Norma Bates’ very bad day continues in episode nine of Bates Motel, “Underwater”. Early in the episode, she asks, “Why do crazy people keep gravitating toward me?” Yeah, Norma, I wonder why. Even your son later proclaims, “You do things that don’t make sense. You’re crazy!” Ouch. I guess it takes crazy to know crazy.

Isn’t that why he awakes from a dream about drowning Bradley, the object of his affection, looking like it kind of turned him on? I mean, was he squirming or was he playing with himself? Researching on the internet later, Norman learns that drowning dreams could mean you are overwhelmed by something in your life.

When pressed about the dream by stepbrother Dylan, Norman gives the best line reading of the night. Dylan asks, “You wouldn’t really want to hurt someone, would you?” He replies, “I wouldn’t want to.” The word “want” is slightly emphasized, clearly indicating that while he might not want to hurt someone, he wouldn’t hesitate to do so if he had to.

Freddie Highmore continues to be terrific as young Norman Bates. Besides the comment described above, when his teacher asks how his therapy appointments are going, he answers, “I went once.” Again, a slight emphasis on a single word is both funny and telling. For those who know (or think they know) where the story will eventually end, it’s also delicious.

Back to Norma’s very bad day… At her wit’s end with the threats of mysterious Jake Abernathy, as well as the shenanigans of the gang of potheads Dylan has brought to the motel, she threatens to pack up and move, searching the internet for the safest cities in America. But first she storms into her realtor’s office promising a lawsuit if he doesn’t help her recoup her investment. Unfortunately, she’s under water with the motel, giving double meaning to the episode’s title.

Vera Farmiga continues to be terrific as Norma Bates. As we have gotten to know her better the past few weeks, her character has become more humorous. It’s not in a comical way that makes the series silly; it’s in a smart way that’s a testament to an actress who has created such a colorful character and the writers who give her such wonderful words and scenes.

At least at the end of a bad day, she always has her son with whom she can crawl into bed. “Can I sleep in here?” she asks him. “You don’t have to sleep on the floor; we’ll both fit.” This is when Bates Motel becomes a little uncomfortable. You have to wonder just how close these two really are. I don’t think the show would ever “go there” with incest, but there’s just enough tension to hint at it.

The supporting cast is also terrific in episode nine. When Dylan is introduced to freshly-stuffed Juno, the dog that was hit by a car in front of the motel, he states the obvious, “That’s just weird, dude.” Later, he shares the intimate moment with Bradley that was suggested in previous episodes. And while Emma avoids an offer to share a smoke (“Do you want me to blow up?”), she can’t resist a special cupcake.

To cap another bad day for Norma, she finds a ticket on her windshield and something even more discouraging in her back seat. We’re set-up now for the season finale, which looks like will feature a final showdown between Norma and Jake Abernathy, if that’s really his name. She promises to give him what he wants. Does she really have it, or does she have something else up her sleeve? I can’t wait to find out…

Scream-O-Vision: Bates Motel Season 1 Episode 9: Penultimate Episode Sets Up Season Finale
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Season 1 Episode 9
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