Sometimes setting an “end date” is the best thing a television series can do, and Bates Motel is a prime example of that. Knowing that they only have one more season after this current one has forced the writers to focus on what matters most and to drive both plot and character forward in huge ways, resulting in its best season yet. The latest episode, “Forever,” was so intense and so strong, it could easily have been a season finale, but instead it serves as a fantastic penultimate episode for Season 4.
Norma wakes up and briefly touches the pillow where Romero would be. He’s downstairs on the couch when she comes down, and she assures him that last night was the hardest part and things will get better now. Romero thinks Norman should be back in Pineview (she disagrees) and tells Norma he will never be the guy who just tells her what she wants to hear. Romero doesn’t want her to be alone with Norman, but Norma thinks he’s overreacting, telling him they’re two parts of the same person and Norman would never hurt her.
Norman is upstairs taking his medication, and steps out just in time to watch Norma and Romero kiss before Romero leaves for work. Norma tells him that Romero slept on the couch, and Norman even checks to make sure the couch looks slept on as he tells his mother to go get dressed so he won’t be late for therapy.
On the road to Pineview, Norma suggests they put up the Christmas lights later, since she waited for him to come home to do it. She suggests that Romero can help, and Norman says she must be joking. Norma understands that last night didn’t go well (that’s an understatement), but she believes in both of them and knows they can make it work. She then jokes that he should think of Romero as someone who can share the burden of his crazy mother.
Norman is in therapy talking about his mother’s sudden marriage, including the fact that she married him for the insurance. Edwards suggests that Norma had no other choice, but Norman tells him the marriage is real and now it’s supposed to be one big happy family. He tells Edwards it’s all about Norma’s fear of being alone, since he went away and Romero stepped in. He also thinks Romero always hated him and was just waiting for Norman to be out of the way so he could be with Norma. He thinks eventually Romero will see how damaged Norma is, and leave her, with Norman left behind to pick up the pieces like he always does.
Norma is outside Pineview waiting and calls Romero to see if he’s okay. She tells him that Norman is trying really hard and things will be fine. Romero replies that having Norman home might be right in the short term, but it’s not what’s best and tells her to ask Edwards what he thinks. Norma gets upset and tells him that five minutes of marriage doesn’t give him the right to make choices for her son. He promises he’s not, he’s just shining a light on the truth but Norma only hears judgment in his voice and thinks that Romero just doesn’t want to make room for Norman in their lives.
Over at Emma’s, Dylan is helping them pack up boxes when Emma hands him the coat she borrowed from Norma after they went to the tree lot. She also hands him an earring she found in the pocket, figuring that Norma must be missing it, but Dylan realizes that it was the same earring Audrey was wearing at the hospital.
On the drive home from Pineview, Norman tells his mother that he feels like everything his fault and that he ruined everything. Norma tells him he hasn’t and that he’s her whole life and always have been.
Rebecca is meeting with the DEA, this time with a lawyer at her side. The lawyer tells them that she’s willing to cooperate, giving them Bob’s murderer, but they want probation only and no jail time. She tells them she can prove Romero is a murderer and offers to wear a wire to get a confession.
Romero meets with Dylan at a diner to tell him that he thinks Norman is dangerous and should be back in Pineview because he’s afraid to leave Norma alone with him. He asks if Dylan has ever seen him exhibit violent behavior, and Dylan admits that he has and agrees with Romero, but both know Norma will never see it. Romero suggests they have Norman committed, and Dylan knows he means behind Norma’s back because she’ll never agree to it. Romero tells him he only needs two signatures of family members to do it (meaning stepdad and brother qualify), but Dylan isn’t sure he can do that to Norma and wants to talk to her first.
Dylan goes to Norma and confronts her with Audrey’s earring, and she tries to cover it up at first but Dylan calls her out on the lie. She plays it off like she found it outside, and Dylan begs her to face the truth that Norman is sick and dangerous. He tells her he’s afraid of what’s going to happen and what has already happened. Norma calls him dramatic and says he’s just making things up because he’s always been jealous of Norman. She immediately apologizes for saying that, but Dylan backs away and tells her that Romero agrees with him. Norma asks how he knows that Romero feels that way and he tells her they talked and both agree that she can’t see clearly when it comes to Norman. She realizes they want to commit him behind her back and gets angry, but Dylan tells her she’s never been a real mother to him and he’s done. He leaves the house and meets Norman returning from the hotel, hugging him and begging to check himself back into Pineview because Norma will never do it before he leaves.
