The season finale of ‘Bates Motel’ turns out to be more of a slow burn that an action-packed endeavor, but rest assured that the ending, while perhaps predictable, doesn’t disappoint.
The ending also seems to finally confirm that Norman Bates has gone past the point of no return when it comes to his psychological state.
The episode gets underway with Dylan arriving at the Bates’ house to find the guitar that Caleb dropped off for him. Norma explains that Caleb stopped by to leave it, and Dylan is pretty upset that he just took off without saying goodbye. Norma also tells Dylan that she’s planning to check out a local mental facility that might be able to help Norman. It’s not so much a hospital as an estate house with psychological services, so Norma hopes she’ll be able to talk Norman into going there. However, when she visits and finds out how much the place costs, she seems concerned. Does Norma not have health insurance for Norman? This episode never confirms or denies that question.
Emma’s Dad tells her that he got a call from a hospital in Portland which has a new set of lungs to transplant into her. Instead of being excited, however, Emma becomes depressed and sneaks out of the house. Once her Dad sees she’s missing, he gives Dylan a call and asks if he knows where she might have gone. Sure enough, Emma is waiting for Dylan up at his cabin, where she confesses that she’s afraid to die and believes the transplant might go wrong. Finally, after weeks of lead-up, the two share a kiss. Emma calms down and becomes more positive about the operation. After all, she now has something to live for.
While Emma was running away from her home, Bradley was breaking back into hers – stealing jewelry and money from her mom and then taking a golf club and smashing up the rest of the place. Returning to the motel, she once again tries to convince Norman to come with her when she leaves town. Norman refuses, though Bradley tells him where to meet her if he changes his mind.
Alex Romero comes to visit Norma at the motel, primarily to apologize for not being able to protect her against all the Bob Paris stuff that has gone on this season. It’s still obvious that Alex has romantic feelings for Norma, but it’s equally obvious that she’s not interested in him at all. Alex leaves the motel and joins his police force and the DEA on their way to bust Bob Paris. However, Alex phones Paris in advance and warns him. Paris is nowhere to be found when the DEA busts down the door to his house.
It turns out that Alex warned Bob so he can deal with the man himself. Alex finds him down on the docks attempting to make a getaway in a boat. Alex makes it clear to Bob that it’s not going to end well for him. Bob tells him that he’s no better than Alex’s father, which results in Romero firing three bullets into Paris, killing him instantly.
After learning about his mother’s intentions to commit him to a psychiatric institution, Norman runs upstairs to pack his bags. Norma asks where he’s going, and Noman says he’s going off with Bradley. Of course, Norma believes that Bradley is dead, so she thinks Norman is having another delusion. The two get in an argument and Norman knocks his mother down the stairs. However, she recovers and knocks Norman out from behind. She then drags his body down to the basement, ties him up, and locks him down there.
Norma then calls Dylan to come to the house, saying that Norman has freaked out and is scaring her. Dylan gets there in a short amount of time, but when he goes to check on Norman in the basement, he’s already escaped through one of the basement windows. When Norma tells Dylan what Norman was saying about Bradley, Dylan explains that Bradley is still alive and that Norman may very well have been telling her the truth. The two decide to go look for him.
Norman meets Bradley at her rendezvous point, but the two don’t travel very far when Norman has a vision of Faux-Norma sitting in the back seat of the car. Norman tells Bradley that his mother wants to talk to her and forces her to pull over. In a very effective piece of editing (which reminded me of the way that Killer BOB inhabited people on ‘Twin Peaks‘) Norman turns into Norma as he circles around the back of the car to the driver’s side door and drags Bradley out. He/she then bashes Bradley’s head over and over again on a large rock until Bradley Martin dies. Norman puts her body in the trunk of her car, drives to a nearby lake, and pushes the car into the water. Norman is then joined by Faux-Norma, who hugs her son and tells him that they’ll always be together. The end credits roll to the tune of “Be My Baby” by the Ronettes.
While this final episode doesn’t offer any real surprises (I wasn’t shocked at all that Bradley got killed off; it seemed to be the only logical reason to bring the character back onto the show), it does leave me with a couple of lingering questions: First and foremost, was the pit being dug outside the motel by Bob Paris just a big red herring? I thought for sure it would play a significant role in the finale, but it’s not even mentioned or (I believe) seen in this season ender. And with Bob now dead, any intention he had for the pit will probably never be known. Speaking of Mr. Paris, how smart was it for Alex to call Bob minutes before the DEA arrived? Surely the Feds are going to see that call on Bob’s phone records.
As of this writing, A&E has still not announced whether ‘Bates Motel’ will be renewed for a fourth season or not. I expect we’ll hear something before the end of the month. The show certainly deserves to come back, as I’m sure most fans would consider this past season to be the best the show has had. The performances, particularly stars Farmiga and Highmore, were just fantastic this year, and it was fun to tune in every week just to see some of the witty interactions between the characters.
Show-runner Carlton Cuse insists that 20 more episodes (two more seasons) are planned. However, if ‘Bates Motel’ doesn’t come back, viewers shouldn’t be too disappointed with how things ended, even though a lot of questions about the ultimate fates of remaining characters are left unanswered.