Freddie Highmore is enjoying a terrific season on Bates Motel as future slasher, Norman Bates. In episode four of the fourth season, Lights of Winter, he runs an emotional gamut from determined and condescending at the beginning to broken and vulnerable by the end. In between, he also experiences another blackout and assumes his mother’s personality. This episode is really a showcase for the young actor and one that emphasizes the show’s strengths.
Following last episode’s revelation to Dr. Edwards (Damon Gupton), Norman naively assumes an imminent release from Pineview. When Julian (Marshall Allman) breaks him into a nurse’s office to use the phone, he tells Dylan, “The world has gone mad, but I’m not. I will be out of here today.” Dr. Edwards tells him that regardless of what is happening outside the facility, they must return to the work he came there to do.
However, Julian is planning an escape for later that evening and soon enough he and Norman are hitchhiking their way into town. Norman asks him if he thinks it’s safe to get into a car with a stranger and Julian replies, “We’re the crazy ones! Tonight we are going to have an amazing experience and nothing is going to stop that.” “Amazing” for Julian includes a trip to The Landing Strip, a strip club.
“You know what that feeling is?” asks Julian, “Freedom!” For Norman, we all know it’s bound to be something more than that. When confronted with sex, Norma (Vera Farmiga) usually appears, then Norman doesn’t remember what his mother may have done. In a private VIP room, Highmore is suddenly shirtless wearing a feather boa while Farmiga is kissing a stripper. Besides being incredibly entertaining, the consequences provide Norman his turning point.
With all the action, the episode still provides equal time to other stories. After a visit to see Emma (Olivia Cooke), Norma takes her advice to “try to let go a little.” Returning home, she puts a photo of Norman in her dresser drawer and gets all pretty to go to the winter festival with her new husband, Sheriff Romero (Nestor Carbonell). The morning after the consummation of their marriage is a little awkward, but neither one is sorry about what happened.
What may be the other main plot of the season really comes together in this episode. As Romero frequents the bank to set up a joint checking account, he gets continued pressure from Rebecca (Jaime Ray Newman) about the whereabouts of Bob Paris. It seems he left $3 million of laundered money in his safety deposit box and the second key is missing… but only for a short while. Of course, Romero finds it among the packages of cash he hid in Norma’s basement.
Then, the FBI contacts Romero to ask what he knows about Paris, Rebecca and laundered money. All the while, Rebecca also seems to also be jealous of her ex’s newfound happiness as a married man and, mark my words, is going to cause some trouble, perhaps be episode’s end… (I have a solution for her, though. Romero simply needs to arrange a sexy meeting between her and Norman! He might as well take full advantage of the resources available.)
Finally, Emma has decided to move to Seattle, which has the “best respiratory hospital,” as well as a college. She wants Dylan (Max Thieriot) to join her and he says, “If you want me to come, I’m going to go with you.” Learning of their relationship, which is now official, Norma tells Romero, “It’s weird how people aren’t at all together, then all of a sudden they are.” There’s double meaning in her observation, the one obvious point in an otherwise surprising episode.