After Season 3 of Bates Motel ended with Norman going full Psycho, fans have waited for months to see if the show would dial it back a little or go full steam ahead. The answer was given in “A Danger to Himself and Others,” and we’re all aboard for Norman’s high-speed train ride to the fictional Serial Killer Hall of Fame.
The episode actually begins, not on Norman, but on Romero who is cleaning up the mess he got himself into last season. We see him flood Bob Paris’ boat and dump his body in a compartment before mournfully rowing away on a tiny rowboat.
Meanwhile, Dylan must have rushed off to the nearest copy store and had missing posters printed out in the twelve hours that Norman has been missing, because he’s nailing them to poles around town. He calls Norma and tells her that nobody has seen Norman and he’s not in any of the hospitals.
Norman wakes up in a muddy field, talking to Mother about how he promises to protect her, but she has to listen to him. A farmer shows up and asks if he’s okay as he continues talking to Mother. Norman (or Mother) attempts to hit him with one of his shoes, but the farmer quickly knocks him out.
Norma is asleep in the chair when Dylan’s arrival wakes her up. He’s been on the phone with Willamette County Hospital and quickly explains to Norma that Norman is in the psychiatric unit as they head out to her car. He informs her that he can’t go to Willamette as he needs to go to Portland for Emma’s lung transplant and Norma is surprised and a bit disappointed that he hadn’t told her about him and Emma being a thing. We get a quick glimpse of Emma preparing for her surgery as the anesthesiologist asks if she’s excited and she answers that it’s just hard to believe it’s happening.
Norman wakes up strapped to gurney in the hallway of a hospital that looks too gross to actually be real. He stops a nurse and asks what’s happening and she explains where he is, while he tells her he doesn’t remember anything. He also asks her to find his mother, since he’s very worried about her. Meanwhile, Romero is at home hiding bundles of cash under his fireplace bricks.
Norma shows up at the Willamette hospital and finds out from the front desk clerk that Norman is under a forty-eight hour observational hold. She wants to talk to the doctor immediately, but the woman just tells her to take a seat. Over at a different hospital in Portland, Dylan finds Emma’s dad Will who tells him they won’t have any news for a long time, so he tells him to get comfortable.
Norma is eventually taken into a doctor’s office who explains how Norman was found and that the farmer was concerned he was dangerous. Norma tells her that he’s sweet, sensitive and not dangerous, but he does sometimes have blackouts. The doctor criticizes Norma’s parenting because she hasn’t taken him to a doctor or put him on any medications, then tells her she can’t see him until they’ve done an assessment, then basically tells her to leave and they’ll call her if and when they need her.
Back in Portland, Dylan is alone in the waiting room when Emma’s mom Audrey (the fantastically cast Karina Logue) shows up and sits across from him. Will returns with coffee and things are immediately tense as he tells Audrey he only told her about the surgery out of courtesy. He continues by saying that he doesn’t want her clearing her conscious at Emma’s expense and even though she initially protests, he makes her leave.
Norma heads over to Romero’s and explains Norman’s situation, asking if he can pull some strings or beat someone up to help get Norman out. He refuses, telling her they’ll usually release patients as soon as the forty-eight hour hold is up and then tells her to pray while he heads to work. In Portland, the doctor comes out and explains to Will that the operation was textbook, and they’ll just have to see what the next twenty-four hours brings.
Next stop for Norma is The Pineview Institute, which you may remember from last season as that very high-end psychiatric facility. She tells the woman that her son needs help immediately, but in reply gets a list of things she had to do first, including insurance and doctor’s reports, not to mention the long waiting list. She tells Norma to make an appointment through private practice and then wishes her good luck. As Norma goes to leave she runs into a Dr. Edwards, who she talks to about Norman and he eventually tells her to call his office as soon as he’s released. Back at Willamette, Norman is having visions of him as a small boy playing piano and baking with Norma, while it intercuts with scenes of Bradley’s murder.
Audrey is sitting outside the motel when Norma arrives and she asks for a room for a few nights. Norma apologizes for not being there and Audrey makes up a lie about meeting Emma in the village once and that’s how she found the place. Over at the hospital, Dylan goes up to Emma’s room where she’s unconscious and on a breathing tube. She opens her eyes and Dylan tells her she looks awesome as she smiles at him.
