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‘Bates Motel’ Season 4 Episode 1 Recap: “A Danger to Himself and Others”

bates motel danger to himself and others

The new season picks up immediately where we left off with Romero disposing of Bob Paris’ body, Norma worrying about Norman, and Norman himself waking up in the middle of a field with no recollection that he murdered Bradley.

It’s immediately clear that this season will be vastly different than the others. Norman’s reached a point in his psychosis where there’s no turning back. He’s begun experiencing these blackouts, hallucinating his “mother,” almost all the time now. We’re also getting the hint of how easily violent he can become when a curious man approaches Norman’s while he’s talking to himself. Norman attempts to lunge at the man, but he’s quicker, knocking him out with a swift punch to the face. Either way, this doesn’t bode well for Norma at all. Norman ends up getting sent to the psychiatric unit in the county hospital, which puts Norma in a frenzy.

Dylan can’t accompany them because he’s heading up to Portland. Emma’s getting a lung transplant and he has to be there for her. He uses this moment to tell Norma that he and Emma are a thing. A beautiful thing that needs to be protected and cared for.

Anyway, when Norma gets to the hospital, she’s told that Norman’s under a 48-hour watch because they consider Norman dangerous. This comes as a shock to Norma who feigns, “He’s one of the sweetest people who’ve ever lived.” She knows that he’s capable of hurting people and yet, she still chooses to keep him in this protective bubble she’s formed for him. Her love and willingness to protect Norman will be Norma’s downfall.

After noticing the downtrodden environment Norman’s stuck in, Norma attempts to get Norman a spot in Pineview, a swankier and cleaner facility that’ll give him the treatment he needs immediately. Unfortunately, there’s a long waiting list, it costs a ton of money, and Norma needs insurance, which she doesn’t have.

Outside, after attempting to flirt it up with Dr. Edwards, who is gay, she tells him the truth. “My son has terrible blackouts. I didn’t get him help because I thought I could control it. I was afraid of the doctors. I thought they would take him away from me…I need to find him a good place and a nice doctor like you. I’m afraid that they’ll lock him up. And I’ve never been so scared in my life.” This hits an emotional chord with Dr. Edwards, who tells her that once he’s released, they can turn to him for help.

Meanwhile, Dylan’s waiting for the surgery to be over, but comes across a woman who introduces herself as Emma’s mother, Audrey. They don’t get a long chance to chat before Emma’s father angrily comes over and makes her leave. She stalks off, but only a few moments later, Dylan and Emma’s father get the news that she made it through the surgery just fine. They just have to wait the next 24 hours and see if Emma will continue to be stable.

Back at the hospital, Dylan walks into Emma’s hospital room to find that she’s asleep, attached to a machine that’s helping her breathe. You can see the vulnerability in his eyes as he approaches her bedside, but that’s switched out for a slow, genuine smile when he notices her wake up. As she gazes at him, unable to speak, he proudly tells her, “You look awesome.” This emits a tired smile from Emma, but as she closes her eyes once again, Dylan’s smile fades. He’s still worried.

The scenes between Dylan and Emma are the brief flickers of happiness I’m assuming we’ll be getting this season. But we all know that good things must come to an end on this show. It’s for this reason that I’m clutching on to these innocently loving scenes between the two. I know they’ll be brief and will most likely be cut short, but it’s best to enjoy these small moments while we can.

Audrey, with nowhere to go, heads to Bates Motel of all places. She meets Norma and briefly mentions that she met Emma once in the village. The next morning, Norma brings Audrey some breakfast before heading off to pick up Norman from the hospital. This is when Audrey admits that she had lied before, she didn’t meet Emma in the village. She’s Emma’s mother. Norma cuts her off swiftly before Audrey can tell her anymore about what Emma’s told her.

At the hospital, Norma learns that they’re releasing Norman because he hasn’t shown a sign of violence in the last 24 hours despite having experienced a psychotic episode. There’s no way Norma can continue ignoring his blackouts. After this, Norma and Norman reunite under the yellow fluorescent lights by running and embracing each other tightly. “Let’s go home, mother.” And with that, they do.

Despite Norma’s clear insistence that she wants nothing to do with her, Audrey goes up to the house and asks Norma if she’d be able to five Emma a letter she has for her. Norma immediately says no, and to that Audrey asks if she can talk to Norman to see if he can give it to her. This strikes a nerve in Norma who very insistently tells her no, yet again.

“Who the hell are you to judge me? You think you know what it’s like to live with a child that has something seriously wrong with them? Have that axe hanging over your head day and night? To wonder if you’ll be strong enough to stand it?” Audrey asks her. If only Audrey truly knew.

After Audrey leaves, Norma gives Norman a haircut and gently breaks the news to him that he needs to see a doctor. He agrees to see one, as long as she doesn’t send him away from the house. She evades this, but this doesn’t stop Norman from telling her that he had a horrible dream in which Norma killed Bradley by bashing her head in with a rock. Norman, honey, that was you.

That night, Norman and Norma sleep in the same bed, but she’s gone before he wakes up. She heads to Romero’s house to ask him if he can marry her. Don’t get too excited, Normero shippers, myself included. She only wants to marry him for his insurance and maybe a tiny part as a form of protection against Norman. She doesn’t let the hurt show on her face too much when he tells her a flat-out “no”, but when he closes the door, the fear is evident once again on her face. She’s back to square one.

When Norman wakes up, he realizes that she’s locked him inside the room. He begins to get more agitated, to the point where he breaks down the door.

Noticing that Norma’s gone, Audrey heads up to the house to find Norman, acting oddly like Norma and wearing one of her bathrobes. Cordial and friendly at first, this shifts when he learns she’s Emma’s mother. He becomes much more interested in her.

After letting her in and giving her some tea, Audrey tells him about how much she loves Emma and how she wants her to understand that she left because Emma’s father was violent. She gives him the letter and bunny to give to her. It seems like Norman’s really genuine when he says, “I’m so sorry for you.”

But his demeanor entirely changes when he begins with,”But what sort of a person runs away from their sick child?” He begins choking Audrey while berating her for what she’s done to Emma, “Do you have any idea the things she suffered? Do you think your pain is anything like what she went through? Every day, feeling abandoned by her own mother. Made to feel unwanted, worthless. You love someone more than anything and they leave you.” As he chokes the life out of Audrey, we get the sense that he’s not talking about Emma anymore.

And with that, we’re checked back into the Bates Motel.


  • I really missed Bates Motel. I hadn’t realized it or it just hadn’t hit me until I was watching it, but it seems like it’s been years since season three and yet, all the characters were right where we left them.
  • Cinematography is gorgeous, as per usual.
  • Whiny Norma is the best Norma, especially when she runs to Romero to complain about everything.
  • Norma, seriously, stop sleeping in the same bed as Norman. This is only contributing to his obsession with you.
  • “It’s not like you’re doing anything else.” – Norma
  • If Emma’s mother would’ve just given the letter and bunny to Dylan, he would’ve given it to her.
  • Someone give Freddie Highmore an Emmy NOW. The way he acts like “Mother” is incredible.