Review: Bates Motel ‘The Deal’

“And we all whitewash our parents’ sins because… on some level… we need to.” – Emma (Olivia Cooke)

Norma Bates’s (Vera Farmiga) exterior facade has never looked more fragile that it has this week. Norma’s greatest attribute is, at its basic level, her ability to… well… make lemonade from lemons. Your son kills his father? Leave town and buy a hotel. A major highway is destined to bypass that hotel? Join the town council and make alliances with the local mafia.

It seemed there was nothing Norma Bates couldn’t handle. This week, though, the odds seem particularly stacked against her.

This week’s episode opens the following morning after Norman’s threats to reveal Uncle Father’s partnership with Dylan (Max Thieriot). Norma drives a deserted highway, sobbing at the wheel. Surely, she’s reacting from Norman’s news, right? Suddenly, a speeding BMW races up behind her, lights flashing and horn blowing. She motions for the maniac to pass her, and, when the car pulls alongside of her, it runs her off the road into a cow pasture.

She suffers minor bruises and a bloody nose, but her interior is a complete mess. The sobbing, it turns out, is a result of her finding Norman in another catatonic state, mumbling to himself. Turns out, Norman slipped into another “blackout” and failed to relay his news about Uncle Father. Later, in the hospital, it’s not Norman Norma clings to… it’s Dylan. Something that would undoubtedly drive Norman insane. Well, more insane.

Later in the episode, Norman is convinced he’d told Norma the news. He was very specific about the details – she was wearing his favorite blue and white dress. When she tells him he was wrong and that he’d had another blackout, he quietly accepts the news and rushes upstairs to pull the same dress from her closet, stashing it under his bed. Another piece in the “Mother” puzzle falls into place. Oh, and speaking of “Mother,” guess what the Bates Motel WiFi password is? Yup. It’s “mother.” Loved that one.

Thanks to an accident at the marijuana farm, Gunner, Dylan’s assistant, finds the hidden flash drive and decodes it (apparently downloading illegal movies gives one the skill set to break complicated encryptions). The information on the flash drive is vaguely interesting – it’s a financial ledger containing information on investments totaling $15 million. Most likely, it’s the result of the illegal drug trade that apparently built White Pine Bay. Learning of its contents from Dylan, Norma steely resolve returns, and she finds a way to use the information as a bargaining chip against the town’s wealthiest citizens. Lemonade from lemons.

Nervous, she is reluctant to confront Bob Paris, the primary aficionado of the Arcanum Club, and needs Sheriff Romero’s accompaniment. She presents Paris with a proposal – create an exit off the bypass leading directly to the hotel with a large, flashy Bates Motel billboard (design to be approved by Norma), and no one will see the flash drive. She keeps the flash drive for security, but she’ll never share its contents or disclose its location. Oh, and toss in a pool with a jacuzzi and a fence. No matter the likelihood of the end result, Norma’s bravado is enviable. Paris seems impressed too. He initially accepts the deal. We’ll see…

Back on the Norman front, he and Dylan initially fought it out over the Uncle Father revelation, but Norman (perhaps another “We’ll see” moment) tells Dylan he will support him as he reveals the truth. The episode concludes in a fantastic scene between the three main actors as Dylan reveals his involvement with Uncle Farther (referred to in the show as “Caleb”). He tells Norma that Uncle Father just wants to say he’s sorry. That he feels awful for it all. Norma sits there coiled up like a cobra, glaring at her two sons. She calmly walks out of the room and storms upstairs, packs a bag, breaks a mirror, and grabs a gun.

Norman chases her while Dylan tries to restrain him. And why wouldn’t you? Norma Bates leaves the motel, and she’s packing heat. That facade, though? Solid steel.

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