Major spoilers for Bates Motel are below.

There you have it, Bates Motel fans. The moment that we all knew was coming has happened. At least it seemed to, and the creative team doesn’t appear to be setting us up for some big “Gotcha twice!” twist (but they probably are). Yes, Norma Bates is apparently dead, having been killed by her son Norman’s hand and a bunch of carbon monoxide. But although she didn’t wake up by the time the episode ended, does that mean she’s definitely dead? We’ll have to wait until next week’s season finale to get the definite answer, but here’s what co-showrunner Carlton Cuse said about the jarring twist.
We had a very specific plan for what Season 5 was and what Norman would be like in Season 5 and what would be going on, so we wanted to deal with the issue of Norma at the end of Season 4 as a way to set the stage for the final season of the show. Vera will very much be a part of the show in Season 5 but it’s going to be a distinct, evolved version of the show.

As evidenced by Psycho, Norman Bates grows up to be a man that has not lost his obsession with his mother, so her being dead would hardly limit her ability to appear in Norman’s life. We’ve been watching Vera Farmiga play two different versions of Norma for a while now, so she would indeed be necessary to continue Norman’s descent into random madness. Cuse's comment to EW doesn't confirm whether he'll go through that descent mostly alone in Season 5 or as a part of a very fractured relationship with Norma, but at least we're getting more of actress Vera Farmiga no matter which way it goes.

Here's what Cuse says we can expect from the finale.
We designed [the finale] to be an emotional response to [Episode 9]. We don’t really want to say anything too specific because it would spoil [the finale].

Cuse's answer to TVLine is the same level of cryptic as the other quote just with less information offered up. The emotional response could definitely be everyone’s reactions to Norma being dead, or whoever actually finds out about it. Or it could also mean Norma survives and has a presumably terrible response to her son trying his murder-suicide plan out on her.

I’d hate to lose the constantly agitated Norma that we’ve gotten used to for four seasons, but it makes perfect sense to set up a huge turning point like this far enough in advance of the series’ finale that Norman’s post-Norma development can be witnessed in full. Plus, the last season of Bates Motel shouldn’t just be Norma avoiding Norman out of fear and possible hatred, since their weirdo relationship is what makes this show.

Bates Motel will be back for what will certainly be a bonkers Season 4 finale on Monday, May 16, on A&E. Let us know what you guys think.

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