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‘Bates Motel’ Recap: ‘Dreams Die First’

Photo by Cate Cameron | A&E

Thanks to Rihanna, Bates Motel has just caught up with its Hitchcockian predecessor Psycho. Making her debut on the show as the ill-fated Marion Crane, Rihanna singlehandedly brings the entire series full circle. Those of us who are familiar with the source material for Bates Motel have been waiting for this moment since the show’s inception–and now that Norman’s in full psycho mode and Marion Crane has been thrown into the mix, we can finally come to terms with how the rest of the season will play out. For those of you who don’t know…well, let’s just say there’s death and psychosis in our future.

But that’s not exactly news, is it? This is Bates Motel after all. Here’s what is news as of this episode:

The Bar Calls

The episode starts off with a bit of mystery: Norman rises from bed, vomits violently, and discovers that his arm has been bruised. He looks around in search of Mother, only to find that she and the Mercedes are nowhere to be found. In a frantic search to find her and the car, Norman calls the number on a pack of matches he finds in the house. What he learns is that yes, Norma was at the bar and she was likely with a man.

What he doesn’t know, and what we find out later, is that the Norma who frequents this seemingly random bar is actually Norman. After having coffee with his former psychiatrist Dr. Edwards, Norman is yet again confronted with the harsh reality of his mental instability. Dr. Edwards reminds him that he has a tendency to see Mother when she’s not there and sometimes he even becomes her. With this in mind, Norman goes to the bar and uncovers the truth of his own depravity. Not only does he end lives, but he breathes new life into Norma by reimagining her as Mother and living vicariously through her.

Photo by Cate Cameron | A&E

Norman’s Got Perspective…

Except when it comes to his own circumstances. When coming face to face with Madeleine after last week’s mishap of a date, Norman offers some sage advice: talk to your husband! He urges Madeleine to communicate more with Sam to better understand her own loneliness and why she feels she so desperately needs to remedy it with someone else. Over the course of this conversation, he lets slip that Sam’s been at the motel with another woman…who happens to be Marion Crane. Oh, what a wonderfully complex web Norman (and the motel) weaves.

As Usual, Emma Knows Nothing

So far, we’ve learned very little about the life Emma and Dylan have made for themselves. But one thing we did learn was that they wanted to live “a life in the sun;” and in the context of this episode, that means bringing Norman’s darkness to the light.

After Emma discovers her mother’s earring among Dylan’s things, Dylan toils over the details of his departure from Norma and Norman. Stricken with guilt, Dylan comes clean about why he broke ties with his own flesh and blood. Norman, Emma learns, is sicker and more violent than she could have imagined, and this so shocks her that she seeks understanding in revisiting the Bates Motel via the internet. The only problem with that is she finds out that Norma is dead. I wonder how well Dylan will take the news…

Photo by Cate Cameron | A&E

Marion and Norma Could Be One and the Same

While this episode revolved primarily around Norman, we did get a brief peek into Marion Crane and what’s led her to the Bates Motel. She’s a woman of passion and love, one who yearns to find happiness and opportunity. She, like Norma, finds her way to White Pine Bay in search of everything life has to offer: the man she loves, a new job, a chance to start anew. If this parallel between Marion and Norma is intentional, it’ll be interesting to see how Norman takes to her once they get to know each other.

All in all, I’m excited about what’s to come…

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Tara Martinez
Tara Martinez is a New York-based writer with a passion for pop culture and a penchant for analysis. She frequently covers film, television, and representations of women in the media.