Duh, there’s super duper chocolatey fudge coated super spoilers throughout this recap!
Bates Motel has finally ended, and as usual, I’m incredibly sad that one of my favorite shows is over. The only plus side is now I can rewatch it all from the beginning! Yay!
The brief recap at the start of the episode gives us the definitive line of Norma and Norman’s relationship, in his words: “It’s like there’s a cord between our hearts; it’s you and me, it’s always been you and me. We belong to each other.” It’s fitting that the title of this episode is “The Cord,” as this odd relationship between mother and son (and everyone else in this town too) comes to an end.
We jump right in, with Alex making the office manager drive out to the woods where Norman hid his mother’s body. The poor girl is an emotional wreck, begging for her life when Alex lets her go. She’s innocent, and he never intended to kill her; in a cute little off-moment, he even says “you’ve got a coat on, you’ll be fine,” when she says she’ll die of hypothermia if she walks all the way back home. Alex drives the rest of the way into the woods, with Norman giving very few helpful directions to try and find Norma’s body.
Meanwhile, Sheriff Green calls Dylan into the station to update him on Norman’s situation. She asks him if he knows any possible place where Alex could’ve taken them, and Dylan bluntly states that he doesn’t know, but he knows that Alex is planning on killing Norman. He continues on his rant about Norman needing serious mental help and that no one is providing it; Green doesn’t seem to care, and just reinstates the fact that Norman is up for three separate murder charges. She does care, though, about the poor girl who was kidnapped, and everything else (including Norman seeking psychiatric help) is waaaaaayy down her list of concerns.
Mother is having a little moment with Norman in the car, whispering to him that it’s not safe to come out, and she’ll continue to help him while they’re with Alex. He hears this whispering and gets infuriated, thinking that Norman is just screwing with him on purpose. Mother admits that she’s not Norman, that Alex has no way of getting to Norman, and, duh, Alex doesn’t believe him; he thinks it’s just a tactic to try and get out of this current situation with “Sheriff Lonely Heart.” Alex, again, reiterates his disbelief that it’s not Norman he’s talking to and that Norman needs to show him where he hid the body so he can finally kill Norman. They stumble out into the woods and unearth Norma’s body from a pile of snow.
It’s a seriously emotional moment for Alex when he sees Norma’s frozen body in the snow. Mother apologizes for his loss, says she knows just how much Alex loved Norma. And then Alex gets up and starts wailing on Norman, to the point where he looks nearly unconscious laying in the snow.
I emphasize this because this scene irks me SO MUCH and it seems like such a cop out for things to happen this way.
Alex has An Emotional Moment with Norma’s corpse (manly tears in abundance) before he is rudely interrupted by Norman and a giant rock crashing into his skull. Norman beats Alex over the head several times, then grabs his gun and shoots him in the chest. Alex chokes out, “you killed your own mother, you can’t hide from it,” before he dies. R.I.P. Sheriff Eyelashes.
Okay, so they really expect us to believe that this scrawny little dude, who was just beaten within an inch of his life, can get up, get a large rock and smash it over someone’s head? Really? And not just once, but several times, and with a LOT of force. I know that fiction has a lot of suspended disbelief and stuff, but this one just really bugged me. It kind of cheapens Alex’s death, and that he didn’t get this big sendoff like so many other characters did when they died. I may be in the minority that actually liked him, so I’m sure lots of viewers out there are whooping and hollering with joy that he’s gone. But I’m still disappointed. Even Chick, who wasn’t in that many episodes, had a more shocking and emphatic death. Guess I’ll just have to be sad about this forever.
ANYWAY, so it looks like Norman is finally Norman again, with Mother standing in front of him in a cute little peacoat finally bringing him back to reality. He realizes that he killed Norma, and that he was supposed to die that night too, and he can’t bear the sadness. Mother says it’s time for her to go, that he knows everything, and there’s nothing else she needs to protect him from. It’s clearly very traumatic for Norman; he doesn’t want to be alone, which he will be for the very first time, with no Norma, and no Mother.
Norman wakes up the next morning basking in a warm yellow light, with Mother right next to him. He figures everything was just a horrible nightmare, and they’re together once again. Norman rushes downstairs to find that Norma is still there, maybe it wasn’t a dream after all…
But, of course, that’s short lived. Bloody Norman wakes up in the snow next to Alex’s dead body. He is still all alone in his head but trying to find comfort in the memories of his mother.
The color contrast between these scenes is incredible, so props to the crew for coming up with this beauty. The dark blues, blacks, and purples of the previous scenes have faded away along with all the trouble (and murder) that Norman was harboring, and now he’s back to the bright yellows and oranges of a world that seems a whole lot better.
Norman’s mind has jumped back to the start, when Norma first told him that she bought a house, a motel, and a car, and they’re moving to White Pine Bay. The scene jumps back and forth between the angelic look of Norma in the driver’s seat taking them to their new home, and a bloody and wild-looking Norman driving home against the dark gray skies with his mother’s corpse just chilling in the back seat.
It’s as if Norman’s brain has reset itself, almost. That it’s going back to when this whole chapter of his life started, and he can try to relive it, fix it.
