Bates Motel—Season 4

bates motel season 4 poster review episode guide
8.0 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 8/10

Story continues to change

Feels a bit of a tonal change from other seasons

bates motel season 4 episode 2 goodnight mother freddie highmore

How long can Norman keep hiding?

Norman’s mental situation is getting dire, and Norman (Freddie Highmore) finds himself in a mental hospital where he is forced to confront his issues.  Norma (Vera Farmiga) is desperate to get Norman home but finds getting Norman help might be impossible in her current financial situation.  Dylan (Max Thieriot) finds himself getting closer to Emma (Olivia Cooke) which could mean a big change for him.  Sheriff Romero (Nestor Carbonell) keeps finding himself pulled into Norma’s problems, but soon he might have a more vested interest.

Bates Motel—Season 4 is a horror-drama series airing on A&E.  Based on Robert Bloch’s 1959 novel Psycho, the season aired from March 7, 2016 to May 16, 2016.  The season received Primetime Emmy nominations for Outstanding Cinematography for a Single-Camera Series (“A Danger to Himself and Others”) and Outstanding Musical Composition for a Series—Original Dramatic Score (“Forever”).

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Sorry, bro…I’m out

Bates Motel is really starting to heat up this season.  When you look at the overall arch of the season, not a ton of events happened, but what did happen was rather significant.  Bates Motel has always been about getting to Psycho, and Psycho is coming.  Due to aspects of the story, a ******spoiler alert****** is in effect for the rest of the review.

For much of the show Norman’s problems have been hidden, but this season, more people are finding out about it.  “Mother” has been seen and documented and there are records of Norman’s instability…which adds an interesting twist.  While mental health is a problem in the United States, some of the trickier nature of the system and what is right and what is wrong about it are challenged.

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Smart move, Romero walk up to the guy just released from the institute when he’s chopping wood

The show also feels like a season of endings.  I don’t know the plans for Dylan and Emma in the future of the series, but it feels like they are leaving.  With Norma’s “death” (which cleverly is able to keep Farmiga with the series), a lot of ties to Norman are severed, and the characters remaining in his life don’t make much sense.  It feels like a new beginning for the series and the characters with only a few loose ties to handle.

The cast continues to be good.  This season primarily feels like a Freddie Highmore-Vera Farmiga-Nestor Carbonell season with both Olivia Cooke and Max Thieriot taking a backseat.  It has been odd to see Freddie Highmore grow-up on camera from his early movies to now and with Norman, he fits the character so well (awkward, gangly) that it is somewhat difficult to see him in other things.  Vera Farmiga is the opposite of Highmore in that she seems so versatile in many of her roles that this just feels like another role for her.  Unfortunately for Nestor Carbonell, anytime he pops up, I just think “There’s the Lost guy”.

bates motel season 4 episode 9 forever carbon monoxide freddie highmore vera farmiga

Sleep tight, Mother…

The series continues to be stylish and this season with Norman switching between himself and “Mother” provides a lot of new interesting directions for both the characters, the actors, and the visuals.  Some clever shifting of roles and shooting has Highmore’s character switching place with Farmiga as Norman sinks deeper into his shattered persona.  It has a lot of potential for season 5.

Bates Motel is winding down and the stakes are getting higher.  Without Norma working with him (directly), Norman is going to have to cover his own tracks more and more.  He’s also put a target on himself in the form of Sheriff Romero (if he gets out of his legal problems) and a game of cat and mouse will be coming.  The unfortunate and fortunate part of Bates Motel is that most of the audience knows how it ends and the series must keep telling compelling stories to surprise viewers on how they get there.  There’s one season to go, and Norman is gearing up for a hell of a home life.

Bates Motel—Season 4 Complete Episode Guide:

bates motel season 4 episode 1 a danger to himself and others freddie highmore

“A Danger to Himself and Others”

4.1       A Danger to Himself and Others Airdate:  03/07/16

Found wandering in the woods after Bradley’s murder, Norman (Freddie Highmore) is taken to a state institution for observation.  With Norma (Vera Farmiga) unable to get him released, efforts to get Norman a doctor and help become a priority.  Meanwhile, Emma (Olivia Cooke) has her lung replacement surgery in Portland with her father (Andrew Howard) and Dylan (Max Thieriot) awaiting the results.  When Emma’s estranged mother Audrey (Karina Logue) comes to see Emma, she ends up at Norma’s hotel…but checking in doesn’t mean she’ll check out.

