Wow, that was quite a finale. Bates Motel pulled out all the stops in “Midnight,” revealing insight into all the major characters, while showing us how White Pine Bay really operates. In typical finale fashion, the episode ends with one hell of a cliffhanger that really changes the rules for Season 2.
There are so many things to touch on here. The episode opens with Norma approaching Sheriff Romero and asking for protection. As always, Romero is vague, briefly noting that he’ll “handle it,” without providing any further details. I especially like the way Norma obtains the handgun from Dylan to protect herself. It’s interesting how Dylan still seeks Norma’s approval, even if he claims that he wants nothing to do with her. The training was a great moment, with a touch of comedic timing. Likewise, it all led to a tense, underplayed, and effective showdown between Norma, Romero and Abernathy.
The most interesting revelation in “Midnight” is the insight into Norma’s past. I like the way her sexual abuse was foreshadowed in her therapy session (and to be fair, it was foreshadowed with her scar way back in “Nice Town You Picked, Norma”). The conversation with Norman was beautifully acted and directed (I loved the shot with the clock on the mantel), as she confides her secret. Furthermore, the writing is subtle and effective; the scar is not from a knife wound or anything too drastic, but rather from an iron touching down on her leg. And let’s not forger that a smoking iron was one of the first images seen in the pilot. Norma’s scar ultimately serves as a constant reminder of her troubled past.
However, “Midnight” starts to raise the question: how is Norma so functional, considering every man she’s known has been physically or sexually abusive? That is, except for Norman, and I suppose that’s the crux of the series. Regardless, her confession to Norman is one of the best scenes of the series so far. There’s a certain intimacy in confiding a secret, which Norman often equates with a sexual intimacy, like in the scene with Miss Watson arguing on the phone. The older adults treat Norman as one of them, yet he misinterprets their physical and emotional outreach. Norma and Miss Watson are seeking empathy, not sexual contact, and Norman doesn’t quite understand this.
It’s interesting that Norma and Norman are so often abused by the characters they come into contact with. There’s an inevitability to the series (we know how it ends, after all), and a certain sadness in knowing that these two are doomed to a truly morbid conclusion. So, I suppose we really shouldn’t be surprised by Norman’s actions at the end of “Midnight.” However, in killing Miss Watson (by slitting her throat, no less), the writers have taken a huge leap forward… some might even argue too far.
After all, this murder has no context whatsoever (other than Miss Watson being physically attractive?) and is just as cruel as the shower scene of Psycho. He’s not protecting anyone by murdering his teacher, not even himself. Regardless, Norman and his mother get to have their happy ending, while we, the audience, know what truly occurred. Then again, even Norma suspects the worst; a fugue state is never a good sign.
And, so ends the first season of Bates Motel - just as twisted and compelling as how it started. The show-runners have done a phenomenal job with the series; they clearly have a tremendous respect for the source material, and have found some stellar actors to carry the performances. I throughly enjoyed these ten episodes, and I’m eagerly looking forward to next season (which starts filming this summer).
If you’ve been reading my reviews, I thank you for your time, your comments, and your speculation. I’ll see you all next spring for season 2!
Note: This review is taken from Review Hub Central.