Bates Motel Season 4 Episode 10 – TV Review
But we can still count on a traditional bombastic Bates Motel finale, right?
Everything has changed.
TL;DR Bates Motel eschews its typical finale moments to instead cover Norman’s final death of innocence, and evolution into Norman Bates, Psycho; Romero grieves and rages, but is stopped from going after Norman by a DEA technicality arrest; Dylan is sadly excised; Apparition Norma is here to stay.
Any Vera Farmiga is all I need.
Norma Bates is dead. But Norman Bates isn’t going to accept that. Despite outwardly acknowledging the fact of her death, Norman spends his time this episode patiently waiting for Norma to return to him. The line blurs between whether he expects Apparition Norma, real Norma, or if he can even tell the difference. Meanwhile, Romero, incredulous that the investigating detective thinks Norma committed an attempted murder/suicide (her goodby note to Romero doesn’t help), tries to deal with his grief by setting out to prove Norman is in fact guilty. His search does yield clues, but when Norman tries to keep Romero from Norma’s funeral, he decides to pull out his season finale move of shooting the villain to death. But the DEA swoop in just in time to arrest him for the paltry crime of lying about not having a relationship with Rebecca. Cheap. Without opposition (Dylan calls from his new place and Norman doesn’t even tell him Norma’s dead), and growing anxious, Norman digs up Norma’s dead body, but is still unable to accept she’s gone. A timely visit from a concerned Chick, of all people, gives Norman the push to accept reality, and he elects to run upstairs and eat a bullet (the poor kid needs to eat something. He’s so thin). But it’s a Christmas miracle, after all, as Norman stops when he hears music floating up from the piano downstairs. And there he finds Norma, ready and waiting for him.
What a relief. A morbid, unsettling relief.
I haven’t been shy about my dislike of this season. As a raving Bates Motel True Believer for years now, I honestly didn’t appreciate the slower, narrower approach we’ve gotten with Season 4. It left Emma and Dylan out in the cold (and this episode is a stark example of that) and put the brakes on the psychopathy we saw Norman exhibit a year ago when he killed Bradley.
But as a farewell to Norma and Norman Bates as we know them, I’ll commend this finale.
Now let’s hope this status quo change sticks.
Why I hate this episode:
Three times was more than a coincidence, but I was hoping we’d get yet another finale where Romero shoots the villain dead to really cement the fact that Bates Motel is aware that it’s a pattern. But then the villain, I suppose, is Norman. And with Season 5 already greenlit, we couldn’t kill Norman. So Romero’s gun goes unemptied.
And it turns out Rebecca really was only included to get Romero arrested on some bullshit technicality. What a waste of Jaime Ray Newman.
I’m disappointed that we don’t get to see Dylan and Emma’s reactions to Norma’s death. They would have been heartbreaking.
The team of funeral directors who work on Norma’s funeral get a strangely large amount of screentime. Unless they’re being set up to be important for next season, that’s time that could have gone to Dylan and Emma.
Chick’s reappearance is pretty random and convenient. It turns out he really did like Norma, so he wasn’t fucking with her to force her to reveal her incest to Romero. Pussy. And who the hell is so chill when they see an exhumed corpse on a couch?
If not the goodbye note to Romero, then what did Norman burn in the furnace?
Oh, and the detective seems to dismiss the possibility that Norman could have been responsible for the gas leak, despite Norman himself sloppily mentioning around her that he was in Pineview for treatment. Do the leg work, lady. Interview some people. Come on.
But it’s not all bad:
You know who is on the case? Romero. He gets the best line of the episode when he and Norman fight as he picks him up at the hospital. Norman tells him to fuck off and he doesn’t want him coming to the house yada yada yada, so Romero rips him out of his wheelchair and chokes him against the wall. Norman snidely asks if Romero will kill him in front of all the witnesses in the hall, and Romero easily replies: “No. I’m gonna prove you did it, you piece of shit.” Piece of Shit is my favourite insult, too.
Things escalate when Norman further disrespects Romero at Norma’s funeral service. In fact, Norman intentionally invites nobody. Because he wants Norma all to himself, of course. But in a fabulous Ooh, Barracuda moment, Romero storms it, anyway. He beats the shit out of Norman, fulfilling all our wishes.
And then he marches to his sheriff’s office to retrieve his gun to kill Norman. That’s when the DEA pounce, but damn, he was close.
Also worth mentioning: Romero tracks down and interrogates the repairman who warned Norma about the old furnace. He says it’s possible Norman could have heard that conversation. Keep fighting, Romero. The DEA can’t hold you forever.
But it’s really Norman’s episode (the episode is titled “Norman,” so duh). His undying faith that Norma will return to him, whichever form that means, is slowly and painfully snuffed out as the episode wears on. From setting her a place at the dinner table, to going through the motions of a “sham” funeral, to the desperation that leads him to digging up her body. The icing on the cake is him gluing her eyes open in a final attempt to force her to reveal that she’s alive.
But she’s not. And Norman realises this when Chick comes calling. He brings Norman a condolence casserole and sees the body on the couch. While he sympathises that Norman’s gotta do what he’s gotta do to grieve, he ends his little wisdom nugget by checking Norman does know she’s dead, right? And that’s when he does.
Thankfully for we Vera Farmiga fans, Norman quickly tries to off himself, and that’s what triggers the return of Apparition Norma (who I will try to find a catchier name for next season). The house is suddenly decorated in Christmas lights. And so is the motel, which the camera pans over to close out the season.
Dylan’s moment may be tiny, but I’d like to believe Norman’s suggestion that they stop speaking is to protect Dylan from what Norman, deep down, knows is happening. Maybe he and Emma should stay away?
Oh, and let’s end on a hopeful note: Romero almost did kill the villain in the season finale, again. Points for effort.