So FUNNY STORY, as I was driving to work this morning, a state trooper came up on my ass from outta nowhere, and all I could think was that if he did pull me over (which he did NOT, booyah to me!), I would have no choice but to ask him, “Hey, so I watched Psycho last night, and if you came across a parked car on the side of the road and a woman was sleeping in it and when you went to make sure she was okay, she asked if it looked like she was doing anything wrong, what would your reaction be?”
Yes, I totally realize that I would be arrested after saying “Hey, so I watched Psycho last night.”
OKAY, so, what was going when we left off last night? (Oh no I’M GETTING DISTRACTED JAKE PERALTA’S FATHER IS BRADLEY WHITFORD ON BROOKLYN NINE-NINE I really didn’t think I could love this show more [maybe if Hugh Dancy or Mads Mikkleson guest-starred…])
(UPDATE: I have to turn off Brooklyn Nine-Nine because I can’t stop laughing at Terry Crews covered in donut hole powder. I HAVE TO GO.)
No really – what happened last night?
Okay, so Marion’s face down on the linoleum, and then the camera pans over to the newspaper filled with money, and then out to the house, where Norman shrieks, “Oh Mother, what — the blood!” Norman runs into Cabin #1 and is horrified by the sight he sees, but he steels himself to his task. He closes the window and the door, and turns all of the lights off. He comes out of the office carrying – oh, okay. It looked like he was carrying a giant poking device, and I was all TRUST ME SHE’S DEAD, but it’s actually just a really tall mop.
He drags Marion’s body outside and onto the shower curtain, then he washes his hands and starts cleaning the bathroom of all the arterial spray. Oh the 1960s, where no one knew about Luminol and basic crime scene investigative procedures. I mean, he’s not even using bleach!
Norman pulls Marion’s car directly up to the cabin door and pops the trunk. Then he gently places the corpse in the trunk, and goes back into the cabin for her belongings. He manages to grab everything except the $40,000 rolled up in the newspaper, which is still on the nightstand.
And just like in the pilot episode of Bates Motel, just as Norman’s dragging the mop and the suitcase outside, a car drives by! Only this time, the car doesn’t stop. One more trip into the cabin, and this time Norman grabs the newspaper. Thinking it’s only a newspaper, he tosses it in the trunk on top of the corpse.
He drives like, around the block, right into a swamp. And then manages to push the heavy car into it, where it sinks, like a dinosaur being covered by a tar pit. It’s only a minute before the car is swallowed whole, every trace of it gone.
The next day – possibly – Marion’s sister Lila shows up at Sam’s hardware store in Fairville or wherever the heck Sam lives, and Lila demands to see Marion. Apparently it is after the weekend, because Lila references her shopping trip in Tucson, and she just wants Marion to tell her this whole mess is none of her business. There’s a familiar-looking dude watching the scene from outside the door, and while this next bit of business proceeds, I’m gonna look the dude up on imdb.
Oh, whoever this guy is ends up playing O.J. in Breakfast at Tiffany’s!
Okay, back to the plot. Lila’s about to cause a scene, and Sam tries to get the jackass shopboy out of the background. O.J. is playing private detective Arbogast, and he’s also looking for Marion. Well, that’s not quite right – he’s actually looking for the $40,000 that Marion stole from the office. Everyone agrees that Marion’s probably in town, and Arbogast is determined to find her. The good news is that no one wants to prosecute, they just want the money back.
Finally, Arbogast drives up to the Bates Motel, to find Norman reading a magazine or something and munching on kettle corn. Arbogast, very friendly-like, manages to get Norman to crack rather quickly – Norman says that he hasn’t seen anyone for almost three weeks, but five seconds later he says something about how a couple stopped by and thought the motel was empty last week. Arbogast pushes the point and asks to see the registry, and HOW DID NORMAN FORGET TO DUMMY THE REGISTRY?! God, he’s such an amateur! You know who wouldn’t let something like the registry go forgotten? HANNIBAL.
DIRECTING GEEK-OUT MOMENT
There’s a moment where Norman’s looking at either the registry, or matching the handwriting sample Arbogast has to Marion’s fake signature on the registry, that’s shot at an interesting angle. It’s about chest-high, so Norman has to bend down to look, and his neck extends out, and he’s chewing on kettle corn the entire time, so his Adam’s apple keeps bobbing, and it’s such a bird-like expression – OH LOOK THEY HAVE A GIF OF IT NOW
THANK YOU, INTERNET!
