[All images courtesy A&E/Cate Cameron]
Season 5, Episode 9 “Visiting Hours”
Written by Scott Kosar
Directed by Olatunde Osunsanmi
Despite a little bit of filler in the RomeroWatch story, “Visiting Hours” brought this season’s three parallel storylines (Dylan & Emma, Romeo, and Norma/n) together with plenty of heartbreak all around. Emma says goodbye to a mother she barely knew while Romero adds to his lengthy list of felonies on his way to a reunion with his stepson Norman.
“Visiting Hours” opens with a snippy Mother (Vera Farmiga) grudgingly putting up with the indignities of being booked for multiple counts of murder in the 1st Degree. Electronic fingerprinting, mug shot — so undignified! Over at the Bates place, Sheriff Greene (Brooke Smith) oversees a mass of crime scene techs sweeping over the grounds.
Even if Mother refuses to talk, there’s plenty of physical evidence being collected. A deputy’s discovery of the suitcase belonging to Emma’s mother is one-upped by a tech discovering Chick’s (Ryan Hurst) body slumped over his typewriter in the basement. Poor Chick; he died as he lived — an unpublished writer.
Dylan (Max Theirot) is stunned to see Emma (Olivia Cooke) pulling into the parking lot of the King’s Motel. He embraces her tightly as Emma explains, “I want to be here to help you with this.” Her concern turns to shock as Dylan breaks the news of her mother’s death; he knows Norman is responsible.
After all they’ve been through, realizing the truth about Norman may break their relationship. Even as Emma reassures Dylan that “it’s not your fault,” her emotions rapidly shift to vengeance. She doesn’t want to hear Dylan say anything supporting Norman. At this point, Emma swears she’ll kill him herself (though she will have to get in line behind Alex Romero, of course).
Unfortunately for Norman, Mother’s strategy for resolving the “pickle” they’re in amounts to declaring “I didn’t do it – so Not Guilty!” She’s not as thrilled by Julia Ramos’ (Natalia Cordova-Buckley) news that even with a best-case scenario, a Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity verdict will land Norman in a mental institution for life. To Mother, physical death or life in a mental institution mean the same thing: hell. Mother puts her Norman act into overdrive, telling her attorney, “everyone has multiple personalities, Julia.”
This interview with her client compels Julia to visit Dylan and Emma. She begs Dylan to attend the preliminary hearing. Given the amount of evidence gathered by the state and what’s she heard and seen from her client, Julia needs Dylan to be at the preliminary hearing. Dylan is Norman’s connection to humanity; she needs all the help she can get putting Norman’s illness front and center.
Emma goes to White Pine Bay’s only funeral home. She arranges for a less expensive cremation for the mother she had no relationship with in life and will now never have a chance to know. Emma’s stoic act breaks down when she makes her pilgrimage to Norma’s headstone. Emma cries openly by Norma’s headstone. “I’m so sorry, Norma. I miss you.”
At least she chooses a memorable spot to disperse her mother’s ashes. In sight of majestic snow-capped mountains, Emma shakes the ashes free while “Crimson and Clover” reverberates around her.
Dylan, prompted by the photos of his mother and brother, attends Norman’s preliminary hearing. He avoids the front row seat reserved for him by Julia Ramos and sits in the back row. Both he and Madeline Loomis (Isabelle McNally) leave the courtroom after hearing the matter of fact descriptions of the gruesome deaths of Joe Blackwell, Audrey Ellis, and Sam Loomis.
Madeline angrily asks Dylan, “How did he trick you your whole life? You knew. How can you live with yourself?” She was only fooled for a couple of weeks, although the whole “giving you my dead mother’s clothes” bit should’ve been a gigantic red GET AWAY FROM NORMAN flag.
By the light of the most annoying neon sign ever, Emma and Dylan tell each other about their respective days spend attending hearings and dispersing ashes. Guys, I know that that incessantly flashing neon light represents the hell you’re going through right now, but please — those pieces of fabric hanging over the window are called curtains and they were invented to help you get some sleep.
The next morning Emma bids a sad goodbye to her husband, but does not proceed straight out of Crazytown. She stops at the White Pine Bay jail to visit Norman. As the visit proceeds Emma sees how completely the Norman she knew (or thought she knew) has vanished into Mother. Mother’s Norman act works about as well on Emma as it did on Julia — which is to say, not well at all. “It’s me, Norman. Your Norman, your friend.” Emma sadly asks “Can I talk to Norman?” Mother smirks: “He’s sleeping.” Tears welling in her eyes, Emma asks Mother to “tell him I miss him.”
After a meandering conversation with a fellow gas station customer regarding differences between the 1968 and 1968 Dodge Fury models, a stop at Maggie’s (Jillian Fargey) house to use her computer and refuse her tempting offer to flee to a life on the lam in Montana, former Sheriff Romero is ready for his final act of suicidal vengeance.
Alex makes an after-hours visit to the White Pine Bay jail. He adds to his long list of felonies by taking the receptionist hostage, rounding up every deputy in the building, shooting one in the shoulder. Romero tops off the crime spree by taking Norman and the thoroughly terrified receptionist off on a field trip. Norman stammeringly demands to know, “What do you want from us, Alex?”
“You’re going to take me to her body.”
And we’re off to the Bates Motel finale!
~ Even in sleepy White Pine Bay, digital fingerprinting is putting the ink pad out to pasture.
~ I looked into why a tech told Sheriff Greene “the pulp’s still fresh” while collecting samples from Norma’s bed. I’m very grateful Bates Motel didn’t go into detail on how that pulp got there.
***Somebody snuck in a very deep reference to the infamous true crime case that inspired Robert Bloch to write Psycho. The judge at Norman’s hearing, the Hon. Sybil Meredith Gollmar; the judge at Ed Gein’s hearing? Judge Robert Howard Gollmar.
~ This week’s swingin’ 60’s Hit Parade includes
- “Call Me Irresponsible” – Bobby Darin version
- “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” – Beach Boys
- “Crimson and Clover” – Tommy James and the Shondells
The final episode of Bates Motel, “The Cord,” airs Monday April 24 on A&E at 8/9 Central.