Bates Motel has always been interested in truth and consequences, usually in a twisted form. Truths are buried, and the wrong people are given consequences they don’t deserve. In addition to all of this, “The Box,” needed to reconcile a multitude of different storylines as it heads into its final episode. It grandly succeeded. The drug plot, which has always existed on the fringes of the central Norma/Norman arc, had the important distinction of leading to Norman coming to terms with an important truth — about his past and who he is — that is integral in shaping his descent into madness. Hit the jump for why “you know what you have to do.”
Everything in “The Box” was leading up to that final revelation, so it makes sense to start there. Up until Norman’s specific memory of the event, there was still a reasonable doubt that he had killed Blair Watson. Maybe he only witnessed it, or went back afterwards to procure her bracelet, but despite all of the circumstantial evidence, the facts were still being parsed out. Until now.
Bates Motel does an excellent job of keeping things ambiguous, just like with Dylan’s story. As he bounced from Jody to Zane to Nick Ford over the course of the episode, it was never certain whose side he might be on, or who he might try to take out. It created an excellent amount of suspense and tension, especially because unlike the canonical duo of Norman and Norma, Dylan’s fate is in question. His ordeal throughout the hour though also helped put him back into the position where he best belongs: savior to his mother and brother.
He played his cards especially well, telling truths and lies exactly when he needed to. But even him taking out Nick Ford (who seemed dead, but who knows?) doesn’t solve things. Zane is already plotting against his sister. The war continues.
Vera Farmiga had another fantastic episode, as Norma was all over the emotional map due to Norman’s disappearance and capture. Her escalating voicemails to him, lying to Romero (for as long as she could), chastising George for being from a land of fake people, and her emotionally hysteric plea for Dylan to come to the door and talk to her, were all powerful and strange and a little unhinged.
Norma’s particular brand of strength and vulnerability were on full display in this hour, and never more so than when she cruelly allowed Emma to put in her notice, after Emma pleaded with her about just wanting to be accepted. Norma only did it to protect Norman, and her crumpling on the couch afterwards (and every time she looked at Emma from then on) showed how much it hurt her to do so.
In the meantime though, Norman is beginning his transformation. In the box, he had visions of Norma, and we were able to see how her words in his mind (her disapproval over Blair’s sexuality towards him) caused him to feel compelled to slit her throat while they had sex. He knows who he is now, and what he is capable of. The promo for the finale has teased many curious things. While Norman was secured in the box, “The Box” was an episode devoted to everyone else. Next time, Norman will be released (and unleashed).
Episode Rating: A
Musings and Miscellanea:
— The scenes with Romero and his father’s ex-partner, who is some kind of polygraph wiz (couldn’t they have used him earlier?) reminded me of Twin Peaks. Damn fine coffee!
— “He said he’ll kill him if you don’t do what he wants you to do in the next 24 hours, and that was a half hour ago!” – Norma.
— Great and creepy sequence where Norman’s face melded with his mother’s as he cleaned off the knife.
— I find it hard to believe that Norman’s possession of that bracelet and newspaper clipping would end with this episode. It makes me think Nick Ford isn’t actually dead. Or possibly, Romero will find that evidence at the crime scene if he is, and make new connections with it.
— “You know, I’m a person with feelings and a brain, why is everyone completely ignoring me?!” – Poor Emma. Her comments about feeling rejected and left out were so meta. All she has done this season is ask questions and not get any answers. It was sweet though that her dedication to Norman is steadfast, and she comforts her in the wake of the argument with George.
— What happened to her drug dealer boyfriend? Couldn’t he shed some light onto things?
— I kinda feel bad for George, but then again … Norma’s assessment of him is probably pretty right (but he seems like a decent guy … although, who can tell in this town?)
— “I don’t see any other way” – Dylan.