So it’s been a week since the Bates Motel season finale. I’ve given it time to settle and I’m finally ready to post my thoughts. The episode was a nice mix of resolution and setup, as are all good season finales. Some things didn’t pan out the way I hoped or expected them to turn out. But overall it was a good end to a surprisingly good first season. (SPOILERS AHEAD…)
I’ve been saying all season that I’ve wanted more of Nester Carbonell’s Sheriff Romero and those desires were met last week. He delivered most of the action of the episode and finally got the character development I hoped he’d be getting. He delivered the killing blow to the mostly over-the-top Jake Abernathy villain in the twisted name of defending his town. This opens up a lot of avenues for the character next season and gives the writers plenty of room to play up his graying morality as well as his clouded motivations.
We also learned a lot about Norma. We learned a shocking amount, actually. Starting with the awkward, distant therapy session, it was clear Norma’s history is one of a lot of complexity and pain. This came through in a very emotionally charged scene between Norma and Norman where she reveals her brother raped her throughout her childhood. Vera Farmiga played the scene masterfully. She plays the scene as a delicate combination of a woman opening herself up to her son and a woman facing her mortality desperate to tell her story.
The way Norma switches from pained and vulnerable to complimenting Emma on her dress at the drop of a hat was a nice touch that adds more to the character. I’m not sure why, but it wasn’t until the finale that I realized Norma is, for all intents and purposes, an original character for the Bates Motel writers. I see now that the writers are utilizing the version of Norma from Psycho specifically for Norman’s visions. Aside from the visions, they are creating their own Norma. This is the best possible way they could have handled the characters.
Speaking of Norman’s visions, holy shit. I didn’t expect him to kill Miss Watson. I’m not sure why I wasn’t expecting it. I was duped by the misdirection of Miss Watson’s “secret” phone call scene. It felt like setup for next season and it may still be used. I will feel cheated if whoever she was on the phone with becomes the scapegoat for Norman’s murder. I assume that’s how it will be handled, but I’m hoping for some tense hoops before it’s resolved.
It’s interesting that Norman would murder Miss Watson for possibly wanting to sleep with him. Emma has feelings for him but he doesn’t have homicidal tendencies toward her. This goes back to my theory that Emma is the thing that’s keeping Norman grounded to reality. His relationship with Emma keeps his psychosis at bay. I really hope the show runs with that next season.
As far as next season as a whole is concerned, again I’m really hoping for more Romero. He doesn’t appear to be the head of the White Pine criminal element, like I thought. But he’s a very interesting character. If the writers use him correctly, he will be a really good asset for the show in terms of opening up the more mysterious side of White Pine Bay, especially if people above Abernathy come after Romero.
The thing I’m most looking forward to in season two of Bates Motel is Bradley and Dylan. They have a nice chemistry together. The scene in the finale where Norman is eavesdropping on the two is chilling. I’m really excited to see where they go with this storyline.
Before the show began, I was hesitant about Freddie Highmore’s ability to take the role of Norman Bates. After one season, I am impressed. I know wherever they go with the story; he’ll do a fine job.
Be sure to read the rest of my episode reviews for Bates Motel and if you don’t own it already, I highly suggest buying Psycho. After spending ten weeks in Bates Motel, I think I’m due for a Psycho rewatch. It’s an incredible movie, so I highly recommend it to all reading.