Bates Motel 1.04 Recap: “How Those New Linens Working Out for You?”

Good news for fans of ‘Bates Motel’. Shortly before Monday night’s episode aired, A&E announced that the network has already renewed the series for a second season. This means that those of you on the borderline about whether to dive into the show or not can rest assured that any unresolved plot twists this season will not go unanswered. Now, let’s take a look at Episode 4, ‘Trust Me’. (Spoilers to follow.)

The episode opens with a quick flashback to the last episode, with Norman making the decision (via a delusion of his mother instructing him) to go to Deputy Shelby’s home and find the tool belt that Norman took from Keith Summers, the former owner of the motel whom Norma stabbed and killed in the pilot episode. During this flashback, however, we see that Norman’s half-brother Dylan followed him to Shelby’s house. There, he provides a distraction so Norman can escape from the basement.

Of course, while in the basement, Norman had discovered a bound Chinese girl, which implied that Shelby was part of the sex trafficking ring that Norman and his friend Emma unraveled previously. As Norman makes his escape from the basement, the young girl begs him to take her with him, but Norman struggles to leave her behind. Dylan isn’t close enough to see Norman with anyone, which leaves the question of whether Norman saw anyone in the basement at all, or was having another one of his delusions.

Norman attempts to tell Emma about the events at Shelby’s home, but instead runs into her father, who tells Norman that Emma has come down with the flu, and due to her cystic fibrosis may not be out of the house for several weeks.

Meanwhile, Norma Bates continues her relationship with Deputy Shelby, as the two use one of the motel rooms for an afternoon romp. Later, Norman tells Norma that he doesn’t trust Shelby, and tells his mom about the young girl he saw in the deputy’s house. Norma doesn’t believe Norman and tells him about the delusions he sometimes has. However, when she has a sleep-over at Shelby’s later in the episode, she decides to sneak into the basement and check things out. There she finds… absolutely nothing.

The crew of a fishing boat discovers the severed hand of Keith Summers, and Sheriff Romero brings Norma in for questioning, although she continues to deny having anything to do with the man’s disappearance. Norman gets a text message from Bradley (whose father’s death from his burning accident was confirmed earlier in the episode) and pays a visit to her house where they seemingly consummate their relationship (or is it another delusion from Norman?). Back at the motel, the police arrive to arrest Norma for the murder of Keith Summers.

Although Episode 4 ends with Norma’s arrest, I’m not sure that it provides as many twists and turns as previous entries in the series, and thus comes off as the weakest of the ‘Bates Motel’ episodes we’ve seen to date. The big question that this one presents is whether Norman is or isn’t having a delusion about the girl in Shelby’s basement. There’s evidence for both sides: His mother doesn’t find anything, but Norman seems to have a bruise on his ankle from where the girl tried to stop him from leaving her behind.

If Norman really did have a delusional vision of the girl, how can viewers trust any scene they see him in from this point forward? Did he really make out with Bradley, or was that a delusion too? Hopefully, the writers don’t use Norman’s visions as a way of getting out of any plot developments that this show presents in the future, as that may be a sure-fire way of alienating whatever fan base this series has managed to build.

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