Post Mortems
Bates Motel Season 5 Spoilers

Bates Motel: [Spoiler]'s Death Sets Stage for Completely Psycho Season 5

The following story contains spoilers from Monday’s Bates Motel finale, so proceed at your own peril.

Let’s get the bad news out of the way first: Yes, Norma has indeed checked out of Bates Motel — a fact made painfully crystal clear in the opening moments of Monday’s heartbreaking Season 4 finale. And the good news? As confirmed in the episode’s closing sequence, the character’s powerhouse portrayer — Vera Farmiga — is not going anywhere.

Of course, anyone with even cursory knowledge of the A&E drama’s Psycho source material no doubt guesstimated that the show’s upcoming fifth and final season would find Norma booking a room inside the far reaches of her son’s frontal lobe. But why did exec producers Kerry Ehrin and Carlton Cuse decide to play their proverbial trump card now versus in the series finale?

Below, the pair share the method behind their artful madness, reveal behind-the-scenes secrets from Monday’s stunningly written, directed and acted climax, and tease what’s to come during the “epic” final chapter.

TVLINE | Why kill off Norma with one more season still to go?
CARLTON CUSE | We wanted the final season to allow us to do our version of the Psycho lore. We will be colliding with certain events in the narrative of the film, but it would be boring to just recreate Psycho.
EHRIN | The obsessive love of Norma is what the show is going to be based on. It’s the heart of what drives it. That is going to be hugely important in Season 5.

TVLINE | And just to be clear, Vera is not leaving the show, right?
CUSE | Vera’s still very much a part of the show, she just has a slightly modified role.

TVLINE | Modified doesn’t mean reduced right?
CUSE | No. She’s existing now in Norman’s brain. In the original Psycho you don’t really know anything about Norma Bates. You just know that she’s a corpse, and you imagine that she was this shrew of a woman who berated her son into becoming crazy. But we re-imagined their relationship as this complex, intense, co-dependent love story. And that relationship continues very much in Season 5. It just has a different dimension, which is that she’s dead. [Laughs] But it’s not the end of the story.

"Norman"TVLINE | Was it always the plan to kill her off at the end of Season 4?
CUSE | Absolutely. But even though it was long-planned, it was still emotionally and viscerally shocking for everyone. As we were writing [last week’s episode], Kerry and I each broke down crying at various points. Mine happened to be on an airplane to Vancouver, which was very embarrassing. People were looking at me. It’s probably worth contextualizing it with Lost — I was sitting on an airplane crying. [Laughs] It might’ve made people a little nervous. Then we watched the first cut and we sat there in the editing room and were like, “Oh, good God. We actually did this.” It’s hard, because it’s one thing to do something intellectually. And then it’s another thing to [experience] it emotionally.

TVLINE | I would imagine Norman’s shrink would have an interesting perspective on Norma’s death and perhaps even Norman’s role in it. Why wasn’t he in the finale?
EHRIN | We actually had a scene in the script with Dr. Edwards where he heard about Norma’s death and he came out to check on Norman. Ultimately, didn’t fit in with the drive of the episode. We would love to bring [that character back] next season, but it’s tricky because he’s a smart doctor. And it’s not like Norman could dupe him for very long. So it becomes a balancing question, making sure everything stays grounded and believable. Also, Norman is 18. He cannot force Norman into treatment.

TVLINE | Was that the last we’ll see of Dylan and Emma?
CUSE | No.
EHRIN | No way. We love them
CUSE | We very much have a story planned for them next season.

TVLINE | But Dylan, like Dr. Edwards, is also tough to dupe. So how will you handle that balancing act?
CUSE | You’re on the right track… What we can tell you is that we’ll be spending some time with Dylan and Emma as they forge a new life. But, obviously and inevitably, he will cross back into Norman’s orbit.

TVLINE | Did we see the moment that Norman found out Norma had died? Was it when the nurse told him in the hospital? Or did it occur before that off screen?
EHRIN | We feel that at the end of [last week’s episode] when Norman turned to Norma and looked at her on the carpet and said, “Mother,” he realized she was dead. And, at that point, his brain went into overdrive to push it out. He simply could not let that in.
CUSE | The pathology of his denial is really the brilliance of Kerry’s script. Watching the ways in which Norman tries to shut down truths that are right in front of his face is what makes the final episode so compelling.

