It’s Time To Check Out of Bates Motel (For Now)
by Nile Fortner
On Bates Motel: The Final Check Out, Vera Farmiga (Orphan, Source Code) said, “I am going to miss the sh*t out of playing Norma Bates.” She also mentions how the show is, “unique, and it’s one of a kind.” Well as a big fan of this series, I, and I’m sure many of you agree, that we will all miss the sh*t out of Bates Motel and it really is so unique and one of a kind.
Series finales often feel awkward, and try too hard to please fans. Sometimes it is like they are rushing to the finish line in a way that leaves audiences confused, wanting more, and dissatisfied. In my opinion, the last two seasons of Bates Motel, are easily the best, and was some of the best television I’ve seen in a very long time. Throughout the series and finale of this show, that I feel like is underrated, we saw how much Norman Bates, played by Freddie Highmore (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, August Rush), has changed over the course of the show, and we’re reminded just how much has been lost for all of our characters. Everyone of the characters, from Caleb, Chick, Romero, Emma, Dylan, Norma, and of course Norman. Ultimately, Dylan and Emma escape, they seem like they will be happily ever after, and free to start their own family away from the nightmare of family and White Pine Bay.
The fifth and final season of one of my all time favorite television shows, Bates Motel, premiered on February 20, 2017, and concluded on April 24, 2017. The season consisted of 10 episodes. According to Wikipedia and IMDB, the series is described as a “contemporary prequel” to the classic 1960 Alfred Hitchcock film, Psycho, following the life of Norman Bates and his mother Norma prior to the events portrayed in the Hitchcock film. However, the final season of the series loosely adapts the plot of Psycho.
The final season is showing more Hitchcock references than audiences have gotten in the previous seasons. There’s a nice nod to the iconic shower scene in the first episode. We get our first look of Norma’s permanent residence, or at least what we believe might be her final resting place, seeing how it’s first introduced in the film.
Speaking of Hitchcock references, fans were amped up to see Rihanna put in the work, work, work, work, work to play Marion Crane. Originally played by Janet Leigh (the mother to Jamie Lee Curtis), and if the good girl gone bad has what it takes to talk that talk, and take down a rude boy like Norman (okay I’m done with the Rihanna references). Surprisingly, the show does not shine a light on so much interaction between Marion and Norman. It is not until episode six where Norman and Marion first have some real interaction. They chose to focus on showing a different side of Marion that we didn’t see in the Hitchcock film. Marion is in a relationship with a man named Sam. Sam is cheating on his wife Madeleine with Marion. Also, Madeleine is forming a relationship with Norman, and it is by “coincidence” she looks identical to Norma Bates. This brings new obstacles, drama, and tension to a character we thought we already knew so well.
But before you start thinking to yourself this final season was just Hitchcock references, Easter eggs, and fan service, believe me it is not. So don’t expect to see chocolate syrup as blood going down a shower drain. This show provides some really good new elements.
Norma pops up in season five shouldn’t come as a big surprise. She’s always been a part of Norman’s subconscious, and we saw in the finale how he would continue to pretend his mother is there to keep himself “sane”. However, the way Norma is presented is truly impressive. She continues to feel like a living character, even though she is dead.
Highmore as Norman is an astounding actor. We see Norman have one of his blackouts, and I found it amazing how well Highmore captured the movement, the mind, the illustrations, and overall character of Norma. Similarly, Farmiga is off the heezy. She is the executive producer and Emmy nominee for season one. She has been a delight throughout the series, but now, she is free from the torture of the living, she is free from rules, she has the opportunity to unleash full-blown crazier than a sh*t-house rat Norma. I just find it great acting combined with great writing. Even though “Norma” has all these issues, you can’t help but see how she might be a little sweet.
“He’s not a bad person. He’s not a criminal. He’s crazy”
I loved that the final scenes of the series came down to a tense, but also tender, moment between Norman and Dylan. When the show started, many of us had the idea that Hitchcock’s Psycho was the end point for this whole series, and we have an idea of the direction the series will end in. Meaning that all the non-Norman characters, Norma, Dylan, Emma, Romero, and others would all die, go missing, etc. because of Norman’s increasing madness. Which would leave only him in the end, to get caught, captured, and locked up as a Looney person, who escapes. I spent the first few seasons wondering things like,”Okay, when does Dylan die?”
However, once the show began to really blossom into its own beautiful natural creation, it started feeling like it was going to elevate up and out of the idea that the Hitchcock film was it’s ultimate fate. Meaning, the show started out as a prequel, but took a turn with the audience now asking themselves, “Can the show really end with Norman still having a brother, an ex-girlfriend, the sheriff, and police department still after him?” As Highmore told audiences, “you get to see Psycho played out, but in a different perspective.”
In addition, the final season at times is a little funny and a little sad, especially with the very last few scenes in the finale. For example, we do feel sympathy for Norman. On the other hand, it almost plays out like a dark comedy. It’s sort of funny Norman thinking it’s normal to be covered in blood, dragging your dead mother upstairs, and telling her to get ready for dinner.
Accordingly, I always loved how this series has stayed true to the look, tone, and overall feeling of Hitchcock’s classic film. Everything on this series fits into the same world of the film. You take a look at something like the movie Prometheus, a prequel to the Alien films, and that prequel doesn’t even look like it even takes place in the same world.
“This Is How It Ends, Isn’t It?!”
Max Thieriot (The Pacifier, My Soul to Take) as Dylan got the finale’s big speech. He comes to the motel to meet Norman, who wants his brother’s invitation, and Dylan sees his mother’s dead body dressed up in a red dress and seated at the dining room table, which makes him vomit. He tells Norman that he has to turn himself in and start getting the help he needs. Norman refuses, and this is where his insanity really kicks in. The two brothers have a scene together that makes for some real good dialogue, character development, motivation, and drama.
“That’s what you want for me?” Norman says. “To be shut up in some prison for the criminally insane and drugged out of my mind?”
“I don’t know what I want for you,” says Dylan. “What I really want is something that can never happen. I want you to be happy and I want you to be well. I want Mom to be alive again. I want you guys to meet my daughter. I want to have Christmases together, okay? I want all of these things to have never happened.”
It’s a heartbreaking speech, we finally learn what Dylan wants. Dylan and even Norman come off as relatable, because at the end of the day most people just want a “normal” family. The ending is like Romeo and Juliet, it’s sad, but there is joy, a heart-warming moment, and beauty to be found within it.
So these are my final thoughts on the 5th and final season of Bates Motel.
- Bates Motel ended with shining a light on the most important aspect of the series, and that’s the power of family. Even though this show is a prequel to Psycho, the show realized the power of family, and this was about Norman, Norma, and Dylan, the centerpieces of the show from the very beginning.
- I actually really enjoyed the surprise ending. It caught me off guard, and the more I think about it, the more I’m okay with it.
- Every season got better. Everyone’s work, including the writers, directors, and actors, felt elevated and grew as the show moved through its closing chapters.
- I’ll miss this show. The TV landscape won’t be the same.
- This show was a real journey for me, and I enjoyed every moment of that journey.
I never once wanted to check out of this place. I believe the 5th and final season of Bates Motel earns…
5 Out of 5 Hairpieces!