Season 5, Episode 5 “Dreams Die First”
Written by Erica Lipez & Kerry Ehrin
Directed by Nestor Carbonell
“Dreams Die First” dives deep into two narratives. Even as he experiences flashes of his life as “Mother” in White Pine Bay, Norman (Freddie Highmore) refuses offers of help and chooses the comforts of home. And we finally meet Marion Crane (Rihanna), watching her pursue a reckless course that lands her right back at Bates Motel. Safe in Seattle, Dylan and Emma (Max Theirot and Olivia Cooke) face a crisis in their marriage. Former Sheriff Romero is nowhere to be seen, possibly because Nestor Carbonell is directing this episode.
Emma and Dylan
Emma, searching for stamps in a junk drawer, finds instead a lone earring saved in an envelope. Could it be Norma’s? Spurred by this discovery, Emma presses Dylan to discuss Norma and consider visiting her. Norma may be a “nut,” but deserves to know about her grandchild. Dylan shoots down the idea abruptly.
He later confesses the truth to Emma. His doubts about Norman and the trail of suspicious deaths that follow him. “Norman is sick. Things happen around him … bad things.” From Norman’s father, Sam Bates, to the trail of bodies in White Pine Bay. From Norman’s teacher Blair Watson, that’s a list that may include the owner of that lone earring — Emma’s mother.
Emma can barely control her anger. She tells Dylan to literally take a hike for a while so she doesn’t start screaming. Searching “Wikifinders” on Dylan’s Puget Sound Hops and Granary laptop that night, Emma learns her own secret — about Norma’s “suicide”. Will she tell Dylan?
Norman wakes and reaches for Mother — her space on the bed is empty. He is red-eyed, has scratches on his back, and races to the bathroom to vomit. Somebody had a late night? But was it Norman or Mother? Norman searches the house and motel; Mother is nowhere to be found. But Sheriff Greene (Brooke Smith) would like to speak to him at the station. Since Mother’s car is also MIA, he presumably walks to town.
Detective Arbogast Sheriff Greene politely, deliberately questions Norman about Alex Romero while he nervously drinks from a glass of water. Throughout this episode, we see Norman as a very poor liar and not nearly as clever as he thinks he is. In his version of Life With Romero, the former sheriff was “a lonely, very unhappy man” who “latched onto my mother so completely and didn’t want anyone else in her life.” Projecting much, Norman?
Back home, Norman again searches for Mother and finds only a book of matches from The White Horse Bar. He calls and asks if anyone has seen Norma. She isn’t there – but her car’s in the parking lot and about to get towed.
Madeline (Isabelle McNally) calls right after to apologize for the whole “cake and chill” fiasco of a first date but agrees to take Norman into town. Norman spills the beans about seeing Sam with a woman at the Motel. Madeline shows the first sign of spine this season, furiously demanding Norman “get the hell out of my truck.” Good thing they’re at the bar.
The bartender (Brendan Taylor) appears very concerned for Norman — is he OK? Norman most assuredly is not. Muttering “It’s all good … it’s all going to be good, Norman,” he drives through the rain in a daze, almost running over Dr. Edwards (Damon Gupton), his former therapist at the Pineview Institute.
Norman has coffee with Dr. Edwards, who knows Norman isn’t on his medications since no-one has called for a refill in a year and a half. Norman begins acknowledging some truths about himself. He knows he sees his mother when she’s not really there and “sometimes, I become her … but that doesn’t happen anymore.” So thanks for the coffee but goodbye Dr. Edwards! On to the White Horse Bar.
Not a good idea. Norman’s breakdown continues. Everyone seems to know him, asks how he’s been, compliments him on his “new look.” Norman stumbles into the bathroom. A “handsome man” (Michael Doonan) follows him. From the intimacy Handsome Man displays towards Norman, they know each other very well. Norman doesn’t appear to know him, but “remembers” flashes of Norma with this man in a car.
Norman collapses against the wall. Handsome Man switches from hookup mode to genuine concern, asking how he can help. Norman mentions his mother; the man offers to call her. Norman says “You can’t … she’s dead.” He hears Norma asking, “We’re supposed to be together, aren’t we Norman?” and sees himself resting his head on her lap.
Back home, Norman trudges through the rain to the house, and we see Marion Crane, barely able to see the sign through the torrential rain, turn off the road to the Bates Motel.
Marion Crane’s storyline tracks closely with her path in Psycho; Bates Motel makes Marion’s part of this iconic story both true to the source material AND new in the telling.
“Dreams Die First” is chock full of subtle, well-placed callbacks to specific moments in Psycho.
~ Last week, Norman remarked that he sounded “mad” to be offering Madeline his dead mother’s clothes. This week Norman describes Romero during their prison visit. “He just stared … like a madman.” Much like Norman in the last shot of Psycho.
~ Marion’s first scene echoes the first scene in Psycho – another furtive encounter between Sam and Marion. In Psycho, they couldn’t marry because of alimony Sam had to pay. On Bates, he’s too far in debt to commit (as far as he’s told Marion). So far, movie Sam Loomis is Prince Charming compared to his TV counterpart.
~ Marion works at a Seattle real estate company called R.A. Bloch Realty. I see what you did there, Bates Motel!
~ The briefcase full of cash has been inflation adjusted from the original $40,000.00 to $400,000.00. Marion is told to deposit it on Bates, not just put in the safe deposit box.
~ Marion asks to be considered for the position recently vacated by Janet. Wonder if Janet’s last name was Leigh?
~ Her boss is still named George Lowery (Raphael Sbarge) although the slimy rich guy is now named Jeff Dunn (Al Sapienza) instead of Tom Cassidy. He’s still a leering jerk. We don’t get to hear him brag that buying a house for his newlywed daughter with all that cash isn’t “buying happiness. That’s just… buying off unhappiness.”
~ Fleeing Phoenix with Mr. Cassidy’s cash, Marion has the bad luck to see & be seen by her boss Mr. Lowery, crossing street at a red light. On Bates, Norman sees Dr. Edwards crossing the street in White Pine Bay.
~ The menacing cop (Mort Mills) wearing mirrored glass in Psycho is now just as menacing but takes his glasses off (and is played by executive producer Carlton Cuse).
~ In Psycho, Mirrorshades Cop sees Marion’s car pulled over on the side of the road. On Bates, instead of being questioned for sleeping in her car overnight, Marion is pulled over because her rear license plate is obscured by a raincoat she threw in the trunk (over the incriminating Suitcase Of Stolen Cash).
~ There is a lot of care taken to show the water glasses during Norman’s talk with Sheriff Greene, and a point made of showing Norman drinking from his glass. Maybe Sheriff Greene’s collecting DNA and/or fingerprints?
~ Norman has two chances to accept offers of help — from Dr. Edwards and “Handsome Man” at the White Horse Bar. Both can see his distress and offer to help. Both offers are refused.
~ Serious question. Was Norman suffering a blackout when carrying out the murder-suicide attempt last season? He describes Norma’s suicide as is he wasn’t involved at all. He has to remember something.
Bates Motel airs Monday at 8/9c on A&E.