"Norman"TVLINE | I kept looking closely at Vera’s chest and eyes as she was channeling dead Norma, and there was no movement. Was any of that CGI or is Vera just that good at playing dead?
EHRIN | She is the most amazing dead person. [Laughs] It really blew my mind to see how freakin’ dead she was. I don’t know how she did it. She just gets into this place and becomes so checked-out and gone. It’s really frightening.
CUSE | Especially all that stuff where Freddie was carrying her out of the grave… It’s not easy to be dead!

TVLINE | Was that really Freddie carrying her around?
CUSE | During these [four seasons] Freddie has grown up. He went from a waifish teenager to a man. So now he has the physical presence and ability to pick Vera up. He could never have done that at the beginning of the series.
EHRIN | And one of the awesome things about our cast is that they want to do all this stuff. They seem to relish really physically getting into this stuff.

TVLINE | In that same vein, I was really impressed with Freddie’s physicality in the scene where Norman trips coming down the stairs outside the house while carrying that steel frame. I’m not even sure how you can practice something like that…
CUSE | It’s very observant of you to notice that, because I think that scene was really hard to pull off. And it’s so good. And real and believable.

TVLINE | So, I have to ask. Is next season really the final season? Because A&E hasn’t confirmed that it is… 
EHRIN | It’s our final season. [Laughs]
CUSE | We’ve said for a long time that we wanted the show to be five seasons and done. I think that is the plan. It’s always painful because the show is successful…
EHRIN | … and we love it…
CUSE | … and we love it. But it really should end while it’s still good. And the power of these last two episodes is all part of the five-year plan. To take those big, narrative turns can only be done if you’re moving towards an endgame. It’s what’s best for the show. We have a really great Season 5 planned.
EHRIN | It’s going to be pretty epic.

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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342 Comments
  1. Bwhit says:

    This show is fearless, I love it!

  2. wrstlgirl says:

    Dead Norma creeped me the hell out!! Next season is gonna be awesome.

    • Angela says:

      Those eyes are going to give me nightmares for a good, long while. Dear god, that was disturbing.
      .
      Also, I will never be able to hear “I’ll be Home for Christmas” the same way anymore.

      • Holli says:

        So true 👆🏼 it’s insane, yet brilliant, how the juxtaposition of something so connotative of pleasant and joyful things against something so dark can create such a stellar, creepy effect. The writing on this show is unstoppable!

      • wrstlgirl says:

        Hahaha, so true!!

      • SAME. I was so disturbed and then I couldn’t stop laughing because it was just that creepy and weird and funny all at the same time.

        • Angela says:

          That’s how the scene with Norma’s funeral was for me :D. Here we had this super sad situation with Norman so clearly devastated and in such deep denial about his mom being gone, and there’s the fact that aside from him and the funeral workers (and Romero, when he crashes the funeral), NOBODY else came to say goodbye to her (Dylan would’ve, of course…but he doesn’t even know she’s dead). It’s a reminder of how heartbreakingly lonely Norma’s life really was in so many ways.
          .
          And yet…seeing Norman give this big ol’ speech to a nearly empty room, and then him cussing, and loudly at that, in the church itself (Norma would be proud :p), and then later Romero being all, “I am the police, dumb@ss” when they threatened to escort him out…I couldn’t help laughing at all of it :p! It was just so absurd. This show is fantastic at knowing how to find the humor in even the darkest situations.

        • ak says:

          I agree !!

      • Shawana Martin says:

        Right..but I loves me some Bates tho been there every week every episode every year can’t wait hurry please lol when is it coming back I hope not another 2 years lol no but seriously.

      • ak says:

        I agree !!

      • And I will never be able to hear “Mr. Sandman” the same way every again. LOL

      • And I will never be able to hear “Mr. Sandman” the same way every again. LOL

      • Helen says:

        You are so right! Her eyes–y’all did fantastic make up on those bullets! Scared the tar out of me too. I want even discuss “i’ll be Home for Christmas”, except to say “brillant”!

