Review: Bates Motel S4, E9: Forever

On episode nine of the fourth season of Bates Motel, Forever, it’s the morning after Sheriff Romero’s incident with an axe-wielding Norman Bates and the three primary characters are reacting as you would expect. Romero (Nestor Carbonell) is scared for Norma’s safety.  Norma (Vera Farmiga) sports her rose-colored glasses, “That was the hardest part; it’s going to be better now.”  And Norman (Freddie Highmore)… well, he may have calmed down, but his feelings about the situation have not changed.

At least he’s taking his medicine and meeting with Dr. Edwards (Damon Gupton). But when the doctor asks if it would be so bad that Romero and Norma’s marriage is real, Norman says, “Yes, because it’s not real.  It’s all about her not wanting to be alone.  He’s always hated me; he couldn’t wait to have me locked away in here so he could be with her.  He’s got a big surprise coming when he realizes how difficult she can be and how damaged she really is.”

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There’s a grain of truth when he says this, and when he predicts that “he’ll end up leaving and I’ll have to pick up the broken pieces… if I can.” Between Norma’s head being in the sand and her son manipulating her, it seems inevitable that she will drive Romero away.  In fact, she tries to, with the excuse being that she can’t trust him because he met with Dylan (Max Thieriot) behind her back about having Norman committed to Pineview.

“How dare you go behind my back?” she asks him.  “He had an axe in his head and wanted to kill me!” Romero explains.  “Oh, yeah, are you dead?” Norma refuses to believe she can find happiness.  She tells him, “We were happy when we were in a bubble, but life isn’t a bubble.”  It doesn’t help that Norman is constantly in her ear, telling her that he’s the only one who loves her and that they were the only ones who were meant to be together.

For a moment, I thought it may be a non-issue, because Rebecca (Jaime Ray Newman) promises the DEA she will wear a wire and get Romero to confess that he killed Bob Paris. Thankfully he’s smarter than that and recognizes her odd behavior before admitting anything.  More importantly, thankfully the writers are smarter than that and aren’t going to use it as a handy-dandy plot device to remove him from the story.  It’s a good thing, because if he didn’t come knocking on Norma’s door that night…  More later.

Meanwhile, Dylan confronts Norma with Audrey’s earring and won’t listen to her excuses for Norman any longer. “I’m afraid of what’s going to happen,” he shouts.  “What’s already happened.”  Norma counters with her old stand-by statement, “Stop being dramatic.”  She thinks he’s making up a story because he’s jealous of Norman.  Flabbergasted, he tells her, “You’ve never been a real mother to me.  Never.  I can’t do this anymore.  I’m done.”

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On the way out, he faces Norman, gives him a big, brotherly hug, and tells him, “You have to check yourself back in. She’ll never do it.”  He then gives him another hug… a goodbye hug.  This may be the last straw for Norman, or maybe it’s the fact that he finds Audrey’s suitcase in the attic.  Putting on Norma’s dirty robe, I’m not sure if Norman realizes what he’s done or if he thinks it was his mother who killed Audrey and buried her in the pit at the motel.  But a switch is flipped…

The final segment of the episode is one of the best I’ve seen on any TV show this year! I don’t want to spoil a thing, but I will say that the camera takes us through a tour of the house while Norman… does something.  Nan Vernon’s “Mr. Sandman” plays eerily in the background.  It’s amazingly suspenseful; then, as if the tension is never going to end, it goes a step further.  The acting is even stronger than usual, especially from Carbonell.  It’s a cliffhanger, but at least we have to wait only a week to see what happens next.

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