Bates Motel: “Dreams Die First” Review


Psycho (path).

Warning: Full spoilers for the episode below.

“Dreams Die First,” directed by series star Nestor Carbonell, was a big chapter for a handful of reasons. The showiest, flashiest reason is that Rihanna made her debut as Marion Crane and Bates Motel has now, finally, absorbed the movie Psycho into its own lore. Which his pretty damn cool.

Character-wise though, Norman made some huge discoveries about himself this week. In a moment of rare clarity, he re-engaged with Dr. Edwards and reminded himself that — basically — he’s insane. With Norma gone (or “missing”), he pretty much wound up washing himself out of his own man-made delusion and remembered exactly what he was capable of – about how he both imagines her and becomes her. How “Norma” is a dangerous coping mechanism.

THEN, Norman discovered where “Norma” had been spending her nights. While Norman isn’t allowed to get any action of his own without his Norma side butting in and messing things up (or flat out killing the girl), Norma’s been whooping it up at the White Horse Bar and hooking up with male strangers. What stinging irony. She’s allowed to sow her wild oats while he is in this chaste prison.


This new mental state definitely has me excited about Norman meeting Marion. He’s aware of who he is now, basically, and on top of this, Marion’s now directly connected to his story through Sam Loomis. It’s a different set of circumstances, for sure, though Marion’s still on the run with a load of stolen cash. That part’s still intact. But Norman making some healthy(ish) realizations about himself this late in the show is awesome.

And so I’m really glad that Psycho isn’t the end for Bates, and for Norman on Bates. With everything Norman has going on in his life right now, all the stories the show has built up around him, it’d seem silly for him to fall because he killed a random guest. To be fair, of course, she’s no longer AS random as she was in the movie, and we don’t know what her fate is just yet. But yeah, I think it’s cool that this story is coming in the middle of the season and not the end given that we’ve still got Romero out there, Chick to deal with, the new sheriff snooping about, and — last but not least — Dylan and Emma.

That’s right, not only did Dylan tell Emma this week that he thinks Norman may have killed her mother, but Emma herself discovered, thanks to the internet, that Norma was dead. Part of me wishes there was something a little more to them learning the truth other than “enough time passed and so Dylan finally spoke his mind,” but at least there’s this really wicked bond the two of them now share in that Norman’s killed both their moms.

As for Rihanna as Marion – it works well. For the most part. It’s a slight stretch to think of Rihanna shrinking into a character as desperate as Marion, but that’s because she brings a bit of her superstar aura with her. The disconnect doesn’t last long though and now I can’t wait for her to meet up with Norman. From what it looks like, it’ll be a mix of the classic film and what Bates has created marvelously on its own. Also, nice cameo there by executive producer Carlton Cuse as the cop who pulled Marion over. After checking IMDB, it seems he hasn’t popped up in front of the camera since Brisco County Jr.!

The Verdict

“Dreams Die First” may grab headlines with Rihanna and the fun Psycho arc, which I’m glad is here mid-season, but the biggest revelation/moment happened within Norman himself as he discovered the shocking truth about Norma’s whereabouts and began to take a harsh look at his own psyche.

Editors’ Choice

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