In the ‘Bates Motel’ series final recap, Norman is determined to finally be reunited with his mother as the show comes to an end…
By Damon Martin — Editor/Lead Writer
It was a lofty ambition when ‘Bates Motel’ launched five seasons ago on A&E.
A prequel series based on the classic Alfred Hitchcock film ‘Psycho’ was not an easy task to undertake, especially in this current climate of television where new and original shows are being praised on a daily basis while remakes and re-imaginings have largely fallen by the wayside.
Still, the writers and producers behind ‘Bates Motel’ were determined to tell a story separate from the original film while providing a different point of view as we followed Norma and Norman Bates in their journey through life and death.
What resulted was one of the most creative and well executed series on television over the past decade and while it’s nearly criminal that Vera Farmiga or Freddie Highmore haven’t been showered with awards or at least nominations, the loyal fans who stuck by this show know just how great ‘Bates Motel’ really has been for the past five years.
But all good things must come to an end and after five seasons it was time for ‘Bates Motel’ to reach the series finale.
As it turns out, ‘Bates Motel’ not only explored a much deeper and richer world than we ever saw in Hitchcock’s brilliant original film, but this show became it’s own stand alone story that will live on its own from now until forever as a dramatic, frightening and even sometimes funny tale about a boy, his mother, murder and madness.
With that said, let’s recap the ‘Bates Motel’ series finale titled ‘The Cord’…
A Dish Best Served Cold
Picking up from last week’s episode, Romero has Norman lead him to the spot where he left Norma’s body after digging her up, mummifying her and then placing her in the woods when the cops descended upon his house and hotel. Romero ditches his former assistant from the police station as he continues the journey to find his wife’s body.
All the while they are traveling, Norman is taunting Romero — because ‘Mother’ is the one who is actually still in control. Romero reacts by beating Norman on the top of the car as well as with the butt of his gun.
Finally, stepfather and stepson make it to the site of the body where Norman begins uncovering his mother from all the snow that has collected over the past couple of weeks. Romero eventually takes over and finally lifts up the sheet that’s been covering Norma’s face and the emotion overwhelms him.
Norman’s continued words only serve as fuel to the fire as Romero gets up and viciously beats him to the ground with a series of hard punches before he returns to be by Norma’s side. Unfortunately, Romero’s grief distracts him from Norman rising from the ground and striking him with a rather large stone.
Norman continues to beat his former stepfather with the rock and then snatches away his gun just as Romero begins to reach for the weapon. Without blinking, Norman raises the gun, points it at Romero and pulls the trigger two times.
As Romero’s life starts to fade from his body and the blood begins coloring the snow behind him, he turns to Norman and reminds him how he killed his own mother. This entire ordeal began because Norman killed Norma and he has to live with that for the rest of his miserable life.
Romero expires without ever truly exacting his revenge on Norman but at least he can fade into death rather than suffering through anymore pain. As a bloody and beaten Norman looks down at him, he turns and spots ‘Mother’ standing in the distance.
She tells him that he now knows everything — meaning Norman has finally realized that he actually killed his own mother — and there’s nothing left for her to protect him from. ‘Mother’ fades away because her job here is finished. Norman no longer needs to be protected but now he is truly, truly alone in this world.
As the police begin to pick up the pieces after Romero invaded the station, put all the cops in a holding cell and kidnapped both Norman Bates and his former receptionist Regina, Sheriff Greene is in a frantic state.
When Dylan arrives at the police station and finds out what has happened, he’s distraught but more so by the fact that he knows after a brief conversation with the sheriff that she’s not concerned with finding Norman alive but rather only wants to ensure the safe return of Regina the receptionist. Saving a psychopathic killer like Norman or an escaped felon like Romero are low on her priority list.
That puts Dylan in a very tough spot because he’s been battling against his own conscience this entire time.
One part of Dylan only wants to get Norman the help he needs because he knows deep down that his brother is psychologically disturbed. The other part of Dylan is still feeling guilty after he was confronted with the harsh truth by Madeleine Loomis last week — he knew his brother was ill yet he did nothing to stop him and now several people are dead because of it.
Dylan ends up meeting with his old boss Remo — the weed dealer who has now gone legit amidst Oregon legalizing marijuana for real just recently. They reminisce for a moment but the meeting was for a purpose — Remo hands over a gun to Dylan, who claims to need it for protection for his family.
Protection from a psychotic brother perhaps?
As Norman wakes up from his slumber, he sees his mother next to him in bed as if he’s just coming out of a dream state. She’s getting up to make him breakfast as the house is bathed in warm light and he’s got a smile on his face because his mother is right where she belongs.
In reality, Norman is actually coming out of a state of unconsciousness after passing out next to his mother and Romero’s dead bodies laying in the woods. Norman then flashes back to the day his mother told him that they were moving from Arizona to Oregon to run a motel that she purchased with insurance money they received after his father died.
