BATES MOTEL Season Finale Recap: “Midnight”

by     Posted 1 year, 101 days ago

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Bates Motel gave us an interesting and necessary finale to a great season of a (surprisingly?) great show.  Though Bates has unfortunately been largely forgotten by most people in the deluge of great TV on at the moment, it’s uncrowded Monday night spot at least gave it the ratings to thankfully warrant a second season.  The show has been a surprise and delight in the way it has woven its story in an open, intricate and twisty way, along with the quality of its cast (particularly, of course, Vera Farmiga), as well as its ability to create some compelling new characters (Dylan and Emma) as well as fascinating new situations (the secrets of White Pine Bay).  Bates Motel has always had hints that will lead up to the film on which it was based, but it saved the biggest nod until the last scene in this finale, and rightfully so.  Hit the jump for why “not in my town, you piece of shit!”

bates-motel-posterAs a villain, Abernathy was never built up to have enough emotional impact or fear beyond a few creepy turns.  His advent and demise all seemed rushed, though in a typical Bates Motel switcheroo, it was great to see Romero not only kill him, but fake us out over his own intentions regarding the town and Norma.  Romero has had a great character arc throughout the season, from being Norma’s main antagonist to being an uncertain ally when he cleared Norma for the death of Shelby.  It was totally plausible, given the town and what we’ve seen of Romero, that his original speech to Abernathy was true: he wanted in, and he wanted to be paid for it.  The twist that it was all a ploy to gain Abernathy’s trust enough to kill him was a genuine shock.  Romero is still in the grey, but he really does care about that town (at least, insofar as … weed is ok, Chinese sex slaves are not).

So Norman dodged a bullet again, despite her preparing for battle.  Vera Farmiga might have had her best episode yet, where she went from being a giddy girl with Dylan, shooting the gun, to crawling through the night to attack Abernathy, to a lie-filled anxious meeting with the therapist, to being emotionally raw and open about her brother’s abuse.

In case anyone bought the “my mom and dad were perfect, but I swear I don’t remember anything  from childhood” story that Norma spun for the therapist, her scene with Emma reminded us of that nasty scar on her thigh, which Norma brushed off as being from a childhood accident (that same childhood she “couldn’t remember”).  The scar has been making appearances all season, and it’s a great example of the nuanced storytelling of the series.  Bates Motel doesn’t usually just drop things on viewers, it calls back to things it teased earlier in the season, even small things like the scar.

bates-motel-season-1-finale-midnight-vera-farmigaNorma admitting her real backstory was an important moment for her character, not only in her telling someone the truth about herself (in this way she reminded me a lot of Mad Men‘s Don Draper), but also in making clear some of her neuroses as well as her weird relationship with Norman.  There has always been something slightly incestuous about their interactions, and hearing Norma’s history of incestuous abuse at the hands of her brother sets up plenty of fodder for the armchair psychiatrists.  But it also was integral in setting Norman on a rage blackout that will define his character.

“Midnight” did an excellent job of bringing together stories from the entire season to culminate in the moment we have been waiting for since the premiere.  Norman’s rage over Bradley (and her friendship with his brother), being assaulted by her boyfriend, having his mother admit a history of incest to him just before a dance he was already anxious about, having Emma abandon him … all of these were threads that have been in place all season, and the final piece, Miss Watson, brought them to a head.

bates-motel-season-1-finale-midnight-freddie-highmoreThroughout the season, Miss Watson has had a weird relationship with Norman that wasn’t overt (until “Midnight”) but was nevertheless questionable, especially when it came to submitting his story.  Norman has been toying with the rage blackouts all season — from the attack on his father to the attacks on Keith Summers and his brother, two of which were finished off by Norma.  Though Norman had the rage to kill Bradley, she subdued it with a hug, but Miss Watson was apparently not so lucky.  (HeadNorma has an agenda and morality that boils down to, “kill the sluts!”)  I suppose there could be some ambiguity with “Eric,” with whom she was fighting on the phone, but I think he will be used as Norman’s scapegoat next season.  In the meantime, it seems clear that Norman finally “broke bad,” and committed a kill that had nothing to do with revenge or self defense.  Ladies and Gentleman, Norman Bates.

Episode Rating: A

Season Rating: A

Musings and Miscellanea:

– The show has always been wonderfully atmospheric, but the soft lightning in this particular episode was fantastic.

