Bates Motel series 4 finale review

Ok so let’s get the bad news out of the way first, Norma Bates is dead, this is crystal clear within the first few minutes of the series 4 finale. However there is no reason to start crying just yet, Vera Farmiga and the character of Norma Bates are going nowhere.

Anyone who has been following the series so far will probably of guessed that Norma Bates will carry on in her son’s (Norman Bates) mind, precisely within his dissociative identity disorder.

Norma Bates is key to the whole Bates Motel series, think about it this way, without Norma Bates, Norman would certainly not be the way that he is (and would ultimately become in the movie “Psycho”) due to her influence on Norman when we see him dress up and adopt her personality. The brilliant performance through Vera Farmiga shows the character of Norma and her motherly love that is overprotective, obsessive, neurotic, and in a small way sexual all at the same time. Within the whole series we find a woman who is willing to do anything for her son, whether it’s covering up murder details or marrying the local sheriff in order to get Norman into Pineview psychiatric hospital, Norma Bates is willing to go the extra mile.

Series 4 of Bates Motel brings the Norman Bates character clearly in line with the “Psycho” movie, Norman kills his mother (by carbon monoxide poisoning). But he is utterly convinced that she will be going back home and in a way she does, it’s after saying things like “Mother, I’ve really had enough of this” that the most chilling moment comes when Norman digs up his mother’s corpse, bringing it back home and talking to it as if his mother was still alive.
It is while Norma’s lifeless corpse lays on the sofa that the performance of Freddie Highmore is taken to a higher level, Norman shakes her lifeless body, at one point he pries her eyes open, gluing them into position. “Look at me, mother. Mother, look at me” he screams with desperation and insanity. It is at this point that we as the audience realise just how Norman (and the whole Bates Motel franchise) has come full “Psycho”.

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(Freddie Highmore as Norman Bates. Photo Cate Camerone A&E Networks.)

As someone who has watched Bates Motel since the very first episode, i cannot help but feel that the situation in which Norman has found himself (and ultimately the deaths of many people including Norma) was the fault of his mother, her overprotectiveness, obsessive and bordering on sexual relationship with her son was (from a viewers point of view) clearly unhealthy.
From the very first episode there were moments that made me as a viewer cringe and feel awkward, this isn’t a bad thing, in fact, it plays to the strengths of both the writing and  acting within the Bates Motel series.

The scenes that are particularly awkward to watch and make me cringe while at the same time being glued to the screen, often include Norman getting into bed with his mother, there is something very odd about an eighteen year old who get’s into the bed of his mother and puts his arm around her, no matter how platonic the intentions are.
It get’s even more creepy when later in the series we see Norman begin to take on the persona of his mother, in one scene we see him dressed in her dressing gown making breakfast (in the middle of the night i might add) And when interacting with his brother Dylan, Norman (or should i say Norma) speaks as his mother, it is at the point that we realise just how much of his mother’s persona that Norman has taken on.

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(James Dittiger A&E Networks)

From the very first interactions we see in series 1 between Norman and his mother, it feels like it has been leading up to this point and ultimately the consequences that play out before our very eyes (Normas death is the big one).

Series 4 had some weak points that included the Emma character (who viewers will know was once a romantic interest of Norman), at times it appeared as tho her character was being used as a filler to fluff up the show, her storyline (both with Dylan and with her lung oppression) felt watered down at times. The appearance of Emma’s mother could of made for a very interesting storyline that could of lasted longer than it did (she was killed by Norman) it felt rushed and at times felt like it was just another reason to push the character of Norman forward, to try and make it more obvious to the audience that the young Norman Bates was becoming “Psycho”

Overall Bates Motel series 4 was one of the best seasons yet, it’s as twisted as ever with major plots that focus on Norman and his psychotic behaviour and the as equally twisted and often sick relationship he shares with his overbearing mother Norma.

It’s also worth noting that series 5 has been confirmed to be the last series of Bates Motel, it will be interesting to see how the series ends, will we see Bates Motel pick up years later with Norman running the motel just like in the movie “Psycho” or will the series take a different route?

As long as the series doesn’t try to copy the original “Psycho” film (like most of the tacky and awful remakes) then the last series of Bates Motel stands a very good chance of being as good as previous seasons, if not better.

What we shouldn’t see is Norman in his forties running the motel, talking to his dead mother who he has locked in the attic. The recreation of the famous shower scene should also be off limits, it has already been done so many times (and all have failed in comparison to the original) and unless the TV series of Bates Motel can put a completely different spin on it i personally think that it should be left alone to stand the test of time.

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