Previously on Bates Motel, “Unfaithful”
I don’t know that I have the words to talk about this episode, but I’m going to try.
First of all, this is one of the best shows on television and the fact that more people aren’t talking about it is insane. It is consistently well-acted, it builds tension like no other, and it’s always beautifully shot. The penultimate episode of season four – which I just watched because my DVR didn’t record it last week and I assumed it wasn’t on – was everything that makes Bates Motel a fantastic hour of television.
The morning after the disastrous dinner at the Bates home, Norma is doing what she does best: putting on a smile and acting as if everything is okay; acting as though all the yelling and fighting were nothing more than an overreaction – an inevitable rough patch they needed to get through in order to move on to becoming a happy family unit.
Romero believes Norman needs to be committed, against his will if need be. He meets with Dylan to get him on board. Of course he is, and he’s willing to try once more to get Norma to see reason. He confronts her about Emma’s mother’s earring found in Norma’s coat pocket. She lies, she’s defensive, and when he won’t let up, she lashes out in anger. All of this, also, is Norma’s way. Dylan stops just shy of saying, “Norman killed Emma’s mother and we both know it,” but does let it slip what Romero has planned. Then he tells his mother goodbye, offers up one last plea to Norman to get help, and leaves.
Norma takes out the rest of her anger on Romero, ending things with him after accusing him of going behind her back to put a wedge between her and her son.
The stage was perfectly set for what happened next, yet I still didn’t see it coming.
After putting a cryptic note and her wedding ring in an envelope for Romero, Norma crawls into bed. Norman joins her, happy that her relationship with Romero is done and she’s once again all his. They makes plans to start over in a new place, and then Norma falls asleep in her son’s arms. He then lights a fire in the old furnace, shuts all the vents in the house except the ones in Norma’s bedroom, and then slides back into the bed.
That is how Romero finds them some time later. Despite opening the windows and performing CPR, Romero is unable to wake Norma. Norman, on the other hand, awakens just fine and in time to see Romero crying over his mother’s dead body.
I knew Norma’s inability to do the right thing when it came to Norman’s mental health would end in more death this season, but I honestly didn’t see it being Norma’s demise. Not this soon. Everything about the final moments of this episode was perfection. As the camera traveled along with the gas, through the vents, I held my breath. The house was dark, eerily silent, but we hear “Mr. Sandman” playing as Norman purposely prepares to end his and his mother’s life.
Is Norma truly dead? It appears so. I couldn’t help but wonder what dreams the Sandman brought for her as she took her final breaths. I hope they were good ones.
If she’s not dead, yay for more Vera Farmiga, who is nothing short of brilliant in this role.
Bates Motel S4E9