Love can hurt and sex can be meaningless, Norman learns in the fifth episode of Bates Motel, which opens with him in the bedroom of classmate Bradley, a girl he has just slept with. Like many young guys who've just cashed in their v-card, Norman is ecstatic and walks home with a spring in his step.
Of course, his controlling mother Norma, who is under investigation for the murder of a man she killed, isn't too happy about her son's sexcapades. After a night in jail, Norma doesn't want to see either of her boys, and she barks at them when they try to help her in jail. The two of them leave, but she's anything but soft the next time they interact. She scolds Norman for "getting laid" the same evening she was put behind bars, and she literally pulls him out of her car during an argument on the road. He brings her flowers before they have to meet with a lawyer, and like a teenager herself, she's surly and ungrateful. So often on this show, it seems the roles have reversed. Norma is the child and Norman is the adult, and this is just the first role reversal we see on Bates Motel.
In spite of the drama, Norman supports his mom, much to the chagrin of suspicious older brother Dylan, whose campaign against Norma just feels tired at this point. Even so, he raises a good point when he talks to Norman about growing up.
"Mom is going through a lot right now," Norman says.
"She's always going through a lot. She lives for the trouble," Dylan goes on. "She's like an addict, and when you have an addict in your life, the best thing you can do is walk away."
"That may have worked for you, Dylan, but not for me. You don't walk away from your parents."
"Isn't that the point?" Dylan asks. "You leave the nest."
Norman is far from ready to do that, and this is apparent in his other interactions as well. After the cop, who has been sleeping with Norma, gets rid of the evidence that she had a role in the murder and she's officially off the hook, Norman starts obsessing over what happened with Bradley, the cute girl in class he lost his virginity to.
He leaves her a sad, long-winded voicemail asking to catch up and about how she's doing, but he doesn't get a response. This is another case of the role reversal thing I was talking about. More often than not, the guy is usually the one failing to return phone calls and see how a partner is doing post-sex, especially if he's young. The high school girl is the aloof one here, and Norman doesn't understand it. He's used to being smothered by women. That's all he knows from his mother, and as I mentioned in earlier recaps, the girls at school were all over Norman when he first moved to town. Now he has to see what it's like when someone tires of him the way he and his mother really ought to tire of each other.
When he can't get any love from Bradley, Norman turns to Emma, the other female classmate he's befriended. She has to be the one to tell him that his tryst with Bradley was nothing more than a meaningless hook-up, which I can tell you all about.
"Did she change her relationship status?" Emma asks, seemingly referring to Facebook. When Norman remains silent, Emma continues, "Hook-up."
I hate to break it to you, Norman, but Emma is probably right. He starts to see this, and they sort of pick up where they left off by investigating policeman Zack's home, where Norman believes the cop has been hiding women. That's partly why Norman feels funny about the deputy removing the evidence that Norma committed a murder. In Norman's mind, this means his mother owes the potentially dangerous policeman something in return, possibly her life.
Emma and Norman break into Keith Summers' boat in search of the body Norman swears he saw in Zack's basement a few episodes back. They find the woman alive and hyper-ventilating, and she threatens to kill them both.
"What happened to your plan now?" Norman asks.
The two of them get her to pass out and rescue her from the boat. They take her to Norman's place, where she remains unconscious and covered in vomit. Norma walks in on the ruckus, concerned about why the girls are in their motel.
"This is the girl," Norman says. "The girl from the basement."
Norma, who says she checked the basement and saw nothing down there, doesn't believe it.
"Mom, open your eyes about that guy," Norman says, turning to the victim. "Tell her. Tell her you were locked in that cop's basement."
The girl, who doesn't speak English well, reveals she was kept in the basement and raped. Norma, of course, denies that her savior boyfriend did this, or so she says. She quickly sprints to another room, where she picks up a newspaper and points to a photo of Zack.
"This isn't the man, right?" Norma asks.
"He is the man," she says, and that's that.
Norman may have finally shown his mom the truth, but knowing their co-dependence and history, she's bound to continue manipulating her boy, trapping him in the nest as such.