What is wrong with you, Norman Bates? Bates Motel, Episode 1×3 Recap


A few interesting developments in last night’s episode, let’s get started!

The episode begins with Dylan trying to be a badass with a handgun before having a lovely mother-son exchange with Norma. The hatred these two have for each other is a stark contrast to the adoration between Norma and Norman.

Emma meets up with Norman at school. She is worried about the guys in the woods that chased them last week with guns. Could they come back to finish the job? She also feels guilty after seeing the shed because she knows the journal is true, really she was just using it for an excuse to hang out with Norman. All the talk of the journal makes Norman feel a bit funny, Emma accuses him of being obsessed with it.

Later in class, Norman is staring blankly at his test. His teacher is concerned and comes over to check on him. He begins to have visions of the teacher tied up, just like in the journal. All the visions lead to him passing out, but not before delivering one of many creepy Norman Bates smiles seen in this episode. Freddie Highmore is so good at looking like a psychopath that it is frightening.

Norman is sent to the hospital for a full work-up. We learn that Dylan’s new job where he does nothing is real; he actually sits around and does nothing. He just has to guard the town’s pot plants all day.

At the hospital, Norman is watching a black and white movie on a flat screen TV, again what era is this? Bradley stops by to thank him for visiting her when she was in the hospital with her dad. “You’re brave Norman Bates,” she says. We can see Norman’s confidence with women growing, as is his crush on Bradley. During their exchange we learn that Mr. Bates passed away during an “accident” in the garage.

While Norma is debating with the carpet delivery men, the police show up at the house with a search warrant. Uh oh!

Next thing we know, Norma is storming through the hospital in search of Norman. All I could think about was how pissed she was going to be to see Bradley lying on Norman’s bed watching movies. My roommate and I physically sighed in relief when she discovered Norman alone. Norma enforces Norman’s early release because they are in a crisis. As Norma tells Norman about the police paying their home a visit, they both do their best to convince the other that everything was going to be fine. Internally, they are unraveling.

Back at the house, we see Norman rushing upstairs and checking under his bed. Something is missing. Norman, having a breakdown, repeatedly asks himself “what is wrong with me?” What is wrong with you, Norman Bates? Turns out Norman kept Keith’s belt, he wanted a memento. Immediately, Norma goes into fix-it mode, compartmentalizing her fear and getting down to business.

Dylan learns that the pot plants are owned by the town bigwigs and they burned Bradley’s father last week to “send a message.” The pot is what keeps the town alive. Is this also the reason for the hanging corpse on fire at the end of last week’s episode?

Emma is back and wants to bug Norman about the journal. “If we forget about her the world will forget about her,” so they keep looking for clues. The number 4 is in the journal, weird considering the rest is in Mandarin. They go to motel room number 4 and find more Mandarin under the sink. They finally piece things together; Keith brought the girls here and kept them in the hotel to be “tried out.”

When Norman gets a text from Bradley, Emma is noticeably jealous. Hello love triangle!

Norma goes to meet the Deputy Sherriff, time to turn the flirt on. Does anyone else find it unrealistic that Deputy Shelby would be into Norma? Something is off; I can’t quite put my finger on it. He invites her to hang out later and discuss the search warrant.

When Norma returns, Norman obviously feels guilty that his mother has to go clean up his mess. Alas, off she goes. She finds out that the Deputy knows about and has the belt but wants to help her, as long as she’s honest with him. We don’t know how much Norma told him but by the time she returns we know that she feels safe (enough) with Deputy Shelby on their side. And with the amount of cleavage spilling out of her dress, I’m guessing he trusts her too.

Dylan is still watching the pot plants. This time he and his friend are talking about their backgrounds. Dylan grew up in South Dakota, his brother in Arizona, his Dad in Kansas, but interestingly enough he has no idea where his mother grew up. We know that Norma is a fan of fresh starts, but we all have to start somewhere, right?

Back at the house, we find Norman waiting for his mother’s return. Dylan comes home first and they bicker about Norman calling Norma “mother.” Dylan notices the hospital bracelet and cuts it off for Norman (this show loves it’s sharp objects, no?). Dylan offers some brotherly advice “What she [Norma] is doing to you is not healthy, there’s a whole world out there, you need some perspective.” Then Dylan requests Norman apologize for trying to kill him the other night but (gasp!) Norman doesn’t remember!

At school the next day, Emma continues to pester Norman about the journal. He’s as over this journal as I am. He thinks finding out what happened isn’t going to make a difference because the girl is still dead. Then he lets this slip out–

And I’m still going to be who I am. Who is that, Norman Bates?

The next thing we know Norman is lying in bed and he sees a vision his mother telling him that he has to get that belt. Norma acts as Norman’s self-conscious, innnnteresting! This could explain why he has to dress up like Norma to commit his crimes later on in life.

Off to Deputy Shelby’s house he goes, and let me just say, breaking and entering is not a Bates strong suit. Using a flashlight app and a bat to fend off the Deputy’s dog, Norman gets into the Deputy’s basement. Down there, he finds an Asian girl chained up (the first time we’ve seen her since the first episode).

Things to Consider in the Shower

  • What is Norman going to do with the girl? Will he save her?
  • What does this mean for the Deputy/Bates alliance?
  • Why do you think Norman doesn’t remember attacking Dylan?

What about you? Do think Bates Motel has finally found its stride? Any predictions about where it’s headed?

Author: elizbond

Creative Project Manager at the CFPB, Appalachian State alumni, Emerson College IMC graduate. Lover of movies, television, junk food, her dog Dexter, James Dean, and all things southern. North Carolina native, DC resident.

2 thoughts on “What is wrong with you, Norman Bates? Bates Motel, Episode 1×3 Recap

  1. Pingback: ‘Hannibal’ Premiere Recap: I’m Hooked | ROCK PAPER WATCH

  2. Pingback: Bates Motel Renewed for Second Season | ROCK PAPER WATCH

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