Bates Motel Season 5 Episode 10: “The Cord” (Series Finale)
Directed by Tucker Gates
Written by Kerry Ehrin
Created by Anthony Cipriano, Carlton Cuse, Kerry Ehrin
Starring Vera Farmiga, Freddie Highmore, Max Thieriot, Nestor Carbonell, Olivia Cooke, Isabelle McNally A&E
Air Date: Monday, April 24th, 2017, 10pm
Many of my favorite shows have sputtered to the finish making their final episodes something of a mercy kill. But not Bates Motel. Sometimes TV series hit the climax early and the final season just doesn’t have that special magic it once had. Not Bates Motel. No, Bates Motel is that rare exception: a series that like a fine wine got better with age. That makes tonight’s series finale even more upsetting. Over its five seasons the creators of the show somehow did something unthinkable: they took an untouchable classic (Psycho), by one of the legendary filmmakers of all time, and made it new, fresh, and dare I say… at times, better. At the forefront of the success are the duo of Vera Farmiga and Freddie Highmore as Norma and Norman Bates. Farmiga was perfectly overbearing and overprotective as “Mother”; neurotic to a fault and yet through it all, a loving and devoted matriarch. Highmore is a revelation. This season he has co-written episodes, directed, and delivered an unnerving and consistently moving performance, one that deserves to be recognized with an Emmy nomination. He stepped into perhaps the most iconic role in horror history and created a new and altogether different Norman than Anthony Perkins did for Alfred Hitchcock back in 1960. Tonight, Norma and Norman have a final ride as the Bates Motel shuts down for good.
Spoilers for the series finale Bates Motel:
Last week’s episode ended with Alex Romero (Nestor Carbonell) seeking his final revenge and destroying all chances of returning to a normal life. He broke INTO jail and kidnapped Norman at gunpoint. Romero is Norman’s last victim I suppose; live or die, Romero is a man in hell. Romero wants to find Norma’s body. Sheriff Greene (Brooke Smith) tells Dylan (Max Thieriot) of the kidnapping and Dylan, ever the loving brother, demands Norman’s return. Meanwhile, as Romero and Norman inch closer to Norma’s body, the tension is palpable. When they finally find Norma’s body, Romero snaps and beats Norman down, but his emotions get the better of him, allowing a bloody Norman to attack from behind, get his gun, and put Romero down. With his dying breath, Alex tells Norman he killed his own mother. Freddie Highmore’s face, broken and bleeding but with tears in his eyes as Norma leaves him once and for all, is just breathtaking.
The scene that follows is just masterful. A perfect blend of Norman’s memories mixed with his current psychosis as he drives his mother’s body home. There is such great juxtaposition of color and tone from shot to shot. You know the show has done its job when you’re near tears as the multiple murderer brings his taxidermied mother home and you’re hoping the best for him.
Dylan gets himself protection as Norman cheerily sets up the motel for a grand reopening, and wouldn’t you know it, customers. How is there NOT a cop anywhere near the motel? Seriously!? Norman calls Dylan and invites him for dinner; Dylan thinks Romero is still alive and pulling the strings and doesn’t realize the giant mess of crazy he’s walking into. Emma (Olivia Cooke) tries desperately to warn Dylan to call the Sheriff. He goes in and we get an agonizing final scene between the Bates family and a final truly touching sequence for Norma and Norman, which brought me to full-blown tears.
This was as perfect a finale to Bates Motel as I could have imagined. Despite all the great characters, this show was the story of a mother and a son and that’s what this episode understood. They smartly ended the Romero angle early and gave the entire final two-thirds to Norman, his mother, and Dylan. In the end, somehow through all the bloodshed there is a happiness. Norman is at peace with Mother. Dyl-Emma are alive and well to raise their daughter with no strings attached.
This show had the unenviable task of treading on Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho and managed to create a wonderful new world; a Psycho for a new generation and dare I say, Hitch would be pleased. Everyone involved should be proud. The Bates Motel is closed for business.