‘Bates Motel’ 3.04 Recap: “Chaos Seems to Swirl Around You”

At the conclusion of last week’s episode of ‘Bates Motel’, Annika died in Norma’s arms, but not before she handed Norma a mysterious flash drive. In this week’s entry, the investigation into Annika’s murder begins and Norma tries to figure out the secrets behind what she’s been given.

Norman awakes in bed to the sounds and lights of police cars down at the motel. Sheriff Romero shows up shortly thereafter to begin his investigation and questions Norma in the motel’s office. However, Norma sees Norman standing outside over the body and runs out to him. Norman keeps repeating aloud, “Did I do it?” Dylan shows up as well, and Norma has him take Norman back up to the house.

The next morning, Romero sits in Norma’s kitchen and asks her questions about Annika. He wants to know what was so important that she would drive back to the motel suffering from a gunshot wound. Norma claims to have no idea. After Romero leaves, Norma asks Norman if he remembers anything that happened in the bathroom (where he tried to drown himself). Norman doesn’t, and Norma realizes that he’s had another one of his blackout episodes. Going to her room, Norma pulls the flash drive Annika gave her out of her bra. Inserting it into her laptop, she discovers that whatever is on the drive is password protected.

Norma goes to a local coffee shop, hoping that one of the college-aged kids that hang out there will be able to access the information on the flash drive. One kid looks at it and tells Norma that the encryption on it is pretty good and he’s not able to override it.

At the police station, Romero has learned a few things about Annika’s demise. First, the car she drove back to the motel was actually registered to the other dead girl, Lindsay, who was found floating face down a few episodes back. He also learns that Annika was shot about 20 minutes before she got to the motel. Romero then drives back up to the Arcanum Club to ask Bob Paris some more questions. Bob is just as unhelpful as he was the last time they talked, but he does seems interested to know if Romero found anything that Annika had with her at the time of her death.

Norma runs into psychology professor James Finnigan once again while in the college library looking through computer books. James asks her out for coffee. During their conversation, Norma confesses that she doesn’t trust Norman as much as she used to.

Norma drives back to the motel and sees Romero’s vehicle parked there. He’s been searching Annika’s hotel room and asks Norma if Annika had anything on her when she died. Norma says that she didn’t, and Romero immediately wants to know why Norma is lying to him. Norma heads back up to the house to find Norman in the kitchen preparing food for a picnic he’s going on with Emma. Norma tells Norman that he better not be using Emma to get back at her (which, of course, he is) and that he can’t sleep with Emma because of her heath condition – as it might kill her. Norma then goes to talk to Dylan and shows him the flash drive. Dylan tells her not to tell anyone else about it, but Norman overhears part of the conversation from outside the room.

Norman and Emma head out for their picnic, but it’s cold and raining, so they duck into an abandoned cabin, which honestly looks in better shape and cleaner than my apartment. Anyway, they build a fire in the fireplace and start cuddling and making out until Norman stops, telling Emma that his mother told him he shouldn’t have sex with her. Emma is insulted and storms out of the cabin.

Elsewhere, Romero meets with a “lady of the evening” who knew both Annika and Lindsay. She says that Lindsay was in a relationship with Bob Paris, but something happened that ticked her off and she seemed angry at him. She also says that Lindsay once asked her to join in a three-way with Bob. She had other commitments that night, so Annika took her place instead.

Up at his cabin, Dylan gets into an argument with Caleb after learning he went into town. (Dylan is worried that Norma or Norman will spot him… and, indeed, Caleb had to hide from Norma earlier in this episode.) During the verbal sparring, Caleb slips off the roof where he’s working and lands hard. He injures his hand, but refuses to go to the hospital because there’s a warrant out for his arrest. So, Dylan has to stitch up Caleb’s hand on his own. While Dylan is giving Caleb first aid, Caleb confesses his love for Norma and his desire to tell her that he’s sorry, regardless of whether she ever forgives him or not.

Later, Dylan heads back to the motel to find the office door open. Going inside, he finds some guy searching the room. Dylan pulls his gun on the intruder, but the man’s partner comes in from behind with his own weapon. The men leave without further incident, but Dylan runs up to the house to tell Norma she needs to give him the flash drive because the men will come back to look for it. Norma isn’t sure at first, but then gives it to him. Once again, Norman has overheard them talking and wants to know what’s going on. Dylan tells him to stay out of it.

Dylan heads back to the cabin, not aware that Norman is following him in Norma’s car. Inside the cabin, Dylan hides the flash drive inside a plug-in timer that he has in an outlet. Caleb shows up, and when they exit the house, Norman confronts them both. Norman swears that he’s going to tell Norma that he saw Caleb there, but Dylan runs after him and tackles him to the ground. Looking up at his older brother, Norman yells, “What are you going to do, kill me?!” Dylan lets him go, and Norman adds, “You’ve betrayed mother, and she needs to know!” Norman gets back in the car and speeds off.

After a couple of really strong episodes, this entry of ‘Bates Motel’ is probably the weakest of the four we’ve seen this season. Not a whole lot goes on in terms of story advancement. If there’s one thing I did appreciate, it’s the fact that the writers have found a way to insert Dylan into the murder mystery, as he’s now in possession of the flash drive. Otherwise, though, this episode was really about setting the pieces in place for what’s going to happen in future installments, rather than one where anything of significance actually happened.


  1. I felt too that this was more of a “build up” episode. Not much happened of interest except Dylan getting the flash drive and a few moments where he softens up about Norma. I’m guessing Caleb being wanted will play into the story eventually. Hopefully next Monday delivers the goods because I’d hate to see this show go into a long slog of boring episodes.

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