Brief flashback to the final events of last episode – Norman hallucinates, believes mother tells him that he needs to get the belt from Shelby’s home. Norman wanders off to find the good police officer’s torture porn dungeon. Although, we didn’t see before that Dylan observed Norman sleep breaking and entering and followed to the scene, seeing Shelby as he enters the house that Norman is in. Norman is alerted to Shelby’s arrival when he calls for his dog, locked in the upstairs bedroom. Before Shelby can figure out why the dog is there, Dylan rings his front door with a story about his bike being out of gas. Norman uses the opportunity to try to break the Chinese girl out of the porn basement, too bad she’s literally chained to the room. She cries and begs for Norman to save her. He promises he’ll be back.
Arriving home, Dylan confronts Norman about why he went to Shelby’s. Norman denies being in any trouble. The next morning, Norman goes to Emma’s dad’s antique shop. Her father tells Norman she’s come down with the flu, so they’re keeping her home with her condition. He also tells Norman what we all know – Emma has a crush on him. He asks Norman to please be decent with Emma. “I am decent,” Norman replies. Mother meanwhile meets Shelby in one of the motel rooms for a little “Just Keeping My Boy Safe” sex. During the afterglow, Mother gushes about how pretty Shelby is. As they leave the room, they are caught by Dylan who’s waiting outside the room. Shelby and Dylan both have some priceless looks on their faces as they see the other.
"We were just checking the pipes. All of them. Whatever. We're bad at metaphors, but good at sex."
Later, Norman is washing windows when he spots Super Model Whatshername laying a wreath at the spot on the road where her father crashed his car after being burned. She sobs into his shoulder. In the kitchen, Mother and Dylan spar about Shelby. Dylan doesn’t trust him and actually shows some concern about Mother’s wellbeing, even through his anger with her. The fact that Dylan is now the only person who knows that Mother is up to something, Shelby is likely dirty and Norman is seriously disturbed really goes a long way to suggesting Dylan’s life span may not be as long as he would like.
There’s a reason I’m not in the movie, isn’t there?
That night, Norman spots Shelby pulling over a driver on Main Street. Shelby follows him and surprises him, shining his flashlight in Norman’s face. He intimidates Norman a bit before telling Norman how much he likes Mother, so what say we get to know each other a little better? He “asks” if Norman wants to go fishing with him at his “own secret spot, no one knows about it.” Sounds above bar. Norman rushes home to tell Mother about his suspicions about Shelby and the prostitution ring. He confesses that he broke into the house to find the belt, like Mother told him to. Mother gently tells him that sometimes he sees and hears things that aren’t there, he’s done it since he was a little kid and she’s sure there’s no way that the creepy blond ken doll she’s sleeping with is a secret torture porn monger. Nevertheless, that night at his house, Mother sneaks away while Shelby sleeps to search the basement. She finds the spare room, but there’s nothing in it. And that’s when Shelby TOTALLY comes up behind her and wants to know what she’s doing. Mother gets out it by saying she’s just looking around the house.
Goddammit you’re creepy, Shelby.
Norman asks Mother where she was last night and she defers, calling Norman jealous. Norman reacts by saying she’s not his girlfriend, he’s not jealous, and he really doesn’t want to go fishing with the psychopath. To prove that he wasn’t hallucinating, he shows Mother some bruises that he has developed around his ankle where the Chinese girl was grabbing him, but Mother insists the fishing trip is still on. At the River Running Through Awkward Conversations, Shelby wants to know how Norman’s relationship with his dad was, abusive? Norman tries to shut the conversation down, but Shelby tells Norman to get used to him being around because he’s the only thing keeping Mother safe right now from the law and he needs to know that he can trust Norman. Norman swallows his tongue and agrees to trust him. Shelby cuts the trip short after getting a call to come to the docks – the Sheriff has found Keith Summers’ severed hand in the water.
Super Model Bradley and Norman meet for ice cream and Bruno Mars songs so she can talk about feeling bad since her father died. They bond again, what with all the missing father grief. Then Bradley, weirdly changing the subject, brings up the hand the cops just found. Aaaaaaaand, mood killed, Norman rushes home with the news. Sidebar, the music in this scene is AWESOMELY reminiscent of the actual movie. Just then, Shelby arrives in his official capacity to take Mother downtown to ask a few questions. He’s got backup, so this isn’t a kinky sex thing.
In the Sheriff’s office, the Sheriff tries to get the story from Mother. They found carpet fibers with the hand and they know it’s going to match the missing carpet they saw Mother and Norman pulled up from the motel. The Sheriff knows Keith wasn’t happy about losing the home and figures he threatened the Bateses. The Sheriff will find the carpet in one of the town’s dumps, so why not just tell me now? Mother insists she knows nothing.
"I like my last series where I got to know everything and be mysterious. None of this 'investigating' bullshit."
She and Norman make a mad dash to find the carpet in the dumpster they put it in. Too late, it’s been taken, but Mother calls the number for the company that owns the dumpster to find out which dump it’s been taken to. Mother begins to panic when they can’t get into the dump because the gates are locked, screaming that she killed Keith because her whole life she’s had to “put up with things” and it was the last straw for her. Back home, Norman finds Dylan on the Motel porch. They share a drink and Norman tells Dylan about Keith and the rape and murder and about the missing belt and Shelby’s basement porn studio. Dylan, again showing the only real compassion and level-headedness in the show, agrees to help. Just then, Bradley texts Norman. Dylan urges Norman to go to her, telling him to “be a 17-year-old for five minutes and go and have some fun.” It’s equal parts manipulative and honestly really kind.
Norman Romeo Bates arrives at Bradley’s ridiculously over-sized McMansion. No one else is home, so she lets him in and brings him up to her room. Norman is awkward, but Bradley tells him to sit down with her on the bed. She hold his hand, saying she’s “tired of being sad” and wants to feel something else for a while. We get a soft-focus, tender, making-love-under-the-sheets-style montage that's very circa early 90s. And while this whole subplot has been way too unearned (we have literally no idea what attracted Bradley to Norman and "I'm grieving for my dad and hey, yours died too!" doesn't work this much), I do really like that Bradley, while clearly a Queen Bee in the high school, isn't portrayed as a jerk. Well done, characterization.
Back home, Mother notices Norman isn’t home yet, despite the late hour. When she asks Dylan where he is, Dylan tells her “out with a girl and I hope to God he’s getting laid.” Mother is SET OFF and the arguing begins. Dylan tells Mother he knows plenty about the relationship between her and Norman, enough to get Norman removed. “No one is taking Norman away from me,” Mother yells. “Well, that girl is right now,” Dylan counters. Then Mother starts with the hitting, showing the exact lack of restraint that she’s doing to need improving on if she ever has to make this same argument in front of a court of law. Dylan holds her off, pushing her against the wall and almost burying his face into her neck and I swear to God, I was convinced it was going to turn into a sex scene. Jesus, that would have made this show go utterly nuts if that had happened. Thankfully, the doorbell rings and Mother runs to it, hoping for Norman. Instead, she finds the Sherrif and Shelby, who are there to arrest her for Keith's murder.