There’s something so natural about the progression of each of the characters and their journeys in Bates Motel, but especially that of Norman Bates (Freddie Highmore). We’ve seen him descend deep into his mind. We’ve seen him speak to “Norma,” even though she’s not quite there. We’ve seen him spy on women as they undress. All characteristics of Norman Bates from Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho on which this show is based. But we have never seen him kill someone under the assumption that his mother was doing it, not him. That is, until this episode.
Before getting into all the depressing storylines, which seems to make up the entire show, let’s start with the happy and most hopeful ones: Dylan (Max Thieriot) using his money to get Emma (Olivia Cooke) bumped up higher on the transplant list. Emma actually receives the news from her dad that she’ll be getting a new set of lungs that very day and although she questions how she moved up so quickly, she never does find out that it was Dylan who’s given her a second chance at life. Transplants aren’t as easy as they sound, which is why Emma’s very hesitant to go through with the process. Before actually leaving for the hospital, she heads to Dylan’s weed farm to get away, in a sense, and clear her head. Try to think through her options.
Dylan finds her there, worriedly mulling the news over. At first, he doesn’t understand why she’s not already on her way to the hospital until she explains the complications in the transplant process. She could reject the lungs and then have wasted her short life on those lungs. As she gets more worked up about the issue and her lack of control on her own life, she starts to cry and walk away to avoid Dylan’s gaze. She thinks she looks ridiculous when she cries, but Dylan tells her that she’s the least ridiculous he’s ever known, she’s wiser than most people twice her age, and the bravest person he knows. She’s a warrior.
This is so important for Emma. We’ve seen her in past relationships with both Norman and Gunner in which she was never treated with as much respect or care as she should have gotten. She’s always been the one to completely invest herself into those relationships while not getting the same in return. With Dylan and Emma, we have this mutual understanding and empathy. I’ve said it before. They’ve been outsiders of the Norman and Norma relationship/family and had tried to fit their way into it, that they never noticed the other was feeling the same way until this season. But together, they don’t have to worry about being outsiders. After their glorious kiss, they break apart and laugh because it seems somewhat incredible that through all this stress with Norman and health and what’s to come, they still found each other. Their happiness, however fleeting, remains even when Emma agrees to do the transplant and the worries kick in.
Moving onto another pair of lovers, Bradley (Nicola Peltz) and Norman, Bradley’s planning on leaving with Norman and thousands of money and jewelry she stole from her mother’s house. The only problem is that Norman isn’t really into the idea because he can’t leave Mother. He quickly changes his mind when Norma (Vera Farmiga) tells him that she’s thinking of sending him to therapists and doctors because she wants him to be safe. He takes this as her giving up on him and angrily storms off.
That night, Romero (Nestor Carbonell) pays Norma a visit to not apologize about turning the USB to the DEA, but to tell her that he is sorry he can’t protect her. She doesn’t believe it’s his fault at all. It’s bigger than the both of them. Her only fear is that because Bob Paris knows that Norman killed his father, he might tell the police about it and then they’d imprison Norman for defending her. And in the most foreshadow-y way, Norma says, “Maybe fate wins here. We’re all doomed in the end, right?” And they are. Most of these character’s fates have already been set in stone.
While on his way to arrest Paris with other DEA members, Romero’s already made up his mind after talking to Norma. He gives Paris a call and alerts him to get out of the area because they’ll be there for him in a few minutes. He does this for Norma. He only cares for Norma. The one thing he ended up doing that wasn’t for Norma – turning Paris in – jeopardizes her safety and happiness if anything were to happen to Norman. He doesn’t want that. He risks his career for her.
Paris doesn’t get away that easily though. Romero meets up with him at the place he knew he would run to. His boat. There’s no way Romero can let Paris just “start over” because he still has this vital information about Norma’s life that could be used. Despite Paris’ protestations that he’ll be a changed man and forget about all that, Romero doesn’t believe that. Paris catches onto why Romero’s doing this. It’s for Norma’s benefit. His last words are, “Right now, you are more like your dad than you ever have been. This is about you and what you want. How does that feel? To have spent your whole life trying to get away from someone you hate, only to turn into them?” before Romero shoots him to death.
Norman’s still angry from before and has decided that he’s going to be running away with Bradley. After telling Norma this, she assumes that he’s really gone crazy now because from what she knows, Bradley committed suicide a few months ago. As they’re going down the stairs, Norma grabs onto his suitcase to try to keep him from leaving, but Norman pushes her down the stairs. Completely afraid of him now, she knocks him out with her heel and ties him up in the basement. Dylan comes home just in time to help her deal with him, but when they head down to check on him, he’s gone!
Norman’s joined up with Bradley and they start driving to who knows where. As soon as Norman sees the sign: Leaving White Pine Bay, it’s like something clicks and Mother appears. She wants to stop the car, so she can get a chance to talk to Bradley. Norman forces the car into the ditch and becomes Mother. She’s angry at Bradley for seducing Norman into leaving her. As Norman walks out of the car and goes around to the other side, we see him actually become Norma. She pulls Bradley out of the car and chases her down. She repeatedly beats Bradley’s head onto a rock until it cracks. Once Bradley’s dead, we see Norman again with blood on his hands, saying, “Mother, what have you done?”
Under the complete assumption that he did nothing, he stows Bradley into the trunk of her car and drives the car into the river. While he watches it sink, Mother appears again and validates what “she” did. Bradley was going to take him away from her and she couldn’t let that happen. They belong together. There’s a cord between their hearts.
In a very marital fashion, Norma makes him promise that he won’t ever tell anyone about their little secret. He responds with an “I do.” When we pull back we see Norma isn’t really there. Norman’s alone, watching the car sink deep deep down.
- I feel so much for Dylan when he finds out that Caleb’s gone. Finding out the truth about where he comes from was such a rollercoaster for him and he just now got his family back together again. And yet, very quickly, it’s torn away from him again.
- It must’ve been so satisfying for Nicola Peltz to smash the golf club into the mirror at Bradley’s mother’s house. It was a perfect hit.
- I’ve been wanting Dylan and Emma to happen since Season 1 and they’re so cute and flustered after they kiss. And did you see their tongues?! I’m sorry, I can’t think straight. It’s just so odd to get happiness on such a dark show.
- That Norma and Romero talk was such foreshadowing, like I said, but it pains me to hear Norma say this. Knowing the way these characters are going to end up is so chilling. It’s scary to know what they haven’t known all along.
- Great closing song: “Be My Baby” by The Ronettes