Review: Bates Motel 3.02- “The Arcanum Club”

Last week, the mysterious and scantily-clad motel guest, Annika Johnson (Tracy Spiridakos), disappeared and Norman returned in her car, solo. What happened to her and was Norman behind it? Hopefully some new information will be shed on this mysterious development this week.

***** SPOILER’S BELOW *****

Norma goes to deliver towels to Annika, noticing her car, but there is no answer at her door. She peeks in the room, seeing that the bed had clearly not been slept in. She first asks Emma about it and then Norman, who is busy taxiderming a baby goat (which he had kept in their freezer by the way). I will never think taxidermy is normal, no matter how many times someone tries to convince me that it is. Anyways, Norman lies to his mother, saying he hadn’t seen her at all last night and then gives his creepy, psycho face that we all know and love now. Where could Annika be?!

Meanwhile, on a totally different show that I frankly couldn’t care less about, Dylan, Gunner, and world’s-worst-dad, Caleb, are building something? Gunner got a dog? Okay? That’s great.

Bates Motel 3.02 Arcanum Club normanMBack at the motel, Norma is still worrying about the missing Annika. Emma accidentally reveals to Norma that Norman drove into town with her the night before. This sends Norma into a stone-cold frozen crazy face. Emma is all like “whaaat?” Norma rushes back to the house, screaming for Norman. Norman reacts calmly, but proceeds to lie again, saying that Annika asked him to drive her car because she was drinking. He also tells his mother that she revealed to him that she was a lady of the night, etc. Something a woman normally wouldn’t tell a high-school stranger. Agreed. Norma demands that Norman take her through exactly what happened last night, all the while lamenting the fact that “unhinged” women are drawn to Norman, for some reason. And by unhinged, she means slutty and pseudo-peds.

They drive to the restaurant where Norman last saw Annika (or so he claims), but they don’t remember seeing her. Norma freaks out, per usual, noting that Norman said Annika “was” (not is) a nice woman. Norma doesn’t know how much longer she can do this.

That night at the cabin, Dylan is going to sleep, but his great dad wants him to stay up, offering him a beer. But then, they are attacked (growled at actually) by a dog and Caleb shoots the dog dead with a gun. What? That was extremely random and weird.

Back at home, Norman reassures his mother that he is okay, telling her that he and Emma are dating now. This surprises her in a good way. Later, Emma plans their first date for the next day, but Norman is only half-listening because he is staring at Annika’s car. Emma tries to hold his hands too, but he is all awkward and weird.

Let me take a moment to address Emma: Dear Emma, why on earth do you like Norman? He clearly has issues, doesn’t care about you, and is just the worst! Please move on! Heck, even Gunner is better than Norman. Pull yourself together woman. Thank you, Ben.

Bates Motel 3.02 Arcanum Club dylCalThe next day, at the cabin, a homeless looking man approaches Dylan asking about his dog. Apparently he is the next door neighbor. Dylan lies about it before Caleb comes bursting out, being aggressive and rude. The man introduces himself as Chick Hogan. Wow, what a name. They have faux garden talk (drugs). Later, Dylan and Caleb go to Chick’s house to apologize about the dog, but then he says he doesn’t have a dog and takes them to his shed of guns?! I wish I was making this up. He talks about coexisting and rules and I don’t care….

At the motel, Emma convinces Norma to look through Annika’s room for a clue about where she could be. Norma finds an invitation to something called the Arcanum Club. She tells Emma not to tell Norman anything about this. Outside, she runs into Sheriff Romero, who is finally moving out of the motel after 3 months. He pays her money and they banter and then have a really awkward kiss sendoff. They are soooo gonna do it soon.

That night, Emma and Norman go on their date. It is predictably boring, awkward, and weird. They do talk about sex. Emma saying it is complicated and magical. She even spells out that Norma not wanting Norman to grow up might be causing his adverse reactions to sex! Emma, the psychiatrist. If only she was around during Psycho.

Meanwhile, Norma, being Norma, tries to get into the Arcanum Club. First, she pretends to be Annika, but doesn’t have the password. Then she literally hops over a wall in her party dress and sneaks around the woods. She follows some familiar men who enter a cabin. And then she spies through the window of said cabin, seeing people having sex. It’s a sex cabin! She is shocked, but interrupted when Sheriff Romero comes upon her. He demands to know what she is doing and she tells him all about Annika, pleading with him to help her. He agrees before telling her to get out. Can he be trusted? Hmmm.

As Norma drives home, she is super upset and sees a giant sign for Lee Berman’s Memorial Bypass. Being Norma, she gets out of her car and tries to beat, kick, and throw cones at the sign before getting back in her car and running it over. Wow, Norma really needs some anger management but I must say this whole scene was absolutely hilarious! Vera Farmiga is awesome!

Emma and Norman arrive back at the motel and Emma starts kissing him. Norman pulls away and she leaves, disappointed. Emma, why do you like him? I must ask again. Norma then pulls up and Norman questions her about her night. She cries into his arms and he tells her it’s going to be okay and not to worry, but Norma is a control freak and she can’t ever just let things be. So, no Norman, it’s not gonna be okay. Further proof? The next day, a curious dog finds the naked body of a young woman floating in a lake. Could it be Annika?! AHHH!

Bates Motel 3.02 Arcanum Club momandsonWell, Season Three is off to a great start. It’s good to see that things are happening and the relationship between Norma and Norman is a changing, unstable dynamic that I want further explored. They continue to distrust more and more, yet pull closer and closer. It’s an odd, interesting dynamic. I do have some gripes though. Firstly, I really can’t stand that Emma is obsessed with this family and has nothing better to do with her life. Seriously. They treat her terribly, and yet she lingers. Secondly, Caleb/Dylan/drug storyline is by far the weakest and most uninteresting part of the show. No one cares about the drug trade or whatever the heck is happening there. We care about the disjointed and dilapidated Bates family dynamic. Dylan hasn’t even been around his mother and brother this season. Get the family together and the show really shines. No more drug storylines. What do you guys think? Let me know in the comments below. And most importantly, who do you think killed Annika (or is that even her)?

New episodes of Bates Motel air Monday @ 10/9c on A&E. Watch full episodes on AETV.com, Hulu and Amazon Instant Video.

Post Author: Ben Fleck

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