Bates Motel: “The Immutable Truth”

Norman (Freddie Highmore) says goodbye to his taxidermy dog. Just the kind of thing you'd expect in the season finale of "Bates Motel." Images courtesy of A& .
Norman (Freddie Highmore) says goodbye to his taxidermy dog. Just the kind of thing you’d expect in the season finale of “Bates Motel.” Images courtesy of A& .

Episode Grade: A

The chilling second season of “Bates Motel” came to a close with an emotionally intense finale that left viewers eagerly awaiting the third season.

“The Immutable Truth” is an episode of resolution and anticipation. Mending the broken relationships between Norma (Vera Farmiga) and Dylan (Max Thieriot), the episode allows for the truth of Norman’s (Freddie Highmore) inescapable fate to be realized and accepted (by both Norman and the audience) and creates a cliffhanger that will have fans of Hitchcock’s “Psycho” ecstatic about the future of the show.

Opening with an incoherent Norman desperately pleading for help to escape the box, a grim and desolate tone is set for the entire episode.

Norman has to struggle not only with the loss of control over his future, but with the added dilemma of losing control of his mind (which is slowly being seized by his mother persona).

Surprisingly, it’s Dylan and Romero (Nestor Carbonell), the drug-dealer and the sheriff, who work hand in hand to find Norman (and also put an end to the drug war later on when Romero kills drug boss Zane).

The two go to the now dead Mr. Ford’s (Michael O’Neill) house in the hopes of finding a clue to Norman’s whereabouts. Sheriff Romero finds one of Ford’s henchmen raiding a safe, and after some questioning, they find Norman.

As a result of the rescue, we finally see the depth of Norman and Dylan’s relationship as they cling to each other with relief. It’s a very tender moment between brothers that breaks up the dark tone, if only for a few minutes.

Norman is taken to the hospital where a worried Norma frantically waits to care for her boy. However, while in and out of consciousness, Norman tries to tell Norma about dreams he had while trapped in the box, or more specifically, memories, but in true control freak mode, Norma denies their validity, telling him they were only dreams and to put them out of his head.

Sheriff Romero (Nestor Carbonell) has had enough of Norma's (Vera Farmiga) stalling and demands Norman take a polygraph test for miss Watson's murder. Images courtesy of A&
Sheriff Romero (Nestor Carbonell) has had enough of Norma’s (Vera Farmiga) stalling and demands Norman take a polygraph test for miss Watson’s murder. Images courtesy of A&

The relief of finding Norman and getting him home safe is short lived however when Sheriff Romero immediately demands that Norman take a polygraph test.

Knowing that he’s in a fragile state, Norma resists, but Romero gives an ultimatum–Norman either takes the polygraph or Romero will reopen the Watson murder case, labeling Norman as the prime suspect. Begrudgingly, she agrees (though she has every intention of running).

Despite Norma’s insistence in keeping Norman’s dangerous side buried–claiming that all Norman’s memories, as well as the the physical evidence, prove is that Miss Watson seduced him–Norman brings up his blackouts, finally voicing the truth. He knows he’s capable of doing horrible things because he remembers killing Miss Watson. However, his words only earn the usual Norma admonishment and the conversation ends.

Since Norma completely shuts down any attempt of Norman coming to terms with his dangerous mind, Norman resorts to the only solution he can find–suicide.

Stealing his mother’s gun, Norman sets his affairs in order, mending his relationship with Emma (Olivia Cooke) and spending one last normal night with Norma, before escaping into the woods to kill himself.

His plans are foiled by Norma, who promises that they’ll get through this together.

It’s not just the two of them, though. In a surprising but beautiful moment of honesty and vulnerability, Norma and Dylan reconcile their relationship, both apologizing for their actions against each other and revealing their love for each other. Confiding in Dylan about plans of going to Montreal to start fresh again, and avoid the polygraph test, Norma asks him to come with her and Norman, as a family.

Both Thieriot and Farmiga deliver an emotionally raw performance that will leave you rooting for each character’s happiness. For Norma to step back from her headstrong personality and admit to her faults in raising Dylan was a huge character leap, and Farmiga does well to bring that complexity to life.

It’s the three of them, in the end, supporting each other as a family for Norman’s dreaded polygraph test.

Norman's "mother persona" helps him pass his polygraph test. Images courtesy of A&
Norman’s “mother persona” helps him pass his polygraph test. Images courtesy of A&

Norman answers yes to all the polygraph questions, except the last: “Did you kill Blair Watson?” However,we never get to hear Norman’s answer. Instead, we see Norman’s “mother” persona manifest itself in the room, explaining to him that he didn’t kill Miss Watson–she did.

Whatever the answer, Norman passed (though Sheriff Romero is still not convinced and will inevitably pursue it further next season).

And, paying homage to the original source material “Psycho,” Freddie Highmore closes the episode with a chilling stare into the camera that fully embraces his “mother” persona.

As for the rest of White Pine Bay, the craziness of the town has come to a standstill and things are looking up. With the death of Jodi (Kathleen Robertson) and Zane, the drama of the drug family can no longer affect the town, and with the business is in need of a leader, Sheriff Romero enlists Dylan (who has a good head on his shoulders and would do good) for the job.

“The Immutable Truth” earns itself an A for its tense final minutes. Norman’s acceptance of the killer side of himself can only lead to the further destruction of those around him, and with how the creators so brilliantly navigated the plot this season, the wait for more “Bates Motel” is gonna be torture.