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“Goodnight, Mother”

4.2       Goodnight, Mother Airdate:  03/14/16

Norman suspects his mother is a murderer since he’s seen her involved in the deaths of Bradley and Audrey and decides that Norma has to be dealt with.  With Norma trying to institutionalize Norman with the help of Romero (Nestor Carbonell), Norman must find a way to stop his mother’s murderous tendencies.

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“‘Til Death Do You Part”

4.3       ’Til Death Do You Part Airdate:  03/21/16

Romero has agreed to marry Norma to get Norman health insurance, but Norma realizes that she and Romero are on different pages when it comes to what that marriage would mean.  Dylan debates getting out of the drug business and find Chick Hogan (Ryan Hurst) hopes for revenge against Caleb.  Norman is admitted to the Pineview Mental Hospital, but questions why the doctors don’t realize that his mother is the threat.  Romero’s ex-girlfriend Rebecca Hamilton (Jaime Ray Mercier) visits him and expresses concerns about the DEA’s investigation into Bob’s finances.

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“Lights of Winter”

4.4       Lights of Winter Airdate:  03/28/16

Norman is helped by his new “friend” Julian Howe (Marshall Allman) to get past Pineview’s security but discovers that Julian has his own plans once they are free.  Rebecca reveals that Bob hid money in a safety deposit box and Romero finds he could be the one with access.  Emma’s successful recovery means that she might be leaving permanently…and Dylan could be next.  A break-in at the Bates’ home could have sinister motives.

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4.5       Refraction Airdate:  04/11/16

Norma’s desire to fix her broken stained-glass window puts her in the targets of Chick.  Romero tries to adjust to being married to Norma and has to deal with the problem of Rebecca and Bob’s safety deposit box.  Dylan discovers searching for work in Seattle is harder than he expected with nothing he can put on his resume.  A session with Dr. Edwards (Damon Gupton) has Edwards meeting “Mother”.

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“The Vault”

4.6       The Vault Airdate:  04/18/16

Chick is holding the knowledge that Caleb is Norma’s brother and the father of Dylan over Norma, and Norma might have to take deadly actions.  Romero finds a solution to the Rebecca problem as Norma seeks out Caleb (Kenny Johnson).  Dr. Edwards dives into Norma’s “Mother” persona and finds Norman has no knowledge of Mother’s actions.  A face off with Chick could mean Romero finds out everything about Norma’s past.

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“There’s No Place Like Home”

4.7       There’s No Place Like Home Airdate:  04/25/16

The discovery of a newspaper clipping has Norman learning of Norma’s marriage to Romero, and he isn’t happy about it.  Dylan looks into the disappearance of Emma’s mother Audrey and has bad suspicions about Norman’s involvement.  Norman is intent on getting out of Pineview and has a plan.

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4.8       Unfaithful Airdate:  05/02/16

Norman is home and he isn’t happy about Sheriff Romero’s new place in Norma’s life.  Dylan and Emma plan to move, and Dylan gets new perspective on his family.  Rebecca’s plans to head home to Indiana hit a roadblock.  With the heat down, Norman finds a new way to spy on Norma and Romero in the hotel and Romero gets an idea of how dangerous Norman can be.

bates motel season 4 episode 9 forever norma dead nestor carbonell vera farmiga


4.9       Forever Airdate:  05/09/16

Romero and Dylan debate going over Norma to have Norman committed…but Norma isn’t having any of it.  Norman has his own ideas for how to deal with the change in the relationship with his mother.

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4.10     Norman Airdate:  05/16/16

Norma is dead, and Norman is the prime suspect in Romero’s eyes.  As Romero tries to piece together evidence that Norman is guilty, the DEA start to move in on Romero.  Norman makes his grand rescue, and a visit from Chick could be a realization for Norman.

Related Links:

Bates Motel—Season 1 Review and Complete Episode Guide

Bates Motel—Season 2 Review and Complete Episode Guide

Bates Motel—Season 3 Review and Complete Episode Guide

Bates Motel—Season 5 Review and Complete Episode Guide

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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