1.) When Norman Bates (Freddie Highmore) FINALLY went psycho, this program suddenly got a racing pulse and – stand back, y'all – blood splattered everywhere. It was thrilling to watch.
2.) Vera Farmiga gave the best performance on TV this year. She deserves a dozen Emmys for her multi-faceted turns as Norman's wigged-out, broken-hearted and ferociously protective mother.
Sure, Farmiga was not nominated for Best Drama Actress last year after making the list in 2013, but don't pooh-pooh her current chances. All of the following stars returned to Emmy competition after getting snubbed in recent years: Melissa McCarthy, James Gandolfini, Eric McCormack, Allison Janney and Ray Romano, to name just a few. In 2013, Julianna Margulies ("The Good Wife") got snubbed, but rallied to win last year.
If nominated, I don't think there's any doubt what episode Farmiga should submit to Emmy judges – episode 6 ("Norma Louise") – which was, I'm told, written to be her submission based upon advice given to producers. I firmly believe that, when writing a TV season, smart showrunners should make a point to craft a special episode to be their star's submission to Emmy judges in case of a nomination. And if they're really smart, they should make sure it's packed with the three elements that are crucial to win: emotional range, impact and empathy. Empathy is key. It's that little something extra that helped Patricia Arquette ("Medium"), Sela Ward ("Once and Again") and Kyra Sedgwick ("The Closer") to pull off jaw-dropping upsets in the race for Best Drama Actress.
Episode six of "Bates Motel" had all of that aplenty. (Spoilers ahead.)
Impressive emotional range: Farmiga is explosive when she fires bullets into her cell phone and funny when she tosses off a snooty dress-shop attendant and a horny dive-bar yahoo. She's even got TWO big crying scenes full of impact and empathy – one when she ambushes a therapist's house in the middle of the night to seek out sexual and psychological comfort, and another when her nefarious brother falls to his knees and begs to be forgiven for incestuous sins committed long ago when they were kids.
Immediately after "Norma Louise" aired, our forum posters went bonkers. Sample comments below. See more here.
Sasha: "OK, just hand the Emmy to Vera Farmiga and be done with it. Seriously, she was out of this world!"
RodinClase: "Give the Emmy to Vera Farmiga now. She went beyond greatness with episode 6."
AndrewS: "Wow Episode 6! Please, please, please, Emmy voters watch this episode. Not only should Vera Farmiga be nominated for this, she should WIN. Nothing I've seen this year tops this performance."
Trevor: "I've been waiting all season to find out what episode should be Vera's Emmy tape, and 'Norma Louise' is it!"
Well, hold your horses, Derbyites! Maybe "Norma Louise" isn't it – that's what showrunners Kerry Ehrin and Carlton Cuse wonder.
"When we sat down to write episode six, we deliberately created it to be Vera's Emmy submission," Cuse told me at a recent promo event staged on the Universal Pictures lot on the set of the original "Psycho" movie. (The TV series set is up in Vancouver.) I'm an unabashed fan of the show and, frankly, I've been imposing my Emmy advice on Cuse in the past, whether he wanted it not, when I ran into him at industry events.
Turns out he wanted it and with writing partner Ehrin, followed it: "We made sure that the episode had all of the key elements you mentioned. But then, as we started to write the rest of the episodes of the series, we thought, 'Hey, wait! Episodes 8 and 10 are pretty darned good, too. Vera has great scenes in both of them. Maybe one of those episodes is better? After you watch them, tell us what you think, OK?'"
OK. Sure, we've seen the whole season now. I think they should stick with episode 6, but the other episodes are, granted, socko. Maybe they're right to wonder about 8 and 10 as options. Which one do you think they should pick?
EPISODE 8, "THE PIT"
Two big emotional scenes
1.) Noman breaks down and confesses to Norma that he has sexual feelings for her. She comforts him, "It's completely normal! You're developing sexually. You're confused. It's silly. We're just people. On some levels like animals. It's instinctual. You're a man. I'm a woman. So maybe you notice my breasts once in a while. Big deal. It's frickin normal It's doesn't mean you're weird or there's anything wrong with you."
2.) Later on, in the basement, Norma reveals to Norman that she told the therapist James that Norman killed his dad years ago. When Norman gets angry with her, she fumes in response: "You have no idea what it's like to be your mother, to see you have these blackouts, to worry about you night and day. It's killing me. It's killing me. You're going to kill me, Norman!"
The episode is also full of lurid fantasy scenes in which she's actually trying to seduce him.
EPISODE 10, "Unconscious"
Three powerful scenes.
1.) Norma finally confronts Norman about his need to get therapy and possibly to check in to a mental institution. "It's something I've been very scared to look into," she cries to him, "but I am more scared not to."
2.) Later, she's tearful again, when sheriff Alex confronts her about Norman killing his dad. She says, "If he's my son and he's broken … he's the dearest boy who ever lived. I can't bear it if they take him away from me, put him in prison for defending me. It will kill me." Suddenly acting defeated, she sighs, "I don't care anymore. Maybe fate wins in the end. We're all doomed, aren't we?"
3.) She appears as a fantasy in his mind after he kills Bradley while assuming Norma's persona. "I did her a favor," she says. "That girl was a mess and she was going to take you away from me. I could never let that happen. We belong together. There's a cord between our hearts."
Which episode do you think Farmiga should submit? Vote in our poll below to let her know and then make your predictions for Best Drama Actress using our easy drag-and-drop menu.