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Bates Motel recap: Unconscious

Norma’s parenting skills take a toll, Romero takes care of business, and Norman’s mental state reaches a new level in the season finale.

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James Dittiger/A&E

Bates Motel

TV Show
Mystery and Thriller
run date:
Vera Farmiga, Freddie Highmore
Current Status:
In Season

I’m going to call this season of Bates Motel “the one where everything that you thought would happen didn’t happen.” That’s not to say this run of episodes was unsatisfying, but any means—what Bates lacked in its “shock value” was made up in its nuanced storytelling, character moments, and overall creepiness.

Here’s the thing: Despite predicting it at certain points throughout the season, I didn’t think Norma would really die. Not because the show would be afraid to kill off Vera Farmiga, who remains its strongest asset, but because there’s still so much story left between Norma and Norma in the slow burn toward Norman’s descent into becoming a full-fledged serial killer. Sure, Norma could have shown up regularly in Norman’s visions or in flashbacks. But we’ve supposedly got at least another two seasons of Bates and I’d see that as something that might happen next year, if the show really does commit to its rumored five season run.

Anyway, let’s dig into our finale, which starts with Dylan noticing that Caleb’s left the guitar for him. This is really Caleb coming full circle from the season premiere: He didn’t want anything to do with his dad, and he wanted him out of his life as quickly as possible. Now, he’s upset and frustrated at the realization that Caleb’s left without so much as saying goodbye.

Norma, meanwhile, is finally (finally!) taking the steps toward getting Norman some much needed help. She visits a pretty nice mental institution, though it’s clear from all of Norma’s reactions that she’s still uncertain about doing this. And it’s understandable. For all her crazy, it’s not easy to consider shipping your child away, not to mention she’s well aware of how Norman will most likely react. Thankfully, the facility has a very liberal limitation policy, so Norma can continue to nurture the “very close” bond that her and Norman have. The downside to all of this? Hospitals and help cost money and insurance—two things Norma doesn’t have. She basically forces the woman into telling her how much money she’d need to pony up for Norman’s stay, and interestingly enough, it’s roughly in the ballpark of what Dylan just gave to Emma for her lung transplant. I’m wondering if this tidbit is going to come back around in a big way next season, especially if Norma finds out that there was available money that could have been used to get Norman help. It could definitely make for some fun character conflict.

Emma’s dad tells her the news about the transplant, but Emma isn’t so celebratory. She’s wary of how she got to the top of the list that fast, and her dad is too excited to notice her hesitancy—at least, until he realizes Emma’s gone missing. He calls Dylan because he thinks he might know where she is. Naturally, Emma’s at the cabin, contemplating life (literally) while freaking out about her procedure. She knows the risks involved of undergoing a surgery like this, and honestly, she doesn’t want to die. Dylan tries to tell her how brave he thinks she is, and attempts to talk her out of living in denial. “You’re a freaking warrior,” he declares as Emma breaks down, overwhelmed by her fear of what this transplant means and the possible effect it could have on her life. Naturally, this is the perfect moment for the two finally share a long overdue kiss. (Hey, at least someone besides Norman got some this season.) I admit that watching Dylan and Emma’s relationship evolve has been interesting, and I wasn’t sure for a while if I wanted them to reach this stage. I liked them as friends, but then again, I also liked that they started out there. And I never felt like it was intentional to try to push them together, even though they had so much in their lives that made them a similar match for each other. But this scene was incredibly well done, and it really showed how Emma was finding her comfort level with Dylan (especially after a failed relationship with Norman), who in turn was finding comfort in Emma, feeling abandoned after Caleb’s departure.

NEXT: The Undoing Of Norman Bates