Anyway, all of a sudden, Norman remembers that Marion showed up and stayed the night Saturday night, and she went right to bed without making any phone calls. After he made her a sandwich. And she said she was going to drive all the way back to Phoenix the next morning. NORMAN, GET YOUR STORY STRAIGHT, YOU’VE HAD A WEEK TO COME UP WITH A COVER! GOD, he’s such an amateur!
Y’know, the more I talk about Norman Bates’s amateurism, the more it sounds like I’m a professional, and I just want to say that I have never killed anyone. I just watch a hell of a lot of crime shows. Crime shows and Hannibal.
Norman insinuates that his mother met Marion, and that gets Arbogast’s knickers in a twist. He’s determined to meet Mrs. Bates. Arbogast calls Lila and gives her the skinny, then returns to the Motel. Norman’s still changing the linens in the cabins, and ducks out of sight when he sees Arbogast’s car drive up. Arbogast goes directly into the office, but can’t find Norman. He does, however, find all of Norman’s creepy assed birds. And an open safe with no money in it. IT’S NEVER THAT EASY, ARBOGAST, BELIEVE ME.
Arbogast takes this opportunity to approach the old bird (HEY I MADE A JOKE AND POSSIBLY ALSO AN INFERENCE) living in Bates Manor. And look, can I just say, What-the-Fuckery aspect aside, the production guys at Bates Motel did a stellar job in recreating that place.
Wait, I think I know what happens next, and my window decides to take this moment to make some weird noises, so I’m gonna pause momentarily to ensure that the noise I heard was the house settling after one of the first warmer days of the year, and not a gigantic bird and/or bug-type thing trying to come inside where it’s warm. Be right back.
Good news! House was just settling. Now pardon me while I turn the volume down slightly and see what happens here and if my faulty memory is correct.
Arbogast just waltzes in, hat in hand. No one makes a sound, and he doesn’t exactly announce his presence. He starts walking up the stairs, hoping to meet Mrs. Bates, when a door opens on the second floor. The EEE EEE EEE EEE EEE starts up again as Mrs. Bates storms out of the open door and stabs Arbogast in the chest. Thanks to the chocolate sauce effect, it almost looks as if Arbogast was stabbed in the face, but the Hays Code wouldn’t allow that. He falls down the stairs (in one of the worst green-screen effects I’ve ever seen – and look, I know they weren’t going to throw an actor down a set of stairs, but having the green-screen move as if Arbogast was falling down the stairs but having Arbogast tap-dance backwards to make it look as if he’s falling maybe wasn’t the brightest idea in the house, Hitch.)
Lila and Sam are waiting for Arbogast at the hardware store – because remember, Arbogast said he’d meet with Lila in an hour. It’s been three, and now Lila’s getting antsy. Jeez, how much longer is this movie? *checks imdb* another thirty minutes? uuggggghhhh… why did I watch Last Week Tonight first?
Sam now shows up at Bates Motel, yelling for Arbogast. Norman is standing in the swamp, thinking. But he’s nowhere near where he dumped Marion’s car, so at least there’s that. Sam goes back to Lila at the hardware store, and he suggests they go meet Deputy Sheriff Chambers. WHOA. That guy looks like an angry Skipper from Gilligan’s Island. He’s no Sheriff Romero, that’s for fucking sure.
Anyway, the Marion Family Players catch the Sheriff up with the situation, and they want the sheriff to investigate because something feels hinky. The sheriff doesn’t think anything’s going on besides Arbogast took off on a lead from Marion and lied to Lila. At Lila’s insistence, the sheriff calls up the Bates Motel, and Norman tells the sheriff that yeah, Arbogast was there, but then he left. Well, at least his storytelling’s getting better.
Lila insists that Arbogast was going to talk to Norman’s mother. At which point the sheriff drops a truth-bomb: Mrs. Bates has been dead for ten years. HEY, SPOILER ALERT FOR BATES MOTEL, SHEESH. Anyway, apparently Mrs. Bates poisoned some dude she was seeing and then killed herself in remorse. Mrs. Sheriff even helped to pick out the dress she was buried in.
So … if Mrs. Bates is dead … who did Marion hear? … Oh come off it, Alaina, you’re not fooling anybody. WE ALL KNOW WHAT HAPPENED.
While Sam and Lila are emphatic that Mrs. Bates is a real person, the sheriff begins to wonder who’s buried in Greenlawn Cemetery. At the same time, Norman has an argument with his mother – he wants her to hide in the fruit cellar for a few days until the heat dies down.
