After five incredible seasons, A&E’s Bates Motel is closing up shop. For five seasons, the Psycho prequel has delved into the psyches of its fascinating characters, with a zeal that has made it one of television’s all-time greatest series. So when the series takes its final bow on Monday night, it will open up a giant hole in the television universe. Until then, theories will continue to linger about how it will all end.
When it has come to telling character-driven stories and addressing hard-hitting issues, such as mental illness, Bates Motel has been in a league of its own. Never shy to be as powerfully fearless, as it is unpredictable and consistently intriguing.
Meticulously acted by its outstanding ensemble, Bates Motel has also been one of TV’s most overlooked series. A repeated oversight by the awards season that will hopefully be amended when it comes time to recognize Bates Motel‘s final season.
With the series having produced five flawless seasons, it is strange to think that its finale will comprise so much of how it is remembered. If there is one thing Bates Motel fans know very well, it is that predicting an upcoming plot point is next to impossible. Who would have thought anything that has happened in Season 5 would actually transpire?
Bates Motel‘s elusive ending.
One thing is at least, slightly expected. The show is unlikely to have a happy ending. When it comes to happiness on Bates Motel, it is most often short-lived, or tragically doomed in the long-term.
Watching happiness on Bates Motel is a lot like watching the ocean. A wave of happiness swells up before cresting over and hitting an unforgiving shoreline, only to disperse like it never happened. Such is the story of Bates Motel‘s tragic cast of characters.
When it comes to the finale, only one thing is certain. After five seasons and countless tragedies, it has all come down to this. So how could Bates Motel end? Here are five ending theories on how the series finale could play out.
Bates Motel Ending Theory No. 1: A happy-ish ending.
When Romero (Nestor Carbonell) took Norman (Freddie Highmore) hostage with the intent to eventually kill him, he set a dire ending in motion. Or did he? It is possible that Romero, after seeing Norma’s body will have a change of heart about killing Norman and release him back into police custody, before being taken into custody himself.
With Norman, and Romero both incarcerated, life would go on for Dylan (Max Thieriot) and Emma (Olivia Cooke). Norman’s fate could be left in the air, or he could be remanded to a mental institution, or prison, for the rest of his life, while Romero serves his sentence.
Bates Motel Ending Theory No. 2: Romero dies and Norman/Mother disappears.
Romero thinks he has the upper hand going into his showdown with Norman, but if there is one thing Bates Motel has taught viewers for five seasons, it is that no one should underestimate Norman Bates, or rather Mother. It never ends well.
Mother could theoretically overpower Romero at some point and shoot him. Realizing it is their only chance at freedom, Mother could decide to disappear into the ether, leaving fans with a bit of a cliffhanger.
Bates Motel Ending Theory No. 3: Romero and Norman/Mother die.
Strong money is on Romero dying at Mother’s hand. So who will stop Mother? In the trailer for the Bates Motel series finale, Dylan can be seen brandishing a gun as he hurriedly gets in his truck. Is it old footage, or new?
Will Dylan be the one who puts Norman/Mother down after the latter kills Romero? It seems feasible. Dylan has been beating himself up for not doing more to stop Norman in Season 5, and this could be his chance at what he considers redemption. Now to the ending theory no Bates Motel fan wants to consider.
Bates Motel Ending Theory No. 4: Dylan gets caught in the crossfire, as Romero dies, and Norman is found and committed.
Ever since he arrived on Bates Motel, Dylan’s fate has been surrounded by uncertainty. In Bates Motel Season 5, his safety seemed unassailable. When the final season began, Dylan had moved away from White Pine Bay, married Emma, and they had a baby. To be honest, it has seemed too good to be true, and as Season 5 has wound down, that feeling has only grown.
Happy endings seldom last on Bates Motel. Just ask Dylan’s mom, Norma Bates (Vera Farmiga), who found bliss with Romero in Season 4, only to have it end, when she had Norman released from the mental hospital. He would ultimately kill her in an attempt to end both their lives.
Let’s face it, Romero’s quest for revenge can only lead to tragic consequences, and after Romero’s friend begged him to end it in the penultimate episode of Bates Motel, it was clearly a turning point of no return. Romero’s revenge will have tragic consequences for someone, and there could be a no more tragic victim of it, than Dylan.
Has Bates Motel been foreshadowing Dylan’s death?
Bates Motel has done three major things in the lead-up to its finale. One, Dylan does not know about his father’s death and Norman’s involvement in it. Two, Emma has left town and returned home to hers and Dylan’s daughter. Lastly, in one of the final scenes of the penultimate episode, Dylan was reeling in grief and guilt over what he believes to be his responsibility in Norman’s reign of terror.
Dylan already started to experience that downhill slide in the penultimate episode. Heading into the Bates Motel finale, Dylan’s marriage is in as much danger of ending, as his marriage to Emma. One of Bates Motel‘s executive producers, Carlton Cuse, told TV Line this concerning the state of Dylan and Emma’s marriage heading into the series finale.
“The question is can their relationship survive the seismic stress that is the discovery that Norman is this serial killer and responsible for all of these deaths, including Emma’s mother.”
Bates Motel has given Dylan a legacy through his daughter and the chance to have a final showdown with Norman. From the beginning, the show has been about the Bates family and their inherently troubled web. It is likely Bates Motel will end with all of them tangled in it.
If Dylan were to die, it could be the impetus for Norman to take back control from Mother. Thus leading to him, being found, and eventually committed to a mental institution.
Bates Motel Ending Theory No. 5: It is all in Norman’s imagination.
Is it possible that everything that has happened over the course of Bates Motel‘s final episodes has been in the mind of Norman? That when Mother took control to kill Dylan, he snapped and imagined what his life would be like if he did the right thing?
If it is, then it could spend its finale giving viewers a totally different take on Norman’s ultimate fate. It would not be the first time Bates Motel has revealed that viewers have been unwittingly watching one of Norman’s hallucinations.
Is Norman’s nightmare playing out on Bates Motel?
In Season 4, viewers watched an entire scene between Norman and Norma that never took place. Norman had deluded that Norma had come to visit him in the mental facility he was staying in, and she had not. The scene played out with tremendous realism, and never tipped its imaginary hand until it was blatantly revealed.
Season 5 similarly featured a conversation between Norman and his psychiatrist. One that viewers later learned could not have happened because Dr. Edwards (Damon Gupton) is missing, and presumed dead. If Bates Motel pulls a Dallas type ending, it could be polarizing, but effective. What would Dylan’s fate be then?
Find out if any of these five Bates Motel ending theories comes true, and if Dylan survives Bates Motel‘s series finale when the conclusion to Season 5 airs Monday at 10 p.m. EST on A&E.
[Featured Image by Cate Cameron/A&E]