TV Recap: 'Bates Motel' Episode 103 - 'What's Wrong With Norman?'



bates motelBates Motel Episode 103
“What’s Wrong With Norman?”
Written By: Jeff Wadlow
Directed By: Paul Edwards
Original Airdate: 1 April 2013

In This Episode...

Their encounter with the pot farm guards leaves Emma truly scared. She approaches Norman at school and confesses to feeling guilty. She used his journal as an excuse to make him hang out with her. She didn’t actually believe the story was real until they found that cabin. Norman demands the journal back, insists he is not obsessed with it, apologizes meekly, and stumbles off to his English class. He stares down blankly at a test, and Miss Watson worries. She checks on Norman, who is unresponsive. He sees images of Miss Watson in the same positions as the girl in his journal - and collapses.

Norman is admitted to the hospital. He is awake and alert, watching old movies with Mother while they wait for test results. She gets a call - the new motel carpeting has been delivered and needs to be signed for. Norman insists she go handle it - he will be fine. While Norma is gone, Bradley comes to visit Norman. She brought him the same flowers that he brought her when her dad was admitted to the hospital (he is not expected to survive). Norman was the only friend who came to visit her. She sits next to him in bed and watches movies with him.

Norma is dealing with the delivery men at home when the police enter. Romero has a search warrant for the house. Norma is distraught but there is nothing she can do. She rushes back to the hospital as fast as possible. You are supposed to feel dread as she marches down the hospital hallway, surely about to find her beloved son in bed with a girl - but all she finds is the doctor at Norman’s bedside. All his tests came back negative, but he wants to keep Norman overnight for observation. Norma can’t let that happen and once the doctor leaves, she scoops Norman and his belongings into a wheelchair and takes him home. She alerts him to the police search, and does a piss-poor job at hiding her fear.

At home, Norman races to check under his bed and discovers Keith’s belt - which he inexplicably kept - is gone. He cries, then steels himself and marches downstairs, where Mother is taking a turkey pot pie out of the oven. He admits he kept Keith’s tool belt, and now it is gone. He cannot explain why he kept it. Norma tries to keep the panicking to a minimum and promises Norman she will take care of it. 

While Norma is out, Emma comes over. Norman doesn’t want to talk, but she insists. In the journal, she discovered a drawing of a number 4, the only English character in the entire journal. Norman tells her he found the journal in room four, and the two head there to look. The pipes beneath the sink look like the pipes from the drawings. Emma peeks underneath and finds a Chinese character scratched on the underside. She later translates it to mean “beautiful.”

Norma finds Shelby on the side of the road and stops to talk to him. She plays the scared little lady who doesn’t understand why Sheriff Romero has it out for her. Shelby invites her over for dinner. Norma accepts hesitantly. She goes home to change, and Norman doesn’t like the idea of Mother going on a date. But she is pretty sure Shelby knows about the belt, so her choices are few. Norma gets dolled up and heads over to Shelby’s house. He found Keith’s belt and took it - no one else knows he has it. He wants honesty from Norma - that is the only way this will work. Shelby knows Keith was a bully and had a temper. Norma flatly denies that Norman killed Keith, but other than that she doesn’t say much. Shelby takes pity on her, seeing that she carries everyone else’s problems without dealing with her own. Shelby wants to take care of her. They kiss deeply.

Norman is worried. Mother is out late and not responding to his texts or calls. He waits up for her and disappointed when it is Dylan who comes home, not Mother. After a day guarding the pot farm with his new coworker Ethan, he realizes he doesn’t know his half-brother very well, and seems to now be interested in forging a bond. Dylan is worried about what Norma is doing to Norman; it is not healthy the affection they have for one another. Dylan teases Norman gently about trying to kill him with the meat tenderizer; Norman has no recollection of the event. The boys seem to be on a tenuous path toward bonding. Norma comes home and finds Norman asleep in her bed. She tells him that Shelby has the belt and will help protect them. Norman doesn’t like him using Mother, but Norma doesn’t know what else to do.

The next day, Emma tells Norman that she wants to take the journal to the police. Norman is incensed, and tells her that doing that won’t change anything: “That girl will still be dead, you will still be sick, and I will still be who I am!” Interesting - Norman knows there is something off within him.... Anyway, Norman goes home and lays in bed as day fades into night. Norma comes in and sits beside him. Norma wants him to get the belt so that Shelby can’t control them the same way Norman’s dad did. Only problem? Norma isn’t there. This is all in Norman’s head.

In what seems to be a fugue state, Norman walks to Shelby’s house. Shelby is not home. He sneaks in through an open window and starts rummaging around. Upstairs, he finds a key that opens the bolted basement door. Heading down, he discovers a little porno corner (a sparkling disco ball, a bed, and a camera on a tripod) and another door. Behind that door is another bed, a bean bag chair... and a young Chinese woman, bound and half-conscious. She grabs him and begs for help. Meanwhile, Shelby is just getting home from work...

Dig It or Bury It?

I liked this episode far better than last week’s. The focus has returned to the Bates and their properties, not the “terrible secret” that the town is hiding. In this day and age, a massive marijuana field doesn’t seem like a big deal. I can accept that Shelby is involved with a human trafficking ring; it fits perfectly with the way he is trying to manipulate Norma. I also like that we are starting to establish Norman’s mental illnesses and personality disorders.

Also, if Freddie Highmore isn’t nominated for an Emmy this year, it will be a tragedy.

Mommy Dearest

Beside the awkward glances and the hugs that hold just a moment too long for comfort, Norman seems to have an unnatural jealousy of any man in Norma’s life. He doesn’t trust Shelby (though clearly he shouldn’t) and when he is in Shelby’s house and arrives in his bedroom, he looks at Shelby’s bed with a mix of disgust and jealousy. I thought he would burn it down.


Norman insists that there was a woman being held in Shelby’s basement, but Norma swears she was there and saw no one. She acknowledges that Norman often sees things that aren’t there. Also, Dylan threatens to have the state take Norman out of the home.