The next morning, Sam and Lila corner the sheriff and when he refuses to do anything, they get it into their pretty little heads to play detective theirownselves. Sam drives Lila over and asks her what the play is. She says, “We’re going to check in as man and wife.” Now, if I were writing this screenplay, I’d have that be the denoument – that Lila arranged to have her sister killed, so she could get her hands on her sister’s boyfriend. How great a twist would that be?
Sam and Lila peek into the office, and we see Norman peer out of one of the windows of Bates Manor. I – aw, man, Anthony Perkins is wearing a crisp, white shirt, with the top button unbuttoned. Dammit, my sexual kryptonite! Did anyone else realize that Anthony Perkins was kind of a babe? Ugh – so many conflicting feelings I need to discuss with some food.
Norman runs into the office and gives the couple Cabin #10. Sam makes a point of not only signing the register, but also asking for a receipt. Sam makes a snide remark about how he’s never been in a motel where they didn’t make a couple without bags pay in advance. Speaking from experience, Sammy Baby? Lila, clearly just now getting the type of relations Sam and her sister got up into, announces that she’s going to go on ahead. As Sam’s signing something, Lila checks the doorknob to Cabin #1, and sure enough, it’s unlocked. WHAT THE WHAT?! NORMAN, I AM SO DISAPPOINTED IN YOU
The happy couple books it into Cabin #10, and decide they need to search Cabin #1. Lila’s gotten it into her head that Norman killed Marion for the $40,000, and maaaaaaan, if she knew what actually happened to the $40,000, she’d shit a brick. Sam and Lila then go and search Cabin #1. Five minutes after signing the register. In broad daylight.
ACTUAL DIALOGUE TRANSCRIPTION TIME
Sam: If he sees us, we’re just taking the air.
Alaina: Jesus Christ, I’m surrounded by amateurs.
AND THEN SAM CALLS FOR BATES BUT DOESN’T GET AN ANSWER. Look, dude, if you’re gonna go snooping, don’t call for the person you’re trying to avoid! Especially creepy dudes who have a fondness for staring at swamplands!
Sam and Lila end up in the bathroom. Sam comments on the weird fact that there’s no shower curtain in the bathroom. Lila finds a scrap of the paper Marion used for her calculations, and takes it into her head as proof that Norman knew about the $40,000. Sam and Lila split up, Sam to speak to Bates, and Lila to get something out of the mother. Sam finds Norman in the office, getting Lila free to walk up the tumbleweedy hill to Bates Manor.
THE DOOR IS UNLOCKED. COME ON, NORMAN! Anyway, Lila storms in and actually remembers to close the door behind her, so thank goodness for small miracles. As Sam talks to Norman and asks him if he’s tried to get away, Lila manages to break into Mrs. Bates’s bedroom. She finds it, all things considered, rather opulent – tons of figurines and jewelry, and a wardrobe full of really ugly dresses. Then she notices the very defined body divet in the mattress.
I mean – that is disgusting. For someone who changes the linens in the cabins every week, Norman, your regular house-cleaning skills have slagged off a bit, don’t ya think?
Sam asks if Norman would do anything to get away, and he is adamant that he would never think to leave. Bates Manor and the motel are his entire world, and he had a perfect childhood. PULL THE OTHER ONE. Sam pushes Norman too far, and he clonks Sam over the head with a vase or something, and sprints into the Manor. Lila sees him coming and hides in the basement staircase, and when she sees the door, she moves down into the fruit cellar.
And there, she finds Mother Bates. Who, as we should all know by now, is nothing more than a well-preserved corpse. And as Lila screams, Norman runs downstairs, wearing the wig and one of the ugly dresses from his mother’s wardrobe, brandishing the butcher knife. But he pauses in the doorway for effect just long enough for Sam to find Lila by her screaming, and Sam’s able to overpower Norman and disarm him.
Later that night at the courthouse, a psychiatrist comes out and gives us the story: Norman suffers from split personalities, and now his mother’s personality has taken over. Norman had been disturbed since his father died, and his mother was a clinging, demanding woman. The two of them lived as if they were the only two people in the world, until Mrs. Bates took a lover. Norman got jealous, and killed both his mother and her lover, and made it look like a murder-suicide. He stole her corpse, and then incorporated her personality into his own so she could stay alive.
And if Norman felt a strong attraction to any woman, “Mrs. Bates” would take over and eliminate the threat.
The final shot, after the Poirot-esque explanation on the part of the psychiatrist, is a shot of Marion’s car being pulled out of the swamp.
Well. That certainly sets up Bates Motel very nicely. I’m glad that I knew so much of the plot even after not having seen anything past the shower scene. I can’t wait to prove that I know everything about Vertigo without having seen any part of it!
(it’s about crippling dizziness in San Francisco, right?)