Bates Motel: “The Box”

Norman (Freddie Highmore) looks out of the metal box he is trapped in. Images courtesy of
Norman (Freddie Highmore) looks out of the metal box he is trapped in. Images courtesy of

Episode Grade: A

After a whole season of Norma (Vera Farmiga) lying to Norman (Freddie Highmore) and dodging his questions, the truth behind his murderous personality is finally realized in this week’s episode of “Bates Motel.”

“The Box” unravels the tension that’s been building throughout the entire season between the Bates family, and in a moment of shock (to Norman and the viewers), the mystery behind Miss Watson’s murder and Norman’s fractured mind is brought to the forefront.

Picking up after last week’s abduction of Norman, the show opens to a bound and frantic Norman as he is transported into the middle of the woods and shoved into a metal box by Mr. Ford’s (Michael O’Neill) goons.

Norma, sneaking in after her night with George (Michael Varten), arrives to find Norman’s empty bed. After leaving several angry messages, demanding he “cut the shit” and get home, she receives a call from Mr. Ford.

Threatening her with Norman’s death, Ford orders Norma to convince Dylan (Max Thieriot) to kill rival drug boss Zane (Michael Eklund).

Meanwhile, Sheriff Romero (Nestor Carbonell) is determined to find out what Norman knows about Miss Watson’s murder.  Meeting with his father’s ex-partner, Sheriff Romero enlists his help to conduct an “off the record” polygraph test on Norman.

But when he arrives to the Bates house, asking to speak to Norman, Norma concocts a lie about Norman being sick with a cold. That doesn’t stop Romero from revealing to Norma that Norman had sex with Miss Watson before she died.

In true Vera Farmiga style, we are immediately privy to a brilliant moment of vulnerability on Norma’s part. After the shocking reveal, she breaks down in the foyer, hyperventilating.

Worried for Norman and scared about what could happen to him, she calls and leaves an emotionally fraught message on Norman’s phone telling him she loves him more than anyone and she will always will.

Farmiga breaks your heart with her complete loss of control. She’s totally powerless to her situation, reliant on Dylan to get Norman back safe.

Norman is similarly at a loss. One of the most powerful images of the episode is of Norman screaming at the top of his lungs, banging bloodied hands and peeking through holes in the box, all of which goes unanswered.

After spending the night cold and alone in the enclosed space, Ford’s goons come by with food and water. Norman tries to make a break for it, but is soon captured and beaten, though not before Miss Watson’s pearl necklace slips out of his pocket only to be discovered by one of the men.

Norman retreats into his mind to his comfort zone as he is stuck in the box for another night. Images courtesy of
Norman retreats into his mind to his comfort zone as he is stuck in the box for another night. Images courtesy of

The news is brought to Nick Ford (Miss Watson’s father); however, whatever plans he had for Norman are destroyed when Dylan accidentally kills him in the midst of a fight about Zane.

Unfortunately, in killing Ford, Dylan fails to figure out where he’s keeping Norman, forcing Norman to spend another night in the cold metal box, getting drenched in the rain.

In a moment of terror, in which bugs fall through the cracks in the box, Norman retreats into his mind where he finds the voice of his mother, telling him she lives inside him (and alluding to why he created his mother alter ego in his mind), as a source of comfort.

However, in that moment of comfort, Norman’s memory is stirred and he comes face to face with his other half, his mother persona, and realizes he murdered Miss Watson.

Freddie Highmore is incredible in his portrayal of the emotionally detached Norman. After remembering Miss Watson’s murder, he completely captures the panic of discovering his dissociation from himself.

Still confined to the box, its location unknown to anyone, Norman is left to handle his realization alone.

“The Box” earns itself an A for its nail-biting conclusion. Now that Norman knows what he’s capable of, there’s no telling where he’ll go or what he’ll do, especially with Sheriff Romero chasing after the truth.

It’s going to be one hell of a season finale.


“Bates Motel” airs Mondays at 10 p.m. on A&E.