If there was any lingering confusion over the fate of Norma Bates, presumed dead at the end of last week’s episode thanks to Norman’s attempted murder-suicide, this week’s finale put any speculation to rest: Norma is dead. Very dead. So dead she’s in a morgue. And Norman? Well, he’s dealing with this about as well as anyone who is obsessed with his mother would be… which is to say, not that well.
The paramedics arrive to take Norman away as he slips in and out of a dream of a happy, young Norma and her loving son. Romero is being questioned by a woman named Detective Chambers (Alison Matthews), who asks if he’s seen “the note.” Romero is confused until he reads the letter Norma wrote, along with the ring she’s left: a coincidental perfect suicide note. But Romero, bless him, is smarter than this. He still knows Norman’s somewhat insane, and knows that Norma would never leave like that.
At the hospital, Norman is trying to process his acceptance of Norma’s death (“grieving is a complicated process” they tell him, but no one’s really met Norman Bates). He’s got no one to call or to take him home, but that’s just fine, because Norman can take care of himself. Romero shows up anyway, and he’s the last person Norman wants to see. He lashes out, blaming him for Norma’s death, telling him he tried to warn him. He then tells Romero he doesn’t want to see him anywhere, and that’s when Romero completely loses it. Norma’s dead, right? So why does it matter so much if Romero stays away? I’m glad Romero realizes Norman’s unhinged, but sadly, that doesn’t help much. The relationship between Norman and Romero is so interesting to me because on one hand, it could be completely creepy and uncomfortable — after all, Norman is just a kid who is unhealthily obsessed with his mother. But Nestor Carbonell and Freddie Highmore are so dangerously good at drawing a line between being two people who love Norma and are fighting for her affection, even in death, that it works. Bates never gets enough credit for its creative direction, and it’s one more reason why this show is so damn good.
Norman comes home and calls out for his mother… who isn’t there. He eats by himself (a plate set for Norma, obviously) and goes to her room and sleeps alone, pretending that she’s there. When he wakes up, he throws all his meds away before being interrupted by a phone call from Mr. Willcock (Jay Brazeau). The funeral home director wants to speak to Romero about arrangements, but no, Norman will take care of it. (He plays it off as his mom is just out, but changes his tune once he realizes who is on the phone.) Romero, meanwhile, goes to the morgue. They’re reluctant to let him see his wife, but eventually Romero gets his way, and gets one last moment with her where he kisses her and puts the wedding ring back on her finger. It’s so unbelievably sad because you know Romero loves this woman, and that he did everything in his power to save her… and it still wasn’t ever going to be enough.
While Norman is taking his rage out on a piece of property (“I just dropped it”), Detective Chambers arrives, wanting to talk. Norman tells his version of the story, how Norma was upset the night that she went to bed, and then starts talking about Romero. He talks about Norma protectively and bad mouths his step-father, using everything from their short marriage to his drug trade past to prove that he only married Norma so he could have her to herself and get Norman locked up. “I love my mother more than anything else in the world but she did not have stellar taste in men,” he declares. Clearly, this isn’t taken seriously because Norman is picking out Norma’s funeral dress and is in distress, because hey, the kid just lost his mom.
At the funeral home, Norman meets with Willcock and his son. (Norman knows what embalming is, so anyone that says taxidermy doesn’t come in handy can use this as proof.) He asks to see her and is allowed, on the promise he won’t get upset. We all know where this is going, right? Protective, creepy Norman touches his mother tenderly and then takes Romero’s ring off, though I have a hard time believing no one actually saw him do it. Norman’s smooth, but he’s not that smooth.
NEXT: I imagine death so much it feels just like a memory