Bates Motel Season 3 Episode 10 – TV Review
Finale week continues with Bates Motel, the jewel in the crown of this year’s Top 5 TV Shows.
It’s not as soaring and heart-rending as last week’s episode, but it is a whole lot more psycho.
TL;DR Norman finally gives in to Apparition Norma and she murders the fuck out of Bradley; Norma struggles with the reality of Norman’s illness and her inability to help him; Dylan and Emma become Facebook official; Romero kills Bob to prevent him from outing Norma’s secrets.
So he keeps his “killing the major villain in the season finale” tradition alive. He’s my rock.
So Norma’s getting pretty bloody worried about Norman. She visits a swishy, psychiatric care facility that she thinks would be good for him, but it soon becomes clear she can’t afford it. Norman isn’t too happy when he hears about this, natch. She later gets a tense, longing visit from Romero, who has been worriedly observing the DEA preparations for a raid on Bob. Norma is defeated by her situation, and tells him that maybe she just isn’t destined to win. So Romero tips off Bob to the raid, tracks him to the boat he’s planning to flee White Pine Bay on, and shoots him to chunks. I approve. Meanwhile, Emma’s dad happily informs her that a lung transplant is ready to go. Instead of being ecstatic, Emma runs off. Dylan, who had earlier been fruitless in his attempt to find Caleb before he disappeared for good, finds her and reassures her (with his mouth) that she should take a chance and do the transplant. And Bradley robs her mum’s house and takes Norman, fresh off a fight with Norma, in her car to leave town. It goes well until Apparition Norma takes over Norman’s body, murders Bradley with extreme prejudice, and then Norman and Apparition Norma dump Bradley’s body and car in a lake.
That’s not atypical for a Bates family outing, really.
Like I said earlier, this episode isn’t a touch on the heights of emotion that we saw in last week’s penultimate episode.
Instead, we get major movement on all the plot fronts, culminating in the first true scene of Norman becoming Norma for a murder. Up until now, Apparition Norma had just been lurking on the sidelines. But now, with Norman’s permission, it’s clear that she actually takes control of Norman.
Norman isn’t just egged on by Apparition Norma: he is her.
And who wouldn’t want to be Vera Farmiga?
Why I hate this episode:
I kind of saw Bradley’s death coming from a mile away. Her plotline has nowhere to go, and as much as I love that season 1 nostalgia, I didn’t want to see her saddled with some pointless, garbage plot to keep her in the show.
Likewise, as we’ve seen in two season finales already, it came as no surprise when Romero killed Bob. Is this a conscious decision by Bates Motel to have Romero shoot the season’s major villain in the season finale? Because two was a cute coincidence, but three has to be a conspiracy, right? Not that I disapprove, though.
Emma makes some good points to justify her fears of getting the transplant, but bitch, you’re going to die soon if you don’t do it. Roll the fucking dice.
Norman and Apparition Norma miss a perfect opportunity to kiss in the final scene. Considering we already saw real Norma kiss Norman last season finale, I don’t think it’s capricious to expect a little more from Norma’s smuttier visage.
Oh, and this also counts as a good thing because it was tense as hell, but when I saw Dylan entering the basement after Norman had been held in there, I predicted that he was about to get killed. And I was like, no, not my hunky baby.
But it’s not all bad:
That scene was super tense, though. It worked.
The star of the episode is, of course, Norman’s transformation into Apparition Norma as he attacks Bradley. Norman, having come to the conclusion that Norma has forsaken him, agrees to Bradley’s plans to leave town. As they’re driving, Apparition Norma shows up in the backseat and calmly demands he allow her to talk to Bradley. Norman initially refuses, but Apparition Norma insists, and Norman’s like “well, if it’s just to talk.” So he gives her permission, and Norman changes to become her.
Naturally, she doesn’t want to just talk. She wants to force Bradley to stop the car so she can drag Bradley, screaming, from it, all the while shouting that she’s a bitch and a hussey. And then she bashes Bradley’s head against a rock until she’s dead. It’s not my definition of a “talk,” but I’ll allow it.
The editing in this scene is golden, as Norman changes from Freddie Highmore to Vera Farmiga as he slickly moves out of frame. It’s mesmerising to see poor Bradley getting dragged, chased, and murdered by Vera as Norman. Freddie comes back once Bradley’s dead, and is horrified, but practical.
So they chuck Bradley in the boot of her car, Norman makes a superficial apology to her, and they push it into a lake. Apparition Norma is glad that they’ve sorted out their differences, and Norman accepts her. Just like a happy family should.
Romero, as is his thing, makes his small amount of screentime count. His meeting with Norma is stained with the ache and the sadness of their blow-up last episode, as he despairs that he has failed her, and she grimly admits defeat to fate.
Romero gets the best line of the episode with this simple apology: “I’m sorry that I couldn’t protect you.” If this were season 1, I’d be bitching that Romero is getting in the way of Norma wanting to bang Norman. But I’ve come to love Romero and Norma as the couple that just can’t get there.
Norma gets the episode’s second best line moments later, when ruing her predicament: “He’s my son and he’s broken.” Yeah, a lot.
Romero then resolves to deal with Bob himself. When Romero confronts Bob on his boat, Bob makes a token attempt to plead that he won’t tell anyone about Norma and Norman, and he’ll simply disappear. Romero, dutifully, doesn’t believe him. So Bob, realising he’s gonna die, gloats that Romero spent all his life trying not to be his corrupt father, and now he’s ended up exactly like him. That earns Bob a fast and remorseless four bullets to the body, and Bob chokes on the blood from his neck shot. Alex Romero for White Pine Bay Sheriff: He Will Fucking Kill You.
Bradley robs her mum’s house like there’s no tomorrow (and hey, there wasn’t). But she also makes sure to absolutely fucking trash it, too. Because that’s how Bradley do.
Norma’s admission to Norman that she’s been looking into psychiatric care options, and that Norman needs real, medical help, is beautifully hard to endure. Norman coldly surmises that she’s given up on him.
When Norman tells Norma that he is planning to leave town with Bradley, who is supposed to be dead, she sees this as simply further evidence that Norman is crazy. I lol’d when Dylan had to later inform her that they faked her suicide, actually.
When Norma tries to stop Norman from leaving, they tussle on the stairs, and Norman inadvertently throws Norma down them. Not one to be bested by that little shit, Norma then clocks Norman over the back of the head with a heavy doorstop. Then she ties him up and leaves him in the basement. That’s just good parenting.
Dylan and Emma do their part to bring a little bit of light to the show. I’m glad Dylan’s quest to find Caleb ends in failure. I think Caleb’s done all he can do in this show. Thankfully, Dylan’s quest to find Emma after she runs out of her house is more successful.
He finds her at Dylan’s farm (Gunner isn’t around, so no threesome yet), and she explains that she’s afraid of the transplant not only because she could die in the operation, but that she could also die later if her body rejects them. And if that doesn’t even happen, she’s looking at a life mired in hospital visits and tests and the looming threat of death if the lungs bail out. Fair points, all.
And, most heartwarmingly, she says that she would be upset if the transplant failed, because then she’s wasted some poor, dead person’s lungs for nothing. What a fucking sweetie.
Dylan is pretty much like “But you gon’ die tho here kiss me.” And they do kiss, and it’s so nice in this sea of otherwise tragic plotlines. I don’t even care anymore that she was Norman’s girlfriend first, or that she was essentially deadweight last season. Dylan and Emma feel much more right as a couple than she and Norman ever did.