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'Bates Motel' recap: Norma drops a live grenade on the Bates household

Season 2 | Ep. 3 | “Caleb” | Aired Mar 17, 2014

The ghost of Norma Bates’ childhood hangs over the opening of the third episode of season 2 of Bates Motel (which has been moved to 10/9 C). The “Previously…” segment reminds us that Norma had divulged to Norman that her brother used to force her to have sex with him when they were young, then reminds us the same brother, Caleb (Kenny Johnson), has arrived in White Pine Bay.

Norma has a new gal pal: Christine (Rebecca Creskoff), the director of the musical who had been so impressed by Norma’s audition. Christine laments that cronyism has cost Norma the lead and informs her that she has resigned in protest. Christine flirts with Norma over 11 a.m. dirty martinis — we shall see to what end.

Caleb shows up at the motel and interrogates Dylan. When Norma arrives home to find Caleb in her home, you can almost see the brain-synapse misfires popping behind her eyes. “You cannot be here.” Snap, crackle. “You have to leave.” Pop! Groceries go flying. “Get oooouuuut,” Norma shrieks, pushing him out of the front door.

Later, when she tells Norman that his pervy Uncle Caleb has arrived, Norman’s face hardens into a steel plate — rattling atop a simmering gumbo of fury. Norma immediately recognizes the change and backpedals. She just can’t help herself, can she? Knowing about Norman’s psychotic breaks, knowing he can’t emotionally handle any threat of harm that might come to her, she still thrusts her victimhood at him. We begin to see why older incarnations of Norman Bates ascribe the guilt of the murders he commits to his mother; he has her inadvertent permission (or at least acquiescence) to punish the wicked.


Norman goes to the theater to resign from his chorus role in the musical and runs into cute checkout girl from the hair-dye shopping excursion. Cody’s sassy. She must be Norman Bates’ next “interest,” whether love or other. Shudder on the “other.”

Dylan runs into Caleb, who is sticking around a few days and who apologizes for the scene earlier. Dylan doesn’t know Norma’s version of the truth, so he’s open to indulging his uncle in conversation, fishing fantasy and maybe a meal later.

Director Christine calls Norma and invites her to her garden party later that day: “I can’t wait to introduce you to the real White Pine Bay.” Visions of Stepford wives dance through my head.

Ugh. Zane sighting. What a douche. He’s gunning for the Most Douchey Character on TV Award — an award I just now made up! He asks Dylan’s opinion on the competition situation, then promptly dismisses Dylan’s plea for reason — it’s a “zero-sum game,” Dylan says — and divulges his own “kill ’em all” plan. Dylan is not impressed. While digging holes for the bodies of their coworkers they found butchered earlier, mouthy Remo says he wants to do something about Zane. Dylan tells him to shut the hell up.

After shutting down Dylan’s inquiries into the beef between her and Caleb, Norma arrives at Christine’s garden party pretty in a pink wrap. She cracks a funny, and her recognition that this type of normalcy is missing from her life is almost heartbreaking.

Norman stands on the beach with Emma surrounded by a riot of teenage hormones. Emma feels bad. This was supposed to be a tribute to Bradley, but isn’t — less because of the disrespectful party atmosphere behind them than because, despite Bradley’s “death,” Emma still doesn’t like the girl. New girl Cody shows up — with a guy friend. Bummer for Norman.

Dylan takes a meal with Uncle Caleb, who tells him about grandpa and grandma: Pops was on disability and Ma was clinically depressed. Then comes the pitch: Caleb has an opportunity to buy a hotel in Costa Rica, where he now lives, and he wants to reward Norma by allowing her to invest. Nice. Then he confesses about their childhood, implying that their father abused Norma and that she now blames Caleb for not protecting her. So that’s Caleb’s version. Either way: gross.

Meanwhile, Bachelor no. 1 (Michael Vartan) comes looking for Norma, who has secluded herself on a short pier behind Christine’s lavish home. He is Christine’s brother, George, and he’s brought dessert. He’s divorced and charmingly nervous. Norma puts him off, saying she doesn’t even remember how to date if she ever did. He offers another cookie. Norma’s mouth says no, but her face says, “You had me at ‘dessert.’”

On the beach, Emma runs into “Cupcake Boy,” who is selling weed at the memorial. (Recall that, in a previous episode, Cupcake Boy gave her a pot cupcake without informing her of its secret ingredient.) She extends an invitation: “Make bad choices with me.” Those choices begin with an alcohol binge, and Emma inevitably vomits, presumably ending any chance they’ll make any other bad choices.

Miss Watson’s dad pops up behind Norma as she waits for her car at the valet — he’s creepy that way. She asks to buy him a coffee after finding out he’s not in favor of the highway bypass. He gives her his card: “Nick Ford — Ford Research Limited.”

Dylan gives Caleb $11,500. What. An. Idiot.

Walking Cody home, Norman informs her that her boyfriend might be gay (at the beach, the boyfriend had groped Norman’s knee while Cody grinded on the boyfriend and sucked his face). Cody is fake-shocked: “You can see it from space.” Cody informs Norman that both she and her boy-toy thought he was gay. No. She climbs up toward her window when there’s a perfectly reasonable door right there, mumbling about her dad. Norman has found another one with daddy issues. Not excellent.

Dylan is washing up in the kitchen when Norma arrives home. He says what a nice guy Caleb is. She says that Caleb raped her repeatedly every day for years and years. Dylan’s disbelief of his mother seems unreasonable, but maybe Dylan knows her better than I do. Norman walks in on their fight and a frightening determination sets into his face. He bounces Dylan off a wall, slams him to the floor and pummels his brother. (Who knew Norman was so strong?) Norma drops a bomb: “Norman, stop it! He can’t help it! … Caleb is his dad!”



Any mental health professionals in The Community know how Norma would be diagnosed? She’s a lifelong victim. She has birthed her own savior in Norman. She’s horrified at his actions, but then perpetuates an environment in which he will continue to murder. She’s controlling, nosy and paranoid and a monster in her own right, formed by the repeated abuses she has endured. What is she? Please reverse-engineer Norma Bates’ psychological being in the comments.

Bates Motel, rated TV-14, airs Mondays at 10/9 C on A&E.

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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