Bates Motel Season 5 Episode 9 – TV Review
Literally, she’s off that bench she was on last episode.
And baby, what an exit.
TL;DR Emma finds the fire inside to be properly upset about what Norman’s done, leaving her mark as she leaves Bates Motel; but not before reminding us of the tenderness for which we fell in love with her in the first place; Dylan struggles to stay in Norman’s corner as the case closes in around him and the Norma in his head; Romero proves he’s a scary man when he’s got nothing to lose.
What’s a little hold up and kidnapping at a police station? It’s no biggie, right?
So the episode really does belong to Emma, the ignored, sidelined, disposable love interest of early Bates Motel, as she comes to Dylan’s side, only to learn the truth about her mother’s murder. And that Dylan is supporting Norman. Our former wallflower is a wallflower no more, as she openly clashes with Dylan and Julia, and grimly gets through handling Audrey’s cremation. Her future with Dylan is left ambiguous as she leaves, I think for good, without many kind words to say to him. Because she saves those for Norma, in a heart-rending lament at her grave. And, in a stellar final burst, she visits Norman in jail. Quickly surmising that it’s not Norman, she expresses her grief at losing her friend, and finally escapes. I’m proud. Meanwhile, Dylan’s big brother nobility is battered from all sides by Emma, a striking reality check from Madeline, and the seeming hopelessness of the case. Norma (still in sole control), likewise, can see her future slipping away. But it may slip away faster than expected, as Romero, deathly committed to seeing his vengeance through, uses his own former staff at the police station as hostages (he even shoots one!) to break out and abduct Norman, demanding he take him to Norma’s body.
Now this is operatic.
I never anticipated Romero would just up and fucking storm the police station. I thought his chance at revenge had been washed away the moment Norman was arrested. But goddamn, Bates Motel, in its final moments, is finding new ways to surprise and impress.
I have no idea how things will end. Thank you, Bates Motel.
Why I hate this episode:
How fucking easy was it for Romero to storm that police station, though? Just saying.
Maggie’s little “I’ll live with you and love you” plea is a bit late in the game. I didn’t care for it.
Oh, and with Emma having survived the series, this doesn’t bode well for Dylan. And I’m not sure I could handle that.
But it’s not all bad:
That’s because Dylan, in the absence of Real Norma, is kind of the best Bates. Norman gets to be the flashy one, now, but Dylan is the grounded, real, tragic figure among all the mayhem. The bastard incest son of Norma Bates, brother of Norman Bates, drug dealer, drug grower, lowlife Dylan became the best man in White Pine Bay. Bates Motel made it happen.
His dressing down from Madeline is what truly seals his tragic status. He makes the expected apologies to her when running into her at the courthouse. She blames herself for letting Norman into hers and Sam’s lives, for duping her, but she is incredulous that Norman was able to dupe Dylan his whole life. Before, naturally, realising that he didn’t, and accurately accusing Dylan of knowing something was wrong with Norman. Oh, the guilt.
But let’s get to the episode’s real star, and the shining light of Bates Motel: Emma. She’s been keeping that bench pretty warm for the past two seasons, but I am so happy that the show didn’t forget who she was in what appears to be her last stand. If Dylan’s the best man in White Pine Bay, then Emma is the best woman.
And in testament to that, even amid all her righteous fury over Norman’s murder of her mother, Emma still displays her capacity for compassion. Her visit to Norman is the bittersweet ending she deserved. All she wants to do is see her old friend, but Norma is all she gets.
And then, in a showstopping instant, Emma gets the best line of the episode: “Where’s Norman?” I don’t take this to mean Emma knows the exact specifics of Norman’s affliction, but it’s her determination to show Norman compassion that sells this scene. Norma’s bravado and bluster and even gloating over murdering Audrey slide right off, as all Emma wants to do is tell Norman she misses him. Exeunt.
Her teary at Norma’s grave is also divine. Although, Caleb kind of beat her to it.
Where Emma is the hero Norman needed, Romero is the hero Norman deserves. The kind of hero who will hold his former friends and colleagues at gunpoint (again, he even shoots one!) to get revenge on his step-son for killing his wife. And let’s be real: Norma Bates is worth avenging. Consequences be damned.
Part of me is a little disappointed that Romero didn’t just execute Norman on the spot, which we know he’s capable of. But I’m just imagining their final showdown over Norma’s body in the woods, snow lightly falling, gun in Romero’s hand. Maybe some manly tears. And probably a heroic sacrifice from Dylan (God, help me, I can’t handle that). How will it all end?
Norman and Norma take a back seat this episode, but the intercutting between Freddie Highmore and Vera Farmiga continues to successfully balance the camp and scariness of the situation.
Oh, and Norma does her hair for court. Because of fucking course, baby.