Although Season 2 of ‘Bates Motel’ has been a step down from the impressive first season overall, the last few episodes have reminded us how good the show was last season. I’m happy to report that the finale doesn’t disappoint.
As the episode gets underway, Norman is still trapped inside the box that Nick Ford placed him in. Driving past Ford’s property, Sheriff Romero sees Dylan running out onto the road. Dylan doesn’t try to hide anything and confesses to the sheriff that he just killed Nick. The two then go back up to Ford’s house, where Romero finds the dead body and also hears noises upstairs. He finds one of Nick’s hired guns in the process of stealing some of Ford’s valuables. Romero points his gun at the man and demands to know where Norman is.
Romero and Dylan make their way to Norman’s location and, after a few minutes, are able to free him from the box and take him to the hospital. It isn’t long before Norma shows up to visit. In last week’s episode, Norman remembered killing Ms. Watson. He now tries to tell his mother about it, but she refuses to listen. Later, when the two return home and sit down for a meal together, Norman confesses to the murder. Norma still refuses to believe it, telling Norman that just because he’s having dreams about something doesn’t mean it really happened.
Jodi makes a call to her brother, Zane, and tells him that Dylan has killed Nick Ford. Zane asks Jodi what they’re going to do about Dylan, and Jodi tells him that Zane can do whatever he wants. She then asks him to come to the house. In the background, we see both Dylan and Romero listening to the conversation. They’ve set Zane up… but will he fall for their trap?
Later that evening when Zane is about to arrive, the power in Jodi’s house goes out. Did Zane cut it or did it just happen to go out? The episode never confirms one way or the other. Romero heads downstairs but instructs Jodi and Dylan to wait upstairs for him. Romero isn’t gone long before Jodi heads downstairs on her own and finds a knife. Dylan soon follows, but by the time he finds her, Zane’s already pointing a gun at Jodi and shoots her several times, killing her instantly. He then takes aim at Dylan, but Romero shows up, pointing his shotgun at Zane. “Remember when I told you I was going to burn you down?” Romero asks, then blasts Zane into oblivion.
Romero and Dylan then construct a story about what happened at the house. Dylan wants to know why Romero is helping him out, and Romero says that it’s likely Dylan will now take over White Pine Bay’s drug business, and he’d like someone in charge who understands the rules of the town – basically, how much illegal activity is acceptable, since both Nick Ford and Zane crossed over the line.
Back at the Bates’ house, Norman makes a list for himself, of which the last two items are “Emma” and “Mother.” Norman calls Emma down at the motel’s office and has her come up to the house. He apologizes for not telling her everything and then explains that Dylan is the result of Norma being raped by her brother when she was young, and that’s what they couldn’t tell her about previously. Norman then asks Emma to reconsider leaving town, and she says she’ll think about it.
After Emma is gone, Norman sneaks into his mother’s room and takes her gun out of a drawer. We already know that “Mother” is the last thing left on Norman’s list. Is he planning to off her?
Norma returns to the house to find Norman gone. He’s left a present for her – a taxidermied bird and a note telling her that he loves her. Norma goes down to the motel office to ask Emma if she’s seen him, and Emma states that she saw him heading out into the woods. Norman wasn’t going to hurt anyone but himself. He’s planning to commit suicide.
Racing into the woods, Norma is able to catch up with Norman. Norman screams that he doesn’t want to be who he is and wonders what really happened to his father. Norma tells her son that if he gives her the gun, she’ll tell him what really happened. He does, and Norma confesses that his father was cruel to her, and Norman was just protecting her when he killed him.
Norman’s problems aren’t quite over yet, however. Romero still insists that he take a lie detector test. Norman, Norma and Dylan all head to a building (I don’t think it’s the police station) where Romero’s friend, Declan, administers the test. Norman gets hooked up to the polygraph machine and Declan asks him some basic “calibration” questions, like “Is your name Norman Bates?”, and “Have you ever lied to someone you love?”. Norman answers yes to all.
When Declan gets to the important question, “Did you kill Blair Watson?”, Norman has another one of his psychotic breaks where he envisions his mother in the room with him. She tells him that he didn’t kill Ms. Watson… she did. As he snaps back to reality, Declan asks the question again: “Did you kill Blair Watson?” With a calm look on his face, Norman replies, “No.”
Declan exits the testing room to address Romero, Norma and Dylan, who have all been waiting outside. Declan tells them that Norman passed the test and that, in his opinion, he didn’t murder Blair Watson. Norma is elated. Meanwhile, back inside the room, Norman Bates (in a shot quite reminiscent of the end of Hitchcock’s original’ Psycho‘) looks straight at the camera with an ever-slight smug smile on his face.
Unlike last season, this finale doesn’t end on a cliffhanger. However, the series has been picked up and will return again this time next year. This finale episode is pretty solid, and seems to have wrapped up the drug gang storyline that bogged down many of the episodes this season. While it looks like Dylan might still be involved with selling marijuana to make a living in Season 3, hopefully that won’t be the basis for any major plotlines. Emma also looks like she might be back next year, which is good news. As for George (whom we didn’t see in the finale, although Norma has a nasty confrontation with his sister Christine at the supermarket), he survived the season. This means that not only did I lose my bet that he wouldn’t make it past this year’s finale, it’s quite possible we’ll see more of his character next year.
On a final side note, the finale – like this season’s premiere – was followed by a half-hour live interview show called ‘Bates Motel: After Hours’ with the cast and creator Carlton Cuse. If you’ve followed my recaps this year, you know that I was pretty critical about how awful host Carrie Keagan was the first time around. She showed no knowledge of the program whatsoever, and asked questions that were so stupid she made the actors squirm in their seats. This time, Keagan was replaced with Dave Holmes, and the result was a complete 180 from the previous show. Holmes obviously is a fan of the show and asked smart questions. The cast (and Cuse) were visibly much more at ease and seemed to be enjoying themselves. Kudos to A&E for doing this right the second time around.
See you next year!