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Moment of Goodness

Bates Motel “Unconscious” 

Photo Credit: James Dittiger/A & E
Photo Credit: James Dittiger/A & E

[Warning: Spoilers for tonight’s season finale.]

One of the things that’s always intrigued me in the way scenes are blocked is whether and how characters physically touch each other. Y’all know that was one of my nits about Hell on Wheels and the arc with Ruth and Bohannon. In tonight’s Bates Motel, Norma turns to each of the men in her life, seeking some sort of solace or commiseration and does not find it.

When she tells Dylan what she’s doing that day–looking into facilities for Norman–he’s so caught up in Caleb bailing on him that he doesn’t offer to go with her, or hug her, even when she kisses his cheek goodbye. When she comes clean with Norman about where she’s been, she takes his hand to tell him, but he calmly gets off the couch and walks away from her, pronouncing that she’s given up on him.

Later that night, Alex comes to tell her that the DEA is making its move, and she’s upset but resigned and he’s stoic. They don’t really apologize to each other but they come to an understanding that it’s a sh-t situation and they did what they could. They have this conversation while she stands on the porch and he stands in the dirt, a chasm between them. She steps slightly closer to him when she steps off the porch to go up to the house, but they don’t touch each other.

But then, in the only way Alex seems to know how to express his emotions, he again kills somebody for Norma. This time it’s Bob, who he tips off ahead of the DEA raid and then confronts on his boat, unloading a gun into him when he condemns him for being like his father. Who needs roses when you can put two in the chest and one in the throat of your beloved’s arch enemy?

Emma’s dad tells her that she’s in first position for a transplant and there are lungs waiting on her in Portland. She asks how she moved up the list and her dad says only that she was a match. She responds by fleeing to Dylan’s farm. Will calls Dylan, who says he’ll go look for her. Knowing exactly where she’ll be, he finds her at the water’s edge. She guesses he’s surprised to see her and he says not really, that her dad called him, but she needs to get to Portland. She says she’s worried, and that transplants bring new issues, like the rejection of the organ and a lifetime of tests and poking and prodding, whereas a winding-down death like she’s looking at now has no curve balls.

Dylan listens to her and then she rushes away from him in tears that she just wants some control over her life. He calls after her and takes her arm and she shrugs him off, telling him she’s ridiculous when she cries. “You’re the least ridiculous person I’ve ever known. You’re wiser than people twice your age,” he says. “You’re the bravest person that I know. You’re a freaking warrior.”

She searches him for some sign that he’s not genuine in what he’s saying and doesn’t find it. The moment they lost in her bedroom is back and they kiss, soft and sweet (and hot) again and again until they break apart laughing about getting caught up. He teases her that she can say he was the guy who hit on her before a lung transplant and she questions if that was what he was doing. He says if she doesn’t know, he was doing a sh-tty job. She says she guesses she has to get the dumb lung transplant. He agrees and she chides him not to tell her what to do. He says she has to. She says she knows, and they just hold onto each other for a little bit.

Photo Credit: James Dittiger/A & E
Photo Credit: James Dittiger/A & E

Norma confronts Norman about trying to leave and after they scuffle and she falls down the stairs, she knocks him in the head with a doorstop iron and drags him unconscious down to the basement. She ties his hands and feet and locks him inside and then calls Dylan to come home. When he gets there, she tells him Norman was raving about leaving with Bradley and he comes clean that that actually might be true. Then they’re in a quandary because Norman escapes.

Norman and Bradley start to head out of town–after Bradley has made a  pit stop at her mom’s house and cleaned out her jewelry and cash and swung a nine iron around at the valuables. Once they’re on the road, Bradley’s commending Norman for breaking from his mom, and we pan around to see NotNorma in the back seat. She wants to talk to Bradley. Norman argues with her and finally concedes.

He tells Bradley that Mother wants a word and to pull over. When Norman gets out of the car, the framing changes so that we see Vera Farmiga racing around the car to pull Bradley out of the driver’s side, and the poor, dumb girl doesn’t just floor it away from there. NotNorma chases her down until she falls and then bashes her head against the rocks until she’s lifeless. Then Norman returns, bellowing the familiar, “Mother, what you have done?”

He drives Bradley’s car, with a dead Bradley in the trunk, to the dock and apologizes to Bradley for what Mother did, and then rolls them into the water. NotNorma returns to his side and tells him it’s their secret and they’ll always be together, and won’t that be nice. She makes him promise, and in a strange sort of vow he says, “I do.” Then the Ronettes’ “Be My Baby” starts up and the camera pans back to reveal Norman alone, looking out at the water.

And that leaves us until, fingers-crossed, season four, which will hopefully be announced soon.

I loved the episode, and really, the whole season. I was super grateful Chick didn’t pop up out of a random corner swinging a shotgun or a shovel. We only had a parting glimpse of Caleb as we saw him packing up his van and Dylan arrived too late to see him, left to yell into his voicemail instead.

I love that Norma is actively looking for help. When the prim registrar tells her exactly how expensive it is–coincidentally in the same ballpark as Emma’s lungs (per month)–you see the hope drain but she still takes the literature.

The scene on the porch with Norma and Alex spoke reams. Next season, there will be more to say there with Bob out of the way but Norman’s full demons on the table. As I said above, I loved the blocking that they physically can’t find their way to each other (yet), and that Alex’s misplaced token of affection was murder. I knew Alex would take Bob out as soon as Alex popped out of the dark on the boat, and the angrier and more vitriolic Bob got, I just thought, “Oh, man, he’s not walking out of this.” And Alex never raises his voice.

I ADORED the scene with Dylan and Emma. Somebody on Twitter today said their relationship is for the teen set while Norma and Alex are for the grownups and I beg to differ there. Dylan and Emma are hardly unwounded in the world of the show, and Dylan rightly calls her out as an old soul, which she is when she’s lived with the threat of death all her life and still managed to be this extraordinary young woman full of light and love.

I’ve written several times about Dylan and his psyche, and I think he finds peace and solace with Emma, and a sanity in the din of his family. Plus they have genuinely been friends to each other. I very much like them together. Of course, the sh-t will hit the fan when she finds out he paid for her lungs. But they can deal with that next year.

As for Norman, when we chatted with the cast and creators a couple of months ago, the recurrent theme of a child spiraling into darkness came up, and these closing episodes of the season have framed that completely. We have a Norman going utterly over the edge, and Norma is grasping after him as he falls, trying to grant him some normalcy because he will inevitably survive her (just not the way she thinks, sadly). As he becomes more and more unhinged, everyone is at risk. They don’t even need an outside force. The big bad is in the bedroom at the top of the stairs.

The Bates Motel season finale airs again at 11/10c and overnight and throughout the week. It will be online tomorrow. Season three will also marathon Friday beginning at 10 am/9c on A & E.

As soon as we hear about a renewal, I’ll cover it here. Thank you for reading!

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