– “Are you kidding me?  You don’t know my name??” – Norma

– Interesting this was the first time we’ve seen Keith’s sister Maggie.  I wonder if she’ll return.

bates-motel-season-1-finale-midnight– How did Romero get the bag?

– Norma Bates: the cute but nutty lady who runs the motel.

– Dylan saved the day with the socks and tried to convince Norman nothing was going on with Bradley but, alas.  At least Norman didn’t kill him!

– Poor Emma.  She is so darn cute and her dress was beautiful.

– High school dances on TV are always so much more elaborate than in real life.

– Incest, now time for dancing!

– “Here’s some French toast!  I need a gun” – Norma

– Dylan was right, I would never want to be around Norma with a gun.

–  Norma: “Sorry.”   Guy: “I guess …”    Norma: “Screw you, shit head!”

– Where is the Chinese girl who escaped???

– Goodbye Bates Motel, I will miss you until your return next year.




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  • DjangoBro

    Such a good show, I’m glad I kept watching. Until next season :(

  • Adrian

    You missed a key detail at the end … the B on Ms. Watson’s necklace.

    • Hyok Kim

      Good catch. It was not Norman, but Bradley who killed Miss Watson.

  • Craig

    they mentioned in an earlier episodes shelby killed the chinese girl in the woods, when norma starts freaking out that norman is going to move out you heard the gun shots in the background

  • GrafOrlok

    Wait, that crap was actually made? And it actually aired? And it hasn’t been canceled?

  • junierizzle

    Such a great show, yes I’m calling it great. The best part is Vera Farmig’s performance. It’s just weird, nutty and tiptoes on over-acting at times but I can’t take my eyes off of her.
    Great finale but I agree about the shoot out being kind of rushed. And it was cool to find out Romero is a good guy, I guess. Love Emma, Id pick her over Bradley any day of the week. Felt bad the Norman wasn’t interested but at least she had the good sense to leave his ass.

  • vicious1fan

    I really hope they show more of a detailed Norman kill then what we got in the finale…love to see his approach to stalking his victim….w always see in horror movies the kill from the victims perspective…would be refreshing to see it from Normans (the killers)…

  • Jones

    Loved the Finale. I hope, for Emma’s sake, that Norman will never be interested in her. The only thing that keeps her alive, is the nasal tubes in her nose. Literally and figuratively.

  • Bo

    Interesting that Allison and none of the rest of you contemplate that it’s perhaps a set up that Norman killed the teacher. First thing I thought was that it was made to make you all think that, but really, who was she talking to on the phone that caused her to be so upset? Perhaps the person who came later and killed her? Otherwise, why would the writers, etc. have the killing off camera except to fool with the audience? Eh?

    • Hyok Kim

      Bo, good catch. It was a set up. Bradley killed Miss Watson.

  • Jamo11

    What a great serial show! Really great acting. I find it odd that I like Norma the best, because my tastes run more naturally toward Ms Watson or Bradley. But Norma should get the Emmy Award.
    But they all are. Sheriff Romero is my hero. Abernathy – if you really believe he’s dead you’re crazy. He way too much of a great, evil character to waste already – is really, really villanous. Bradly is really hot and her boyfriend is really a jerk and Dylan is really cool. I love ‘em all.
    It better not be on against Dallas next season.

    • Jamo11

      Oh, and one thing more, Norman is a stabber, not a slasher. Just say’n.

  • Vincent

    If you are a fan of Bates Motel on Facebook one of the posts from A&E had an interesting piece of info about the finale.. It said ” One will die on the Season Finale of Bates Motel.” Now the slit throat seemed pretty final to me so I’m assumming that Abernathy might return for vengence next season against Romero and Norma.. Or Romero and Abernathy staged the shooting to get Norma off his back.. I can’t wait to see how it all plays out.

    • Hyok Kim

      Hey, another good catch. Abernathy fell to the water, and Romero made it sure he threw the bag to the water along with it. I think they staged it.

  • Vincent

    If you are a fan of Bates Motel on Facebook one of the posts from A&E had an interesting piece of info about the finale.. It said ” One will die on the Season Finale of Bates Motel.” Now the slit throat seemed pretty final to me so I’m assumming that Abernathy might return for vengence next season against Romero and Norma.. Or Romero and Abernathy staged the shooting to get Norma off his back.. I can’t wait to see how it all plays out.