    • louise says:

      I had to look away..thise eyes…

    • Shamma ALMashghouni says:

      I am Just so upset and devastated that NORMA IS DEAD! she was so beautiful and cheerful why did she have to die!! couldn’t they change the plot and keep her alive!

  3. Jackie says:

    Wow. A++ performance by Freddie Highmore! Such an excellent finale. And Vera wins for best performance by a corpse. Those eyes! Seriously creepy good. Can’t wait for next season.

    • Linda Diel says:

      I actually cracked up at this! SO very Norman & Norma!!! I thought it was brilliant! But i wasn’t creeped out…I was laughing! Great show…you all deserve awards!!!1

  4. Michelle Ann says:

    I was so pumped for tonight’s finale, and hoping Norma was still alive. I knew she would have to die eventually, but not now!! I’m shocked and sad. Hats off to Vera for playing the corpse…..phenomenal job! Great show and sad it will all end in 10 more episodes! Love this series!!

    • I know! I too was hoping she wasn’t really dead. But I’m happy that Vera isn’t gone from the show.

      At least we got a few happy episodes with Norma and Alex being in love.

      • Helen says:

        I didn’t like the Sheriff Romero, at first, cause he was such a “crook”! Then, I softened toward him because he loved Norma so much. Even crazy people need to be loved!!
        I really mourned /cried w/him in the scene where he tried to revive her. It broke my heart! Love this show.

  5. CYNTHIA OLIVAREZ says:

    I really wish there was a happy ending for Norma Bates. Poor women deserve her happy ending.

    • Cheyenne says:

      No she doesn’t. Norma Bates destroyed Norman with her possessiveness. She was as crazy as he is.

      • Jerry Nimmo says:

        I love when normal lectured her about how she stopped him from having a girlfriend for all those years and then beds down with Romero at the drop of a hat. I was kind of hoping this series can continue for a few more seasons, but as the future. Season six can be Norman as an older man after he got out of the institution. This show can still go in so many different directions. Norma can always be the hallucinations in Norman’s mind no matter where the series ends up at. The writers on this show are brilliant. So are the actors. I am also hoping that Norman hooks up with that gothic chick from the mortuary. That would be cool as hell.

    • Bobbie Freeman says:

      Yes she does! I can’t believe all of season 5 is gonna b her dead.

      • Cheyenne says:

        She’s dead. D-E-A-D. Deal with it.

      • Ellen Sarvis says:

        Hey, Bobbie…..yes, I wanted the show to “have a happy ending” with Norman locked up for life but the writers have to come to the point where the original Psycho movie began….Norma dead and stuffed up in the big house with Norman alone and whacko. But the writers are doing a great job of giving us a fantastic story as to how things got that way. It has to end how it has to end…….my biggest hope is that Romero somehow comes out OK because he gave Norma her only true happiness in life….and I want Dylan and Emma to get far, far away and live happily ever after. Last season will be difficult for those of us who have fallen in love with many of the characters….I had a vision of Norman just killing them all off one-by-one…but I think the writers know we out here in TV land couldn’t handle it.

    • Walkie says:

      It’s Psycho. Norma Bates had to die.

    • Bwhit says:

      Norma was never going to find happiness. Her last chance was with Alex and she chose Norman. She didn’t deserve what happened but it sealed her fate when she let Norman come home.

  6. Joe says:

    Loved it! Dead Norma was so creepy!!

  7. Goodness gracious, Freddie Highmore was amazing in this episode…Emmy-screener right there!

  8. Travis says:

    Wow, thanks for that [Spoiler] in the title. Does a whole lot of good for literally anyone that watched last week’s episode…

  9. Ralph says:

    It will be an absolute shame if the Emmys overlook this cast again. Vera and Freddie are truly the best that there is. PLEASE honor them this year!!!

    • wrstlgirl says:

      I have to add Nestor to that list. He was on point this season.