That’s not how life works, of course, but it seems to be working fairly well for him at the moment. He goes to open the motel and nonchalantly tears down crime scene tape, then takes it upon himself to get the motel up and running again. And somehow, a family just happens to magically pass by at that same moment and ask for a room. It’s a mother and two boys, one of whom is named Dylan (naturally), and she’s doing her best to look out for them while her husband is away at work. At first, I thought this was just another one of Norman’s hallucinations, but it wasn’t. Just a very oddly timed occurrence that luckily ended well for the innocent family.
And just like the pilot, Norman calls Dylan to let him know that they’ve moved, and he’s sorry things had to happen the way they did. Dylan is very confused, to say the least, but he goes along with Norman and says he’ll come visit at “the new house” as soon as he gets a chance. Before he hangs up, Dylan is sure to ask if Norman is with Romero, which prompts Norman to say he doesn’t know any Romero. That’s Dylan’s cue to go over and try to help because something is very clearly wrong.
When Dylan gets to the motel, he sits and has a moment with his newly acquired gun, then calls Emma. He catches her up on what happened with Norman, and that he’s not going to get the sheriff involved. Emma reminds him he has a child and shouldn’t do anything reckless, and he retorts with “Do I have a wife?” Which she sneakily avoids answering. She’s upset, a little defensive, almost, while Dylan seems resigned. Like he knows he’s going to die. It’s so dang sad, and Emma doesn’t even say she loves him back!!
After Dylan hangs up with Emma, he sees a car over in the motel lot and panics. He heads over to the room, tells the mother she should never have been checked in because his brother isn’t mentally well, and he gets them out safely. Phew.
Norman makes them a lovely dinner, fancy place settings and all. He even dolls Norma up in her fancy red dress and sits her at the head of the table. #LittleBatesThings
Dylan heads up to the house and is greeted by a very cheery Norman, who is glad to see his estranged brother. Dylan isn’t too happy, especially when he sees Norma at the table (which prompts him to puke all over the floor, naturally), and Norman is acting like it’s no big deal, he’s just upset about Norma and Norman moving without telling them.
He confronts Norman, says that he’s not facing reality, and he’s living in this little world he came up with. Their mother is dead, and Norman has to deal with it and go back to jail so he can get the psychiatric help he needs. Dylan just wants his brother to be well, most of all. He wants his family back together, but of course, that can never happen. Norman offers an idea: “If you believe hard enough, you can make it that way!” Which just breaks my little heart. He’s so lost in his mind and thinks that ‘hey, imagining my own little world has worked out pretty well for me, maybe it’ll work for you too!’ is a perfect solution. It’s both naive and sad, and kinda perfectly captures what’s going on in his twisted mind.
Norman has a brief and quiet moment of reflection, then grabs a knife and turns on Dylan. He doesn’t want to be taken away from Norma, and that’s what is going to happen if he doesn’t do something about it. “I just want to be with her, Dylan.” Is what he says before lunging toward him with the knife. He’s met with a bullet from Dylan’s gun, and he sinks to the floor. Dylan sobs as he holds his dying brother, knowing that there really wasn’t any other way this could have ended.
The way that Norman plunges the knife into the wall, honestly nowhere near where Dylan is standing, tips us off that he likely never intended to kill his brother in the first place. That he knew Dylan would counter back with violence and give him the end that he wanted: to be reunited with Norma.
As he sinks into Dylan’s arms, Norman goes off into his mind, in a happy little place where he’s met by Norma, all in white and shining in the sun, waiting for him with open arms. They’re reunited in a tearful hug, where there are brief glances of him as a child swinging in his mother’s arms, all smiles.
“Thank you,” are Norman’s last words as he slowly fades away. And the camera pans out to show Dylan holding Norman on the floor, with Norma propped up in her chair nearby.
The sheriff and her crew come by to collect Norma and Norman’s bodies, while another crew goes to the woods and finds Alex’s body. Dylan sits on the front step of the house, clearly shaken and silent. “Dream a Little Dream of Me” plays as we get the end montage, which is so fitting for this end.
Years have passed, a new family has purchased the Bates’ property and moved in. Dylan got his happy ending as well; Katie is a toddler now, and he’s still with Emma. They’re basking in the sunlight, happy and in love, just the way they should be. And Norman is buried right beside his mother, together forever, just like they always wanted.
So. It’s over.
I’ve been burned one too many times by series finales, so I breathed a sigh of relief when this turned out to be a pretty fitting end for the show. It started off wild and intense, then slowly faded into a calm and peaceful ending. I had a few gripes, of course, but those were thankfully outweighed by the positives. It was awful to see Dylan going through this, seeing his deceased mother out of her grave and sitting about like it was no big deal, then having to kill his brother in order to save him from an even worse life. But it was probably best for Norman to have gone out like this instead of suffering from the reality of what he did. Poor Alex never got his revenge, but at least his suspicions were confirmed when he saw Norma’s body, and he could find some peace in that. Dylan and Emma got the happy ending they deserved, though, which was my favorite part of the episode.
I’m sad to see Bates go, but at least things were wrapped up nicely, and I don’t really have any unanswered questions.
I’d love to hear your thoughts about the finale, so sound off in the comments below! And I’ll leave you with this last little gem.