By far the best and most intense episode aired this season, “Persuasion” really takes us to the dark and dramatic places behind Norma and Norman’s relationship. Plus, other answers are finally revealed!

We open on Norma hurrying down a very dimly lit hospital hallway. Apparently, this morgue can’t afford electricity or are huge fans of light dimmers. She meets Sheriff Romero, who wants her to inspect the dead body of the woman previously found in the pond. Norma gets up close and personal before determining that the woman is NOT Annika. She is super relieved. She returns home to an anxious Norman, telling him she vomited on herself in the car and the woman wasn’t Annika. Norman keeps pushing and Norma snaps back. She is nervous as she starts school the next day. Norma and Norman have definitely been having their share of fights lately.

Norma heads to her classes the next day, looking ever so awkward and out of place among the young college students. She then gets into a weird situation with a Psych 101 professor, telling him to get his own chair and causing a fuss, only to try and sneak out of the room later (she was in the wrong class! Silly Norma!). The professor asks her if she’s sure that Psych 101 isn’t the right class for her? HAR HAR.

Bates Motel 3.03 Persuasion normaMeanwhile, a woman gets dressed, wearing some sexy clothes, jewelry, and make-up…only it’s not a woman, it is teenager Emma. What? I felt immensly creepy, knowing that this was a teenage girl they were “sexing” up. Emma, you are so much better than that. She apparently is dressing this way (exposing her black lace bra) to catch Norman’s attention, which it does. Ugh.

Romero goes to meet Bob Harris in his club. He asks about the dead girl and Bob remains upbeat and lackadaisical, questioning why Romero is so judgmental of his sex parties. Sex Parties. Okay. Bob then backhandedly threatens Romero about the upcoming sheriff election. Romero doesn’t back down, telling Bob he doesn’t get a free pass on anything.

Oh, if you cared, Dylan, Gunner, and terrible father Caleb continue to build their barn/cabin. Caleb wants to buy stuff for Dylan. Dylan refuses. And I DON’T CARE!

Romero, on a tour of the town apparently, stops by Bates Motel to ask Norman some questions about Annika. Norma is against this, offering to cook him dinner at first (so odd), but Norman overhears and agrees, telling Norma to go make dinner and leave. She reluctantly leaves. Norman tells Romero about how Annika implied she was a prostitute and stuff. Romero thinks it is odd that she would share that with him and odd that so many women (i.e. Miss Watson) trust Norman. Norma tries to eavesdrop from the kitchen, before bursting in to interrupt. Norman looks at the face of the actual dead girl, his eyes bugging out like an insane person, but says he doesn’t recognize her.

Bates Motel 3.03 Persuasion mosonAfter Romero leaves, Norma yells at Norman about being an ass to her in front of Romero. Norman, marching up the stairs, turns it on Norma, asking her why she told Romero he was the last one with Annika and why was she out at a party? He thinks she has the problem, not him. THEY BOTH DO, in my humble opinion.

Later, a marijuana-selling lady comes to the motel with a delivery for Dylan, but Emma intercepts, hilariously driving to his cabin with her car stuffed with marijuana plants! She arrives, seeing Gunner and meeting Caleb. Dylan’s face lights up when he sees Emma. Aw, see, Dylan would be good for her if she’s gotta have that Bates fix. Not Norman though. She is sufficiently weirded out by Caleb, but promises Dylan she won’t tell Norman/Norma about it.

Back at Norma’s school, the professor from before apologizes for their mishap the day before. She sort of blows him off, but he persists, saying he really thinks she could use his help, therapy-wise. A bit pushy he is, eh? Right, but pushy.

Bates Motel 3.03 Persuasion romeroRomero is later greeted by Marcus Young, the man running in opposition to Romero for the sheriff spot. They mostly throw around some veiled threats and do some posturing. Romero has a lot on his plate now.

Back at the motel, Norman complains to Emma about his mother and her micromanaging ways. Emma tries to comfort him, telling him he isn’t bad, but Norman loses it saying his mother’s blame makes him think he “did do it.” When Emma ask what that is, Norman runs away, screaming as he rushes back up to the house. Seriously Emma. This is my last plea. FORGET ABOUT NORMAN. YOU DESERVE BETTER! WHY DO YOU LIKE HIM! STOP! End rant.

Bates Motel 3.03 Persuasion normNorman runs past Norma, but she isn’t going to take his crap. They get into a huge fight! He blames her for making him lie about Miss Watson and then going behind his back and thinking he killed Annika. He rages on his bed, kicking and hitting it. He screams that he didn’t kill Annika, saying he remembers everything, before screaming at his mother to get out.

We cut to a overhead sink shot (reminiscent of Psycho’s beloved shower shot and it gives me glee) of Norman washing his face. Norma (or rather Mother) appears behind him, asking if he killed Annika. He admits he doesn’t know anymore. It’s all a blur. She recalls his time locked in the box last season and how “she” told him that “she” killed Miss Watson. She tells him to get in the tub, helping him undress, and maybe he’ll remember how he killed Annika. Oh, creeeepy!

Bates Motel 3.03 Persuasion in bed

Norman submerges himself in the bath, getting visions of Miss Watson, Annika, Emma, boobs and more. Norma attempts to talk to Norman from the hallway. When he doesn’t answer, she breaks the door down, pulling him from the tub. She later tucks him into bed and he apologizes, asking her what if he did kill Annika? This causes Norma to lose it. She excuses herself calmly before leaving the house, running down to the motel, and breaking down completely.

Her breakdown is interrupted by the arrival of a car. Who could it be?! Why, it’s Annika!! But she doesn’t look right! She collapses. She’s been shot! What! She hands Norma a flash drive in her last moments and Norma rushes to call 911. Wow!

That was a great, intense, twisty episode. Annika is alive, or she was. So Norman didn’t kill her, or did he? It’s hard to tell with this show. Norman is completely unhinged and capable of anything. So did he kill the other woman? Who shot Annika? What’s on the flashdrive?! So many unanswered questions.

I thought that Vera Farmiga and Freddie Highmore once again delivered excellent performances. There are so many nuances and layers to each character that it is very interesting to watch. My only criticisms are the same as before: Emma’s relationship with Norman and the stupid Dylan/Caleb/Gunner subplot. No one cares about that. Bring Dylan home.

What did you guys think? Comment below, including any theories or guesses as to who shot Annika and what’s on the flashdrive!

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