It’s finally happened: Norman Bates’ (Freddie Highmore) murderous secret has been revealed… At least, to two people.
In Monday’s (Mar. 6) episode of “Bates Motel” — titled “Bad Blood,” Norman’s Mother persona takes control long enough to give the audience — and Chick (Ryan Hurst) and Caleb (Kenny Johnson) — a firm idea of just how troublesome this situation has become.
Still convinced Norma (Vera Farmiga) is alive, Norman’s reality is shrouded in mystery: His unexplained blackouts continue to let Mother take control — performing the violent, necessary acts Norman is too weak to follow through on for himself.
And now, with a prisoner in the basement, we’re given a better understanding of Chick’s true nature: An enabler of sorts, Norman’s new taxidermy business partner takes on the responsibility of protector, taking notes on everything unfolding before his eyes.
It seems Chick’s interested in writing a book documenting the multiple personalities of Norman Bates — could his nom de plume be “Robert Bloch,” perhaps? — a handful of events lead the quirky mountain man down a path to becoming an accessory to the murder of Caleb Calhoun.
It’s the right time for Caleb to die — even Caleb agrees. When it was revealed early on in the story that Norma’s brother raped her — leading to the birth of Norman’s older brother Dylan (Max Thierot) — it’s been difficult to sympathize with this tortured man. But Kenny Johnson’s portrayal of Caleb is so nuanced — walking a tragic line between emotional sensitivity and eternal darkness — that in his final moments in the basement, it was moving to see him find a kind of peace with Norma… Or at least, the tenderly regretful version of Norma he and his nephew conjure up to say goodbye.
The balance between Norman and Norma has been as dysfunctional as it is loving — but things are more blurred than ever now. And as we watch the two exchange places, during their conversations with Caleb, he seems to find some closure. While Norma makes it clear that Norman will be killing him soon, he seems resigned to his fate…
And still in denial about certain things: When Norma admits that he can’t go free because both Caleb and Norman are in love with her, it’s a shocking comparison — but not as shocking, really, as his response: “But he’s your son!” Which is true, and tragic, but as Norma reminds him: He’s her brother. He can’t really point any fingers, and the fact that he needed to be reminded of that is a sign that he’ll never really be free.
For all the power Mother holds, she needs Norman to follow through on murdering Caleb. It’s an eye-opening moment, to be sure: Norman never felt any compassion for Caleb, but his Mother alter-ego is ambivalent enough that she can’t seem to fire the gun.
This brings us back to Chick. In a distracted driving moment — taking mental notes of the bizarre story he’s continuing to witness — he introduces Norma’s brother to the bumper of his car.
From enabler to accessory: Chick’s found himself in a dire situation. As he explained to Caleb in the basement, he sees himself as merely an observer to Norman’s journey. We’re not even sure he firmly cares about his own well-being in this scenario… But could his own morbid curiosity lead him down an even darker road than whatever fate Mother will eventually set out?
We’re only just hitting the tip of the “Psycho” iceberg — with Mother’s murderous influence spreading effortlessly from Norman to Chick. And as Season 5 gets into full swing, it looks like things can only get worse — for everyone involved.
“Bates Motel” airs Mondays at 10 p.m. ET/PT on A&E.