S2ep10: “The Immutable Truth”

Original air date: May 5, 2014

“Previously on Bates Motel..”

Damn, to think that’s the last time until March 2015 any of us will hear those opening words, except on rewatching of course. I’ve deliberately put off reviewing the season 2 finale because just as with watching the series itself: I don’t want it to end. But here we go:

Now Norman knows what he did the night Ms. Watson was killed; at least it seems that way provided it’s not another one of his twisted involuntary fantasies. I’d bet anything he wishes it was just one of those flashbacks/hallucinations that never happened on the plane of reality. So do I. But that’s not to be.

Norman’s trapped in the box with the freezing rain and only those awful giant bugs for company. My breath catches as he’s no longer screaming for help. He’s just muttering “Help me…please..” so softly it’s hard to even hear him over the rain. How much longer can he hold on?! Someone’s got to find him, and soon! Not only is his life in danger from the Ford gang that kidnapped him; Norman just might take a permanent retreat from sanity even after he’s rescued. The results of that–of what he might do–are devastating to think about. Everyone around him could well be in danger even if he’d never wanted to hurt anyone.


Romero in his cruiser happens upon Dylan running through the field and onto the road–lucky break for Dylan. He tells Romero Nick Ford’s dead, and Romero heads back to case the Ford mansion with his gun drawn. This scene scares me for a minute because I think some Ford lackey might come out of a corner and put a gun to Romero. Thankfully that doesn’t happen, and Romero gets the privilege of roughing up one of Ford’s bodyguards.

“No respect for the dead, huh?”

I’ve got to admit Sheriff Romero’s grown on me, so gradually I didn’t even realize it was happening. Even with his determination to get Norman to take the lie detector test, he’s also just as determined to find Norman and get him home safely. Romero always wants to do the right thing, even when the “right thing” isn’t always clear-cut and sometimes threatens the freedom of the two main characters I love so much. I admire the principles behind what he does, all the same.

Dylan starts yelling for Norman, and we get a sense for the first time that the box isn’t all that far from the main Ford property–which was tough to gauge before. It’s such a relief when Norman hears his brother and starts yelling back! Although it sounds a little funny after the first couple of times, like a twisted game of “Marco Polo.” It’s sweet how much Dylan hugs him. Whatever may have happened in the past, Dylan might be realizing how devastating it would’ve been to lose his half-brother. Family is still family when it comes down to it.

“You found him?”

Norma again seems surprised that Dylan was the one who found Norman in the box. Now she’s getting a little more of a hint that Dylan’s a better person than the opinions she’s had of him. It’s got to be tough to separate out that negativity because of where Dylan came from and of how she had no choice in becoming his mother. But Dylan’s not Caleb; he’d never hurt anyone like Caleb hurt her, and he’s dedicated to being there for this family.

Norman wakes up briefly and tries to tell Norma about the “dreams” he had while in the box, but she wants him to forget about that for now; that truth will come out in due time. More truth is still kept from Emma when they get home, with a cover-up story about Norman having a bad stomach flu. Norma lets Norman know that Emma’s quitting and why, acknowledging that Emma’s not wrong for being upset about being left out. But like Norma says, what other choice did she have? Especially with Norman being kidnapped.

Even though it sucks, the issue of Emma’s pushed aside as Norma sets about taking care of Norman. They’re no longer fighting, and that chilly rift between them is gone for now. I have a feeling it’ll be back once he recovers and starts trying to tell her what he had nightmare visions of in the box.

“I don’t know what I’d do if anything happened to you. I honestly don’t know.”

That says everything about how much Norma needs her son and for them to be as close as they’ve been, before he started realizing this dark, deadly secret existed about himself. She’d be completely lost without him, and judging from his visions of her in the box, Norman would be lost without her too if they were ever permanently separated. This reality will come back to haunt both of them before the very end.

And we get to see Christine’s true colors, which honestly gives me some measure of satisfaction because they’re close to the distrustful feelings I had about her anyway. Yes, it’s true Norma shouldn’t have said those things about George being part of “those people who sleepwalk through life and judge the rest of us.” But the least Christine could do is try to get some measure of understanding of why Norma said those things, to get her side of the story in other words. But no. Norma gets called a “train wreck” (not cool!) and told in so many words she’s going to have a hell of a time with the city council position. This scene leaves me with a sinking feeling; Norma’s going to run into more trouble than deserved in season 3.

“There’s something I need to tell you, Mother.”

Norma already has a jump on Norman because she already knows from Romero about the evidence of Norman sleeping with his late teacher. I find her reaction a slight let-down because I was hoping for a few more fireworks from her at that piece of news. But Blair Watson is dead and can’t answer for seducing young boys. It’s funny and a bit uncharacteristic how Norma brushes off any blame on Norman for his role in that encounter, considering how she’s come unglued in the past at the idea of Norman having sex with pretty much any woman. On the other hand, maybe she just wants to put it behind them and move on.

