Bates Motel “A Danger to Himself and Others” Review (Season 4 Episode 1)

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On the season premiere of the fourth season of “Bates Motel,” we picked up essentially where we left off in Season Three, with Norman (Freddie Highmore) still AWOL and his family frantically searching for him, while Sheriff Alex Romero (Nestor Carbonell) scrambled to cover up the murder of Bob Paris (Kevin Rahm) that he committed in the season finale, in the aptly-titled “A Danger to Himself and Others.”

We began with the latter, as Romero, after having given Paris the heads-up that the cops were about to bust him, met him at the docks as Paris tried to escape in a boat Romero knew he had. Romero wasted little time taking Paris out with a flurry of gunshots, then heading out to sea, where he sank the boat after vacating it with all of Paris’ money and boarded a small rowboat and headed back to shore.

Meanwhile, Dylan (Max Thieriot) put up “Missing” posters for Norman all over the place, as Norma (Vera Farmiga) continued to freak out with worry over her son, who she feared had run off with long thought-dead Bradley Martin (Nicola Peltz).

Of course, as we already knew, Norman had done precisely that, only to freak out upon crossing city lines and turn into “Mother” and kill the poor girl, then sink her and her car in the water- just like he will with Marion Crane some day, one assumes.

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Norman wakes up in a field, confused and out of sorts, where a man finds him and he flips out, still in “Mother” mode. The man promptly knocks Norman out and he is taken to a county hospital, where he is being kept under observation for 48 hours.

A representative from the hospital calls Dylan and lets him know Norman is there and Norma immediately heads there, as Dylan goes to another hospital to catch up with Emma (Olivia Cooke), who, when we last saw her was headed there for a lung transplant with her father, Will Decody (Andrew Howard).

Norma arrives at the place where Norman is being held, only to be told she can’t see him until the hold has expired, which, as one might expect, does not go over well with her. She speaks to the doctor in charge of the mental facility, Dr. Palma (Elizabeth Greer), who is horrified to learn that Norman doesn’t have a doctor or medical history and isn’t on medication of any kind.

Dr. Palma informs Norma that Norman was found disoriented and ranting and raving, clearly “not himself.” She warns Norma that she could be seen as negligent for failing to get him the help he so obviously needs, which she promises to do immediately.

Meanwhile, back at the other hospital, Emma is taken in for surgery as Dylan and Will wait it out, on pins and needles. The matter isn’t helped when Emma’s long-lost mother, Audrey (Karina Logue) shows up unannounced at the hospital, which does not go over well with Will, who demands she leave, which she does after briefly talking to Dylan and telling him she has something for Emma.

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Norma pays a visit to the Sheriff, who came home and stashed the money he took from Paris and promptly passed out. About to leave for work, Norma catches him and asks him for help with the Norman situation, but he says there’s nothing he can do legally until Norman is officially released, which, needless to say, doesn’t go over well with Norma, who leaves in a huff.

Norma heads back to Pineview, the swank mental health facility that she had been looking at for Norman in a previous episode and tells them she wants to check Norman in ASAP, but is told that there’s a waiting list and she would need a doctor’s diagnosis anyway.

She then touches base with a Dr. Edwards (Damon Gupton), who she sees arriving at the facility, and who spurns her thinly-veiled advances, but agrees to see Norman once he is released from the hospital when Norma makes a more plaintive plea for her son.

Back at the other hospital, Will is told that Emma has made it out of surgery and that prospects look good for now, but she will be held for 24-hour observation in the meantime, which he relates to Dylan, who is obviously relieved. Back at the other hospital, Norman is clearly still in the throes of his illness, as he relives killing Bradley as “Mother” and flashes back on various events involving her.

Norma returns to the motel to find Audrey waiting there, needing a room for a few days until she can sort out the thing with her daughter. She infers that she knows Emma, but not that she’s her mother. Dylan visits Emma, who is weak but relatively okay, smiling when he cracks wise about how “beautiful” she is. We don’t actually see the smile, as an oxygen mask is covering the lower half of her face, but it’s clearly there.

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Dr. Palma approves Norman’s release after 24 hours, and Norma heads there after dropping off some food to Audrey, who finally comes clean about being Emma’s mother. Norma says it’s none of her business and is going to stay out of it, and promptly leaves. Dr. Palma tells Norma Norman had a psychotic break and needs help.

She says that she’ll be sending Social Services by her house soon and if Norma hasn’t gotten him the help he needs, she’ll be forced to inter him again, whether she likes it or not. Norma tells her about the Pineview thing, which Dr. Palma approves of, though she warns Norma it might be tough to get Norman admitted there because of the waiting list thing. Norma finds Norman and the two reunite in a flurry of hugs and kisses.

Audrey visits Norma at her house, wanting her to drop off a note to Emma, but Norma refuses and tells her to stay away from her and her son, especially, and asks her to leave the premises immediately. Audrey, completely clueless as to who she’s talking to, says that Norma doesn’t know what it’s like to have a kid with “something wrong” with them. Little does she know…

Norma tells Norman he’s going to have to see a doctor. He isn’t thrilled, but agrees to, as long as she doesn’t send him away to that hospital again. He mentions his “dream” about killing Bradley, which clearly rattles Norma. After putting Norman to bed and locking him in his room, she heads back out to Romero’s, where she amusingly asks him to marry her! For “insurance purposes” only, of course, though she adds she knows he’s attracted to her and will sleep with him, if that’s what it takes. “It’s not like you’re doing anything else,” she adds. Romero, no fool he, turns her down flat, in hilariously deadpan fashion.

