The fourth season of A&E’s BATES MOTEL is in full swing, and Norman Bates is well on his way to becoming the psycho who we all know and love. While the relationship between Norman and Norma has become increasingly strained over the course of the season, it’s a far cry from the very close bond they once shared.
While none of the characters in the BATES MOTEL universe seem bothered by the level of closeness Norman and Norma share, some of the moments between the mother and son can be downright uncomfortable to watch as a viewer.
Sometimes it’s easy to forget that Vera Farmiga and Freddie Highmore are playing relatives instead of lovers, but that is just a testament to how amazing their performances are, and how well-written the relationship is. The tension between the two is palpable, and they never fail at creating unsettling moments together.
The dysfunctional relationship between Norman and Norma is central to the series, and to Norman’s spiral into insanity. Before the season ends, Blumhouse.com decided to take a look back at some of the moments between mother and son that have made us cringe in our seats!
Check-Out: Season 2, Episode 4
In this episode we see Norman slip into Norma’s personality, becoming “mother” when approaching his uncle Caleb. Norman confronts Caleb for all of the horrible things he did to Norma in their childhood, and the scene is terrifying, violent, and full of dread.
Before viewers are frightened by Norman and Caleb’s interaction, we get to see how eerily dependent Norman and Norma are of each other earlier in the episode. They cuddle in bed together, which would have been creepy enough. But, then Norman watches intently as Norma undresses in front of her mirror. The moment is brief, but we can almost feel Norman’s longing for his mother through his eyes, which never waiver from her bare back. You can see Norman’s emotions written on his face, and those emotions are completely inappropriate for a son to feel for his mother.
The Immutable Truth: Season 2, Episode 10
When Norman realizes that he murdered Blair Watson, his guilt makes him want to commit suicide. He goes into the woods to end his life, but Norma shows up and begs him not to do it. She tells him that if he dies, she dies too. And then…she kisses him.
The kiss isn’t a normal peck on the cheek, or a motherly show of affection at all. The kiss is full of passion, and it makes the moment very intimate. Norma is begging for her son to stay with her, and she’s essentially manipulating him in the same way she manipulates any other man to do what she wants.
The moment is full of raw emotion, albeit creepy, but Farmiga carried out the scene perfectly. There was the right amount of uneasiness to its delivery, keeping the moment from going too far.
A Death in the Family: Season 3, Episode 1
The season opener begins with Norman and Norma waking up in bed together. Dylan sees this and tells Norma that she and Norman shouldn’t be sharing a bed together, pointing out that Norman is an 18-year-old man.
Norma takes Dylan’s comments to heart, and she soon tells Norman that they need to have boundaries. Norman is told he cannot sleep in bed with his mother anymore, and he doesn’t understand what’s wrong with their spooning sessions.
Later in the episode while mourning the loss of her estranged mother, Norma tells Norman he can sleep in bed with her—but just for one night! Norman excitedly says, “Move over, you silly woman!” while jumping into bed and embracing her in his arms.
Highmore delivered the lines with perfect glee, and watching him and Farmiga become giddy like a high school couple while cuddling was disturbing.
The Last Supper: Season 3, Episode 7
Norman outright asks Finnegan what it was like to sleep with his mother (he knows her scent!). The question was completely inappropriate to ask for a number of reasons, and the situation was even more unsettling because Norman actually expected a detailed answer. The scene took an even darker turn when Finnegan asked Norman if he wanted to sleep with his mother.
We as an audience had been wondering the same thing for three seasons, and to see the uncertainty, shame and disgust play out in Norman’s eyes upon hearing the question made for a pivotal moment in the series—and in Norman’s mental disintegration. We see a bit of his psycho side come out to play when he reacts to the question with violence, attacking the professor who slept with his beloved mother.
Goodnight, Mother: Season 4, episode 2
Season 4 has been phenomenal in showcasing Norman’s descent into madness, and the performances by both Highmore and Farmiga are nothing short of spectacular. This excellent episode was full of insurmountable suspense as Norman essentially snaps and threatens his mother’s life.
Norman fully believes that his mother is responsible for all of the horrible things that he has done, and his overwhelming paranoia convinces him that Norma is out to get him. He decides that the only way to end the chaos is by killing Norma, and then killing himself.
Norma, still not wanting to give up on her son, does what she does best and seduces him. She pulls him in close and begins kissing him. It’s awkward to watch, but also terrifying because you can understand why she’s doing it. She wants the gun, but when Norman realizes her intentions he freaks out and pushes her away.
The scene is so chilling because Norman has finally turned on his mother. Norma was completely helpless and afraid of her son. Based on the elements of PSYCHO, viewers know exactly what will happen to Norma at the hands of Norman. This episode gave us a tease of that, and it made it easy for us to believe that Norman could easily hurt his mother. It also showed us just how far Norma is willing to go to keep Norman in her grip.