Bates Motel Season 3 Episode 1 Review: A Death in the Family

at .  Updated at .

Are visions of Psycho dancing in your head?

After, the Bates Motel Season 3 premiere, it's difficult not to imagine Norma's eventual fate, sitting obediently in the window of her home, watching over Norman as he manages the hotel she entrusted to to him.

While previously Norman was content to do as Norma wished without much struggle, it's evident in Bates Motel Season 3 Episode 1 that he's maturing and that means it's time to push back. After all – and this was mentioned more than once to drive it home – Norman is 18 years old.

Norman appears to be more confident, which seems a little bit odd considering he only recently learned of the tricks his mind plays on him. Could that be the very reason for his altered behavior? By embracing the darkness inside of him and recognizing the hold he has over his mother, he's freed from her clutches, no matter how powerful they otherwise remain. He knows Norma has a threshold.

The summer has been kind to the relationship between mother and son, but that is about to change as others take note of their overall dysfunction.

Dylan: Norman's 18. He should not be sleeping in the same bed as his mom.
Norma: You're overreacting. He just fell asleep. It's not a big deal.

Norma tries to play it off, but as much as she loves being close to Norman, she knows it is a big deal and being that close to him isn't normal at all. It's not a coincidence their names don't quite make up the word. You can almost feel Norma cringe as she shouts at Norman that his other behavior is not normal, as calling him out on some behavior but not what's between the two of them is almost insulting.

Yet, Norma continues to coddle Norman because she's so afraid of admitting to herself that there is something wrong with him. It's easier to tuck it inside and pretend it doesn't exist. When he can't function at school, he can be homeschooled and become the motel manager. Because being even more engaged with the public will surely be good for them.

As frightening as seeing the two of them together can be, there's still something sort of sweet when Norma asks Norman to stay in her bed after her mother dies; until he uses the power his presence holds over her and he creepily says, "OK, just for tonight. Move over you silly woman." No son should ever say that to his mother. Make a note of it!

Overall, the hour felt transformative, not only for Norman and Norma, but for all of the characters. 

Norma's changing relationship with Norman and Dylan's confusing connection with his dad, Uncle Caleb, seems like it will bring the two closer together. The scenes they shared in the premiere felt unusually significant, although they were very brief. That could be said for their entire run in Bates Motel, but Dylan has grown so much that it's exciting to think of how they'll explore the two this season.

Caleb is a really tough nut to crack. Listening to him talk with Dylan, admitting the realization he's his father and he understands why Norma fled and married young, but to please understand all they had growing up was each other – it's really difficult not to fall for his shtick.

There is always the possibility that Norma recalls events differently than they occurred, given Norman's mental issues, but I want to give her the benefit of the doubt. Then again, Dylan is a really great young man, and he didn't have the benefit of the greatest relationship with his mom. It's a tough call. If Caleb is lying, he's a master manipulator, and they're as frightening as Norman's breed of psycho.

The hour really really belongs to Freddie Highmore, as Norman delivered a new level of disturbing behavior for which no taxidermy was required. Tracy Spiradakos had the honor of playing homage to the Psycho shower scene with her role as Annika the high-paid party girl, who Norman courteously offered to ride along with into town, a visit from which she may or may not return.

Emma's diminished lung capacity earned her our sympathies not only for her heath, but because the impairment suddenly inspired Norman to offer up himself up as her boyfriend. The two have been bound for the pairing for some time, but it's hard to wish it upon Emma at this particular time in Norman's journey. He has always cared for her, however, so perhaps hers will be a happier ending than Norma's eventual fate.

Bates Motel has always been a compelling series, but I'm looking forward to watching Norma and Norman do an intricate dance for relationship domination as one slowly spins out of control and the other realizes that pretending there isn't a problem doesn't actually solve it. How long until one of them (we're looking at you, Norman) goes too far?

Did you wonder why, when the ceiling light was out, neither Norman nor Annika turned on the bedside lamps to aid in the endeavor of changing the bulb above? Wanna snuggle up with Norma and Norman? Is Uncle Caleb Dad really a creep or just misunderstood? Do you hope Dylan finally connects with Norma? Will Romero really cut protection of him? Can you even stand one more minute without knowing?

Really, what did you think of the premiere? Hit the comments and if you've missed any of the fun, you can always watch Bates Motel online to catch up and join the party. 

A Death in the Family Review

Editor Rating: 4.7 / 5.0
  • 4.7 / 5.0
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
User Rating:

Rating: 4.6 / 5.0 (11 Votes)

Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer and critic for TV Fanatic. She's a member of the Critic's Choice Association, enjoys mentoring writers, conversing with cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film with anyone who will listen. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.

Show Comments
Tags: ,

Bates Motel Season 3 Episode 1 Quotes

Oh and by the way? My mother died. Here's your lunch.


Dylan: Norman's 18. He should not be sleeping in the same bed as his mom.
Norma: You're overreacting. He just fell asleep. It's not a big deal.