Sunday, June 02, 2013

What Kind of Woman Changes Her Clothes in Front of a Teenage Boy?


Season finale of Bates Motel, everyone. Ready to find out how all these unsavory plotlines come together?

We begin with Mother rushing into the police station demanding to speak with the Sheriff in “a matter of life and death”. Despite the incompetent or possibly just fed up front desk worker, Mother gets to see the sheriff where she tells him about Abernathy’s demand that she supply $150,000 or he kills her sons. The Sheriff promises to take care of it in a bored voice. When Mother balks he promises no harm will come to her family. Seems like the good lawman knows more than he’s letting on. Sure enough, he later goes home and ruffles through his garage until he finds a duffle bag full of cash.

Sad Lonely Person Emma is staring wistfully at the “Winter Formal” dance banner in the school hallway. “You look pathetic,” Norman tells her in what I think he imagines is friendly but really just illustrates how much this young man will never get along well with women. Emma angsts her feelings about how she can’t go because no one asked her. After several minutes of hints and even more clueless teenage communication, Norman finally asks her. “Okay, jerkoff,” Emma agrees.

"You...Make...Me...Feel like I'm living a... Teen...Age..Dream..."

At home, Mother tells Dylan that she needs a gun to defend herself and wants Dylan to get one for her. She even makes him pancakes to convince him. “You and a gun is a bad idea,” Dylan sagely tells her.

Undaunted by threats to life and limb, Mother takes her clothes to the dry cleaner. When a fellow townsperson seems afraid of her, she helps herself out by yelling “screw you, shithead” at him. She’s a charmer. Later, she decides to go back to the shrink that she took Norman to a few episodes ago, despite having been delinquent in her appointments. She wants some advice on handling all the stress of finding the corpse of her murdered Mann Act-violating lover in her bed and feeling all the feelings about her son while at the same time dealing with death threats from a psychopath, or as she calls it, “normal life stuff.” The shrink asks her about her childhood. She tells a bucolic story about a kind father who always smiled and a mother who always smelled like cookies and dear God no one actually believes her, right? She suddenly feels ill before any more backstory can come out and leaves abruptly.

In school, Norman overhears his guidance counselor having an emotional phone call her with presumably ex-boyfriend/stalker. She begs him not to tell anyone about what he overheard. “this means we have a secret now. You’ll keep it for me, won’t you?” she asks and then hugs him close. Worst. Guidance Counselor. Ever.

The Sheriff meets a woman who turns out to be Keith Summers’ sister. She is sporting an awesome black eye, which prompts the Sheriff to ask whether or not Abernathy gave that to her. She says he came looking for Shelby’s money and beat her when he realized she didn’t have it.  The women tells the Sheriff that Abernathy is running the same sex trafficking arrangements in multiple towns up and down the coast. She asks the Sheriff what’s going to happen to her. “Nothing if you keep your mouth shut,” he tells her.

At the Motel, Emma tells Mother that Norman is taking her to the dance and asks for her opinion on a dress she bought. As mother models the dress for her, Emma asks about the scar on her thigh. Mother tries to brush it off as an old wound from childhood resulting from spilled hot chocolate and then makes a quick exit. Leaving, she runs into Dylan who has reneged and bought Mother a gun. He takes her to practice shooting. While practicing, Mother asks what kind of job Dylan has that he carries a gun. Dylan admits to guarding weed, which sends Mother into Calamity Jane mode and she just starts shooting at the glass bottles they’ve set up for practice. She starts nailing targets before confessing how scared she is to Dylan. For his part, Dylan calls her “Mom” for the first time in an attempt to reassure her.

She's actually aiming at Anton Chekov, perched just off-screen. 

Back at the Motel, Maggie Summers, sister to Keith, comes to see Mother and warn her about Abernathy. “He will kill you,” she tells Mother. Comforting. Meanwhile, Bradley comes to the house to see Dylan. Norman answers the door. Awkward. Turns out she’s just here to gather the stuff from her father’s office. Norman is understandably moody about Bradley’s interest in talking to Dylan. Later, Norman throws a temper tantrum at not being able to find black socks to go to the dance. Dylan’s all, chill, dude – you can borrow mine. Dylan tries to explain that he’s not interested in Bradley, but Norman displays all the maturity of a teenage boy about it, telling Dylan he may as well just ask her out.

