This week’s episode, “Bad Blood,” sucks you into the Bates family drama right away, with a bruised and bloody Caleb chained up in the basement. He has a fuzzy vision of Norma in front of him, only for him to quickly realize it’s just Norman in his fashionable ensemble and wig.
He’s quick to give Norma(n) a half-hearted “I’m sorry,” and the promise to “just leave and won’t bother you again.” Yeah, because it’s just that easy. Norma(n)’s not having it though, and leaves Caleb where he is.
Chick’s still in the house, eavesdropping on Norma’s conversation with Caleb, and he offers a proposition: he’ll stay at the house and look after Norman, spruce things up, just for the sake of helping him. But really, it just seems that he’s gathering more inspiration for his book. The fact that he’s so blasé and chill about this whole situation just makes everything even weirder and more interesting. It makes me wonder if he’s really just here to get material for his story, or if he has some other motive to stick around.
Meanwhile, Alex’s request to be transferred out of this prison seems to have been granted, as he heads out on the road with two cops who seem to be a bit more lenient with their rules since he’s an ex-sheriff. Clearly a recipe for disaster. Do your job properly, people!
Norman wakes up to an apologetic Norma at his bedside, promising to not get as upset over a friendship he may form with a certain hardware store owner named Madeleine. Plus, she’s gonna make him breakfast. But the breakfast Norman’s served isn’t from dearest mother, but rather Chick, who apparently likes to cook. He tells Norman that he’s going to look out for him, especially during his blackouts, and that he’s spoken to Norma about this arrangement. Norman is fairly upset by this, but agrees to let Chick stay anyway.
Alex and his cop buddies make a pit stop at a gas station, which, if you’ve seen any movie or show where a prisoner is being transferred, is a blaring warning sign that something bad is gonna happen. In this case, Alex heads for a bathroom break and manages to take the officer’s gun (after washing his hands first. Hygiene is key, people!), handcuff him to the sink, and run. In the parking lot he holds a gun to a poor innocent guy named Jason and makes him drive out into the woods. Cue dramatic music.
Back in the basement, Caleb’s having vivid flashbacks to his childhood with Norma Louise, huddled in their room while their parents have drunken, angry tirades. The writers are trying to play the sympathy card here, which is very upsetting. Caleb abused his sister, point blank, and has held on to convoluted feelings of love for her since then. By trying to play up his emotions, his “oh, woe is me!” attitude, and his constant puppy-dog face he has on when he talks about her, it seems like they’re diminishing his actions. We shouldn’t feel bad for him. We shouldn’t be rooting for him. He’s trying to skirt the issues of what his relationship with his sister was really like and is playing it up to be like their relationship was the be-all, end-all of love. That what he did was out of love and care for her, and that he was meant to be with her.
Chick even brings it up when he goes to see Caleb in the basement, casually asking “When did you two split up?” like they were high school sweethearts who ended their relationship that wasn’t going to last long anyway. Chick also asks about the abuse point blank, and Caleb just nonchalantly says “I don’t wanna talk about that” like it’s no biggie. Even though they’ve been talking about the relationship, Chick knows about the abuse, Caleb just… brushes it off, avoids it, like it’s none of Chick’s business; like it’s some minor thing that doesn’t need to be discussed any further. Caleb was cut off by Norma, yet he couldn’t stop thinking about her and how much he loved her, and that’s why he came back. ~Wah wah wah, cry cry cry, I did nothing wrong, I love her so much and I deserve her, no one else. I did nothing but love her and she threw me away! WAH.~
Caleb is TERRIBLE and these scenes where he tries to explain himself are TERRIBLE.
Alex is deep in the middle of nowhere, kicks Jason out of his car, then takes it and drives off. But of course with his luck, he gets a flat tire down the road and can’t continue on. He heads deeper into the woods on foot, which of course, is a fantastic idea.
(Sidebar, the best part of this episode is Chick’s outfit, kimono included.)
Chick has dinner with Norman and “Norma,” and invites himself to live with them. He will fix the house, take care of Norman, and in exchange he’ll have “a place to be.” And he’ll also have plenty of material for his story. But he doesn’t mention that, obviously.
Madeleine comes to visit the next day, and is greeted by cookie aficionado Chick. She and Norman head down to the motel to talk privately, and she apologizes about the disastrous double date she set up. Her marriage is in a rough spot, she explains, and Norman has to bite his tongue about her husband’s infidelity. He’s sympathetic, tells her it’s safe to tell him anything, and she confesses she wants to be friends with him. It’s a cute scene, really, until you realize she’s probably in trouble, since Norman doesn’t have a very good track record with the women in his life.
(That’s when I started yelling RUN, WOMAN! RUN FOR YOUR LIFE! At the TV. I hope Madeleine listens.)
Caleb’s hallucinating again, hugging Norma and hearing that she loves him, cares about him. Only for him to wake up and realize he’s hugging her frozen corpse. That just makes him mad. He starts jumping to slam his fists on the ceiling, and screaming to get Norman’s attention. It works, and it sends the boy straight into another blackout.
To cap off all the Caleb-Norma nastiness, “she” goes to visit him again in the basement. He offers to watch out for Norman so he can stay close to his family, and she’s not having it.
Norma: “It won’t work, because you’re both in love with me.”
Caleb: “But he’s your son.”
Norma: “And you’re my brother.”
Cue me being sick.
It’s denial, denial, denial for Caleb, where even his fantasy of Norma says “let’s not think about it [the past], it can’t be fixed.” Just shove it away and pretend like it was all love and rainbows! She just goes to him all sweet and soft-talking and says everything is a-okay.
It’s a relief to get out of that basement and see Alex in the woods, stumbling upon a house and a beat up old car, which he doesn’t hesitate to try and steal. But he’s met with a teenager brandishing a gun, who’s not falling for his “lost hiker” gimmick. So, she shoots him right in the gut. Say it ain’t so, Romero!
And we finally learn that Chick isn’t really writing fanfic, but rather a true crime novel. It’s safe to assume it’s all about the Bates family. He’ll have plenty more material to go on, since Norma goes on to ask Norman to murder Caleb. She’s murdered tons of people on his behalf, so it’s his turn to step up to the plate and kill for mama.
Norman can’t do it, though. He hesitates on shooting Caleb, listens to him cry again about how he has no one and no place to go, and eventually unchains him and lets him go. There’s a hot pursuit after Caleb, with “Norma” brandishing the gun and shooting at him as he runs down those crazy stairs on the hill.
There’s two life lessons we learn here, though. One: look both ways before you run into the street. And two: don’t read your text messages about groceries while driving, because you’ll run someone over and kill them.
Norman couldn’t pull the trigger, but Chick accomplished the task at hand by accidentally running him over with his car.
A happy ending, I guess.