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Norman wakes up, finds himself locked in the room and flips out, breaking down the door to free himself. He finds his mother’s robe and puts it on, looking in the mirror to see Norma staring back at him. In the worst timing ever, Audrey, having seen Norma leave, decides to make a plea to Norman instead to deliver her note to Emma.

Norman answers the door, clearly as his “Mother,” but Audrey doesn’t take a hint and comes in anyway. She tells “Norma” how Emma’s dad had a violent temper and that she left Emma for a reason but she loves her dearly. She breaks down in tears as “Norma” comforts her, and then gives him the note and a stuffed bunny that used to belong to Emma to give to her.

Suddenly, “Norma” flips out on Audrey and tells her how horrible a mother she is for leaving her child. She strangles Audrey with her own scarf and that’s all she wrote for Audrey. Clearly, Norman has passed “Go” on the whole sanity thing at this point, having chalked up two kills in a matter of days. I think it might just be a little too late for any medical treatment at this point, but good luck with that, Norma.

So, this episode, coupled with the season finale of last season, was basically what we’ve been waiting for all along. The first few seasons were great, no doubt about it, but what we were seeing wasn’t really the Norman Bates of “Psycho” fame, despite the occasional flashes of insanity. If anything, the people around him were often crazier than he was. But with these two episodes, that has obviously changed.

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As we saw last season, Norman is now given to not only seeing his mother when she’s not there, but “becoming” her by dressing up in her clothes and speaking for her as her, just like in the movie. In other words, this is finally the Norman Bates of legend, coming into play in earnest for the first time.

If I had to make a guess, I’d say that Norma will likely get Norman the help that he needs in the short-term, and probably get him on some medication in the meantime, while she waits for a spot to open at Pineview. It will probably do for a little while, but it’s only a matter of time before Norman kills again, especially if someone comes around meeting the right criteria for getting on “Mother’s” bad side, and you just know that’s going to happen.

It will probably be some time before we catch up to the events of the movie, as they don’t happen until after Norman kills his mother for real, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they get there by next season, as the show has already been renewed for a fifth season as well. Indeed, the plan may be to essentially end the show as it dovetails with the movie.

Of course, that means that no one is safe moving forward, be it Dylan or Emma or even Norman’s beloved mother, Norma, though I suspect they’ll postpone that last one until next season, at the very least. In the meantime, expect Norman’s insanity to escalate considerably, and the death toll to do the same.

So far, he’s managed to kill people that might well elude notice under their given circumstances- Bradley was already thought to be dead, save by Norman and Dylan, who helped fake her suicide; and Audrey was told to leave by Emma’s father and Norma alike, so she probably won’t be missed, at least in the short-term, though I wouldn’t be surprised if someone comes looking for her eventually.

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But sooner or later, Norman’s going to kill the wrong person and it will cost him. He got lucky with that teacher, Miss Watson, but don’t count on that luck lasting much longer if he keeps up his more recent behavior, which seems likely. As much as I enjoyed the slow burn of previous seasons, though, I think it’s safe to say this is what we’ve all been waiting for, which should make for a great season.

I do like that the show has taken its time getting there, wisely allowing us to get to know the characters and care for them before kicking things into overdrive by going full-on crazy with Norman in particular. It’s allowed all concerned to grow into their respective roles and really hammer out the finer details of them in a great way.

Highmore excels at managing to be both inherently likable and convincingly nuts- and that may well go double for Farmiga, who is just a hoot as the almost-always on the precipice of insanity her own damn self Norma. I also adore Carbonell’s low-key and subtle portrayal of a man pushed to his limits, trying to hold it together while everyone else goes crazy around him. It’s clearly starting to rub off on him, as evidenced by his taking the law into his own hands and killing Paris. It will be interesting to see how far he pushes it in the future as well- and if he allows himself to get caught up in more Bates drama.

I would also be remiss if I didn’t mention the flat-out adorable Olivia Cooke, who can convey a smile without even showing it to us. Who wouldn’t fall for this girl? It will be interesting to see how Norman reacts to his brother getting involved with Emma as well, as he still doesn’t know as of yet. Congrats also to Cooke for landing the hotly-contested leading lady part in Steven Spielberg’s much-anticipated adaptation of the cult novel “Ready Player One,” which I can’t wait to see, having been a huge fan of the book.

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This was a great premiere that bodes well for the season ahead. My favorite thing about it was that they showed that they’re clearly no longer playing around with things now- its full steam ahead at this point. I don’t know about you, but I certainly didn’t expect Norman to kill again so soon, but I’m sure that was the point. From here on out, anything can happen, and that’s a pretty great way to open a season. Can’t wait to see what happens next!

What did you think of the season premiere of “Bates Motel”? Are you also excited for the season to come? Do you think that Norman will kill off a major character this season, or will they save that for the next season? Will Norma be able to nip things in the bud for her son in the short-term, or will he only get worse? What will Norman do when he finds out about Dylan and Emma? Will someone come looking for Audrey? Sound off on this and more and make your predictions down below in the comments section!