Downstairs, Mother and Norman wait for Emma. Mother’s nervous about being alone in the house for the time while Norman is gone, given Abernathy said he’s coming back for her. The nervousness makes Mother decide to finally tell someone the truth about her background – she is from Ohio, not Florida like she’s always said. But that’s not even the biggest thing she’s held back – growing up her brother used to force her to have sex with him, something that went on for years. You’d think a son would want to process some of this information, but just then Emma arrives for the dance. Norman is, understandably, distant, but they head off the to dance anyway. As they leave, Abernathy calls Mother to again be a dick and remind her that he wants his money.

The dance is RIDICULOUSLY over-decorated. Hollywood always thinks that high schools have way more money than they do in their teenage party budget. Norma and Emma dance, pretty well for teenagers. Like, there’s no A-frame dancing at all. Bradley is at the dance too and Emma has a hard time dealing with Norman clearly being still a little hung up on her. Emma storms off just as Bradley’s boyfriend, Whatshisname, pulls Norman outside the dance to be the mean bully cliché, punching Norman in the stomach and telling him to Stay Away From My Girl, McFly.

Tonight, the part of Weaselly Cliche Plot Generator will be played by this man. 

Sad, dejecting Norman walks home in the rain when he is picked up by his guidance counselor. She brings him to her house (heeyyy!) ostensibly to take care of his beaten up face.

Meanwhile, Mother has packed a bag, including her new gun, as headed out to meet Abernathy at the docks. As she tries her best to slink around in the dark, she sees the Sheriff approach Abernathy’s car with his bag of cash. Abernathy doesn’t recognize him and wants to know what happened to the “cute but naughty lady who runs the hotel?” The Sheriff says that Abernathy is running a business in his town and if he wants to keep going, Abernathy will have to deal the Sheriff in 50/50. The Sheriff passes the bag of money to Abernathy and takes advantage of the misdirection to shoot Abernathy in the face and dump his body into the water. He then tells Mother, who is hiding in the shadows, to go home and just trust him, goddammit.

At the counselor’s house, she’s put on her best little red number to clean Norman’s wounds in front of a romantic fire. “You probably shouldn’t tell anyone you came here,” she tells him, displaying an amazing lack of professionalism to say the least. She then saunters into the bedroom to “slip into something more comfortable”, changing where Norman can see her. Norman’s getting an eyeful when suddenly he hallucinates Mother sitting next to him, asking him WTF does she think she’s doing seducing a teenager like that. “You know what you have to do, Norman,” HeadMother says darkly.

Norman runs out of the house through the rain, almost getting run over by the real Mother returning from the docks. Mother holds Norman, telling him everything’s finally going to be all right for them. Then the series ends with puppies and rainbows and sunshine.  Of course it doesn’t. It ends with a shot of the guidance counselor, still in her negligee dead on the floor of her bedroom, throat cut open and wearing a necklace with a “B” attached to it.

Like this, but with more neck trauma. Which is saying something. 

4 comments:

Arsenic Pie said...

I was in a Chekhov once and it ended with this guy shooting himself because my character didn't want to be with him, but wanted this guy who had shat all over her instead.

AND THAT WAS A COMEDY.

Clovis said...

Oh Chekhov. Only you could have a play about a family losing their home, the patriarch is a drunk, the youngest sister dies of TB and the young man who is supposed to save them all gambles away the family fortune. And those are his "lighthearted" comedies. Russians, I tell you. They kill me.

I can't decide if having the Sheriff be the one who unceremoniously offs Abernathy, rather than Mother, is a violation of the Chekov's Gun rule or a neat subversion of it. My only general beef with the ending was it felt a little like things wrapped up anti-climacticly. The tension never really materialized like I wanted it to. Still really dug the Twin Peak-s vibe, though.

Arsenic Pie said...

Pretty sure in the first act of "The Seagull," the gun is sitting above the mantelpiece. That, IMHO, makes the gun fair game.

Arsenic Pie said...

In Soviet Russia, gun shoots you.