‘Bates Motel’ episode 8 recap: Freddie Highmore makes directorial debut for ‘The Body’

For five years now “Bates Motel” has provided an excellent showcase for young Freddie Highmore to display his acting talents as the troubled Norman Bates. In the eighth episode of this final season, titled “The Body,” Highmore got to step behind the camera for his directorial debut and the results made it one of the series’ strongest hours. The episode was filled with some gorgeous visual story-telling moments and the type of insightful homages to historical films that have become the underrated series’ trademark. While the episode as a whole stood out as praise-worthy, these Top 5 moments stood out as some of the best from “Bates Motel” Season 5, Episode 8.

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Norman confesses to Sheriff Greene — Last week’s episode ended with Norman phoning the police to confess to the murder of Sam Loomis (Austin Nichols), the husband of Norman’s friend Madeline (Isabelle McNally). This week’s episode opens with a touching moment as Norman pleads with Sheriff Greene to give him his medication and to take him out of the Bates house where he is being questioned. Highmore and Brooke Smith as Sheriff Greene both give heartfelt and intense performances in this scene and it starts off an episode that’s particularly adept at giving its actors moments to shine.

Norman and Norma in the holding cell — “Bates Motel” is always at its most riveting when Highmore and Vera Farmiga as his mother Norma Bates really get to go at it in intense confrontation. Tonight’s episode didn’t disappoint as Norman and his split personality of Norma awaited their fate in the cell after confessing to murder. The gentle Highmore pleaded with the stern mother figure of Farmiga that he had to confess to murder to save his brother Dylan (Max Thieriot) from being killed by Norma. Farmiga’s forceful reply that she is all Norman needs was the kind of intense acting that has charmed viewers for five years now. Farmiga’s role in the series is reduced in screen time this season due to her character being dead and a part of Norman’s imagination, but this has provided the actress with an interesting opportunity to subtly change the character from the troubled yet loving mother of the first four seasons to the rampaging psychopath she has become this year. (And Emmy voters should note Farmiga is now eligible in the Best Drama Supporting Actress category.)

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Romero returns — Sheriff Romero (Nestor Carbonell) finally made it back to the Bates Motel after being in prison and then wounded in a gun fight during his plight. His return to the Bates household where he found his beloved wife Norma dead was filled with sadness and Carbonell is wonderfully wounded as he watches an apparition of Norma climb the stairs and then sweetly glance at him from her night stand. There’s also a lovely directorial touch as the camera slowly pans the Bates house and then lingers on the spot in the house where Romero discovered Norma’s body.

Romero finds Chick — In an unusually long but well-written scene, Romero finds Chick (Ryan Hurst) in the Bates basement and then shoots him in the head. The scene gave the two supporting actors the kind of intense moments usually only reserved for Norman and Norma, and Romero’s murder of Chick after Chick’s callously explaining that Norman had dug up Norma’s body was one of the biggest shocks of the season.

Body in the well — It was a nice moment in the episode when Brooke Smith as the sheriff watched a body being pulled from a local well. Smith came to fame as the girl in the pit in the Oscar-winning “The Silence of the Lambs,” so seeing her on the other end of the pit was a nice homage for classic film fans. Only two more episodes remain of this excellent series. How will it all end?

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