For the past four seasons, A&E horror series has portrayed how disturbed teen Norman Bates eventually turned into the psycho we love to hate — in great part because of his belief that his emotionally troubled mother is his “best friend.” As we head into the fifth and final season, here’s a guide to where we left off with Norman ( Bates Motel Freddie Highmore), Norma ( Vera Farmiga), and the rest of the characters inhabiting fictional White Pine Bay, Oregon, plus a look at a new key player.
Bates Motel season 5 premieres Monday, February 20 on A&E
Norman Bates ( Freddie Highmore):
Watching Norman’s descent into madness has been one hell of a creepy ride. At times, you hoped they’d somehow skew the narrative because you do feel for the kid, even root for him. But no. Last we see Norman, he convinces his mother that Alex is a bad guy, and he’s much better off home than in a psychiatric facility. Then Norman decides he and Mother should both leave this mortal coil. Leaking gas into the house, Norman kills Norma, but survives himself. Rather than accept it, he digs up her body, brings her home and literally wills her back to life — in his head, of course.
Norman in Season 5:
The final season is officially where Psycho begins. Now living in Cloud Cuckoo Land, it looks like Norman turns back the hands of time to the 1950s, with swing music, old movies, and the fantasy Norma (sometimes Norman in drag) as the perfect, cookie-cutter mother. The real Norma, however, is propped up and dolled up in the basement’s walk-in freezer where Norman can visit her. Shiver. It looks like Norman also has other problems: namely, Chick (Ryan Hurst), who once threatened Norma, but ended up appreciating her spunk. Remember when he showed up to the house and almost caught Norman with Norma’s dead body. What role will he play?
Norma Bates ( Vera Farmiga):
As one of the more complicated mothers to ever grace the small screen, Farmiga’s wounded Norma has vacillated between being an overprotective mama bear, to fiercely demanding her own independence, to trying to have a normal life with Alex after she marries him to seek better treatment for her increasingly dangerous and psychotic son. Ultimately, Norma simply won’t accept the crazy in Norman’s eyes, no matter how many tell-tale signs and warnings from others. She’s his mother, and he couldn’t, wouldn’t do her harm. Famous last words.
Norma in Season 5:
Now that the old Norma is dead, we get the new Norma, who is content to spend her days taking care of Norman, but as we know from the story, is also paranoid, hyper-critical, and sometimes harsh on her son. Norman tries to be the dutiful son and conduct a somewhat even-keeled existence, managing the motel, but Norma stewing in the house, growing more restless, is not good. When Norma “gets out,” bad things happen, even if she believes she “couldn’t harm a fly.”
Sheriff Alex Romero ( Nestor Carbonell):
Alex and Norma have had a complicated relationship from the start. From the moment she buys the Bates Motel, the sheriff is always showing up at Norma’s door to investigate something to do with Norman and murder. Alex has his own issues, namely killing a corrupt local town leader–drug dealer and stealing his money, but when things finally turn romantic, he and Norma try to make it work. The never-ending problem with Norman, however, tears them apart once again. Bereft after her death and convinced Norman did it, Alex grabs his gun to kill the kid — and is arrested before he can do it.
Sheriff Romero in Season 5:
Alex is out for blood and is going to do everything in his power to bring Norman down. Norma’s death has been ruled a suicide, due to a letter she wrote to Alex making it seem so, but Alex knows she was murdered by her deranged son. Of course, the sheriff is going to have to get out of the particular legal jam he is in with the DEA before he can exact his revenge, but make no mistake, it should happen in one form or another. It’ll be interesting to see how they’ll keep to the original story and kill Alex off. Falling down the stairs after being stabbed, like Martin Balsam’s death in the original Hitchcock film? Or something else.
Dylan Massett ( Max Thieriot):
Poor beleaguered Dylan. As Norma’s illegitimate son, conceived after a past incestuous tryst with her brother, Caleb (Kenny Johnson), Dylan is forever trying to mend ways with his mother, while also establishing a relationship with his father–uncle. Yet, when it comes to Norman, Dylan loves his brother, but knows he’s not well. I mean, he’s seen Norman dressed up as Norma. Last we see Dylan, he is about to leave all the craziness to go live with Emma, but tries to apologize to Norma one last time for their fight over Norman. When he calls, Norman answers and says Norma isn’t there, neglecting to let him know Norma is dead.
Dylan in Season 5:
At some point, Dylan is going to find out Norma is dead and will have to confront Norman about it. Dylan has always skated the line with his brother, and there were times you thought Norman (as possibly Norma) would kill him, but the character has managed to survive. Will he make it through the final season? There’s also Caleb to take into account, who Norman has definitely wanted to kill. We bet both Dylan and Caleb (Emma, too) will have something to do with capturing Norman.
Emma Decody ( Olivia Cooke):
Emma has always been the one calming factor in Norman’s life, and frankly, the one calming factor in the whole show. Because Norma liked her, Emma’s brief romance with Norman was relatively safe and harmless, at least in Norman’s fractured brain. Now that she’s been cured of her pulmonary disease and is happily with Dylan, bets might be off. There’s also the fact Norman (again, as Norma) killed Emma’s mother, so that’ll have to come out.
Emma in Season 5:
If Dylan has to contend with his crazy family, Emma most likely will be by his side. Even though Dylan has an inkling, Emma really doesn’t think Norman is crazy, just damaged. Oh, how wrong she is! One just hopes both she and Dylan will survive so they can live their lives finally at peace. Our prediction? Emma will be the one to find the frozen dead Norma in the basement, as the overhead light swings back and forth.
Marion Crane ( Rihanna):
Like we said, now that we are in Psycho world, it’s finally time to introduce Marion Crane. The show cast the fetching Rihanna as the troubled woman who was at the center of Hitchcock’s classic and was played by Janet Leigh. There isn’t much we know about Marion’s storyline yet, if it will mirror the original, but there will also be some other new characters, including Sam (Austin Nichols) and Madeleine Loomis (Isabelle McNally), a married couple who are possibly staying at the motel. In the original, Sam Loomis (played by John Gavin) was Marion’s lover and ends up helping Marion’s sister (Vera Miles) solve the mystery at the Bates Motel. Hmmmm.