The Horror Honeys: BATES MOTEL Recap: Season 4, Ep. 6 ~ “The Vault”

BATES MOTEL Recap: Season 4, Ep. 6 ~ “The Vault”

A Horror TV Honey Recap with Jennica

It has now been a week since Episode 6 of Bates Motel, appropriately titled “The Vault,” first aired on the A&E network and I am still mopping up my salt water puddles from the trauma that was unleashed. So far this season, Freddie Highmore has left viewers choking on tears and whispering “Emmy award” at their television screens and just when we think he has destroyed us with his best performance, we are proven wrong the next week. But Norman was not the only one who went a little psycho last week as Chick opened up a can of worms in Norma’s new “Housewives of White Pine Bay” life, allowing Vera Farmiga room to let loose the outbursts that make Norma the woman that we have loved and feared throughout the series. Much of the Bates Motel series has focused on the monstrous side of Norma and Norman, the thoughts and behaviors that make them killers. However, this season—especially this episode—force us to remember that Norma and Norman are still people at their cores and they are capable of feeling pain and betrayal just as anyone else would. 

Continuing his regular therapy sessions, Norman has now accepted that he is not always himself and that, in fact, he is sometimes his mother. Dr. Edwards explains to Norman the characteristics of dissociative identity disorder, or what used to be called multiple or split personality disorder. In an attempt to get to the core of Norman’s extra identity, he begins to question Norman regarding his family life during his childhood because Freudian psychoanalysis is still alive and well. Just as he has described his relationship with his mother, he describes his childhood has “normal.” His father was not home often and when he was home, he was drunk and fighting with his mother. No big deal. Beyond that, Norman has very little memory of his home life before his father’s death. 

Dad liked a little dinner with his booze... no big deal.
Curious to learn more about his repressed childhood and his father, Norman decides to ask Dylan about Sam Bates while playing a friendly game of croquet during visiting hours. Reluctant to bring up less than pleasant memories, Dylan only mentions that Sam was an unhappy man and that he was unkind to Norma. But what Dylan does finally reveal to Norman is that he is in a relationship with Emma. Showing that he has undergone major emotional growth, rather than bashing Dylan’s head with his croquet stick, Norman gives Dylan his blessing. 

Still digging at Norman’s past in the next therapy session, Norman becomes his mother as a means of protection against the truth about his childhood. “Norma” pleads with Dr. Edwards to keep Norman from discovering the truth about the trauma and abuse that occurred in his childhood home out of concern for Norman’s fragility… or she will have to take drastic measures to silence the doctor. Dismissing “Norma’s” warning, Dr. Edwards performs a round of hypnotherapy on Norman as an unconventional pathway to revelation. 

We are now taking a subconscious trip with seven year-old Norman Bates. He awakes in the middle of the night and his father is drunk again, passed out in the kitchen. Norman tiptoes into the kitchen for a glass of water, afraid of waking his father and triggering a fight. He takes a sip from his water glass and sets it onto the kitchen counter. As he creeps past his father on the way back to his bedroom, his father raises his head with tears streaming down his face. “I’m sorry. You know I love you, Norman,” his father whispers as he tightly embraces Norman. Next, we see young Norman in a car with his mother who is planning to leave Sam once and for all. Sam enters the car with a gun to Norma’s head and demands that she drive back to their home. When they arrive at the house, Sam drags Norma and Norman out of the car threatening to execute a murder-suicide. Norma instructs Norman to run into the house and hide while she bargains with Sam, begging him not to hurt them. Sam takes Norma into their bedroom, leans her over the bed with one of her hands to the floor, and proceeds to rape her. As Norma lies still, fearing for her life, she feels a tiny hand grab hers to console her. It was the beginning of a co-dependent relationship between mother and son.

My face for the remainder of this episode.
After a hard day’s work, Romero has what is hopefully his final secretive meeting with Rebecca in a café where he slips her the key to Bob Paris’ laundered stash of cash. Relieved to see that Romero had the key all along, Rebecca offers him a percentage of the money but he declines, wishing to wash his hands of the situation. Meanwhile, Norma has a situation of her own as she desperately seeks a solution to her ultimatum with Chick. With Dylan’s help, Norma finds out that her brother/first love Caleb is back in Costa Rica working at a hotel and decides to reach out to him. After hearing that her brother still cares for her and Dylan, she is unable to bring herself to give up his whereabouts. Meeting Chick in the middle of a bridge, Norma aims a gun at him, intending to put an end to his threats but her newly discovered conscience will not allow her to pull the trigger. Instead, she resorts to screaming and flailing in typical Norma fashion.

Upon setting the table for dinner, Romero arrives home with Chick right behind him unloading the custom-designed stained glass window that he made for Norma. Rushing to the door out of fear that Chick would let the cat out of the bag regarding her incestuous past, she unloads on Chick yet again only this time, Romero is there as witness to her supposed insanity. But Chick catches Norma off guard when he decides against revealing her secret, assuming that her outburst had done enough damage without his help. Unaware of Norma’s dispute with Chick, Romero asks for the truth. Tearful and shaken, Norma tells Romero of her past relations with Caleb and the trauma that she endured when it ended. Fully prepared to be judged and shamed, Norma is taken by surprise when Romero keeps his feet firmly planted and embraces her. 

This is what love looks like.
There are many movies and television episodes that depict the immediate physical and emotional effects after sexual trauma but few realistically address the long-term effects and lifetime of heartache that trail behind a victim. Last week, Bates Motel crushed its viewers with a reenactment of a fictional but true-to-life traumatic event to which millions of sexual assault survivors could likely relate. Sexual trauma does not just affect a victim internally but it also touches the relationships that the victim has with other people past and present. There is a constant fear of exposure and fear of being loved less or not being accepted into the lives of others because of the shame and guilt that a victim feels due to a violent life event that they were unable to stop from happening and that can never be erased from their memory. If you have not yet watched Episode 6 of Bates Motel, do not allow it to overwhelm you with memories of trauma experienced by you or a loved one. Instead, consider it a reminder that you and your loved ones are worthy of compassion and companionship and that you are not alone. 

Will Norman ever remember is childhood trauma? Can Chick be trusted to keep Norma’s secret?