  • David Wolfe

    I think that it will be determined that Norman did not kill Miss Watson. It’s too far, too soon in his progression to eventually become, “Psycho”. That is one of the most fascinating things about this show; that journey we are taking each week that brings Norman one step closer to that inevitable end. Great acting from both Vera Farmiga and Freddie Highmore also keeps us interested and invested in their story and their twisted relationship. Take note that Norman’s previous spells didn’t last long and were in defense of his mother. Both the one on Keith Summers, who was physically raping her, and then Dylan, who was trashing her and called her a “whore”. No such motivation with Miss Watson, and I believe he did exactly as what we saw, ran out and kept running til he got home. Miss Watson may have had a more complex life than we’ve been privy to thus far. Her pendant with “B” on it, like the love letters sent to Bradley’s dad were signed, along with the real possibility that Eric (who she argued with on the phone) could have been stalking her, as she was obviously shaken and frightened of him. Again, I believe it’s just too soon for Norman to have transitioned into the cold-blooded killer that he eventually becomes. But we shall find out next season, and I look forward to see where they take us.

  • David Wolfe

    I think that it will be determined that Norman did not kill Miss Watson. It’s too far, too soon in his progression to eventually become, “Psycho”. That is one of the most fascinating things about this show; that journey we are taking each week that brings Norman one step closer to that inevitable end. Great acting from both Vera Farmiga and Freddie Highmore also keeps us interested and invested in their story and their twisted relationship. Take note that Norman’s previous spells didn’t last long and were in defense of his mother. Both the one on Keith Summers, who was physically raping her, and then Dylan, who was trashing her and called her a “whore”. No such motivation with Miss Watson, and I believe he did exactly as what we saw, ran out and kept running til he got home. Miss Watson may have had a more complex life than we’ve been privy to thus far. Her pendant with “B” on it, like the love letters sent to Bradley’s dad were signed, along with the real possibility that Eric (who she argued with on the phone) could have been stalking her, as she was obviously shaken and frightened of him. Again, I believe it’s just too soon for Norman to have transitioned into the cold-blooded killer that he eventually becomes. But we shall find out next season, and I look forward to see where they take us.

    • Hyok Kim

      Mr. Wolfe, good catch, I agree. Norman most definitely did not kill Miss Watson. It’s Bradley. We’re going to see more Hitchcocikian suspense ala ‘Suspicion’ and ‘Spellbound’ in the next season. I think Eric is the one who set the fire that killed Bradley’s father.

      Bradley may turn out to be someone like the daughter from ‘StraighJacket’, also written by Robert Bloch.

      Btw. Norma is lying when he claimed he couldn’t remember what happened after he had left the dance due to black out. Even if Norman had a black out and killed Miss Watson, he still should be able to remember the events leading
      up to the black out if the black out did happen.

  • David Wolfe

    I think that it will be determined that Norman did not kill Miss Watson. It’s too far, too soon in his progression to eventually become, “Psycho”. That is one of the most fascinating things about this show; that journey we are taking each week that brings Norman one step closer to that inevitable end. Great acting from both Vera Farmiga and Freddie Highmore also keeps us interested and invested in their story and their twisted relationship. Take note that Norman’s previous spells didn’t last long and were in defense of his mother. Both the one on Keith Summers, who was physically raping her, and then Dylan, who was trashing her and called her a “whore”. No such motivation with Miss Watson, and I believe he did exactly as what we saw, ran out and kept running til he got home. Miss Watson may have had a more complex life than we’ve been privy to thus far. Her pendant with “B” on it, like the love letters sent to Bradley’s dad were signed, along with the real possibility that Eric (who she argued with on the phone) could have been stalking her, as she was obviously shaken and frightened of him. Again, I believe it’s just too soon for Norman to have transitioned into the cold-blooded killer that he eventually becomes. But we shall find out next season, and I look forward to see where they take us.

  • sense11

    I am officially addicted to this show, The characters and the town are fascinating, somehow someway we still root for Norman, that’s the brilliance of Psycho and Bates Motel

    cant wait for season 2

  • sense11

    I am officially addicted to this show, The characters and the town are fascinating, somehow someway we still root for Norman, that’s the brilliance of Psycho and Bates Motel

    cant wait for season 2

  • Jamo11

    When is it coming back? I can’t wait any more. This is agony.

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