Post Mortems
Bates Motel Norma Dies

Bates Motel Bosses Explain That 'Devastating' Twist

If you have yet to watch Monday’s Bates Motel, check out (ha!) of this story now before it’s too late

Bates Motel unleashed the mother of all plot twists in Monday’s penultimate Season 4 episode. At least we think it did.

During the hour’s haunting final act, Norman (Freddie Highmore) set out to take a forever nap with mom Norma (Vera Farmiga) as carbon monoxide filled her bedroom. His murder-suicide plot — which played out against the world’s creepiest version of “Mr. Sandman” — was thwarted when Alex (Nestor Carbonell) barged into the quasi gas chamber and dragged both of their lifeless bodies into the oxygenated hallway. His timing proved fortuitous for Norman, who quickly came to. Norma, however, did not respond to his relentless resuscitation efforts. At least she hadn’t by the time the episode concluded, leaving open the slight possibility that next week’s season finale could kick off with a miracle.

Should Norma fail to spring back to life, then Bates Motel would essentially be embracing its tragic Psycho roots with an entire season still in front of it. Exec producer Carlton Cuse promises that the life-or-death question hovering over Norma “gets answered next week,” adding, “We designed [the finale] to be the emotional response to [Episode 9]. We don’t really want to say anything too specific because it would spoil [the finale].”

The shocking sequence came at the end of an episode in which Bates‘ matriarch received ample warnings — from both Alex and elder son Dylan — that Norman was on the verge of a potentially deadly psychotic break. But she simply wasn’t hearing it, especially not in the wake of her lover’s betrayal. “Anybody that goes behind your back to do something as gigantic as getting your kid committed, their trust would be pretty burned up at that point,” fellow EP Kerry Ehrin explains. “And the thing that she loved about Alex was the trust.”

As it is, the deck was already stacked in Norman’s favor. As Ehrin maintains, “When it was really Norman against Romero — even though Romero is the healthy choice — I think that Norma’s mental fragility [and] her history made her cling to Norman.”

Highmore, meanwhile, calls his character’s actions “sad but understandable” before noting, “This is what he genuinely feels is the best for both of them.”

So, what do you think, Bates mates? Do you think Cuse and Ehrin will send Norma to her rocking-chair grave with 11 episodes still left?