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'Bates Motel' recap: Monster in a box

Season 2 | Episode 9 | “The Box” | Aired Apr 28, 2014

Somebody took Norman! Thugs beat him in the rain. Thunder rumbles. They throw Norman in a hole, and he protests: There’s been a mistake — they can’t mean him!

Norma does the walk of shame, coming home after dawn, stale in last night’s clothes and the scent of George lingering like a halo. That’s just a guess — I don’t have Smell-O-Vision. Norman’s not home, Ms. Bates. She runs to his animal death den in the basement, then to the motel. Emma hasn’t seen him, but she wants in on the Bates family secrets that everyone works so hard to hide.

Norman yells for help in his tight, dank prison, bleeding in his attempts to escape.

Norma thinks Norman is just avoiding her and leaves threatening messages. That’ll be embarrassing later.

Sheriff Romero consults with his pop’s old law enforcement partner, Declan (Francis X. McCarthy), now a polygraph expert. Romero is calling in a favor: Test this kid to see if he committed a murder. It’s not just about righting a wrong. “I have to know what happened,” Romero says.

Nick Ford finally calls Norma with demands: Convince Dylan to do what’s required (kill Zane), and you’ll get Norman back safe. “Why’s Norman with you?” asks clueless Norma. She storms over to Pot HQ, insisting that Dylan do whatever Nick wants him to do — she’ll even help. “He wants me to kill my boss,” Dylan says. Norma: So be it. That’s some rash decision-making on Norma’s part.

Dylan visits Jodi at her bucolic estate: OK, I’m ready to kill your brother. Jodi: Mmmm,  ‘K.

Sheriff Romero hunts for Norman, pouncing on Norma after she drives up. He’s sick, she says. Can’t get out of bed, she says. In this moment, Norma shows what a skilled liar she is, and it gets worse: Romero breaks down and tells her about Norman’s semen being the second sample found in Blair Watson, that he had sex with her very soon before she died. Norma slips, slides, sidesteps and wiggles away from Romero and his hard truth-telling. He’s sick, she says. Can’t get out of bed, she says.

Inside, she collapses to the ground, hyperventilating. She dials her phone and leaves another message for Norman, but this one is heartbreaking, as her pain, loss and helplessness spill out into a voice message that may never be heard. She loves him so much, she says, “more than anything on this Earth or in heaven — know that.”

Duct-taped Norman, meanwhile, passes time monologuing from Frank Capra’s 1941 film Meet John Doe: “I’m gonna talk about us — the average guys, the John Does. If anybody should ask you what the average John Doe is like, you couldn’t tell him because he’s a million and one things. He’s Mr. Big and Mr. Small, he’s simple and he’s wise, he’s inherently honest but he’s got a streak of larceny in his heart.” Three Thugs & a Shotgun food truck pulls up. Norman flops up to take the meal. When the brutes all conveniently turn their backs for one to accept a call from the boss, Norman takes off running. When they catch him, Miss Watson’s obit and pearls drop. The head thug is Nick Ford’s right hand. He knew the boss’s daughter. Poop, meet fan.

Emma gives her two weeks’ notice at the motel. She practically pleads with Norma not to accept her resignation, but Norma barely hesitates in accepting it. What’s Norma thinking? 1) She doesn’t want Emma all up in her business anymore. 2) People who get close to this family often get dead, too. 3) There’s so much drama right now, she can’t deal with this teen’s emotional turmoil. 4) A sandwich would be nice. 5) All of the above (especially the sandwich).

Inside, Norma dials Nick Ford and leaves a message that they’re doing exactly as he asked. Thug No. 1 hands over Blair’s pearls and the obit to her daddy.

Bugs invade Norman’s box, then he hallucinates that Norma, in a sepia haze, is speaking soothingly to him. “I love you, Mother.”

Dylan arrives at Zane’s place with some groceries. All of Zane’s henchmen are there too, however, and they disarm Dylan. Zane strongly advises Dylan not to choose Jodi over him to run the business, then sends him packing with a message to Jodi that Nick Ford must be eliminated.

George shows up at the motel with flowers for Norma. Mistake. Norma has had more people pushing her emotional pressure points today than she can handle, so even someone poking around in her pleasure center pushes her over the edge. Good thing Emma stuck around in the parking lot spying on Norma, because when the blowup happens, she’s there to lend Norma a shoulder.

At Nick Ford’s mansion, Dylan confesses that he couldn’t kill Zane, but he can tell Nick where to find him. When it becomes apparent that they have reached an impasse, Nick pulls a gun, but Dylan fights the man and emerges victorious after swinging a fireplace poker at Nick’s head. Is it fatal? We don’t yet know. But it’s clear now that Norman will not be found so easily.

Norma wakes to her doorbell ringing and someone banging on the door. It’s Romero. The sheriff busts into the house looking for Norman, prompting Norma to confess absolutely everything — even the part about Dylan having to kill someone. Romero gets that steely look. He’s on it. Norma bleats that she trusts him, and having Norma’s sincere trust is pretty huge. Can Romero live up to it?

Norman shivers as the rain pounds down into his box. He dreams of Miss Watson. He remembers everything — that he hallucinated that his mother was there, that she convinced him to kill Miss Watson, that Miss Watson came on to him and that he slit her throat while he had sex with her. Norman breaks from his reverie with a start. He now knows the monster he becomes when he blacks out. And he howls.

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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