‘Bates Motel’ 4.08 Recap: “Certain Things Can Never Change”

It’s home sweet home on ‘Bates Motel’ this week, as Norman returns to his creepy old house on the hill. He isn’t back 24 hours before he starts proving to those around him that maybe he should have never been released from Pineview.

The episode begins in the middle of the night, as Norma awakens to discover that the furnace isn’t working and they have no heat in the house. She goes to check on Norman, who’s also freezing. Norman makes a crack about perhaps being able to warm up over their new large-screen TV – not the first snarky remark he’ll make about Norma’s relationship with Alex this episode. Norma isn’t quite ready to admit to Norman that her marriage is one of romance and not just convenience. Norman asks if it’s okay if he spends the rest of the night in bed with his mom to stay warm, and she agrees.

Rebecca Hamilton (I thought we’d seen the last of her) is at the airport ready to fly to Indianapolis when DEA agents detain her. They take her to a room for questioning and tell her that they suspect her of laundering money for Bob Paris. However, the person they really want is Alex Romero. Looks like Rebecca might cut a deal with the Feds and give up the goods on her former lover.

Norman goes to visit Alex at the police station and tells the sheriff that he plans to get a job and pay for his own insurance so that Alex can divorce his mother. Meanwhile, Norma stops in town to pick up some space heaters (she’s been told the repairman can’t come for another 24 hours) when she runs into Dylan. She lets him know that Norman has returned home and suggests that he and Emma come by that night so the four of them can go get the family Christmas tree.

When Dylan and Emma arrive that evening, Emma goes to see Norman in his room. Norman tells her how happy he is for her and Dylan. (Yeah, right!) The four then go Christmas tree shopping, but when they get to the sales lot, a verbal argument breaks out between Norma and Norman when they start discussing her relationship with Romero. When Norma confesses to Norman that she likes Alex, his reaction is to gag and throw up.

The four bring the tree back to the house, but Dylan and Emma need to get going. Norma asks them to come back and say goodbye to Norman before they head off to Seattle (which, no doubt, will be a mistake they regret). Norma decides that since the heat is still off in the house, she and Norman should spend the night down in the motel, which would have been a good idea before she went and spent all that money on heaters, eh? Norma takes the room right next to the hotel office, while Norman goes way down on the other end of the building.

Not long after turning in for the night, Norman hears a vehicle outside and sees Sheriff Romero arrive. When he enters the room Norma is staying in, Norman sneaks down to the hotel office, then drills a hole in the wall behind a framed picture so that he can spy on the two making out. Not only is this incredibly creepy, it’s a nod toward the original ‘Psycho‘, where Norman uses the same hole in the wall to spy on the Janet Leigh character. So this scene is a bit of foreshadowing as well – although it’s unlikely this series will ever re-create those moments, as the story told here will probably end before those events occur.

While the above is going on, Dylan returns Emma home and the two of them finally consummate their relationship. Yes, this season is not going to end well for one or both of these characters. The more likely one to be offed is, of course, Emma, since actress Olivia Cooke is on the verge of becoming a movie star. (She’s currently filming the Steven Spielberg adaptation of ‘Ready Player One’.) But don’t be shocked if both characters get the axe.

Speaking of axes, the final scenes of this week’s episode take place in the Bates house. Alex has been invited over for a family dinner. Norman once again mentions how he plans to get a job in order to pay for his own insurance, and then berates Norma over the fact that she’s spent her whole life coddling him and then acts surprised when he resists the change that’s taking place with her and Alex. (He actually has a good point about this.) He storms outside and releases his inner rage by chopping firewood with an axe. Alex goes out to talk with him – which is not the smartest move the sheriff has ever made. Norman threatens Romero with the axe, but eventually just takes out his frustration on the storage shed alongside the house. Norman returns inside and rushes up to his room. Alex also returns inside the house, where he tells Norma he has no intention of leaving her there alone for the night.

Norman obviously needs to be sent directly back to Pineview. Do not pass Go! Do not collect $200. However, we all know that Norma is too stupid to make that happen, and she’ll no doubt pay for that by losing one or more people close to her by the time this season comes to an end. (Of course, we all know she’s not getting out of this series alive, either.) Earlier in this week’s entry, when the furnace guy came to fix the heat, there was a throwaway line about a crack in the furnace that might have gassed the whole house. Norman was listening in on the conversation, so I wonder if that will come into play in the season finale.

Only two episodes to go. I would love to hear readers’ theories on which characters – if any – Norman will kill before this season closes out.


  1. JPChristie_77

    I just wanted to say in passing I read your reviews of Bates Motel and it is a shame nobody ever comments on them. Anybody who watches this show knows it is one of the best on television but has never (and will probably never) get its just due either by an audience, media (see how hard it is to find reviews of this show compared to other weekly dramas), or critics (outside of Vera Farmiga’s 1st season acting nod). Give A&E all the credit in the world for granting this series the 5 season run the producers always intended to tell this story. The actors bring it every week and Freddie Highmore has been nothing short of phenomenal this year with his multi-layered performance. No secret someone(s) is going to kick the can in the next couple of weeks. When the season started I thought it would be Norma rather than waiting until the last minute next season to end the series that way since everyone knows her fate anyway. However I now think Romero is the most likely candidate because Norma would help cover it up for the sake of Norman whereas it wouldn’t work the other way around. I don’t think both Dylan and Emma will both get it but probably Dylan. I can see them going off to Seattle and then Dylan being brought back before the end of next season, especially if Norma goes missing (i.e. she died). However I also have had a sneaking suspicion Emma’s mom’s body will turn up before the end of the season which will keep Dylan and Emma from leaving. Keep in mind Norma has one of her earrings that the construction worker gave her and Dylan already suspects Norman had a hand in whatever happened to her so there are a lot of ways that can go. Lots to cram in only 2 more episodes. Thanks for the reviews– I would urge anybody who doesn’t watch Bates Motel to make room for it ASAP.

    • Al

      This is the best comment on this blog, in a long time! I’m so glad you posted it. This show is utterly outstanding and it breaks my heart that it doesn’t receive its due. I’m very grateful for HDD’s continuing efforts to recap it.

  2. I agree with JP Christie. This is a fantastic show and your reviews/recaps are top notch. I personally feel that this has been the best season in the show’s run and am confident it will continue on this upward trajectory. I’m also confident Norma is going to pass away before the close of this season.

  3. Chaz

    Yep, this has slowly gotten to the top of my list of favorite shows, Highmore is simply amazing in this show. When he loses it a couple of episodes back and screams at Norma, while half crying, hating her, etc. It was phenomenal acting. Hard to believe I loved this kid in stuff like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and then to see him here? Its a night and day difference, he deserves some high profile movie jobs after this show is done, really everyone has been great on this show, I’ve loved all the characters, they are well developed and the build up to the inevitable ending we know will come has been fantastic.

    Amazing show and it needs to be watched

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