While Norma spends the episode dealing with the day-to-day while having more and more bizarre roadblocks thrown in her face -- murder evidence discovered in her home, Norman having random violent blackouts, possible sex slavers trading sex for paternalistic offers of help -- everybody else is feeling pretty okay. Dylan's got a job guarding the marijuana fields, which indirectly causes a fairly touching welling-up about how twisted his little brother's gotten. In fact the only person not in a fairly great mood this week is Norman himself.
One concerned touch from Miss Watson and Norman abruptly blacks out, mashing her odd cuteness and his weird sex torture comic together into a full-on seizure that lands him in the hospital. Norma's very careful to make sure everybody knows he's not constantly doing this and going into murderous fugue states, so that's not suspicious at all, and in the course of the day she also learns that Keith Summers's toolbelt/raping kit -- squirreled away by Norman in a moment of anticipatory creepiness -- was discovered during a warranted search, and then kept secret by Deputy Shelby.
So that's good, then, right? I dunno. Although Norma was clearly planning on sleeping with him anyway, Norman does have a point about the leverage this now gives the good Deputy over them both -- not a thing I can see Norma Bates suffering for long -- and you can see his weird little gears turning: If Norma sleeps with Shelby because of the belt, then he has engineered his own romantic demise, because either she's whoring herself out for him, or she isn't, but either way he's no longer the man in her life. It's pretty sad...
But then immediately pretty awesome, as a ghostly Norma appears to him in his bedroom, compares this situation to whatever hold Norman's father had on them before he died under those ever less mysterious circumstances, reminds Norman that everything is his fault, and then sends him to the Deputy's house to steal the toolbelt back. The house becomes stranger and stranger as Norman investigates, and in the episode's last moments -- as Shelby's arriving home -- Norman discovers that fluorescent-light heroin chick from the end of the pilot, chained up in ol' Shelby's basement for the purposes of sex slavery.
So while he begins the episode crushin' on Bradley and ignoring -- and then openly abusing -- the ever-lovely Emma Decody, by the end of the hour she's got him convinced enough that you knew what he'd probably be walking into/imagining at Shelby's house. But the really lovely twist here is how honest, as usual, Emma Decody is: She chose him because he's a weirdo and she's lonely, she felt perfectly fine pimping out these imaginary dead girls for his company until they turned out to be real, at which point she kind of unspooled -- and she's pretty clearly in no denial about exactly why young dead girls fascinate her so much. She doesn't hold a grudge about Norman's stressed-out bitchiness (which is a thing to behold), but it seems she'll be taking less cues from his direction now that she knows just how prissy His Highness can get.
Next Week: Nobody believes Norman about the sex slave in his mom's new boyfriend's basement -- except, it looks like, possibly Dylan, who seems likely at this point to either be turned into a man by this show or brutally murdered or, you know, both. Knowing Norma knows a lot more about Norman's 99 psychological problems than she lets on -- and that sometimes he'll just go ahead and hallucinate conversations for himself -- really moves the titular question to the forefront, without taking away anything from the deliberate way it's exploring the many other problems of the many other people on the show who are not Norman but for all we know are worse off than Norman.
Dylan Bates has moved into his mother's house, with no idea that on their first night there, Norma and Norman were forced to kill a man and toss him in the lake. The cops are suspicious, which is tricky because in White Pine Bay the law works a little more Old Testament than it does anywhere else -- which means Norma could well find herself stabbed and tossed in the lake too, if her alliance with Deputy Alex Shelby doesn't work out. While looking for the possibly imaginary dead Chinese sex slaves detailed in a mysterious illustrated journal, Norman and Emma Decody came upon some of the marijuana fields that provide the town's economy its liquidity, and found a shed where one of the girls may have been buried.
Dylan bros out with the gun he needs for his new job -- obviously, guarding the pot fields -- by posing in the mirror in a variety of uncomfortably Steven Seagal-type ways. The goodness of Dylan -- and his probable path toward being a man -- are delineated here: He's a boy, but dangerous; he enjoys the power of the gun, but finds it uncomfortable no matter where he shoves it down his pants. He manages to go from off-putting to fairly sympathetic over the course of the scene and even moreso the episode, but it's interesting that a house and story with so much emphasis on men and women spends so much time literally on the symbolic value of the ultimate destructive phallic symbol here: Does the gun make him a man? What exactly does it do?
Dylan: "Good morning, Mr. and Mrs. Bates."
Norma and Norman roll eyes, instinctively irritated less by his words -- and blithely ignoring the connotation because he just doesn't get it -- than the fact that he's there to say them. Norma asks him to handle a delivery for later (the replacement carpets for the four units they tore up in the middle of the night) and he proudly demurs.
Dylan: "You know, I'd love to. But I have... a job."
They can't hear the pride in his voice, so they don't know to congratulate him. It would never occur to them that he'd try to impress them or find a way inside: He belongs to the world of men, and everything he says and does chafes them, because he's brought it here. So he gives a "fuck me for hoping" finger to the world and sets off for this job. They don't even notice that he's gone, except for the relief.
Norman doesn't want to chat at his locker, but lovely Emma is having a time, sputtering over half-tears and generally acting a mess.