Continuing on from our review of the Bates Motel premiere, “First You Dream Then You Die,” we thought we’d run a magnifying glass over the various easter eggs and other items that caught our eye, in Bates Motel Observations, Episode 1.
SCENE WITHIN A SCENE
- The opening scene sees Norman wake up to the 1940 film His Girl Friday playing on an old TV. With Bates Motel being a contemporary prequel of an old classic, this is a neat wink.
- As for the movie itself, it’s about a newspaper editor who uses all sorts of tricks to keep his top reporter ex-wife from remarrying.
- The scene that Norman wakes up to relates to his situation with his mother, parallels his desire for a bit of separation, and possibly foreshadows the future. Here’s the dialog:
Walter: She deserves all this happiness, Bruce. All the things I couldn’t give her. Yeah, all she ever wanted was a home.
Bruce: Well, I’ll certainly try to give her one.
Walter: I know you will, Bruce. Where are you gonna live?
Walter: Albany, huh? Got a family up there then?
Bruce: No, just my mother.
Walter: ‘Just your mother.’ Oh, you’re gonna live with your mother?
Bruce: Well, just for the first year.
- As well as the classic LOST eye-shot we also get what we call the ‘Hurley Bird’s-eye view’.
- Norman seems to sense that something is wrong — or is he just remembering that he killed his father? It’s left open to interpretation, but it’s noticeable that he seems to stagger down the hallway. Did his father hurt him? Did Norman take retribution?? Did Norma???
- Norman calls out for Norma first. When she eventually emerges from the shower, her reaction is a knowing one. She comforts Norman as though he’s responsible. It’s as though she’s trying to convince him that he did it. Again, it’s left open to interpretation, though even if she did it, I’m guessing she’d say she was protecting Norman.
- I wouldn’t be surprised if Norman and Norma haven’t ever spoken about who actually did it.
- What’s also interesting is how the episode title — “first you dream, then you die” — informs this scene (and the story in general) given that we’re introduced to Norman just as he’s waking up. As we see, Norma’s dream of starting over soon turns into something of a nightmare. Was the dream ever ‘real’ to begin with?
- This reflects Norman’s suggestion about never really being able to move on and bringing one’s baggage from place to place. In that case, Norma and Norman must have fairly deep dream reservoirs.
- This in turn places a question on the motel itself, which you could say has soaked up the baggage of its previous owners and occupants and makes it a character in its own right.
- An iconic image reimagined. Through Norman the audience becomes the voyeur.