Norma is in the kitchen when Norman comes in and asks what happened with Dylan. She tells him that Dylan doesn’t think he should be home and that everyone thinks they know more about Norman than she does. Norman asks if Romero feels that way too and she says she’ll go talk to him, but to stay there until she gets back. Norman says he’ll get the Christmas lights out so they can hang them when she gets back.
Romero is eating in a café when Rebecca shows up and is so blatantly obvious about fishing for incriminating information that Romero calls her out on it immediately. He plays innocent about Bob Paris, but then asks her where the mic is as she points to her chest. He moves closer to her and gives a message to the DEA that he has done nothing but be helpful and helped them shut down the drug business, so they can all go to hell.
He goes back to his office and Norma is already there, furious about him going behind her back. He tells her he loves her and is worried about both her and Norman. She thinks he’s actually just presumptuous and arrogant about thinking he knows what’s best for Norman. Romero says he’s dangerous and was ready to hit him with the axe, but Norma excuses it, saying he took it out on the shed. She tells him they were happy in their bubble, but the second reality crept in, that was it for him. Romero, like Dylan before him, tells her she can’t see clearly because it’s about Norman, and Norma tells him he crossed a line and she will never trust him again.
Up in the attic, Norman is testing the Christmas lights and then starts digging around, stumbling upon Audrey’s suitcase as he does. He opens it to see her scarf, a lock of her hair and the robe he wore as Mother, now covered in dirt. He puts the robe on and that’s when he realizes exactly what it all means. He quickly buries the evidence outside, and he’s back inside washing up when Norma gets home. She tells him he was right, that it’s not going to work with her and Alex. Norman tells her he’s sorry and she tries to act normal, but ends up sobbing on the floor until Norman picks her up and holds her.
Norma sits at her desk and writes a goodbye note to Romero, telling him that she will always love him and that she’s truly sorry. She takes off her wedding ring and puts it in the envelope before leaving it on the desk. She gets into bed and is crying again when Norman comes in to say goodnight. He sits on the bed next to her and suggest that they leave White Pine Bay, talking about how they tried their best but too much has happened here. He jokes about how she once wanted to move to Oahu and suggests that they go there, because with their charming personalities the hospitality industry will swoop them right up. He assures her that they can do anything as long as they’re together. She turns around and Norman sings her to sleep (in case you forgot for a second what a weird kid he is). He waits until she’s sound asleep, and then heads to the basement, lighting the old cracked furnace and then heads to each room in the house to close the vents before he lays down with Norma.
Alex arrives at the completely darkened house and knocks, but gets no answer, so he uses his key to go inside. He calls for Norma and ends up in her room, where both mother and son are unconscious. He shakes her, but she doesn’t wake up and he notices his own labored breathing and breaks the bedroom window before picking her up and taking her to the hallway. He opens more windows and then grabs Norman and takes him out in the hallway too. He starts performing CPR on her, but gets no response as Norman starts to cough and wake up. Alex realizes that he’s not going to be able to bring Norma bag and begins to sob as he holds her, while Norman turns his head to look at his (probably) dead mother and gently says, “Mother.”
- Uhm, hey, so, this show is SO GOOD right now that I’ve run out of adjectives.
- Why is “Mr. Sandman” the creepiest song always?
- Whether Norma stays dead or not, it feels like a completely earned moment and even with one episode left in the season, it’s an incredible set up for a final season. (Plus, we never have to lose Vera Farmiga from the cast list. Thanks Mother!)
- Romero is hardly perfect, but he is definitely no dummy. I love that he INSTANTLY figured out what Rebecca was doing. (And also she was terrible at being a mole, so that helped.)
- The scene of Norman walking through the house and methodically preparing the demise of his mother and himself was so well done, I ACTUALLY HAD CHILLS.
Photo Courtesy of A&E