‘Bates Motel’ came full circle with the murder of Miss Watson during the show’s season finale. After all, Norma killed Keith Summers in the premiere. The show had a tidy body count given the small-town setting. But the primary focus of ‘Bates Motel’ remained the relationship between a teenaged Norman Bates and his friends and family, and by family, we mean his mother Norma. Even though viewers familiar with Hitchcock’s classic know Norman’s fate, it has been fascinating to see how the seeds were planted in a young man that sprouted into a homicidal motel proprietor. Norma preferred to turn a blind eye to some of her son’s disturbing behavior and managed to find ways to try and justify her own. Bates creators did a great job developing a backstory for Norman and laying the groundwork for his homicidal tendencies. So here are 10 season one indicators that Norma’s relationship with her youngest son is not only dysfunctional but that she is also raising a severely disturbed individual.
10. He’s perfectly at ease with engaging in illegal behaviors. Of course, after covering up a murder committed by your mother, everything else seems minor. But Norman’s life of crime ranged from felonies to misdemeanors: breaking and entering, withholding information from the authorities, aiding and abetting, trespassing, assaulting an officer, murder and attempted murder. Norman racked up quite a potential rap sheet for such a “nice boy.”
9. He’s either mild-mannered and meek or prone to fits of rage, there isn’t much in between. Norman remained calm, cool and collected as he and his mother dumped Keith Summer’s body. He was practically comatose as Shelby held them at gunpoint and when his brother engaged in gunplay with the corrupt deputy in his home. It was a different story when Dylan talked despairingly about their mother and he went after him with a meat tenderizer or when Summers started to beat Norma and Norman attacked the armed man. Usually an obedient son, he had a few tantrums when either he grew frustrated with Norma’s behavior or felt he wasn’t being heard. These bursts were vicious but brief, like a summer thunderstorm.
8. He doesn’t find it uncomfortable or inappropriate to snuggle with his mother in his twin bed. Norma, who was scared for her life because of Abernathy’s threats, could no longer seek refuge in Shelby’s arms. So her next best option, in her mind anyway, was to spoon her seventeen-year-old son. He had also, on several occasions, allowed his glance to linger on his mother when she was scantily clad. This became less of an issue when he became preoccupied by Bradley but still behavior that was hard to ignore or forget.
7. He starts carrying around a “stuffed dog.” Norman formed a quick attachment to a small stray that had started hanging around the property. Initially, Norma nixed the idea of taking on the responsibility of caring for a stray but she eventually relented. Just like every other living thing that wanders into Bates territory, the dog’s life was cut short when she got hit by a car. Norman took her to Emma’s dad, a taxidermist, and now he and his pup, Juno, can be together always.
6. He dreams of drowning his first love. Bradley turned to Norman for comfort after the death of her father. Norman lost his virginity and assumed that he and his dream girl would live happily ever after. His hopes were quickly dashed when she started dodging his texts and ignoring him at school. Norman finally confronted her and she tried to let him down easy. His obsession with her remained. To make things worse, she has started hanging around with his older and much hotter brother.
5. School administrators and his favorite teacher thought he would benefit from a few sessions with the school psychologist. No parent wants to hear that their child doesn’t interact with others, keeps to himself and is “emotionally unusual for a boy his age." Norma, determined to protect Norman even if it isn’t in his best interests, tried her best to avoid Norman seeing a professional. When she couldn’t get out of it, she took him to a local therapist and preceded to steamroll the doctor and tried to navigate the session away from Norman’s psyche.
4. He collects odd and disturbing items. Norman kept the belt of a violent rapist and murder victim. After Norma went to great lengths to erase any signs of Keith Summers DNA from their property, Norman hid the man’s belt underneath his bed. When questioned by Norma why he would want such a vile memento, even Norman couldn’t come up with a feasible explanation. Another treasure Norman found the same evening was a sketch book full of explicit images of sexual sadism.
3. He hallucinates conversations with his mother and hears her voice in his head. Norma’s control over her son became more invasive and he actually started to see her when she wasn’t present. Part of his brain was permanently rented out to Norma’s non-stop unsolicited advice, negativity, guilt trips, paranoia and the various other head games and emotional manipulation that comprises their relationship.
2. He killed his father. Norman bludgeoned his father in the head with a blender while the man was in the midst of a heated and physical argument with Norma. He didn’t shout or give any warning. In fact, Norman didn’t appear to be threatening in any way at all until it was too late. He showed no emotion or remorse immediately following the act. Norman has continued to have “blackouts,” a way to detach himself from violent acts.
1. It is possible that he killed his Language Arts teacher. Miss Watson’s personal life was a bit of a question mark, emphasized by a heated phone conversation overheard by Norman. She clearly had something to hide, since she took a student into her confidence by asking him not to tell anyone about what he had heard. But he was alone with her and grew increasingly disturbed as he became sexually aroused, behavior that she wasn’t exactly discouraging. Also, Norman had another blackout, and viewers know that probably means he did something naughty. Or maybe he just saw something he couldn’t process. It’s too bad we’ll have to wait until season two to find out.