Bates Motel—Season 1

bates motel season 1 poster episode guide freddie highmore vera farmiga
8.0 Overall Score
Story: 7/10
Acting: 9/10
Visuals: 9/10

Does some interesting things to keep the story going, looks great, good cast

Rather predictable plotlines despite odd story concepts


There’s always a vacancy!

Norman Bates (Freddie Highmore) has just lost his father in an accident and his mother Norma (Vera Farmiga) is starting a new life in White Pine Bay, Oregon with the purchase of the Sea Fairer Hotel.  Unfortunately, White Pine Bay has secrets and the Bates also are keeping secrets…including Norma’s murder of the hotel’s previous owner during an attack.  When Norma’s other son Dylan Massett (Max Thieriot) arrives at the hotel, he finds himself pulled into Norma and Norman’s problems and problems of his own as he becomes an employee of a big drug grower in White Pine Bay.  The quiet Oregon town’s sex, drugs, and secrets might not be the normal…but neither is Norma or Norman.


I’m only seeing good things for us, Norman!

Bates Motel—Season 1 aired from March 18, 2013 to May 20, 2013 on A&E.  The series is a modern adaptation of Alfred Hitchcock’s horror-suspense thriller Psycho from 1960 which was based on Robert Bloch’s 1959 novel.  The series was met with positive reviews and Vera Farmiga earned a Primetime Emmy nomination for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series.

I enjoyed Psycho and the sequels less so.  Learning that there was to be a TV series based on the show seemed a bit of a push…especially with other serial killer series like Dexter around.  The show wasn’t the first attempt to make Psycho into a TV series…A movie called Bates Motel with Bud Cort was released in 1987 as part of a failed TV pilot.  When I learned that there were a lot of similarities to the series Twin Peaks (one of the creators Carlton Cuse admitted that they kind of ripped off the concept), I was excited since that was always a favorite.


Bad Parenting 101…Don’t kill rapists in front of your son….

The series does have some Twin Peaks feel to it (the setting and some of the town’s dirty secrets), but the series doesn’t have the humor that Twin Peaks had (or the supernatural aspects).  That doesn’t mean that it isn’t good, but the series really isn’t like Twin Peaks in its atmosphere or story.

The series smartly hired a good cast, but the show has a weird balance.  The show is clearly about Norman and Norma, and it often feels a bit weird when Dylan, Emma, and Bradley have side stories.  Their interactions with Norma and Norman are natural, but the characters don’t stand well on their own.


Love a nice stay at the Bates Motel!

Though the story is fun, it is pretty predictable.  I could tell how the characters were going to get into trouble and how they were going to get out of trouble before the trouble and solution happened.  It is still a fun ride getting there, but I can’t say that the story is very surprising, but it is clever in that they did expand it simply from “Norman is crazy”.

Bates Motel is a fun and slightly better than average show.  Just like in Psycho, you do not want Norman Bates to go bad, but it is predestine to happen and that is helped by the writing.  The show is stylish, looks good, and has some nice acting (though I do think that Norma sometimes falls into almost goofy hijinks storylines at point and Vera Farminga follows suit).  I already can see how the second season is going to go so I hope the writers do find some good twists along the way to liven it up.

Bates Motel—Season 1 Complete Episode Guide:


“First You Dream, Then You Die”

1.1       First You Dream, Then You Die Airdate:  03/18/13

Norman Bates (Freddie Highmore) and his mother Norma (Vera Farmiga) find their lives turned upside down when Norman’s father dies.  When Norma buys the Seafarer Hotel in White Pine Bay, Oregon, Norman is headed to a new school with new friends.  Norma deals with her estranged demands for money from her estranged son Dylan.  Norma attempt to get the hotel up and running and with Keith Summers (W. Earl Brown) the former owner of the property.  When Norman decides to sneak out to party with kids from his school, Norma is left in danger.


“Nice Town You Picked, Norma…”

1.2       Nice Town You Picked, Norma… Airdate:  03/25/13

Dylan Massett (Max Thieriot) has come to White Pine Bay to stay with his mother and Norman against Norma’s wishes.  Bradley Martin (Nicola Peltz) finds her father has been burned in his garage and the discovery leads Sheriff Alex Romero (Nestor Carbonell) to discover Keith Summers’ car on the Bates’ property…leading toward suspicion by Sheriff Romero.  Norma decides to take dealing with Romero into his her own hands by having a meeting with Deputy Zack Shelby (Mike Vogel).  Norman makes friends with a girl named Emma Decody (Olivia Cooke) who has similar interests with him and uncovers a mystery about the manga found in the hotel.  Dylan finds White Pine Bay has a seedy underground though might provide him with money.


“What’s Wrong with Norman?”

