Bates Motel Season 4 Episode 9 – TV Review
Bates Motel is unlucky that I Just Hate Everything’s anniversary fell before this episode aired.
It might have made it into the top 5, after all.
TL;DR Norman finally does the inevitable and kills Norma; Dylan and Romero spend the episode trying to get Norman back into Pineview; Norma falls into old patterns and ignores all sense in order to protect Norman; Rebecca’s attempt to sting Romero fails.
Could she be the most useless character since Cody?
So Norman is out of Pineview, but things in the Bates house are far from on the mend. Despite telling Norman to deal with her marriage to Romero last episode, things between Norma and Romero run aground when Romero keeps insisting that Norman return to Pineview. He turns to Dylan for aid, who himself has found even more evidence that Norman must have done something to Audrey. Norma keeps up her wall of denial, though, driving Dylan away, and announcing the end of her relationship with Romero. Norman’s all keen to lap up the attention, of course. Until he finds Audrey’s suitcase in the attic, along with the scarf with which she was murdered. And the dressing gown of Norma’s worn during the murder. So Norman, either having realised his own evil deeds, or now satisfied that his suspicions of Norma were true, decides to take the only way out left, and turns on that leaky furnace while he and Norma are sleeping in an attempted murder/suicide. I say attempted, because Romero busts in just in time to fish them out of the gas-filled room. But only Norman lives. The tragedy is unfathomable. Meanwhile, Emma and Dylan continue to prepare to move. And Rebecca makes an absolutely pathetic attempt to wear a wire for the DEA and incriminate Romero, but he sees through that stupid shit.
I can’t imagine they’d bring in Jaime Ray Newman for a role this insignificant. Her time to shine must be next episode.
Well, they finally did it. With an entire season to go, and one left for this year, Norma Bates is dead.
And she didn’t go out in some operatic blaze of glory. Or skyscraping argument with Norman.
She went out in her sleep, alongside the man she loved. In an act of compassion.
This isn’t what I thought I wanted, but I’m glad it’s what I got.
Why I hate this episode:
Wouldn’t have minded that operatic, preferably knife fight, death, though.
The real damper on the episode is Rebecca’s subplot, which even the show finds superfluous, given the disregard she’s shown by Romero. It simply must be building to something more. This season, to a fault, has scaled back the White Pine Bay drama in its entirety, focusing on only the Bates family and their troubles. So why is Rebecca, with her threadbare, season 3-lingering subplot, around?
Her attempt to goad Romero into talking about murdering Bob is monumentally awful. Maybe she was trying to flub it on purpose? Give me something to work with, here. Please.
Dylan ends up more upset at Norma for defending Norman than he is aghast at Norman murdering his girlfriend’s mother. Are Norman’s murders so meaningless to his family now?
While I appreciate the drama of Norma taking all the steps back to Norman’s side in her final failure to rise above her circumstances, it feels inconsistent with how much progress she’s made this season. Just last episode she was all “whatever, whatever. Deal with it” to Norman. But then Romero says “Norman’s crazy, tho” one too many times and suddenly everything she’s worked for this season evaporates?
Norma almost makes a sexual move on Norman, but pulls back. That was your last chance, bitch. Now it’ll never happen.
Oh, and I know the whole “wearing a wire” thing is a genre classic, but there are apps for recording conversations, now, yes? The whole chest mic thing smacks as dated.
But it’s not all bad:
Romero catches on lighting-fast to Rebecca’s shit, and actively calls her and the DEA out on their abysmal scheme. Smooth.
Well, there’s no point in tiptoeing around it: Norma’s dead. Bates Motel had the balls to do it, and they did it. Of course, with Apparition Norma being Norman’s only remaining ally (I don’t expect Dylan and Emma to be too forgiving of Norma’s murder), Vera Farmiga will likely still remain a lead cast member. It wouldn’t be Bates Motel without her.
The death scene had the tears flowing on me, and I’m not ashamed to admit it. Romero’s attempts at pragmatically carrying Norma and (reluctantly, I’m sure) Norman’s unconscious bodies out of the room and opening windows to let air in quickly sink under the weight of his desperation to get Norma breathing again. And he doesn’t. Romero devolves into deep, wracking sobs as his lady love lies dead in his arms.
And to add insult, Norman wakes up all by himself. Though, deliciously, he’s horrified to see Norma dead. I imagine his response will be even more emphatic than Romero’s.
The reasoning for Norman’s decision is made tantalisingly ambiguous. The discovery of the Audrey evidence could signal that Norman now realises that he did kill her. Which would explain why he buries that evidence. And now knowing that he’s a dark, troubled seed, he chooses to kill himself. But he wouldn’t want to leave Norma in a world without him, so why not go together?
Or he could have thought that the evidence proves his suspicions of Norma being a killer. He buries the evidence to protect her, and then decides to kill her to stop her from doing it to anyone else. And Norman, naturally, can’t live without her, so chooses to die, too. Either way, it’s exactly the Norman we know.
Norman also uses the furnace to burn a goodbye letter Norma writes to Romero. It says she will always love him, and includes the ring he gave her. One final dig, eh, Norman?
Norma ensures her last episode is one that counts, darkly undoing all the progress she made. Because she’s got to stay faithful to Norman. It would have been sad enough without the death.
The absolute standout moment from Norma this episode comes during her confrontation with Dylan. He dangles the earring in front of her, saying Emma found it in a coat Norma let her borrow. Norma acts like it’s hers and asks for it back, but Dylan remembers Audrey wearing it, and an argument about Norman being dangerous ensues. Norma keeps up her wall of denial relentlessly until Dylan can’t take it anymore and goes to storm out. He angrily accuses her of never being a real mother to him, and with her final chance to say something, anything, to appease Dylan, she coldly requests he give her the earring, choosing Norman over him. Again. Oh, my frozen heart.
Dylan’s hug goodbye to Norman is also super sweet. Though, I doubt he’ll be as sweet the next time he sees Norman.
Dylan and Romero conspire to have Norman committed against his will (as family members, if they signed some documents together, they could do it). Unfortunately, Dylan feels badly about doing it behind Norma’s back, and thus their fight. So close, boys.
Oh, and Norma and Norman have a final moment in bed together, and she totally considers pashing him. She looks down at his lips and everything.