This week’s episode saw a healthy balance of plot and character arc as things with Caleb finally built to a head. After being kept on the back burner in the last episode, Dylan is front and center here. And Max Thieriot does a really, really good job with it. This is as layered as we’ve ever seen the character who has, from the very beginning, served as the Bates family conscience. He’s so interesting, because he’s had things as bad as Norma had them growing up and he’s had it worse than Norman ever did. Yet he tries so hard to do things right, especially this season. He’s trying to be on the straight and narrow in a town that makes that almost impossible, and is desperately attempting to hold onto the first sense of family he’s ever had.
Which made it heartbreaking last week when Norman discovered Caleb and promised to tell Norma, effectively destroying their relationship. Norman has been getting more and more malicious this season, building closer to the character we all remember from Psycho. Part of this excites me and part of this worries me. On the one hand, this show has excelled at doing its own thing while giving just enough nods to the original material. On the other hand, Norman was not visibly unhinged in Psycho, that’s a very big reason why the audience is surprised when he is revealed to be the killer.Naturally the show gets a bit of a pass as this is more or less the onset of Norman’s illness, or at least the symptoms of it. It’s probably a testament to the quality and the amount we’ve been led to care about the character that it is so jarring to see him suddenly take such an antagonistic turn.
One negative is that after such a great couple of episodes for her character, Emma is back to almost having nothing to do. I’m a little happy, only because if she’s getting filler scenes it probably means the creators aren’t going to kill her character off for a while. Last episode there was some concern that because Emma was getting so much out there, that she might be nearing her end. This doesn’t seem to be the case now, but you never know what could happen.
Some major plot revelations include the mysterious flash drive, which has finally been cracked. This proved to be a little anticlimactic. Annika gave this to Norma just before she died, people are threatening to kill both Norma and Romero over it, and it turns out to just be paperwork. With everything that had been going on, I thought it might be human trafficking, if two girls wound up dead after that party the evidence would suggest that could be the case. Instead we have papers, illegal papers mind you, that tie just about every major financial player in White Pine Bay together. It’s still big for both Romero and Norma, but at this point in the show it almost seems normal by this town’s standards.
Then we come to the end of the episode, which was one of the best moments for sure. Dylan and Norman decide that they’re going to tell Norma about Caleb together, and we finally see that Norman truly does have his brother’s back when it comes to something important. Of course, there’s no right answer here, no easy way to react to this. As much as he wants to do good, Dylan is harboring Norma’s rapist. Even if he should tell her, he can’t expect her to take it well.
She handles it in typical Norma fashion, packing all of her things in a fit of rage and leaving in the middle of the night. I’m sure she’ll be back next episode, but it would be interesting to see how long she could keep this up without contacting either of her children. Even if she’s only gone for hours, I can’t wait to see how Norman’s going to handle her absence.