Catching Up with Bates Motel – The Final Episode
The fifth and final season of A&E‘s Bates Motel is now done. Here is the final entry in our weekly recap and reflection series.
BATES MOTEL SEASON 5 EPISODE 10 – FINAL EPISODE “THE CORD”
Bates Motel has always been a fascinating study of trauma, mental illness and how one copes with and moves forward from both. What became more evident throughout the 4th and 5th seasons was how resistant Norman was to moving forward, or moving at all. This resistance was the only thing he felt he had to hold onto. He wanted to forever live in this little bubble of time that, while it was far from perfect, was of comfort to him. The walls closed in on this fantasy and Norman knew it. He told Dylan that he too could live in this fantasy bubble, the one Dylan cries to him about where “Norman is happy, Norma is alive and they can have Christmases together and meet his daughter,” but through those tears he says he knows that it is just that… a dream. Norman, grasping at straws tells Dylan he can have that fantasy if he dreams hard enough; like he has. Even Norman knows he has dreamt himself into a corner and in a cowardly move, leaves it to Dylan to end his life so as to free him from the world and the reality that no longer hold the creature comforts of home. Dylan yet again steps in to try to save a family member in the full knowledge that it is at his complete detriment. My eyes will always well up when I think of the unrelenting and unforgiving hand life has dealt him.
How in control of this “dream” Norman really is will always be debatable, that’s one of the beauties of the show. How much is real, how much is fantasy and how much is controlled chaos. This episode had Norman on loop, flashing back and forth between two alternate timelines and realities. One which has the very real memories of their initial trip to White Pine Bay to start a new life. The word-for-word conversations he had with mother, except the new reality is that he is speaking to himself as he lugs Norma’s badly-decomposing body from the woods, to the car to the house. It was like Bates Motel meets Weekend at Bernie’s meets The Fisher King. There are so many layers to the madness, sadness, reality and fiction that I decided to, like Norman, slip out of the reality and focus on what mattered the most to me, a story of a mother and her son. In saying this I acknowledge that, yes, there were holes in the story such as the absence of the police from the home and motel of a killer on the loose, but we don’t watch Bates Motel for the realism, we watch it for the fantasy and we love it for the same reason.
The title of this final nail in the Bates Motel coffin is “The Cord,” which takes on many meanings. Norman has spoken about the cord that ties him and mother from day one. Dylan was always searching for a cord to attach to and now, he has his own. When mother spoke to Norman in his dreams to say goodbye, that was the cutting of the cord to her and to the world that without her, he feels he has nothing to live for. Similar to Romero who desperately wanted the satisfaction of cutting the cord of life for Norman to avenge Norma’s death. He did not get that satisfaction, such is life I guess.
Thank you to the show creators, cast and crew for giving us this beautiful, strange and tragic world to live in. Thank you for giving us this complex and modern family to love and to challenge us. Thank you for giving us a chance to dream a little dream. Now, it’s time to check out. Farewell, Bates Motel.