Bates Motel Season 3 Episode 6 Review: Norma Louise

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Absolutely stunning performances.

Every week, this series manages to surpass itself and Bates Motel Season 3 Episode 6 is one of the best it has to offer. 

If you told me when I started watching Bates Motel that crying would be a part of the package, I would have laughed, but the relationship between Norma and her brother Caleb isn't tawdry and the many emotions it touches are genuine. Exploring it is both interesting and frightening.

I wondered when I reviewed Bates Motel Season 3 Episode 5 if Norma leaving might be the trigger to really push Norman over the edge, and it appears to be the case. Even the support of Dylan and Emma wasn't enough to keep him safe, as he's spending more and more time lost inside of his own mind.

First, he brought his specimens alive down in the basement, although it's very possible he could have been doing that all along. After all, it was his attachment to Juno and his desire to keep him alive that got him involved in taxidermy.

I suppose being attached lovingly to the animals he prepares is better than the alternative. Until I think of what becomes of Norma. Strike that.

As Norman was searching for comfort in the absence of his mother, she was shedding her old skin; buying new clothes and getting rid of her car for something younger that didn't remind her of past mistakes. In short, she thought she was having a breakdown.

Turning to James probably only put his life in danger. He didn't feel as compassionate as he did while he was at school. Something about him seemed a little smug. Maybe that he didn't push Norma away hard enough as she pulled him in for a kiss; his appeal as a therapist should have held more weight. 

As Norman falls deeper into the abyss, it looks like Emma will become closer to Dylan. It was very sweet, their bonding moment when he helped her with her cystic fibrosis. They really have so much in common, both wanting to belong.

Emma: You have no idea how much this family means to me, how much I want to be a part of it, but never am.
Dylan: I understand.

It was utterly shocking when Dylan found Norman in Norma's robe, cooking breakfast in the middle of the night. I wasn't sure if it was real or a moment in Norman's mind. But looking back at it, it was real. Dylan just didn't make too much of a fuss and allowed his brother to finish up and go back to sleep.

I wonder how he managed to stave off the need to wake up "Norman" so he could eat his breakfast, however. How magnificent was Freddie Highmore in his impersonation of Vera Farmiga? He had her mannerisms down pat, notably the way Norman usually remembers them in his visions of her, mind you, rather than the way Norma is in life. I loved it!

Dylan and Norman have come so far in such a short period and when Dylan saw Norman sleeping and decided to lay down next to him, my heart swelled like that of the Grinch. As frakked up as this family is, the can really tug at the heart strings.

Right about that time, Norma was having her parental breakthrough with James, who seemed shocked Sex Therapy 101 didn't work out as he had hoped. How the hell did he think it was going to work, exactly?

Norma: I hear ya, but I can't take care of my self, I'm a mother. Now I have to go talk to my horrible brother. You know what? I have no choice because it is important to my sons.
James: Yeah? And what about your own needs?
Norma: Parents do not have needs. You ever read the book The Giving Tree? It's about this tree and this kid keeps coming and taking stuff from it his whole life until there's nothing left but a stump and then the kid sits on the stump. That's being a parent.

The thing is, he didn't really listen to her. He transferred onto her what he wanted the outcome to be, but it wasn't even close to being what Norma needed. Norma has always needed to come to this point with her sons and Caleb.

I was so glad they finally showed her recalling a time with Caleb when what they shared wasn't ugly. That way it made sense what she'd want to do for her sons and it made the look on her face when he opened the trailer door so much more powerful. That entire scene took gut wrenching to a completely new level as Vera Farmiga and Kenny Johnson drove stakes through my heart.

Game of Thrones returned yesterday and on there we have twincest with Cersei and Jaime. We've never felt an emotional bond beyond sex or a need driven by circumstance for their characters as we have been given with Norma and Caleb. As such, the son they have together isn't crazy or prone to violence, but he's beautiful and compassionate. Someone like him doesn't come from hatred.

I think it was only a matter of time before Norma was able to let go of the incredible guilt that must come with the circumstances surrounding the entire situation to allow herself not only to love Dylan, but to forgive herself and, eventually, Caleb.

Unfortunately, Caleb just made a deal with Chick to do something illegal, although he's not entirely certain what it is. It's doubtful Chick will allow him to back out. He made a gut decision based on the reaction to being told he had to leave because Norma wouldn't talk to him, and of course, she came around.

Did you see the look on Norman's face? He may have supported Dylan in his initial quest to be a good and loving brother, but that ship appears to have sailed. James is not the only life I fear for, as anyone who Norma shows emotion for will be on the hit list.

Also worth noting:

  • Yes, I'm aware of what happened to Romero, but his story will continue. Loved how Nestor Carbonell called the deceased Marcus the Carcass on Twitter! Hehe
  • Special appearance by Wilson Bethel being the ass version of Wade Kinsella!
  • I think boys everywhere should dress up as Norman Bates as Norma Bates for Halloween this year.
  • Do they really still sell those rabbit fur coats like the one Norma bought? I assume it was fake...

You're up. You either loved it or you loved it, so share your thoughts in the comments!!

Remember, you can watch Bates Motel online if you're behind, and trust me, you want to watch this season. 

Norma Louise Review

Editor Rating: 5.0 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.8 / 5.0 (15 Votes)

Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer and critic for TV Fanatic. She's a member of the Critic's Choice Association, enjoys mentoring writers, cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.

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Bates Motel Season 3 Episode 6 Quotes

Hey, ya think it's OK to get a guy all worked up and then leave?! You're a freakin' mess lady!!

Not Wade

Norma, you need to come. Norman is losing it, OK. I don't know what to do with him. Mom, please.