Spoiler alert: This post contains plot from the series finale of Bates Motel.
Norman Bates is dead. In his final hours, after he killed Romero, he threatened his brother’s life in an act that some viewers might interpret as a cry for help. And in that moment, Dylan gave his brother what he wanted by shooting him and therefore reuniting Norman with the person he loves most: his mother.
“Episode 10 is Norman at his most deluded,” star Freddie Highmore tells EW. “It’s a Norman that’s gone by the very end. He knows deep down that there’s nothing else, that it’s either this or nothing, which has a romantic quality to it — that it’s ‘I’m going to be living with my mother, either in life or in death.’ But at the same time, it’s incredibly deluded and insane.”
In the finale, fans watched as Norman killed Romero, an act that forced him to admit that maybe he did kill his mother. And from that moment onward, Norman fully immersed himself in a fictional reality where he and his mother had just moved to town and all was well. “I think what’s beautiful about the end scene with Dylan is that we realize Norman deep down is aware of the performance of everything that he’s doing,” Highmore says. “When forced to confront the reality in front of him, he is able to see it. So it’s purely this part of him that’s longing for something else, wishing that it could be different. I think the biggest line to me was when he says to Dylan at the end, ‘If you believe hard enough, you can make it that way.’ That seemed to sum both Norman and Norma up to me, [the belief] that purely by sheer force of will and by love and by believing in one another, things can be possible.”
But ultimately, the circumstances of Bates Motel would prove Norman wrong. He couldn’t just believe that his mother was alive. He couldn’t just believe that the police wouldn’t ultimately find him and put him in jail. So instead, he pulled a knife on Dylan, and Dylan granted Norman his final wish.
“That’s what the scene’s all about,” Highmore says. “Norman goes into the scene trying to keep hold of this reality, and Dylan puts a crack in it. Norman sees that he’s never going to have what he dreams about, and so it’s basically asking Dylan to kill him and to take him out of this world. And when he ultimately does so, whether it’s his choice or not, Norman ultimately is grateful for it and is happily reunited with his mother. So there is hope. There is a happiness to it. But it felt like that’s how it had to end. It was ultimately this love story between Norman and Norma, and the only real end that it could have was that they’d be reunited and back together again.
“The other interesting thing, from Dylan’s point of view, is to what extent it was a conscious choice that he made or whether it was something that was purely an act of self-defense and more of a split-second reaction as opposed to something more calculated,” Highmore continues. “I think there’s room for both. It’s such a strong endpoint for Dylan because of that uncertainty behind his final action. And I think he knew what he was doing. He knew this was the way that Norman ultimately, in that weird twisted romanticism, that’s the way that Norman’s going to be happiest — by being reunited with Norma.”