Bates Motel Season 4 Episode 1 Review: A Danger to Himself and Others

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There's no turning back for Norman Bates.

While I could certainly be wrong, once you start killing the mothers of your friends while dressed as your mother, as Norman did on Bates Motel Season 4 Episode 1, I don't think you can really retrace your steps and get your innocence back.

No matter how deftly Norma attempts to flatter the males of White Pine Bay in her attempts to get her son help (really? that's all she's got?), it's unlikely she's going to stop the pile of bodies Norman will leave in his wake.

Finding Norman - Bates Motel

After the events of Bates Motel Season 3 Episode 10, Norman's blackouts don't have much respite. It's quite possible the only thing keeping him from disappearing within them is the presence of his flesh and blood Mother. When she goes, so does Norman. He simply replaces her with his own copy.

We've seen Norma grapple with having a son she can't control, who she loves and yet scares her, as well. She neither wants to hurt him nor be hurt by him. She has put off dealing with his situation, I think, in the hope that it would remedy itself. Maybe he'd grow out of it, like an allergy.

Instead it has gotten worse.

And who the hell are you to judge me? You think you know what it's like to live with a child who has something seriously wrong with them? To have that ax hanging over their head day and night? To wonder if you'll be strong enough to stand it?


What Emma's mother said to Norma basically summed up Norma's life. She knows exactly what it was like. But instead of physically running away, she just mentally closed the door on Norman's problems.

When Norman was in the hospital, the administrator told Norma she could be held as negligent for not getting Norman the help he needed before he was an adult, knowing fully well he had been blacking out and in need of some sort of treatment. 

She finally told the doctor outside of Pineview the truth: she never got him care because she was afraid the doctors would take him away from her. Well, that's part of it, anyway. But that's not a good reason to keep your child from receiving something he desperately needs.

She tried using her feminine wiles on the doctor (who was gay) and twice on Romero. The flippant attitude she had when she approached him about marriage in name only for insurance was so in contrast to how she was behaving regarding Norman being put away.

It's hard to justify the different sides of Norma, how she can be so flippant when she's really so deeply concerned about a social services visit within 48 hours.

Just leaving Norman at home was taking a giant risk, and one that didn't pay off. She was literally gone before the sun came up, and Norman had already claimed his first victim of the day. 

Everything about Freddie Highmore's performance of Norman as Norma was so beautifully over the top, from the way he was embarrassed to be caught at the door in his robe to the way he continued to cross his legs, showing skin and slyly covering it up afterward. There's no doubt he enjoys embracing the crazy.

What will Norma do when she gets home to find a dead body in her living room?

How long will she try to get him help before she realizes it's too late and she might be the one in trouble?

It looks like Norma might be on her own, which is completely new new her. Romero has his own bodies to deal with. He's stashing bricks of cash in the floor. It's not just another normal day in the life for him.

Dylan is with Emma, and her life will be (we hope) opening up. Maybe he has a chance to start something new and beautiful. Will they want to be tied down with a mentally ill Norman? 

Neither Norma nor Norman seems to be in a good place as the season starts, and if things just continue to go downhill, where on earth will they be by the time it ends? I have no idea, but I'm absolutely sure it will continue to be one of the most compelling dramas on TV. 

What did you think about the premiere? Are you surprised at how fully Norman has become Norma? What's next for the Bates family?

Don't forget, you can watch Bates Motel online any time right here via TV Fanatic!

A Danger to Himself and Others Review

Editor Rating: 4.5 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.7 / 5.0 (23 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.

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Bates Motel Season 4 Episode 1 Quotes

Audrey: You really are nice, aren't you?
Norma: Emma told you that the one time you ran into her in the village?

Norma: I need you to get him out.
Alex: Norma, I'm not magical.