First You Dream, Then You Die
Season 1, Episode 1
Episode 1
Air date March 18, 2013
Written by Carlton Cuse, Kerry Ehrin & Anthony Cipriano
Directed by Tucker Gates
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"Nice Town You Picked, Norma..."
"First You Dream, Then You Die" is the series premiere of Bates Motel. It aired on March 18, 2013.


Norman and his mother Norma buy a run down motel and house following the death of his father. Norman fights with his mother and deals with high school parties, while his mother deals with a nosy sheriff and being stalked by the menacing former owner of the property.


Norman discovers his fathers body

As the movie 'His Girl Friday' plays on a TV, Norman Bates wakes up in his bedroom. He searches the house for his mother, but instead finds his father dead on the floor of the garage. Norman runs through the house, screaming for his mother, and finally finds her. She follows Norman into the garage, where she finds him crying over her husband's body.

Six months later, Norma buys a run down motel and the house behind it. Norman hates the idea of moving to White Pine Bay, but nevertheless, Norma happily presents the motel and house to Norman. She says moving here is their chance to start over, and he agrees to try. Afterwards, Norman carries luggage from the car into the house, and sees his mother in her robe through her bedroom window—he lingers.

Norman meets bradley and her friends

Before school the next day, Bradley Martin and several of her highly inquisitive friends meet Norman. Kennedy offers them all a ride to school in her car, in which Bradley sits in Norman's lap and tells him to call her with any questions he has about White Pine Bay High School. After language arts class, the teacher Blaire talks to Norman about his education and suggests he tries out for the track team.

Meanwhile, Norma receives a call from her other son Dylan Massett, who acts offended he was never told she moved. Norma hangs up on Dylan when she finds out the call was just to ask for money.

Norman comes home late, having tried out for the track team like his teacher suggested, but Norma says she needs him to be helping around the motel after school. She allows him to anyway, not wanting to be the mother who tells her kid he/she can't participate in something, yet saying she'll do the work by herself the way she always does and leaves Norman by himself.

Keith visits

Keith Summers visits the Bates the next day, saying Norma and Norman are too inexperienced with motels to be capable of running the motel by themselves, which his ancestors built and he's clearly still attached to. Norma says she and Norman own it now and tells him to get off her property. Before he does, Keith claims it has dirty secrets.

Bradley and her friends come over that night, inviting Norman to go to the library with them. Norma answers for him, saying he can't go; afterwards, Norman argues with his mother over her answering for him. Angry, he sneaks out and catches up with Bradley and her friends. She's amused that he actually believed they were going to go study, and the group goes to a party instead. There, Norman and Bradley flirt, but are interrupted by her boyfriend Richard Sylmore.

Norma kills keith

Back at the house, Keith breaks in, and Norma arms herself with a knife. Even with a weapon, Norma is overpowered. Keith bends her over the table, handcuffs her to it and rapes her. Norman returns home, knocks Keith over the head and frees his mother. As he recovers, Keith accuses Norma of enjoying the assault; infuriated, Norma charges at Keith and stabs him until he's dead. Norma says they can't let this kind of news go public, so she explains to Norman how they'll cover it up.

Sheriff and deputy at the motel

They wipe down the kitchen, carry the wrapped up body into one of the motel rooms and hide it in the bathtub. Part of the rug was stained with blood in the process, so they're forced to pull up the rugs from several of the rooms, under one of which Norman finds a strange sketchbook. The sheriff Alex Romero and his deputy Zack Shelby arrive at the motel, and Norma and her son act like everything's fine. Not convinced, the sheriff asks if he can take a look inside one of the rooms, then if he can use the bathroom, in the tub of which is the dead body. Even after Norma tries telling him the toilet's not functional, he uses it anyway, saying you just have to jiggle the chain. He never notices the body behind the shower curtain, and the two policeman leave.

Norman is sleep deprived and a mess the next day, vomiting in front of the school. He is approached by Emma Decody, who explains she has cystic fibrosis so she knows how to help.

Dumping keiths body

That night, Norma and Norman dispose of Keith's body, taking it out on a boat with them. As they row away from the docks, Norma tells her son she found out the town is going to build a new bypass on the far side of town, which is going to ruin their business. When she concludes she's done nothing for her son, Norman explains she's everything to him. Finally deep enough into the lake, the two dump the weighted body into the water.

The next day, Norma happily watches as the "Seafairer Motel" sign in front of the motel is taken down and the "Bates Motel" sign is put up. She excitedly shows it to Norman, and is pleased to report that the bypass is no longer going to be built.

In a dark room, a young woman is chained to the floor, and someone walks in and injects her.


Main Cast

Guest Stars

Also Starring


  • This episode was watched by 3.04 million viewers, making it the most watched episode of Season 1.
  • Although credited, Max Thieriot (Dylan Massett) does not appear physically in the episode. 
  • At the start of the episode before Norman finds his father's body there is a shot of photos of birds on the wall. This is a reference to Psycho as pictures of birds adorn the walls of the motel.
  • While getting a box out of the car Norman sees Norma at the window dressed only in her lingerie and gown. This is another reference to the movie where he becomes a peeping tom.
  • The piece of music that Norman listens to on his MP3 player while waiting at the bus stop is Beethoven's Symphony No. 3 Op 5 'Eroica'. In Psycho, Norman has this song on his record player.
  • Norman is referred to by Bradley as a "deep, still lake," a line which the writers meant as a treat for fans of Psycho, because Norman dumps the bodies of his victims in a swamp near the motel.
  • Keith Summer's presence is similar to that of Marion Crane in Psycho. He is an antagonist but like Marion in the film he does not stay around for long.
  • The butcher knife that Norma uses to kill Keith Summers is the same kind that Norman will use in his future killings in Psycho.
  • Norma telling Romero that the toilet in the motel bathroom does not work is another Psycho reference. In the movie, Marion tears up her letter and flushes it down the toilet. The film was the first to depict a flushing toilet onscreen.
  • As of Season 5 episode The Convergence of the Twain it is revealed that the majority of this season took place in 2012 due to Norman being 17 years old.


Song Title Performer(s)
Symphony No. 3 Op 55. "Eroica" Ludwig van Beethoven
Beasts of Burden The Rolling Stones
Symphony No. 3 Op 55. "Eroica" Ludwig van Beethoven
Wham Bam Clooney
Rival Black Rebel Motorcycle Club
The Tourist Radiohead



Season 1
#101 "First You Dream, Then You Die" #106 "The Truth"
#102 "Nice Town You Picked, Norma..." #107 "The Man in Number 9"
#103 "What's Wrong With Norman" #108 "A Boy and His Dog"
#104 "Trust Me" #109 "Underwater"
#105 "Ocean View" #110 "Midnight"
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