Norman continues to flash between reality and what’s happening in his own head as he relives the day driving into White Pine Bay and first arriving at the Seafairer Motel before it was rebranded the Bates Motel. Norman’s visions are as clear as day to him but he’s actually driving back in Romero’s stolen car with his mother’s body in the back seat as he travels home to the house he shared with her.
Norman arrives, casually tears away the police caution tape and prepares the Bates Motel for business. In the back office, Norman places a call to his brother Dylan and asks him to join them for dinner. Dylan is shocked to hear from his brother, thinking that maybe he was already dead, but he’s elated to find out he’s actually alive.
Sadly, Dylan’s excitement soon turns to concern when he realizes that his brother is speaking to him in a state of psychosis, completely broken away from reality.
Before long a family pulls up asking for a room and Norman accommodates them without any problem. Of course they don’t realize that this motel shouldn’t be open for business at all.
Norman eventually makes his way back to the house — where he’s getting Norma’s corpse dressed — because they are going to have a family dinner once Dylan arrives and they are all back together again.
On the surface it’s clear that Norman is just suffering one more gigantic break from reality but it’s also rather sad when you dig deeper. Norman’s mind splintered into pieces years ago in an attempt to hide him from the pain of watching his mother being beaten by his father when he couldn’t do anything about it. That fractured psyche eventually went from flight to fight when he murdered his own father.
The psychosis has only continued to fester and grow over the years but this final act where Norman is literally reliving the first days he moved into the Bates Motel with his mother is just a heartbreaking last attempt to create a false reality for himself. Deep down somewhere, Norman knows he killed his own mother and this is really all he has left.
Dream a Little Dream
As Dylan prepares to go see his brother, he makes a call to his wife Emma, who is back at home in Washington with their daughter. Dylan explains to her that Norman reached out to him and now he has to go take care of his brother. Of course, Emma is scared of what Norman might do to Dylan in such a fragile, dangerous state.
Dylan’s words sound like a last goodbye, which is why Emma refuses to say ‘I love you’ back to him. She’s hoping that by leaving that question still lingering in the air when he hangs up the phone that Dylan will still have a reason to live and return home to her.
As Dylan walks up to the house and rings the bell, Norman answers and greets his brother with a hug. Norman’s words are confusing to Dylan because he’s welcoming him to the house as if he’s never been here before. In Norman’s mind, this is the first time Dylan has seen the new house because he’s still reliving those early days after relocating to White Pine Bay.
Dylan walks inside and he’s trying to find a way to convince his brother to come with him peacefully because he knows if the sheriff shows up she will have no concern whether he makes it out of there alive or dead.
That’s when Dylan walks into the dining room and finds his mother’s corpse propped up for dinner. Dylan is shocked and appalled, which then results in him vomiting all over the floor. Norman comforts his brother but this is enough for Dylan to realize he can no longer hide the truth from his brother no matter the damage it might do.
Dylan tells Norman that their mother is dead and he has to realize that this isn’t five years ago when they first moved into the house. Dylan asks Norman to turn himself in and get the help that he needs, but he has no interest in being drugged up or sitting in an insane asylum for the rest of his life.
With tears welling up in his eyes, Dylan tells Norman what he really wants is for none of this to have ever happened. He wants Norma alive and he wants Norman to be well and he wants both of them to meet his daughter and spend Christmases together but that can never happen.
As reality begins to set in and Norman’s mind wraps around what he’s done and the state he’s currently living in, he grabs a knife and turns to face his brother. Dylan pulls out the gun that he got from Remo while begging his brother not to make him do this.
All Norman has ever wanted is to spend eternity with his mother and this is his final chance to make that happen. The title of this episode ‘The Cord’ is a call back to the first episode in the series when Norman explains how his heart is always attached to his mother’s by a cord that can never be broken.
“I just want to be with her, Dylan”
Famous last words as Norman charges at Dylan with the knife and a gunshot goes off. Norman ends up stabbing the wall next to his brother’s head, which makes you wonder if he actually intended on hurting him or if this was the only way he could ensure Dylan would actually pull the trigger.
Either way, Norman collapses into Dylan’s arms as he begins to fade away. In those final flickering moments, Norman flashes into his own idea of heaven where his mother is there waiting for him. They embrace and Norman Bates takes his final breath.
In those last moments before ‘Bates Motel’ checks out forever, we fast forward to the future. The Bates Motel is up for sale and it appears someone is finally ready to buy the property to start a new chapter in White Pine Bay. And then we see Emma with Catherine, a few years older, before they reunite with Dylan in town. Dylan picks up his baby girl before grabbing Emma and giving her a kiss.
As it turns out, everybody got the happy ending that they wanted.