I don’t think I breathed for a few seconds when Norman said “I think I did, Mother.” The guilt all over his face and the tears in his eyes are so gut-wrenching to watch. It brings back what he once said to Dylan about what it’d be like finding out a secret about you that changed your whole perception of yourself. And now Norman’s set up to see himself as a monster. Anyone with a soul and a conscious would see themselves as exactly that. This is where Norman veers away from the true definition of “psychopath,” which I’ll be exploring elsewhere in the blog. What’s the worst part is that Norman can’t control it, stop it, or fix it. He could snap, black out over any stressor, and kill anyone without knowing it until after it’s over–including the one person he loves more than anything in the world. No way out.

I love this scene’s parting shot; it seems to underline the above harsh reality even more. Norman comes to a slow realization that there may be one way out–one that’s too awful to think much about, a final solution. If he can’t be in this world without the risk of killing anyone–especially Norma–he’s going to take himself out of it. An ultimate act of altruism, in that sense. Like Norma, those of us who’ve grown to know and love Norman can’t bear to see this happen; there’s got to be some other way!

Chilling image: Norma in her rocking chair. We know where the Psycho movie version of her eventually ends up. It’s a great visual reminder of what Norman’s capable of, what could happen to her if he has a black-out at any given time, without warning.

It’s considerate and nice of Sheriff Romero to first ask how Norman’s doing before reminding Norma of the inevitable polygraph test. The brief silence and look between them is full of understanding, maybe even some level of friendship. I’m still not a Normero shipper, but we all don’t know what the future holds. Never say never. We’ll see if there’s more character/relationship development here and if I still have the same stance by the end of season 3.

Norman and Emma’s last season 2 scene is a tear-jerker for me. They’re different people in so many ways since they first did that poetry project together. Emma gets what she’s been wanting to know, and more than she could’ve bargained for: the truth about Dylan. True to her compassionate nature, she feels so empathetic for both Dylan and Norma. So do I. Then there’s the reason Norman wants her to stay: Norma will have no one else once he’s gone. What he’s going to do is hammering home even more. It’s going to kill Norma…and me..oh my god…

With all this happening, I almost forgot about the lingering problem of Zane Morgan. Dylan and Jodi bait him out of hiding, and a shoot-out ensues. Zane the monster ends up killing his own sister! Fuck. I did not want Jodi to die. I wanted her and Dylan to stay together; they deserved at least that much happiness after all this tragedy and bloodshed. I have a feeling Norma would’ve liked Jodi too, if Dylan had the chance to eventually introduce them. But sadly in Bates Motel as in real life, things don’t always work out in the romantic way we’d like them to. Consolation: Dylan puts Zane down, effectively ending the White Pine Bay drug war.

Now for some final good times with his mother. For the last time, though she doesn’t know it. This is the most endearing and sweet scene with Norman and Norma since “Shadow of a Doubt.” Yes, they’re a little too close with each other, but that’s a given by this point. To be honest: I really don’t care anymore–strange but true. And here come the waterworks again as I write and rewatch them dance in the living room.


“You mean everything to me. I love you more than my own life.” Says it all.

Another wonderful scene is Norma’s meeting with Dylan. She tells him she’s so sorry for the way she’s treated him his whole life, for how she shut him out. But she realizes now that someone that wonderful has come out of something so terrible. It’s a beautiful thing to happen, and I really want them to have a better mother-son relationship going forward.

Not before Norma has to face down what Norman’s planning to do. Emma tells her Norman just left to go for a walk in the woods. Norma doesn’t even need to be told any more; with the note he left for her, she knows Norman intends to do something terrible. Call it mother’s intuition, or maybe it’s simply because she knows him better than anyone else ever could. Dylan is right; if she really loves him, she’ll do what’s best and have him go through with the polygraph test. If he really is innocent of what he does, things will find a way of working themselves out.

Even though she’s wearing black heeled boots (want!) Norma still manages to chase down Norman through the woods. The image of him pulling the gun on her is heart-stopping, and now he gets the real truth about what happened the day his dad died. At this intense point, that secret’s all Norma has left to bargain with.

“Give me the gun and I’ll tell you.”

I’ve written about it plenty before; we see Norman and Norma get to that threshold where their mother-son love starts to blur into something less than familial. They’ve always gotten right up to that line and then pulled back into safer territory. Not anymore. She crosses that line and kisses him full on the mouth. Maybe it’s the only way she can think of to shake him out of this plan for suicide, maybe it’s the last remaining way she can think of to let him know that she loves him too much to ever live without him. Throw in the most intensely-running emotions possible, and it was bound to happen. Whatever the reasons/motivations, it’s both Oedipal and tragic at the same time. It’s done and can never be undone.

What’s this going to mean for Norma and Norman going into season 3? It’s a real long way to go with the waiting. I don’t think they could forget what happened with her talking him off the ledge any more than anyone could forget to breathe. Speaking of which, I held my breath plenty while Norman answers each of the polygraph questions truthfully. When the detective gets to the question that matters, Norman has another–and very vivid–vision of Norma right there beside him.

“You didn’t kill Blair Watson. I did.”

Now we’re seeing part of Norman’s uncontrolled dark side manifest once more as a hallucinatory version of Norma, tying even more into the Psycho mythos.

“He passed. In my opinion Norman Bates did not kill Blair Watson.”

Part of me is so happy and relieved right along with Norma and Dylan. Another part of me is fearful for what the future holds for all of them, especially looking into Norman’s eyes in the final shot.

Obviously from me: 5 out of 5 blue hearts:


*fade to black

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