"First You Dream, Then You Die" is the first episode of Bates Motel.
Norman Bates (Freddie Highmore) wakes up in his bedroom. He searches the house for his mother, Norma Bates (Vera Farmiga) 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.
Before school the next day, Bradley Martin (Nicola Peltz) 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 Miss Watson 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 (Max Thieriot), 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 liks 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 Summers (W. Earl Brown) 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 friend Richard Slymore (Richard Harmon).
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.
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 (Nestor Carbonell) and his deputy Zack Shelby (Mike Vogel) 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 policemen leave.
Norman is sleep deprived and a mess the next day, vomiting in front of the school. He is approached by Emma Decody (Olivia Cooke), who explains she has cystic fibrosis so she knows how to help.
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
- Vera Farmiga as Norma Bates
- Freddie Highmore as Norman Bates
- Max Thieriot as Dylan Massett
- Nicola Peltz as Bradley Martin
- Nestor Carbonell as Sheriff Alex Romero
- Mike Vogel as Deputy Zack Shelby
- Keegan Connor Tracy as Miss Blair Watson
- Terry Chen as Ethan Chang
- Diana Bang as Jiao