'Bates Motel' Episode 3 Recap: Saving Someone Who Wouldn't Save You


Like many high school students, Norman Bates of A&E's new show Bates Motel has a lot going on. For one, he grows up to be a killer, but prior to that, he has blackouts, his father dies, he loses his cool, he's a new kid in town, and he helped his mom cover up a murder. 

With that, it shouldn't come as a huge surprise to you that he faints in class at the beginning of episode three. He has visions of a young woman tied up, and before you know it, he's in the hospital. Many teenagers would be embarrassed about this sort of thing happening to oneself in class, but Norman, who at this point has proven to be a lady magnet, simply gets more attention for his male damsel in distress moments.

A female classmate named Bradley comes to see him at the hospital. She presents him with magenta flowers, which I found rather distracting. Bradley demonstrated an interest in Norman before his little incident, but she seems especially vulnerable now, as her dad was discovered in a burning car and is expected to die from the burns. Norman explains that his own father passed away on accident, an accident that prompted his move to the new town.

Then she asks him to scootch on over so they can watch the black and white TV show together, and while this was probably intended to be cute, I couldn't get over how awkward the scene felt. For a series about suspense and murder, Bates Motel does fine job depicting the weirdness of high school dating and crushes.

But let's not forget about Emma, the girl with cystic fibrosis from previous episodes. She knows the other side of Norman and also that he found a notebook with Chinese sketches and art in his house. They both believe the tied up girl Norman had visions of is the person in the notepad, or the one who owned the notepad. Though this aspect of the story is interesting, it seemed a little confusing and unnecessary to me, so I actually didn't mind when Norman blows up in Emma's face at the end of the episode and tells her to just get over the discovery.

"You're still going to be sick and she's still going to be dead," he shouts before apologizing for his outburst. Let me remind you that this isn't the first time he's flipped a switch and grown angry and hostile out of nowhere. His oppressive household and mother must have something to do with it.

Speaking of his mother, he may very well be more loyal to her than she is to him. In the pilot episode, she had to kill the deranged town drunk who broke into her house and sexually assaulted her. The police searched Norman and his mother's house, and afterward, Norman realizes that he and his mother had kept the body in his room before dumping it in the river. For whatever reason, Norman had chosen to keep the rapist's belt, which is now gone.

No fear, though. Norma the mother is sort of dating one of the cops, and luckily for her, the one she's seeing found the belt. When he asks her about this, she's tongue-tied, but he assumes her son Norman killed the man. Norma does not deny this, and that's when viewers realize her eldest son Dylan was right about her.

Dylan is always telling Norman that their mother is bad news, so when she insinuates that her son may have killed the man, it's clear she's not as dedicated to her boy as he is to her.

Norman's visions don't help his case, either. He thinks he sees his mom on his bed in the middle of the night, and she apparently tells him to go to the cop's house and retrieve the belt. We don't know whether he actually saw her, but he does head to the policeman's home, where he sees a tied up girl in the basement. She isn't dead, but she cries for help, and the episode ends on a mysterious note.

The preview for next week's episode shows Norman's mom expressing doubt that he found a woman in the basement. Though I don't question Norman, his visions, blackouts, and dreams are starting to blur reality. I know that's the point of the show, the storytelling isn't very reliable. One thing is certain, though: Norman would do anything for his mom, and she would never return the favor.