The next morning, Norma is sleeping when she gets a call from the hospital saying that Norman will be discharged at noon. She takes breakfast to Audrey’s room and Audrey admits to her that she’s actually Emma’s mother and that Emma wrote her once and told her how much she admired Norma and that Norman was her best friend. Norma immediately shuts her down and tells her she cares about Emma but this is none of her business.
In Willamette, the doctor once again lectures Norma about her son’s psychotic incident, telling her that she needs a doctor and a treatment plan within forty-eight hours because social services will be contacting her. She goes out to the hallway where her and Norman reunite and there’s inappropriate face kissing.
Audrey rings Norma’s doorbell to ask her to get a letter to Emma, since Will won’t let her see her daughter and she’s afraid he’ll read it if she mails it. Norma says no, but Audrey presses on about wanting to reconnect and asks to talk to Norman, which Norma also refuses. Audrey tells her she has no idea what it’s like to live with a child who has something seriously wrong with them and has no right to judge her. (Awfully presumptuous of you, Audrey.) Norma gets mad and tells her to leave and not to come back up to the house again.
Norma is giving Norman a haircut as dinner cooks in the oven, and they’re both happy he’s home, but she tells him he still has to see a doctor for help. Norman says he’ll try, but he wants her to promise not to send him away and she assures him not to worry. He tells her had horrible dreams in Willamette about killing Bradley, even though he knows it wasn’t real. Norma assures him it wasn’t, but she’s clearly spooked by this admission.
Mother and son are sleeping and spooning inappropriately again, when Norma wakes up and sneaks off to call Romero. She wants to meet him to ask him something, and promises it will only take a few minutes. She gets dressed while Norman still sleeps and then locks him in the bedroom, while outside Audrey watches as she leaves. Norman wakes up alone later and finds that he’s locked in and begins screaming for Mother and throwing himself into the two locked doors. He eventually succeeds and finds himself on the floor of the next room, his face suddenly changes and we cut to him in one of Norma’s robes and seeing her face in the mirror instead of his own.
Norma goes to Romero’s and tells him about how she wants to get Norman into Pineview, but can’t get on the waiting list without insurance. She proposes that they get married, because he has insurance. She promises it will only be on paper, but she also knows he finds her attractive and she’ll sleep with him if it will help. Romero flatly refuses and tells her she’s an attractive woman, so he suspects she’ll find someone else quickly.
Audrey goes up to the house with a stuffed bunny and her letter. Norman answers the door as Mother and Audrey is taken aback, but ultimately (and weirdly) goes with the flow. She tells him she’s Emma’s mother and he invites her in for tea. As they sit in the living room, she explains that Will has a violent temper and that’s why she left. She goes on to say she just want Emma to know that she loves her and that she regrets leaving. Mother goes to sit by her and tells her she’s sorry for her, but wonders what sort of person runs from a sick child, then begins strangling Audrey with the scarf around her neck. Mother tells Audrey that Emma went through more pain than she ever did as Audrey dies and Mother officially takes her first victim of Season 4.
- You know when this show is at its best? When we don’t have to deal with White Pine Bay drama like drugs, guns or prostitutes. Part of me hopes the show has realized that and will focus in on the more personal dramas of our main characters, but only time will tell. Regardless of what happens going forward, that’s part of what made this a great episode.
- I have to admit I was a little worried how Freddie Highmore would handle the challenge of Norman now being fully Norman/Mother, but so far so good. He really crushed it this week.
- Not only is Karina Logue a wonderful actress, she also looks strikingly like Olivia Cooke, so kudos to that perfect bit of casting. It’s just too bad we won’t see more of her, or actually see her interact with Emma.
- Apparently, the Affordable Care Act doesn’t exist in the world of Bates Motel, or Norma has just slacked on hitting up healthcare.gov while she was slacking on getting Norman to a doctor.
- “I was wondering if you could marry me. Not like you’re doing anything else.” With all her flaws, you have to admire that woman’s moxie.
- I’ve been struggling since last season to not fall completely for Dylan and Emma and how adorable they are together, but it’s impossible. Too bad this is Bates Motel and there’s no way this doesn’t end tragically, right?
Photo Courtesy of A&E