Previously, let's see... Norma moved her son Norman to White Pine Bay, where they bought a hotel to renovate using her dead husband's life insurance money. A son from her first marriage, Dylan, showed up to ruin everything but ended up being the coolest person you have ever met in your life. Norman got into a love triangle with a Backbrace Girl and a Lisbon Girl, but ended up pissing them both off at a dance. After some fisticuffs, Norman was taken home by a teacher, who was in the middle of being about to molest him when she got murdered all to hell. But since Norman has these sex-related blackouts where Mother takes over, he doesn't know what happened next.
That night, I think, Bradley Martin -- the popular, vague one -- finds out her dad was having an affair before somebody aimed his car, with his burning on-fire body in it, toward her bus stop. So she jumps off a bridge because she has had it, and is taken to an institution; Norman ruins Miss Watson's funeral by being super weird, because obviously that is what Norman is gonna do.
Four months later, things have settled down in White Pine Bay. Norma's hotel is doing hella business, Dylan's interested in paying rent, Emma's looking glamorous as hell, and Norma's got a kicky new 'do. Norman's about equally fixated on Miss Watson's death and his taxidermy hobby, even though it's the summertime, and likes to practice driving by driving to her cemetery and relax by staring blankly at the wall and fondling her pearls when he's not down in the basement, because that's also how Norman rolls.
What's neat about the Watson stuff is, you spend the episode thinking Norma and Norman are both in the same kind of weirded-out fugue about whether or not he killed her, but then at the end he opens up that the problem is actually his blackout preventing her from getting killed, because he loved her and would have protected her. That's really cool, and not at all expected, at least until Norman goes running to Romero's office with a picture of a strange man at her gravesite who probably is not the killer.
Stressing over Norman's total weirdness as usual, Norma also finds out that they're going through with those highway plans she keeps thinking -- and we know from the movie -- are going to wreck the business. This takes her to a memorable WPB City Council Meeting, where we hit all the classic Norma highlights: She feels entitled to be a part of the conversation, pissed off when she's left out of the conversation, flattered to be invited to the conversation, shocked that people are being dicks by only pretend-inviting her to the conversation, and even more shocked to learn that it's somehow unacceptable to yell into the microphone that the City Council are fucking dicks, even if they are factually being dicks. (Or that their town runs on illicit drug money, which is also true but will get your ass set on fire if you talk about it.)
Bradley, though, Bradley is an interesting case. I always loved her but I feel like this episode goes a long way explaining why: She gets out of the mental institution, now walking like a cowpoke who never blinks, and goes on a tour of the town trying to figure out who killed her dad just by staring them in the eye. Except for Norman, who she allows in her room (after returning all his letters) but then won't look him in the eye, because he Nice Guy'd her and let Mother talk to her, which is two dealbreakers. Ginger Gil, the head of the drug mob that Dylan works for, tries to brush her off but then tells Dylan at work that Miss Blair Watson was Jerry Martin's girlfriend, among others, and implies heavily that he is in fact responsible.
To his credit, of course, Dylan immediately tells Bradley all of this, since even Bradley knows better than to mess with the drug kingpins of WPB. Or at least, she did. Instead, she shows back up at Gil's house loaded for bear and ready to play the "daddy issues" card until she gets what she wants. One lapdance and an abortive blowjob later, Bradley Martin has blown the head clean off the top of WPB drug world food chain, which makes me wonder whether Dylan and Remo are going to get a promotion now. Later Gil, you were the worst and now you are a puddle sliding down a wall.
I mean you could see blood and brains everywhere! It was awesome. Bradley right now is just like that song from Frozen, but plus blowjobs and guns: What else could you possibly need. That's everything good. I am on the edge of my seat to find out what Bradley does next, because she is my number one hero tonight. My biggest fear in this world -- that she will pull her shit together anytime soon -- is I think unfounded, considering she goes straight to Norman Bates to help hide her from the consequences.
Next Week: Romero now has to solve like three murders, all of which are at the heart of a gross love situation we don't even know about yet. Norma tries to get Norman to join the school play, but of course he's in over his head hiding another young woman in their house. (Here's hoping this one survives longer than Jiao, RIP.)
If you find yourself getting stabbed to death in the shower out of nowhere, your first and last question is probably going to be something like, "What the fuck?"
If you find yourself watching somebody get stabbed to death out of nowhere, the horror lies somewhere else, less visceral: "What the fuck happened to Norman Bates?"
Psycho is indelible, like all good psychological horror, because you are left wondering what lead to the point where the stabbing starts, how the lady got mummified down in the basement, who the monster is, how we got here, if it could happen to you. It asks those questions and this odd little show answers them, in a complicated and surprisingly loving way:
What the fuck happened to Norman Bates? Life.
What the fuck did Norma Bates do to her son? Loved him.
Who's the monster? No such thing. Find a better word.
Norma took the lemons of her abusive husband's mysterious death, and made lemonade: Specifically, establishing a northwestern paradise where she could raise a man in perfect harmony with the world. The world did not approve, and found a million and one ways to punish her for even thinking such a thought. Sent wolves and monsters and demons and bears to her door, all with one intention: To keep her from saving him, to drag that boy out of her home and into the concrete world.
Her older son showed up, and basically beat himself bloody against the door until she grudgingly let him in. Lovers descended on her innocent son, tearing him into a million horny pieces. There were sex slaves and drug wars and pioneer justice and violation and tons of murders. But in the end, Norma and her boys made it to the other side. Nearly.
While Norma and Sheriff Romero were taking out the last of the sex slavers, freeing her up to do her best with the motel, Norman was at a school dance ditching one girl -- his best friend -- and getting the shit kicked out of him for loving another, whose own feelings had settled on his brother; whose own father died under mysterious circumstances. When his teacher Miss Watson offered him a ride home, every part of him was telling him it was dangerous, and that's when he blacked out and found himself running home in the rain.
THE NEXT MORNING
It's raining hard, still; the storm lights up Juno the Taxidermied Dog as Norman tosses and turns. Downstairs, Norma gets a recorded call from the phone tree: Miss Blaire Watson -- "B" is for "Blaire," as in Bradley's father's mysterious lover whose first name we're hearing for the first time -- was found with her throat slashed all to hell after the dance last night, so there's no school on Monday because of the funeral. (As we'll learn, Miss Watson was from an old White Pine Bay family, in some circles at least.)