    • Angela says:

      Amen to all of this (and to wrstgirl’s mention of Nestor as well. My heart went out to poor Romero tonight, my goodness).
      .
      Super impressed with the knowledge that that was Vera actually playing dead, and Freddie being able to carry her as he did. Dang. These people are amazing.

    • I agree, they are all Emmy worth actors! They need to win and deserve too!

      • Pernell Morring says:

        They are Awesome Actors and Should not be overlooked….!! Norma…Wow…Unreal playing Dead….

    • MIchelle says:

      I so agree with you, Ralph!! Their acting goes above and beyond ” acting” , I felt as if I was standing in the room with them, watching this play out! Vera played the best corpse anyone could ask for, I was surprised to read that she played it all, creepy open eyes and everything, AMAZING job, Vera! Freddie is tops too, I am beginning to think he actually is insane and the “acting” for him is when he’s ” normal”. Kudos to the writers for having such an awesome cast to work with!

  10. NM says:

    Thank God Vera is hanging around, I love her. However, the character of Norma being gone is what I find sad. I love her and Alex.

    • Sandra says:

      Will Alex return to season 5 I really hope so. But where would he fit end

    • Kim says:

      I’m so disappointed that they killed off Norma! I loved watching her and Alex together. It balanced out the show with Norman being a pysco. Even though she will return for Normans halussinations it won’t be the same. I think they will lose a lot a viewers. Then again if there’s only one more season I guess it doesn’t matter. They should have left Norma locked up for longer. Those couple shows when he was were the best shows!

      • Walkie says:

        No way. They need an entire season to show the aftermath and how Norman falls deeper and deeper into his psychosis. And this will give Vera some really fun stuff to play with as her character can go in any direction depending on Norman’s mood.

      • Ragnar says:

        Do you even know Norman and Norma? You know this is based on the 60’s movie Psycho? Norma was already killed off there and a corpse. 97% of the viewers were waiting for Norman to kill Norma because they know the story of Norman Bates.

      • Chris says:

        You’ve seen Psycho right? I don’t think they will lose a lot of viewers.

  11. Wendy says:

    Can u say Emmy to Vera & Freddie? Absolutely the best pair !! Terrific series … Can’t wait for season finale

  12. Jane says:

    Well done Bates Motel well done!

  13. It's simple says:

    In this day and age if you don’t want to be spoiled before you watch something then DONT GO ON THE WEB UNTIL YOU WATCH IT! Easy. If you do don’t bother to complain.

  14. Sandy Short says:

    I thought Sheriff Alex was the best! What an awesome job, very powerful and convincing.

  15. DreamRose311 says:

    I’m so glad that the scene with him carrying the TV down the stairs was brought up; I wish they had said more about it. I couldn’t believe my eyes at how he did and without actually falling over, watching the way his feet fumbled down the steps… O.O

    • Angela says:

      He handled carrying that thing a lot better than I would’ve, that’s for sure :p.

    • faiyth says:

      And then he says to the detective “Oh, I dropped it” so calmly after she already saw him kicking the crap out of it. LOL Typical Norman.

  16. Katrinka says:

    I’m constantly impressed with this amazing cast! Freddie Highmore is such a good actor & I noticed that he wrote the May 2nd episode as well. This show definitely deserves some award attention.

  17. Brittany Bolton says:

    Is norman dead? Im confused

  18. A. D. says:

    Stellar Season!

  19. Dean Stone says:

    The acting, setting, story line and casting for this show is crazy good and off the charts. Great work!! Looking forward to next season and I hope this group has another similar project for the future.

  20. Annette says:

    Crazy creepy! Insanely awesome!! Can’t wait for season 5. Planning to watch psycho for the 1st time again at the end!!

  21. N says:

    I really enjoyed this season, but I am having a hard time wrapping my mind around the fact that the whole season took place in the span of 2 weeks. I thought Norman spent at least a month in psychiatric care. Also, how did no one, especially Romero , call Dylan about Norma’s death, even just to investigate where he was at the time. Still, with the aside, this was a very satisfying season.

