Bates Motel Review: “The Pit”

(Episode 3.08)

TV Reviews Bates Motel
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<i>Bates Motel</i> Review: &#8220;The Pit&#8221;

Last week’s aptly titled “The Last Supper,” was likely the last time we’ll see all these characters together without some sort of drama. “The Pit” gives us the storm after the calm. While everyone seemed to be coming closer to each other last week, this week everyone is in their own mental and physical hells, as relationships start to tear, and come together—often both within a few minutes of each other. The titular “pit” in this week’s title is very real, but it also refers to the metaphorical pit everyone looks like they’ll be falling into. As the great band Mouse Rat once said, “we all fell in The Pit,” and on Bates Motel, this pit is damn deep.

Speaking of the pit, Bob Paris is quickly giving Norma the pool he promised her in exchange for the flash drive. Of course Norma hasn’t followed through on her end of the bargain, so Bob’s digging of the pool is more of a message than it is following through on a promise. Without getting the okay from Norma and with no blueprints, Bob digs a 23-foot-deep hole in the front of the Bates Motel, then leaves it there pool-free. Meanwhile, as his workers are digging, Bob is off interrogating James about Norma and her flash drive, beating the hell out of him and putting a nail through his foot. Bob clearly means business.

Back at the Bates Motel, Norman is still terrified by the information that James has put in his head, that maybe he’s sexually interested in his own mother. Poor Norman doesn’t really have anyone else to trust but his mother, so he tells her about his terrifying emotions. It’s been quite some time since we’ve seen a heart-to-heart moment between Norman and Norma, since they haven’t trusted each other much this season, but we get that interesting mix of good and horrible advice here. Norma is very accepting of Norman’s situation, but shakes it off as just the confusion of a teenager trying to understand his sexuality. Sure, it’s great that she’s accepting of her son as being confused, but she needs to see the problems inherent in this feeling. She tries to break down this barrier between the two of them by hugging it out, but when they lay in bed together, looking deeply into each other’s eyes, it does feel like something entirely different…

Outside the familial love, we get two quests from two men seeking the affection of the women they clearly have feelings for, although they refuse to admit it. Dylan and Caleb set out on their father-son-gunrunning-bonding trip for Chick, with Dylan planning on using the money to help Emma get the operation she needs. After a pretty adorable phone conversation between Dylan and Emma, she decides she should talk with Norman about the fact that their relationship isn’t going anywhere and cuts things off with him. While Emma is leaving cookies for Dylan at his house, Dylan’s gunrunning excursion ends in a shootout, with Dylan being saved by Caleb after Chick set them up to be murdered in his place. Oh, the trouble young love can get you into!

At White Pine Bay, Alex gets Norma’s car back for her, and Alex finally gets the kiss on the cheek he’s been waiting so long for. Unfortunately, when Alex goes to confront Bob about the pool-that-clearly-isn’t-a-pool, Bob tells Alex that Norma has been lying to him and that Norman really killed his own father. When Alex confronts Norma about this, she lies to him once again, all of which leads to Alex planning on cutting off any ties to the family that may be using him. After this, Norma takes it out on Norman saying that he’s going to kill her one day. Once she leaves, Norman chases after their dog Juno—you know, the one who died that only Norman can see now—and runs into the long-lost Bradley. Good thing Norman is back on the market!

In this third season especially, I’ve found it very exciting to watch Bates Motel try to fill in the gaps between the show and the film Psycho. For example in “The Pit,” we see Norman running away from the house and away from the fake-Norma that he sees, with her watching him in the window. Norma says, in Norman’s head of course, that he can’t get away. We know from Psycho that she’s right, that she’ll watch Norman from that exact same window for years, even after she’s dead. I also can’t help but wonder if this 23-foot pit might be the beginnings of the swamp where Norman will later dump his victims.

But I also find those moments between Norman and Norma so fascinating, in terms of Norma’s ability to be so open with her son and try to help him out of his situation, while also accidentally digging her own grave. Before Dylan leaves for his trip, he tells Norma that they need to talk about what to do with Norman when he gets back, but who knows if it’ll be too late for something to be done. It already seems like his subconscious version of his mother is seducing him. And who even knows if Bradley is real, or just another figment of his imagination?

To be honest, I do hope Bradley is just another sign of Norman’s digression, since the show has sort of been on an upswing since Bradley left. Norman’s ex-loves and his school days are better left in the past, so it’s hard to think that going back to any of that is going to be an improvement on where the show has been heading.

“The Pit” does a great job of setting up the last few episodes of Season Three, and really makes you question which of the characters who sat around that kitchen table last week are still going to be alive by the end of the season. No matter how badly Norman thinks his hastily put-up fence is going to keep people safe, there’s really no safeguard there that’ll keep people from falling into his pit.

Ross Bonaime is a D.C.-based freelance writer and regular contributor to Paste. You can follow him on Twitter.