Finally, Rihanna makes her first official appearance as Marion Crane in episode 505 of Bates Motel, Dreams Die First. I don’t know that her acting is particularly noteworthy, but I will say I agree with Executive Producer Carlton Cuse, who said she will redefine the character and with Freddie Highmore (Norman) who said she “serves as a wonderful throwback to Psycho but at the same time is decidedly modern.”
The episode contains a television version of the classic Hitchcock movie’s introduction, ending with Marion driving in the rain toward the Bates Motel with a suitcase full of cash in her trunk. In essence, she’s acquired the money the same way as she did on the big screen, by stealing it from her employer rather than depositing in the bank as requested. Here, she thinks she can run off with Sam Loomis (Austin Nichols), who has kept his life in White Pine Bay hidden from her.
The rest of the episode is an entertaining mystery as Norman learns what he did during a blackout the previous night. In other episodes, we’ve seen these events as they happened, but in this one, we discover them along with Norman. We begin with him waking up alone in bed, Norma (Vera Farmiga) absent, and the car vanished. A matchbook for the White Horse Bar provides a clue for beginning to remember what occurred.
Revealing the details in this manner makes it possible that Norman has become fully aware of what’s happening to him, perhaps eliminating the persona of his mother as a separate person… at least temporarily. This theory is reinforced by a chance meeting with Dr. Edwards (Damon Gupton), who says he may have pushed his patient too far, too fast. Norman says he remembers that sometimes he sees his mother when she’s not there and sometimes he becomes her.
He repeats this in the car when he returns to the White Horse Bar for a second time. It’s a nightmarish scene when he enters, with customers saying things like, “That’s a new look for you” and asking “Did you get home all right last night?” During a surprising encounter in the bathroom, Norman seems to face facts as himself, rather than allowing Norma to emerge. To say the least, he’s a little rattled for what will likely be his encounter with Marion next week.
Norma and Farmiga aren’t the only ones missing from the episode. We don’t see Alex (Nestor Carbonell), either. We do, however, learn that Sheriff Greene (Brooke Smith) is aware that he’s on the run and heading toward White Pine Bay with a firearm. Her true suspicions aren’t revealed, but it’s obvious she will press Norman for the truth about what he knows, while at the same time warning him that if he provoked Alex, he may be coming for him.
In place of Norma and Alex, we actually see Dylan (Max Thieriot) and Emma (Olivia Cooke). They appear to be on the verge of joining the primary storyline when Emma first tells her husband that they should introduce their daughter to her grandmother. When he tells her about her mother’s earring, though, they have a huge fight. However, Emma later reads online that Norma has died, so I’m certain the issue of them returning to White Pine Bay will be resurrected.
After two weeks of disappointing episodes, Dreams Die First was a treat. As eager as I was for the Psycho storyline to commence, I now feel a little differently about it. We’re halfway through the final season and I don’t think it’s going to be the climax of the series; instead, I think Marion’s death may happen as early as next episode. Bates Motel is not only about the events of Psycho; for four years it had little to do with it. There are many other events to resolve before the end.