    • Paula Magee says:

      Awesome show ! I loved Norma she loved Norman unconditionally . It’s amazing how a show can be so well acted and draw you in and you feel so many emotions as if this is reality . I like others wish we could have had more of Norma and Romero together . It made me cry making me feel his pain and love . He had been in love with her for so long . I wanted to kill Norman for him !!! In one reply I read they asked why Dillon had not been called he had been notified .that was when he reached out to Norman

      • Diane Bledsoe says:

        Dillon did not know about Norma’s death. He called Norman and told him he had a new phone number. He told Norman that he couldn’t deal with Norma right now. Norman told him that was for the best; that they shouldn’t talk to each other for awhile and then Norman said goodbye.

    • Melnee Mansfield says:

      Dylan told Norman that he has a new number and he won’t be able to reach him on the old one… so if Romero did try to call, he wouldn’t get in touch with him. Poor Dylan! :( I’m so sad that the season is over… and the series will be soon. This is such an amazing show!!

    • Bill Guido says:

      I noticed that little plot hole as well, but it can be explained away because Dylan told Norman that he had a new number and Romero wouldn’t have had it. Norman’s denial also explains why no one was at the funeral because he didn’t tell ANYONE she died.

    • Jerry Nimmo says:

      Dylan changed his number and was out of town.

  22. Isabel says:

    I don’t want to wait till next year. You’re killing me. Incredible acting by Freddie, Vera. Also Sherrif Romero was excellent. What a fantastic season finale. Keeps you wanting more.

  23. Well, now that season 4 has wrapped…ending on quite a grim yet deliciously creepy note. We’re in uncharted waters now and it’s bittersweet that we’ve only got 10 episodes left in 2017 before it all comes to an end. I’ve long been fascinated with the character of Norman Bates ever since I first saw Hitchcock’s “Psycho” when I was probably 12 years old. As a horror fan while you love Michael Myers, Jason Voorhees, Freddy Krueger etc. you’re never actually rooting for them. But with Norman, you feel for him. You want him to be free. Not necessarily to hurt anyone but there’s such a human element to him that you feel for him. He could be friends with anyone, he’s just so gentle and tender on the outside. Which makes him that much more dangerous. I can’t wait to see what comes next for Norman, Romero, Dylan, Emma. Like I said we’re 100% in uncharted waters now, there’s no telling what direction we’ll be taking or how it all comes to a head. Bates forever!

    • Judita says:

      Exactly Jonathan! As Norman said to Norma in the “Forever” episode when he’s on the bed with her, right before he turns the deadly furnace on___we’re very charming people and indeed, they are. The human element lives deeply in them whether they are alive of dead!

  24. MELISSA MORGAN says:

    I LOVED “LIVE” NORMA ON THE SHOW. NOT LOOKING FORWARD TO SEEING DEAD NORMA AT ALL. ROMERO BROKE MY HEART.

  25. Deb Roberson says:

    Love, love, love Bates Motel, so sorry it’s over, but so glad Norma found real love before she died. All the actors are brilliant in this, especially Vera!!!
    Thank you for writing it.

  26. Sonia says:

    Can’t help it, but i love it, love it, love it. I cant wait to see what awaits us. Love the show.

  27. Connie says:

    I’m not watching anymore since she’s dead pissed me off!!!!

  28. Dorene says:

    Bates Motel is the best show on TV.!! The last episode totally rocked my world! Acting is brilliant!!!!!!

  29. Barbara yoho says:

    Love the show

  30. Deborah Girard says:

    Best show ever ! Very sad to see Norma die. I love her and Alex together. That part of the show was soooo sad but as I read it was sad for the writers too. Waiting for next season. Thank you to all the genious writers and outstanding actors for 4 seasons of great television.

  31. D dennis says:

    I’m still in shock

  32. Chris says:

    I will never get Norma’s dead eyes out of my memory! Creepy as hell and scary especially when “she” opened her eyes at the morgue. Bring on season 5!

  33. Tiffanie Langton says:

    Love this series..the actors are amazing! It is going to be a real bummer when it all ends :(

  34. Denise R DeForest says:

    I don’t want this show to be over so soon. 5 seasons is too short. So sad. I loved the living Norma.

