It seems like another ordinary, peaceful day in White Pine Bay. Norman and Bradley are waiting to catch the ride to school until they notice a car losing control and crashing into an embankment opposite them. As they run over to investigate the scene, Bradley discovers her father in the driver’s seat, badly burnt and half conscious.
But that’s just the beginning of the twists and turns for Norma and Norman as they greet three unique guests that sidetrack them from their plan for a stable ‘new start’ and draw them to dig deeper graves.
Ding-dong. First, Norma opens the door to meet her estranged son Dylan who previously pleaded her for money. Managing to track her down, he casually invites himself into the residence and unapologetically instigates conflict as he confronts Norma about her suspicious decision to leave without informing him. Dylan, who is in fact Norman’s half-brother shows completely opposite traits as he isn’t afraid to share his true feelings and challenge authority. Consistently addressing his mother as Norma, Dylan pushes her limits by disrupting her sleep, hurling lewd insults in hopes for answers as to why she has neglected him and why she prefers Norman so much more. Norman, who initially seemed to seem indifferent to Dylan’s visit, quickly becomes irritated by Dylan’s lack of respect to his mother, a value he clearly holds closely to, and discovering that Dylan titles Norma as “The Whore” on his phone, he erupts into a rage of fury as he attempts to hit Dylan with a hammer. There is a clear moment where his eyes are set for murder, and having seen her mother commit one, it’s likely that he feels that he has the power to do so as well. Dylan sees his attack coming and knocks him down instead. Norma, seeing how badly Dylan has hurt Norman comes to a point where she feels it’s necessary for Dylan to leave, but as she faces him with this ultimatum, Dylan calmly indicates that he knows Norma’s secrets and threatens to share them if he doesn’t get his way.
At a nightclub, Dylan comes across a man who was an employee of Bradley’s dad who has a wallet full of large cash. Desperate for money, he asks him what type of work he does to earn that amount of money, particularly in this small town. The employee takes him to his workplace, and introduces him to his superior who follows up on Dylan’s interest, and asks whether he knows how to use a gun.
Ding-dong. Emma, a student Norman previously met last week, shows up to work on a project that they are assigned to work together on. Emma is a unique character, and at this point seems to be the female equivalent of Norman. Possessing a pure, uncorrupted aura on the surface, Emma is also burdened by her own ‘shortcomings’ as she battles cystic fibrosis, a condition that leaves her with weak lungs and the need to be constantly attached to an IV. Whilst working on their homework together, Emma discovers the book of nude illustrations that Norman continues to have a fascination with. To Norman’s surprise, Emma shares the same captivation as she reveals that she is heavily interested in manga and has seen comics of steamier substance. She decides to take it home to decipher the text, and discovers that it documents how women from China who wanted to be granted American citizenship were forced to become sex servants and that their bones. Noticing how the backgrounds of the drawings look exactly like a real place she’s seen before, Emma and Norman venture out to determine whether there is truth in the books.
As they explore the woods, Emma and Norman trespass an illegal marijuana field, only to be noticed by its owners. They chase Emma and Norman down but fortunately, they manage to escape just by a thread. As they were running away, Emma did pass a shed that she strongly believes was the one pictured in the books, but due to the circumstances, they did not have the opportunity to explore. Props to Emma though because she sure did an unrealistically impressive job there running for her life, considering she seemed to struggle to breathe just by walking.
Ding-dong. The third and final doorbell was the one Norma dreaded the most but also expected the most. The two cops from the last episode decide to pay another visit after discovering Keith’s truck parked next to the motel and hearing that witnesses have seen Keith confronting Norma on the front porch. One of the cops, Ramero has known Keith since childhood, so his disappearance is particularly of importance to him and as he questions Norma, he notices her hesitancy and attempts to stray from answering questions so he asks to search the motel. Norma coquettishly denies and asks for a search warrant, and as she does so, she notices that the other cop, Shelby, who has a generally more laidback disposition doesn’t exert as much hostility or concern for the matter, and Norma identifies that he has a soft spot that she can manipulate. Hoping to build more positive reputation and impression, Norma amplifies her flirtatious veneer further and begins confiding in Shelby. As they meet at a café, she begins portraying herself as a victim of bad luck and painful past and her sob story quickly prompts the latter to ask the former to join him at a community event. Norma sees this as a prime opportunity to lure Shelby’s trust and additionally gain knowledge about Ramero and his weaknesses. Norma tries to ask for advice on why it seems negativity is always attracted to her, but Shelby oddly answers that there is no place that is completely positive, going further to stating that White Pine Bay “is not as it seems.” Stating that “there are different ways to produce economy in this town”, he highlights how all the residents possess very low-paying jobs and yet manage to own million dollar homes and European cars. Appearing as though he’s hiding his fair share of secrets, he additionally explains that crimes in the town are simply “handled and dealt with”, and resists on explaining in detail. Judging by his apparent leniency towards enforcing justice, Norma looks as though she’s thinking of ways to slide her crimes past the law.
The next day, the streets of downtown White Pine Bay are surrounded by emergency cars, photographers, journalists and the like. A corpse has been discovered hanging on a flagpole in flames. It looks like it’s pretty certain Norma’s not the only (seemingly-serial) killer in town.
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