Oh, Norma Bates. The mother of “Bates Motel’s” psycho, Norman, is the one who is responsible for the events fans of “Psycho” know will come. In the Season 2 finale, “The Immutable Truth,” Norma’s refusal to see Norman as anything other than an innocent lays the groundwork for his true descent into madness.
Dylan, the one voice of reason in “Bates Motel,” offered Norma the proper solution to the Norman problem. He suggests Norma send her second son to a mental hospital since he clearly is mentally ill. Even Norman offers a solution, no matter how horrible: He tries with all his might to kill himself. But Norma won’t allow herself to see Norman as the monster lurking beneath the surface, and that means he can’t truly see himself either.
That’s not to say Norman is fully a monster. If anything, we’d err on the side of “innocent” over “bad” like Norma does. But it’s Norma’s refusal to see Norman as a murderer that convinces him away from seeing himself for what he is. He creates a new iteration of the Mother psyche to cope with Norma’s plea with him to live, and thus — in one of the coolest scenes of the series — Norman appropriates the bad acts he commits onto the version of his mother who is in his head.
It’s hard to not compare “Bates Motel” to “Psycho” at this point. After all, the Norman who viewers meet in that story has completely split himself into two identities: There’s Mother, who kills people because she’s so possessive of Norman, and then Norman, who is aware of his bloodthirsty mother but can’t control her. The transformation we’ve seen of Norman to that dual mentality is masterful work on the part of showrunners Carlton Cuse and Kerry Ehrin.
There is no coming back for Norman Bates. This Season 2 finale episode was his only hope for redemption. If only someone could have forced himself to look in the mirror and admit the person he is, then maybe he could be saved. But Norman will always be too attached to his mother, and here viewers learn why she won’t give him up. To Norma, Norman is her savior. He is the protector she wanted Caleb and all the men in her life to be. She tells Norman she won’t live without him, and it’s clear she means it.
At least Norma finally acknowledges Dylan as a son she loves as well. Their relationship seems to be repaired in “The Immutable Truth,” and the look on his face after she says that she bought him a ticket to Montreal is heartbreaking. But Dylan is now between a rock and a hard place. Zayne, Jodi and Nick are all dead (goodbye, new Season 2 cast members), and Romero wants Dylan to fill their void. But is Dylan ready to be a drug kingpin in White Pine Bay? Or will the pressures of running the town “right” be too much for him?
There are plenty of lose ends tying into Season 3. Will Emma actually quit the Bates’ motel? How will Christine and George exact revenge on Norma? Will Norma be able to keep the bypass from being built? And most importantly, how will this new incarnation of Norman be able to survive? Madness, more than anything, lies ahead. We can’t wait.