  35. SEAN MCCABE says:

    One of the best shows on TV brilliant acting and writing

  36. Darla Thweatt says:

    Vera Farmiga is one of the hands down best actresses. Freddie and Nestor complete that package. Stellar show that will leave a void like Sons of Anarchy did. Fabulous storytelling and acting, Hitchcock is a hard act to follow.

  37. Tbd says:

    Actually it was great but I have no desire to watch next season as Alive Norma carried the show as far as I am concerned. It was brilliant how you connected it to Psycho but just not interested anymore now that she’s gone.

  38. Melinda Riddles says:

    Norma and the sheriff was really getting exciting and then poof…hope she’s in every scene next season. I hope Norman doesn’t kill the sheriff off too quickly, either!

  39. Alan L. says:

    Vera, Freddie and the whole cast. Great acting and great writing. Congratulations on what was a brilliant finale.

  40. EffYou says:

    “Bates Motel: [Spoiler]’s Death Sets Stage for Completely Psycho Season 5”

    What kind of title is this? Are you kidding me?! Blanking out her name doesn’t prevent any spoilers when we all know her death was the only one in question. Great **cking job spoiling the episode while “attempting” to not spoil it. You worthless **ck.

  41. Janie m. says:

    Please don’t take it off!!! Everyone loves it!!!

  42. Greg says:

    Well, its time for the new Norma to come a.k.a. Norman Bates. And I believe Norman is definitely going to kill Romero. But I’m having mixed thoughts if Norman is going to kill Dylan and Emma. But I do know that Norman will be on a killing spree next fifth and final season. But the real question is: Who is going to make it out of season five alive and who’s not? But I clarify now that Romero is dead if he evers gets out of the DEA’s clutches. Because I believe that Romero is going to be a problem and so is Chick the creepy homeless man. But you know, even though its all an hallucination I’m glad that I get to see the dead dog alive barking and playful. And Norma Bates loving energy back in the house. But next season when Norman starts killing attractive women I believe he’s going to have those blackouts and we’re going to see Norman transform into Norma just like what happened when he killed Bradley Martin. And what about Audrey’s body a.k.a. Emma’s mother she’s gonna have to turn up as well. But I do know one thing if they eventually catch Norman in the season five series finale he’s going to be in jail or locked in an asylum forever if they stick to the “physco” concept. If they don’t stick to the “physco” concept then Norman won’t ever get caught and he’ll be a runaway and move to Hawaii or somewhere. It’s going to be really sad when this show ends because its been such a big hit but like they say all things must come to an end.

    • Julie says:

      Remember the little dog is stuffed? Don’t be too sure Norman doesn’t take Norma down to his taxidermy basement and fix her too. I just hope he does a better job than Anthony Perkins did in the movie.

  43. Gary A Illas says:

    Wish this show would go to 6 season instead of the final coming up season 5.
    So much in this story could be expanded.
    Great show wheter it goes to 5 or 6. Love it.

  44. Carla Place says:

    CAN’T WAIT TO SEE SEASON 5. Best show on A&E currently. Really gonna miss Monday night Bates mayhem but…something to look forward to!!!

  45. Wendy says:

    The way the wrtters ended it was great. Now he will become he movie Psycho norman bates. I hope he dont kiil dylan and emma in season five.

  46. Diane Ortiz says:

    Freddie Highmore and Vera Farmiga are so increduble. This show is the best on television. Kudos to the entire ensemble, how will I possibly wait 7 months for the next season! Vera, no one plays dead like you.

  47. Lorena Winford says:

    I won’t watch season 5 season 4 is the finale for me .

  48. Leticia says:

    I love the show but not ready for Norma’s death and poor Alex, I didn’t get enough of those too:(

  49. Brandy Welch says:

    What’s going to happen with romero??

  50. Gary and Shirley Calhoon says:

    My family and I love this show so much, that we wish it had several more seasons. The writing is spectacular and could easily keep us entertained for several more years. Hopefully this will be the case. Great job as usual…