1.3       What’s Wrong with Norman? Airdate:  04/01/13

Emma finds herself fearing that the pot growers will come looking her, and Dylan discovers that his new job involves protecting the pot field.  Norman, and Norman suffers a collapse in school and finds himself hospitalized.  Norma discovers Romero is going through with his threat to get a search warrant, and Norman realizes that his “souvenir” of the murder might send him to jail when it disappears.  Emma and Norman continue to investigate if the story in the manga could possibly be real.  Dylan uncovers that Norman suffers from blackouts.  Norman’s decision to get Summers’ belt back leads to a shocking discovery about Deputy Shelby.


“Trust Me”

1.4       Trust Me Airdate:  04/08/13

Norman’s discovery of a girl being held in Deputy Shelby’s basement leads to problems when he is seen leaving by Dylan, and Norma won’t believe him.  When the hand of Keith Summers is found, Norma learns that Sheriff Romero might have the evidence he needs to make the connection.  Norman confides in Dylan and makes a jump in his relationship with Bradley.


“Ocean View”

1.5       Ocean View Airdate:  04/15/13

Norman tries to get his mother out of jail and goes to Emma for help.  Dylan decides he has to get Norman away from Norma and seeks out a place in White Pine Bay.  Deputy Shelby reveals is feelings for Norma and sets out to help her case.  Dylan’s friend and partner in business provides Dylan with a way out of the Bates Motel, but Dylan finds himself having to avenge his friend when tragedy strikes.  Emma learns about Norman’s relationship with Bradley and questions if Bradley feels the same way.  Emma and Norman’s search of a boat uncovers the kidnapped girl…but their discovery is found by Norma.


“The Truth”

1.6       The Truth Airdate:  04/22/13

The kidnapped girl has been uncovered, but before the police can be informed, Dylan, Norma, and Norman must find the belt which ties them to the murder of Keith Summers.  As Dylan tries to clean up his own murder, he finds himself with new power at his job and officially sets to get Norman away from Norma.  While Norman and Dylan search for the belt, Norma finds herself in a confrontation with Deputy Shelby…which will lead to death and the revelation of what really happened to Norman’s father.


“The Man in Number 9”

1.7       The Man in Number 9 Airdate:  04/29/13

Sheriff  Romero helps Norma craft a story about Deputy Shelby’s death as the hotel prepares to open.  Dylan reveals he still intends to move out despite learning about Norman’s condition, and Norma learns that the bad press could hinder the business.  A strange man named Jake Abernathy (Jere Burns) arrives at the hotel who might have ulterior motives.  Norma learns from Emma about Norman’s involvement with Bradley, but Bradley reveals her true feelings for Norman.  The discovery of a dog under the house leads to tragedy for Norman.


“A Boy and His Dog”

1.8       A Boy and His Dog Airdate:  05/06/13

Emma’s father (Ian Hart) helps teach Norman about taxidermy as he helps Norman stuff his dog Juno.  Norma tries to fight the new interstate exchange and finds herself at odds with Sheriff Romero.  Emma hears girls talking about Norman at school and defends him by revealing he slept with Bradley…causing a rift with Norman.  Norma gets bad news from the school and learns that the school wants Norman to see a psychologist.  Dylan finds he needs to get trimmers for the weed and gets to the bottom of why his partner Remo (Ian Tracey) resents him.  When Norma confronts Abernathy, she learns that he might have plans for revenge.



1.9       Underwater Airdate:  05/13/13

With the discovery of Deputy Shelby’s body in her bed and learning about White Pine Bay’s drug situation, Norma decides she’s moving.  Norman learns that his grades are improving and works on his writing with his teacher Miss Watson (Keegan Connor Tracy).  Norman’s fantasy of killing Bradley concern Dylan as Bradley tries to get Dylan to get him into her father’s office.  Emma finds herself with an attraction to one of the trimmers staying in the motel and accidentally takes a pot muffin.  Norma learns exactly what Abernathy wants from her.



1.10     Midnight Airdate:  05/20/13

Norma finds she needs to get $150,000 to Abernathy and goes to Sheriff Romero for help.  Norman uncovers a secret about Ms. Watson’s life and finds his feelings for her might be mutual.  Dylan gives Norma a gun to defend herself and finds he’s growing closer to her.  Norma confesses her true past to Norman.  Norman goes to the school dance with Emma but the dance doesn’t end as he expected.  Norma goes to meet with Abernathy and witnesses a crime.

Related Links:

Bates Motel—Season 2 Review and Complete Episode Guide

Bates Motel—Season 3 Review and Complete Episode Guide

Bates Motel—Season 4 Review and Complete Episode Guide

Bates Motel—Season 5 Review and Complete Episode Guide

Bates Motel—Season 1—Pictures & Image Gallery

Psycho (1960)

Psycho II (1983)

Psycho III (1986)

Psycho IV:  The Beginning (1990)

Psycho (1998)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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