazy … he’s not a bad person or a criminal.” Apparently Dylan’s never heard of the legal concept of “guilty but mentally ill?” At least his heart’s in the right place and he’s paying for Norman’s attorney.

Back at the White Pine Bay Jail, Mother as Norman has had enough of being cooped up like a criminal. She condescendingly informs Sheriff Greene, “Actually Jane, I’d rather leave. I’d very much like to go home now.”

OF COURSE Mother in her arrogance believes it’s as simple as that; throw a hissy fit and get out of jail. Unfortunately, calling the Sheriff’s bluff results in Norman being arrested, not freed. “Enjoy your accommodations.”

Both in the initial meeting with Julia Ramos and a later interview with Greene in the presence of his attorney, Mother as Norman manages to insult the brother providing the attorney, the attorney herself, AND make a mess of attempting to frame someone else for the many bodies showing up.

Mother takes this opening and attempts to frame Madeline Loomis for murder with it. Madeline was a lovely woman and turned to Norman for solace from the pain of her husband’s adultery. What Norman felt for Madeline was “madness.” But as his mother often said, Norman was “too naive about beautiful women, and my mother was always right.” Greene lets Norman talk, on and on, saying nothing but letting the recording device get it all down for posterity.

The Sheriff Greene interview technique; let the other person do the talking

Unfortunately for Mother, dental records trump any attempt to frame Madeline Loomis. The second body in Lake This Is Where We Hide The Bodies is identified through dental records as Audrey Ellis, Emma’s missing mother. Greene has Norman perp-walked back to the interrogation room to cool his heels. Mother reassures Norman that it’ll be over soon and he can come back when they get home. After all, she misses him.

Then Greene enters the room. Mother taunts the Sheriff – it’s nice of her to visit, but Norman has nothing to say. Greene informs Norman that since he’s also being charged with the murders of Jim Blackwell and Audrey Ellis, he doesn’t have to say anything.

Mother doesn’t realize who’s the cat and who’s the mouse just yet.

Romero Watch Featuring Chick Hogan

Yay! Chick (Ryan Hurst) Is Back!  Our favorite White Pine Bay weirdo pulls into the motel parking lot, listening to classic 70’s folk crooner John Denver with a freshly dead racoon in a sack for Norman. Stopped by the police from barging his way up to the house, Chick reveals his actual name (Charles Hogan). In return, Chick deduces that such a massive police operation could only mean one thing for Norman – a murder investigation.

Chick is sincerely relieved Norman’s not dead.  But his arrest does leave the Bates house empty and need of a caretaker …

Former Sheriff and Current Escaped convict Alex Romero continues his implacable journey to avenge Norma’s death. He steals his gun from a sleeping Maggie (Jillian Fargey) to wander the empty Bates Home. Seeing phantom visions of his wife everywhere, Romero finally falls asleep on her bed.

But he isn’t alone with his memories. Through the vents, Romero hears a muffled dialogue. He follows the voices to Norman’s cold storage shrine that formerly held the corpse of his mother.

Amid the dead flowers and candelabra, Chick Hogan listens to the tape of his demented dinner with Norman and “Mother” while he writes his masterwork. Dressed like Grizzly Adams gone mad, Chick admits, “this looks weird.”

Unfortunately for his survival odds, Chick decides to respond to Romero’s basic question -what are you doing here? – with an only-from-Chick soliloquy praising the demented magnificence of Norma and Norman.

Romero slowly loses patience with Chick’s ramblings. Chick tells him that Norman dug up his mother, put her on private display, then got rid of the body before the police showed up, building his monologue to a truly magnificent finale.

He dug her up! The artificiality of scripted drama doesn’t hold a candle to True Crime!

Alex unceremoniously shoots Chick straight between the eyes. Chick, silenced at last, falls to his keyboard and we hear the tiny “ding!” of the return bar.

Psycho Notes

~ What Dylan calls “multiple personality disorder” is more commonly known today as Dissociative Identity Disorder.

~ to his brother’s belief, in many states Norman could be found to be BOTH mentally ill AND a criminal. Oregon follows a Guilty Except for Insanity guideline, governed by a Psychiatric Security Review Board.

~ If you were wondering “Remo Who?” with respect to who gave Dylan “Julia Ramos, Attorney At Law” card, you’re not alone. Back in Dylan’s career as a pot farm flunky, Remo Wallace was a co-worker.

~ Chick Hogan, a John Denver fan? He’s listening to “Back Home Again” as he pulls into the Bates Motel for his “business meeting” with Norman.

~ Sheriff Greene’s technique is neither the old-fashioned “good-cop bad-cop” or less confrontational techniques used in other countries. Greene uses an information-gathering interview style that encourages Norman (or Mother as Norman)to  do most of the talking.

~ Mother as Norman describes  Sam Loomis as a “nasty, nasty man” and a Madeline Loomis throwing herself on Norman echoes Mother in Psycho haranguing Norman about  “young men with cheap, erotic minds,” and Norman remarking, “She might have fooled me, but she didn’t fool my mother.”

~ The next to last shot of “The Body” is Sam Loomis’s corpse being pulled out of the well. The last shot of Psycho – Marion Crane’s car dragged out of the pond.


Bates Motel airs Monday 8/9 Central on A&E.


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