Deconstructing ‘Bates Motel’: Kerry Ehrin on Romero’s Stunner, Norma’s First Guest

[Warning: This story contains spoilers from Monday's "The Man in Number 9" episode of Bates Motel.]

Following last week's heart-stopping (literally!) episode of Bates Motel, Norma, Norman and Dylan were left to explain Shelby's death to Romero.

During the hour, Norma (Vera Farmiga) explains everything to Romero (Nestor Carbonell) -- what happened with Shelby as well as her role in Keith's slaying.

In a twist, Romero doesn't arrest anyone and instead gives the Bates family a new story of what transpired in which he stars as the hero, much to Dylan's (Max Thieriot) chagrin.

As Norma sees the gift as a way to start over (again), she goes full-steam ahead as she prepares the motel for a public opening, despite having zero reservations on the books. That is until Jere Burns' Jake Abernathy mysteriously appears searching for Keith to rent his usual room No. 9, paying in all cash and later reserving the entire block of rooms for his "colleagues" of salesmen with Norma.

Meanwhile, seeing Bradley (Nicola Peltz) back at school, Norman (Freddie Highmore) takes it as an opportunity to define their relationship. Sadly, she's not on the same page and a heartbroken Norman returns to the motel -- with his now dead dog -- and tells his mother that she was right.

The hour set up a new mystery and opened the door for Norman to further explore taxidermy, a prominent feature in Hitchcock's Psycho. The Hollywood Reporter caught up with EP Kerry Ehrin to break down the episode in our weekly postmortem.

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The Hollywood Reporter: Norma confesses everything that happened with Shelby and Keith Summers. And Romero takes the blame/credit. Why?
Kerry Ehrin:
We don't know exactly why Romero does anything, at any point, which is what's so fascinating about that character. Is he doing it to save face because his deputy was participating in a sex slave operation under his nose? Is he doing it to make it look like he was on top of everything and busted it? Romero holds a lot of weight in the town -- a town with its own rules. It's important for him to stay intimidating and look like nothing gets past him. Sort of a godfather role in a way -- he can't ever look compromised or he'll lose his power. How things "look" on the outside is everything in a criminal/power situation. He has to keep his image invulnerable. There's also the possibility that he feels for Norma and just wants to give her a get out of jail card. He knows Keith Summers and he knows the guy was a mess, even if he has personal attachments from growing up with him. So he pretty much figured out that Norma was a victim of Keith's and that everything that happened after was a product of that. It's possible that somewhere deep down Romero admires Norma's balls. The way she never backs down. Norma and Romero are not dissimilar people. Their scenes together are always amazing, in part because they are such worthy adversaries and both so stubborn and controlling. It's possible he has an instinct to help her in the moment.

THR: Dylan is miffed that Romero is taking the credit for his heroism, for lack of a better word. How will this impact Dylan and Romero going forward considering Dylan's job isn't really on the up and up?
Dylan definitely has his work cut out for him. Here he was all ready to come clean and tell the truth and have no more lies and try to live a healthy life -- and the first person they tell the truth to immediately makes up a lie to make it go away. The whole show is like a metaphor for sublimation! Every time the truth bubbles to the surface it gets shoved back down. And at the heart of the show, in the relationship between Norma and Norman, is the biggest sublimation of all. The thing that can never be said out loud: that old Oedipal issue. As for Dylan and Romero crossing paths in the future -- you can count on it at some point. Dylan will have to get past his resentment of Romero and eventually figure out just who Romero is and whether he's a good guy or a bad guy.

THR: Welcome, Jere Burns, as Jake Abernathy. What is it about Room 9 with him?
Ehrin: Abernathy is a man who likes consistency. We know he has been doing business there for some time. We just don't know what exactly that business is. But we are about to find out! Jere and Vera are just golden together. We were so delighted to have him bring the role of Abernathy to life. He could not be more fun to watch. And terrifying!

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THR: Despite knowing Keith is dead he returns to the hotel. What is it that draws him back?
Ehrin: He is looking for something and he will go to any lengths to get it. I can't tell you more without giving too much away!

THR: He's booking every block of rooms for a week every other month. Will we really see more of his colleagues?
We will definitely see more of one of his colleagues very soon!

THR: Bradley attempts to let Norman down easy. How will having his heart broken change Norman?
Ehrin: The same way a broken heart changes everyone -- a little loss of innocence. It's just that in Norman, it has residual effects. Everything that happens to him in his love relationships is forming his ideas of the role of women in his life. As we know, that idea will eventually define him. So in that sense, it's the very beginning of him starting to process the idea that women can be dangerous.

THR: Norma is pushing Norman and Emma together. Is that something we'll see him entertain now?
Ehrin: Norman and Emma have a complicated relationship and it's a really important one for both of them. It will develop and grow but in a way that's not what you might expect.

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THR: Poor Juno. Are we going to see more of Norman's interest in taxidermy?
Ehrin: Absolutely! Stay tuned!

THR: Dylan still insists he's moving out despite knowing that Norman isn't OK. Will there be anything that changes his mind?
Ehrin: Dylan's ongoing battle will be figuring out how the hell to handle his family. On one hand, he longs for them. On the other hand, they scare the hell out of him. There's a good argument that can be made for staying and there's a good argument that can be made for leaving. And in the middle of this argument in his own head is a young man simply trying to find himself and figure out who he is and what his life is going to be worth.

THR: Dylan has an a-ha moment when he meets Bradley, whose father worked for his new boss. Is he suddenly worried about his employer?
Ehrin: I think every thread of the crime presence in this town is a cause for concern to Dylan. He's in it now and it's a huge web.

THR: There also seems to be some sparks between Bradley and Dylan. Will we see more of their interaction? 
Ehrin: Their paths will definitely become more tangled!

What do you think of Romero's willingness to cover for everyone? What do you think Abernathy is up to? Hit the comments below with your thoughts. Bates Motel airs Mondays at 10 p.m. on A&E.

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Lesley Goldberg