Bates Motel (2013–2017)
6 user 9 critic

What's Wrong with Norman 

Dylan starts his new job and there is more to Deputy Shelby, than meets the eye.


Paul A. Edwards (as Paul Edwards)


Carlton Cuse (developed for television by), Kerry Ehrin (developed for television by) | 3 more credits »

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Episode complete credited cast:
Vera Farmiga ... Norma Louise Bates
Freddie Highmore ... Norman Bates
Max Thieriot ... Dylan Massett
Olivia Cooke ... Emma Decody
Nicola Peltz ... Bradley Martin
Diana Bang ... Jiao
Nestor Carbonell ... Sheriff Alex Romero
Terry Chen ... Ethan Chang
Keegan Connor Tracy ... Miss Watson
Mike Vogel ... Deputy Zack Shelby
Peter Bryant ... Doctor Levine
Scott Patey ... Omar
Angela Moore ... Nurse


Emma is obsessing over their inadvertent discovery of the marijuana field and is convinced the sketch in the journal Norman found in room 4 - a girl being killed and then buried in the woods - is real. They find a Chinese symbol drawn under the sink.Dylan starts his new $300 a day job - guarding those same the same marijuana fields.Norman collapses at school but all of the medical tests are negative. Sheriff Romero arrives at the Bates' home with a search warrant and Norman can't find Keith Summer's belt. Norma gets in touch with Deputy Zack Shelby who helps her out. After an imaginary conversation with his mother, Norman decides to take matters into his own hands and heads off to Shelby's house. He's not quite prepared for what he finds. Written by garykmcd

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


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Release Date:

1 April 2013 (USA) See more »

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This episode was watched by 2.8 million viewers. See more »


(at around 18 mins) When Emma drags her oxygen cart up the front stairs of the Bates' house, the dramatic camera angle takes in the full width of the house, and it appears extremely narrow. Given that the front door is about 3 feet wide, the whole house is clearly less than 25 feet wide. There is also a long shot of the house in the previews, and we can see that the house is actually wider than it is deep. And yet there are in-door shots showing rooms that are much larger than this. See more »


Dylan Massett: Can I give you some advice? You gotta cut that shit out. "Mother?" It's just weird.
Norman Bates: It's just a habit. I guess calling your mom a "whore" is perfectly normal...
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References Deliverance (1972) See more »

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User Reviews

Believe me, the missing question mark in the title of this episode is the least of this programme's flaws
13 September 2014 | by axel-kochSee all my reviews

»What's wrong with Norman?« would definitely be something I'd ask if Norman Bates was an orthodox TV character that had been introduced only two episodes ago. But since I'm referring to the Norman Bates that regards murdering residents of his motel in the shower and subsequently dumping them into a swamp as the essential constituents of a pleasant Saturday evening, making an unheralded tour through some bloke's house to recover a belt and then chancing onto what looks to be a sex slave is hardly worth a mention. Although, it actually kind of is, as Bates Motel uses it to demonstrate that it has remained the partially brainless programme we all remember not quite so dearly from its first two acts. I'll return to this subject matter in a twinkling, yet not to the question posed in the title of this episode because, believe it or not, there's this little flick called Psycho that explains it rather neatly.

Its prequel, Bates Motel, sensibly dedicates this instalment to character development in lieu of superfluous violence, which is especially exciting with regard to Norman, who is experiencing hallucinations of Norma conversing with him for what appears to be the first time. Blackouts, however, are evidently something that the young Mr Bates is familiar with, as is manifested through him being unable to recollect anything about making an effort to bump off his half- brother in the previous episode. In view of that, I can very well picture the programme revealing at some point that Norman is in fact behind the death of his father. That would elucidate his being so frantic when awaking at the beginning of the pilot before having actually discovered his old man in the garage, but would also change the concept of Bates Motel, which I took to be an explanation for Norman's descent into insanity, into simply showing a disturbed mind at work.

Until my hypothesising is proved veracious or fallacious, I'll limit myself to commending Freddie Highmore's acting, which noticeably improves with every new episode. Nevertheless, there is an unmissable qualitative disparity between the scenes set in the Bates household, for instance Dylan and Norman's tête-à-tête in the sitting room, and any other moment of "What's Wrong With Norman". I'm not dramatising; there is clumsiness to be found in either writing, acting, or directing at truly every other point of the episode, from Norman talking to his lady friends, Norma necking with Bad Pun Cop, to Dylan shooting pheasants with the guy crying at strip clubs.

Unsurprisingly, I'm not a devotee of clumsiness, but, and this is doubtful to cause significant fluctuations in the surprise department, I wholeheartedly prefer it over whatever it was that this programme was doing at the closing stages of "What's Wrong With Norman". This, let it be noted, excludes Norman's imagination ordering him to implement Operation Belt, and includes everything that takes place from that point on. Firstly, if Shelby cracking jokes as dreadful as "the air in Arizona" hadn't made him dubious enough already, there's the Detective Story 101 rule that the person about whom every feature seems to be wonderful is hiding a skeleton in their cupboard – or their hidden rape room in the basement, in this case. While this is also something I could've lived with (to be clear: I'm speaking of the lazy plot device, not the rape room), the pseudo-suspenseful manner, in which director Paul Edwards sets this really not very stately twist up eventually stopped me from granting the episode a positive grade.

"What's Wrong With Norman" then ends with a cliffhanger about as thrilling as the ones from Planet Earth, owing to the terribly restricted potential outcomes for Norman. The audience being able to rely upon characters retaining the degree of bodily soundness and aliveness that is displayed in the source material is just an unpreventable drawback of doing a prequel. But I shan't lose faith in Bates Motel that easily – after all, this episode did reveal a glimpse of how good it could still become.

Twelve cabins, eight notations: • I'll go out on a limb here and assume that Dylan doesn't tuck a napkin into his collar when eating. • If Bates Motel would ever want to get phenomenally self- referential, how about having Norman watch a film starring Anthony Perkins? • Norma has a blue case for her mobile phone – how old is she? 15? • Furthermore, how did she not see Bradley walking right next to her? Does she have tunnel vision? • »You can't just walk into my house.« - »Actually we can.« - If nothing else, Sheriff Romero is made a bit less bland in this episode before it inevitably transpires that he is the 'good cop' in White Pine Bay. • Unless you're ministered to in Pandora, blue-labial doctors are decidedly terrifying. • »Mother?« - »Nope, it's just Chuck Testa.« • In keeping with the mother subject, Dylan has become a hundred times more likable by being the first character on this programme to tell Norman how ridiculous he sounds when calling his mother that way.

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