It had to happen sooner or later: Norman Bates went full psycho in the “Bates Motel” Season 1 finale, “Midnight.”
At least, we think he did. We didn’t actually see the murder of Miss Watson (), but we saw enough to draw our own conclusions: She brought Norman back to her house, went into her bedroom to change her clothes and Norman saw a vision of Norma scolding the teacher for being a very naughty woman. Norman slipped into one of his angry rages, and the next thing he knew he was running through the rainy streets trying to get home as soon as possible. With Norma arriving home from her almost equally eventful night out, the inseparable mother and son retire to their creepy cocoon of a house.
Now, the question is — if Norman really did kill Miss Watson — does he become a suspect? Or is there enough evidence to point elsewhere (the boyfriend she was arguing with on the phone, for example) to convince the police, Norma and even Norman himself that he’s not guilty? Or does Sheriff Romero realize he’s got another bad dude to keep under control in his sleepy little town?
Miss Watson’s death was just the final twist in an episode packed with big events: Norma and Dylan bonding over firearms, Emma realizing that Norman can’t get over his crush on Bradley, Bradley’s ex-boyfriend punching Norman out, Romero taking care of Norma’s — and his — Abernathy problem (so long, Jere Burns, you were a great temporary baddie), and the biggest reveal of all sparked by Norma’s therapy session.
We’re betting there’s even more to Norma’s story than she shared with Norman but what she told him — right before Emma arrived to be escorted to the winter formal — was enough to make anyone go psycho. Norma was repeatedly sexually abused as a teenager by her own brother and felt powerless to tell her withdrawn mother or violent father anything about it. She opens up to Norman fearing she may not survive her midnight meeting with Abernathy, but is it just a coincidence that it’s also right before a lovely young woman is about to arrive at their home? (Norma is clearly fond of Emma, but still — is anyone good enough for Norman, besides Norma?)
The “Bates Motel” finale continued the show’s creative growth in the second half of the season, which found a groove shuffling between dark humor, rich melodrama and nail-biting suspense in a way that honors the Hitchcock tradition without blatantly imitating it. We’d like to see more of that when the show returns next season, but we’re also dying for any chance to see Vera Farmiga and Freddie Highmore continue to deliver two of the best performances on TV.