A Death in the Family

by Ed Blackadder


Last season ended with Norman just managing to escape justice by beating the polygraph when questioned about the murder of teacher Blair Watson. He’s now free to be a perfectly normal 18-year-old, perv, serial-killer again, and in the opening episode of season 3, he embraces his new status. Unlike the first episode of season 2, this doesn’t waste any time in showing Norman being super-weird with “mother,” or the new sexy motel guest, Anika Johnson (Tracy Spiridakos), who comes rolling in late at night. Norman’s tongue is literally on the floor as he gives her his special “I’m Norman Bates and you’re about to be killed” look.

This week’s title, A Death in the Family, refers to Norma’s mother dying. Norma learns of the death after a lawyer calls her up to explain that she’s about to inherit her mother’s estate, such as it was. “I’m not interested, thank you for calling,” is all Norma tells the lawyer before hanging up the phone on him. Obviously, Norma has mixed feelings and emotions about the death, and for most of the episode manages to keep up a brave facade. However, it does eventually crumble.

After Norma physically drags Norman out of the car at school, Norman has a hallucination that freaks him out so much, that he runs all the way back to the motel. Norma decides that it’s time to promote Norman to manager, and that he should also be home-schooled. She’s clearly being overprotective by doing this but she also understands her volatile son more than she lets on.

Bates Motel
Created by
Anthony Cipriano
Vera Farmiga, Freddie Highmore, Max Thieriot
Episode Release Date
9 March 2015
Ed’s Grade: B+

The family death brings Dylan’s father/uncle Caleb back into the picture, which Dylan is not happy about in the slightest. Caleb at first claims he’s there to give Dylan money that he’d just inherited. After Caleb pretends to have trouble with his truck, he eventually confesses to Dylan that he knows he’s his father and that he wants to be part of his life, if only for a few days. Norma doesn’t know Caleb has returned, and the last time he was on the scene it caused her a lot of grief. Who knows what will happen when and if she does find out?!

The DEA have burned all the marijuana crops, which was the town’s main source of revenue and Dylan never really wanted to be running the business in the first place. After he tells Sheriff Romero that he’s no longer working for him, and that he plans on running a legal weed farm, Romero hints that things won’t go smoothly for Dylan, as he’s no longer protected. Romero also faces a couple of angry weed farmers who feel that he’d failed to adequately protect them. Romero knocks one of them unconscious, convincing the other grower that their aggressive attempt at diplomacy wasn’t really working on the sheriff.

So, Norman was acting weird all through the episode, and sleeping in bed with his mom was only one example. Dylan sees Norman cuddling into Norma and asks her if she doesn’t think it’s a bit strange for a boy of 18 to be sleeping with his mom. After giving it some thought, Norma puts a stop to their bedtime cuddles. But it doesn’t last long. Norman “tells” Emma that they should be dating, and it feels like he needs her for camouflage, to look like a normal kid. Emma finds out her lung-capacity has diminished (right along with Norman’s sanity!) but dating Norman cheers her up. However, one minute the couple are talking about going on a date and what they should do, then after Anika comes into the office for directions, Norman — who’d been spying on her taking a shower earlier on — offers to go with her as he suddenly needs to buy supplies at night?! When they leave, Anika is driving with Norman directing her to the bar she’s trying to find to meet her “client.” However, later that night when Anika’s car returns to the motel, it’s Norman who’s behind the wheel … alone. Where has the call-girl vanished to? I think we already know the answer.

A good way to start off the season, with a lot of plot strands ready to be taken up. Maybe season 3 will be even better than season 2. It’s certainly looking that way.

Freddie Highmore talks about season 3