When we last visited the Bates home, Norma lied lifeless on the floor with Sheriff Alex Romero cradling and crying over her body. This week, we find out if she’s alive or dead, as ‘Bates Motel’ wraps up its very entertaining fourth season.
The finale begins with Norman being loaded into the back of an ambulance on a stretcher. While inside the vehicle, he has memories of his mother from when he was a young boy. Alex is still up near the house and looks on as the ambulance heads off toward the hospital.
Back inside the house, Alex gets questioned about what happened by a female detective from the Oregon State Police. She asks Alex if he’s seen the note that Norma left behind and shows it do him. Romero refuses to believe that Norma committed suicide and tells the detective that the ring belonged to his mother and he’s keeping it.
Norman wakes up at the hospital to learn that Norma is gone. The doctor asks if he has any other family members who can pick him up, but it’s Alex who comes to get Norman. On the way out, Norman tells the sheriff that he doesn’t want to see him at his mother’s funeral. This results in Alex grabbing Norman by the throat and slamming him up against a wall. When Norman asks if Romero is going to kill him right there in the hospital, Alex replies, “No, I’m going to prove you did it, you piece of shit!”
Norman returns home to an empty house. He eats alone, although he’s made a place setting at the table for Norma. Going upstairs to her room, he lies down in her bed and says, “I’ll be patient, mother.” It seems that Norman is waiting for a psychotic break so he can be with the version of his mother that he’s created in his mind.
Alex goes to the hospital morgue and insists on seeing Norma’s body. He pulls out the slab from the cooler she’s being stored in and places the wedding ring back on her finger. He tells her that he loves her and slides her body back inside.
At the Bates house, Norman is still waiting on Norma’s return and decides that things might go quicker if he gets rid of his medication, so he flushes it all. He then takes the big-screen TV that Alex bought the family and carries it outside, where he drops it on the steps and then starts kicking and smashing it. It’s at this time that the police detective – who we learn is named Det. Chambers – shows up and wants to ask Norman a few questions.
Going back inside the house and up to his mother’s bedroom, Norman uses this opportunity to bad-mouth Romero, telling Chambers how the sheriff married his mother while Norman was a patient at Pineview and was doing everything in his power to get him out of his mother’s life. Before the detective leaves, Norman picks out a blue dress to bury Norma in.
Norman arrives at the funeral home with the dress and has a conversation about the funeral arrangements with the father and son who run the place. The father asks Norman if he would like to have the body embalmed, but Norman says he doesn’t want to do that. He does, however, want to see his mother. After advising him against it, the father allows Norman to see the body, which is being prepped by his daughter. Norman sees the wedding ring on Norma’s finger and removes it. He then whispers to her that he’d like to know what the plan is. Norma opens her eyes for a second, indicating that Norman is starting to lose grip with reality.
Alex visits the repairman who worked on the furnace at the Bates house and asks if the guy warned Norma about how dangerous the old furnace was. When the man says that he did, Alex wants to know if Norman overheard that conversation. The repairman isn’t sure, but when Alex grabs him by the neck and slams him on the countertop, the guy says that, yes, Norman came into the room at the very end of the conversation and could have heard what was said.
Coming back to the house, Norman thinks he hears Norma playing the family piano and singing. But when he gets inside, there’s nobody there… except for his dog, Juno, which loyal fans know is dead and was stuffed by Norman in one of his first taxidermy projects. Between this and seeing his mom look at him, Norman is slowly becoming more and more delusional.
Norman gets a call from Dylan, who obviously has no clue what has happened to Norma. (Wouldn’t Alex have contacted him? Or the police? This seems odd to me.) Dylan tells Norman that he’ll be there for him if he ever needs anything, but Norman thinks they shouldn’t talk to each other anymore and promptly hangs up on him.
At the church for the funeral service, Norman has to explain to the funeral director that there will be no other guests. He then goes up front to give one of the better eulogies in TV history. (His comments to the minister in attendance are worth the price of admission.) About halfway through, Alex arrives. Norman tells him he’s not welcome and shows him that he removed the wedding ring from Norma’s hand. This results in Alex clocking Norman and then storming out.
Alex goes to the police station to retrieve his gun and then walks out, presumably on his way to put a few rounds into Norman. However, as he leaves the station, DEA agents show up and arrest Alex on perjury charges, saying that he lied to them about his relationship with Rebecca Hamilton.
Back at the Bates house, Norman can’t figure out why his mother hasn’t shown up yet, so he drives to the cemetery to dig up her casket. He removes her body, re-fills the grave, and drives her corpse back to the house, where he lays her on the living room couch. Of course, Norma still hasn’t opened her eyes, so Norman glues them open. My least favorite character, Chick, chooses this time to arrive at the house with a chicken enchilada casserole for Norman. I’m about 90% sure that he notices Norma’s body on the couch, but instead of flipping out or running off to call the cops, Chick tells Norman that he needs to do what he needs to do, but he also needs to come to grips with the fact that his mother is dead.
After Chick leaves, Norman is overcome with the realization that his mother is really dead. He runs upstairs, gets Norma’s gun, and loads it. He puts it in his mouth to commit suicide, but before he can pull the trigger, he hears the piano playing downstairs. Running back downstairs, he sees Norma in a red dress and playing – appropriately enough – “I’ll Be Home for Christmas.” Norman joins his mother on the piano bench as this episode and the season come to an end.
Aside from a few small complaints (like the fact that Dylan doesn’t know his mother died and the writers felt the need to include Chick in a scene, along with an indication that he’ll be back again next season), this is a wonderful, creepy way to wrap up Season 4. There really aren’t any cliffhangers here (unless you’re actually worried about Alex’s DEA situation), but the episode still leaves us with a lot of anticipation about what might happen in the show’s fifth and final season.
What did everyone else think about the finale?