Bates Motel has always been great at defying expectations, especially since it’s a show that had to claw itself out of the Psycho shadow. With an episode title like “The Last Supper,” and the show’s beating down of our characters, I was expecting this episode to end with a blow out, an explosion from one of the story lines that’s been building, like we’ve seen before. Yet for once, that doesn’t happen. No one dies, no one yells, no one leaves. Everyone just has dinner together in a moment of levity. But what’s important to remember is that The Last Supper is the calm before the storm, the moment of peace before betrayal and death inundate these characters even further.
“The Last Supper” plays like everyone is realizing they’ve got some shit to prepare for in the last three episodes of the season. Dylan finally explains to Norma just how insane Norman went when she left, believing himself to be his mother. Dylan is also planning on doing some gun running business in order to get Emma moved up higher on the lung transplant list, since he seems to harbor some romantic notions towards her now that his brother is going insane. Emma can’t even leave her damn house for dinner without her father giving her a hard time. Alex has to go confront his father in prison about his dead mother’s money, then gets drunk and makes a denied pass as Norma. Caleb even tries to leave a nice heartfelt note and flowers on Norma’s doorstep, before she catches him. Yet with all of these problems, they decide to sit down and share a nice dinner, forget their own problems and problems with each other, and just enjoy some chicken marsala.
Well, everyone is fine with this dinner except Norman, who can’t let his mother forget how much he’s been betrayed by her leaving. He’s spending much more time with his taxidermy to try to keep some of his sanity. But it’s a visit from James Finnigan that might’ve made Norman finally snap, the last piece in the Norman Bates saga before he completely loses it. After Norma finally agrees that Norman needs some professional help, James tries to talk to Norman, but Norman only wants to talk about his mother’s sex life with this new man. To retaliate against this, James poses a question that, surprisingly, no one has mentioned to Norman: does he want to sleep with his own mother? Norman reacts with such furious anger, it’s clear that there may be some truth to this statement.
While everyone else seems to have a great time at the dinner, Norman is relatively quiet and awkward, keeping to himself at a table filled with people who he believes to have betrayed him, hurt people he loved, or who know his secrets. With the memory of what James said to him on his mind, once the dinner over and everyone gone but his mother, Norman walks into Norma’s room and touches her body, with a dead look in his eyes, finally where he feels like he should be.
For most of “The Last Supper,” it’s just a nice change to things mostly going okay for these people. Norma doesn’t really have anyone she has to blackmail, run from or plot against. All she really has to do is take care of Alex and make some dinner. The only potential problem with “The Last Supper” is that this show already has so many plots its working with that focusing on more minor characters in the first half like Alex and Emma does add to an already full lineup of plots. At least they tie themselves into ones we’re already invested in, but still, three episodes isn’t a lot of time to wrap up all of the many stories.
Ross Bonaime is a D.C.-based freelance writer and regular contributor to Paste. You can follow him on Twitter.