We open on Chez Creepy, a.k.a. Emma’s father’s taxidermy workshop. Emma’s dad (who weirdly has an English accent) is teaching Norman the finer points of stuffing and mounting your dear, dead dog. Norman’s clearly enraptured by the whole process and Emma’s father encourages him to come back and he’ll teach him some more.
Makes you wonder how the "BYOSubject" policies work at this place.
In school, Emma’s having a breathing attack in the girl’s bathroom when she overhears two mean girls talking trash about how creepy Norman is and how Bradley is so kind to humor Norman and no way would she ever do the sex with him. Sidebar, whenever high school girls go to the bathroom to put on their makeup and gossip, is it required that a nerdy girl be hiding in a stall to overhear everything? Just curious. Anyway, rather than stay hidden Emma bursts out and tells the Super Models how wrong they are. Legitimately, go Emma for not being a stereotype. Back at the motel, Norma’s just now starting to think the man taking up the rooms is a little creepy. She tries to call the sheriff, but he’s unavailable.
In the pot field in the woods, Dylan and Remo are given orders by Gil to “pick up the trimmers” from California. Dylan has no idea what a trimmer is and no one seems eager to explain it to him. In school, Bradley heard from Cody who heard from Ashley who heard from Chloe that Norman told Emma that she should tell the school newspaper that they, you know, did it. Norman wants to know what’s so wrong with being honest, but Bradley tells him to forget it happened. Norman’s upset and tries to leave school but he’s stopped by his guidance counselor. He pushes her when she tries to bring him back in and storms off.
"Bad touching! Bad touching!"
In the motel, Mother comes to clean room number 9. While she makes the bed, the Dapper Man asks about the news about Shelby being shot on the steps and the news that Shelby and Keith used the hotel for the sex trade. Shocking, isn’t it? Dapper Man continues to be creepy, asking after Norman and vaguely menacing Mother before she gets out of the room.
Mother decides to go to the Sheriff, makeup done and dress low-cut, to ask the Sheriff to put her name into consideration for the city planning commission to help fight the new highway bypass proposal. Mother tries to leverage their shared history to bribe him when holy woah, he gets even creepier than the Dapper Man, calmly threatening to burn Mother to the ground if she tries to do this to him again. On the way out, she gets more bad news – Norman’s principal wants Mother to come in for a chat about him.
Norman meanwhile has found Emma to ask why she let the cat out of the bag, both with his mother and with the Super Models. “What are you trying to do?” Norman asks her. “Bradley was really upset.” Oy, Norman.
In the school, Mother hears from the guidance counselor and he principal that Norman will be suspended for three days for skipping school in the middle of the day. Wow. Harsh. When I was in high school we could walk right out. But, then, I went to a school with low public funding, so there’s that. The school staff are concerned about Norman’s “emotional instability” and his social miscues. They’d like him to speak with one of the school psychologists, but Mother will only agree if she can choose the therapist and it is done in private and then she bails on that particular meeting.
Heading down to California, Dylan has learned that the “trimmer” is the person who cuts the weed and prepares it. Remo is being bitter with his 23 years of experience and now he’s working for a 21 year old. Dylan points out maybe it has something to do with his liquor issues, a point hammered home by the fact that they needed to stop in a bar before continuing to fetch the trimmer. The predictable bar fight ensues and they both bloody the other one pretty badly. Like true men, though, this puts a lot behind them and they continue to bond as Remo confesses that he’s never advanced in this business because he’s not “consistently reliable” despite working for the “big boss”, who is not Gil but someone who Dylan will come to know when he needs to. Ominous.
Just two guys wrasslin'. Nothing to see here, barkeep.
That night, Norman apologizes for leaving school, but he doesn’t want to talk about what made him upset. Mother tells him that he has to try to fit in and not be so emotional all the time. Norman insists that he’s totally normal and btw, can Mother drive him to Emma’s father’s shop so that he can take apart animals and put them back together again? At the taxidermy shop, Mother tells Emma’s father privately that she’s not sure this is an awesome idea, given Norman’s background. The father insists that Norman is skilled and the animals are already dead – what could go so wrong with letting him follow his passion? Oh, the Irony Monster strikes again!
Later that night, Emma’s father and Norman bond over rebuilding the dead dog. I’m not clear on the subtext, but I also think the show may have suggested that the reason Emma’s parents are separated is because the father is gay. Not sure if that’s something the show is going to deal with or not. Either way, while the conversation continues, Mother drives back to the motel and sees the Dapper Man driving off for the evening. She decides to follow him.
The man drives to the docks and Mother follows him once again COMPLETELY NOT STEALTHILY onto a houseboat. He pokes around the bridge a bit before exiting. Mother tries to slink away but gets instantly caught by him. “I think you know what I’m looking for,” he tells her and demands to know “where did you hide it?” Mother is completely confused, but he insists that he’s not going to walk away from this, like Keith Summers did. “He was the bottom rung. I am the top.” He tells Mother.
"It's a carpentry metaphor, actually. I know. Wacky, right?"
The next day, Mother has followed up on her promise and brought Norman to a shrink, who wants to talk about Norman’s father dying. Norman repeatedly tries to answer his questions, only to be interrupted by Mother. The therapist tells Mother privately that he should probably see the two of them separately and asks them both to come back, but on their own. He identifies that Mother needs to control Norman and asks her if she ever feels out of control in her life. Mother bristles and begins to explode about how in control she is over everything. I actually want to read this therapists’ notes from this session. They must be awesome.
Meanwhile, Dylan finally arrives for the trimmer, turns out to be part of troupe of dirty teenage hippies with their hackey sacks and guitar circles. Remo wants them to stop with the folk music and they give him crap for it, clearly believing they have the power here. Dylan stops the car and forces each of them out at gunpoint, showing the kind of initiative that Remo obviously never did. He doesn’t hurt the trimmer, but he does leave him by the side of the road.
Coming back to the motel, Mother comes to room number 9 and gives the Dapper Man his money back and tells him to leave. She tells him that she’ll call the cops and tell them all about his plans for “privacy” parties every other month. The Dapper Man says he knows that won’t work because Mother was sleeping with Shelby and she obviously knows what was going on in the motel. Mother begins to wilt at this, whimpering that he doesn’t have any power over her, a recurring theme of this episode. For whatever reason, the Dapper Man moves his bags into his car and drives off.
Norman meanwhile has finished mounting his dog when Emma finds him. She confesses she heard what the Super Models were saying about Norman and it made her angry because she thinks Norman is “special”. Emma says she can be okay with Norman not falling for her like she’s fallen for him, but she just feels safe with him and besides, she doesn’t have many friends. Emma is seriously at risk of becoming the woobie for this entire show.
Back home, Dylan arrives back at the motel with Remo and the rest of the hippies. He wants to put up the kids in the rooms for the next two weeks. Mother is honestly touched and agrees to take care of the hippies. Then she asks him if he wants to grab dinner with her and Dylan shakily agrees. It’s obviously a new dynamic for them. Things are going so well! She’s kicked out the creepy guy, the motel is filling up, her sons maybe sorta don’t hate her anymore. Life is good.
Except that it’s totally not for long. Mother goes up to her bedroom to change and finds that someone has placed the mutilated, decaying body of Shelby in her bed. Gross. And, obviously, creepy.
"My rugged good looks are starting to suffer a bit."