Critic’s Notebook: Goodbye, Norman. Um, I’ll Just Leave the Key in the Room.

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“It’s really rare that you get to actually execute your plan, and rarer still that the plan holds up as well as it has held up,” Mr. Cuse said.

The finale spends a few moments reminding us of just how far the story has come, flashing back to some of the series’s early scenes, when it seemed as if it would be a simple tale of the anything-but-simple relationship between Norman (played by Freddie Highmore) and his mother, Norma (Vera Farmiga). To fans, that now feels like a long time ago, as the series has filled up with story lines about marijuana farming, the dark history of the Bates family, missing persons and more.

Two characters who early on seemed as if they might have small arcs but came to be pivotal figure prominently in the finale: Norman’s half brother, Dylan, played by Max Thieriot, and the former sheriff, Alex Romero, portrayed by Nestor Carbonell. Dylan, Mr. Cuse and Ms. Ehrin said, was always envisioned as a major player — “Right from the beginning we decided Norman should have a brother who was kind of the window for the audience on this relationship between mother and son,” Mr. Cuse said. Romero, though, was more of a character who forced his way into the lineup.

“Especially in the first season with Nestor,” Ms. Ehrin said, “by the time he was doing those scenes with Norma where she was going in his office” — fans will remember the early sparks — “from there you’re like: ‘Oh, these two. There’s something very good with these two.’”

Romero eventually married Norma, and after her death at the hands of Norman in Season 4, he became driven by revenge. No “Bates” character transformed quite as much, and that is saying something for a show whose central figure ended up wearing his mother’s clothes.

“This has been a gift on every front,” Mr. Carbonell, who also worked with Mr. Cuse on “Lost,” said of the show, and he wasn’t referring just to the role. The “Bates” set became, in Ms. Ehrin’s words, “like an actors’ troupe from a couple of centuries ago,” with people trying out jobs other than their assigned ones. Mr. Carbonell directed three episodes, and Mr. Thieriot and Mr. Highmore got behind the camera, too.

Mr. Highmore, who also ended up with several writing credits, was described by Mr. Cuse as a sort of Renaissance man whose skills include several languages. “Probably the only actor on a show to work for a law firm translating documents between seasons,” Mr. Cuse said. “Pretty sure nobody on the CW is doing that.”

Photo

The set where “Bates Motel” was filmed, outside Vancouver, has now been demolished. Credit Stuart Isett for The New York Times

The show wrapped in late January, leaving the team behind it wistful.

“You go through all these different mourning periods when a series ends,” Mr. Cuse said. “When you finish writing. When you finish the final episode. When the final episode airs.” But he said that the real jolt for him came when he saw a film clip of the demolition of the Bates Motel and eerie family house built just outside Vancouver. “They knocked it down so quickly,” he said.

In early 2013 I traveled to that set to write about the show’s forthcoming premiere, and the producers, at my request, arranged for me to sleep in the phony Bates Motel and, yes, even shower there, though the structure had no plumbing. Various fictional characters have checked into the motel over five seasons, but Mr. Cuse said just one real person actually spent a night there.

“You have the honor of being the only guest,” he told me.

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Source: New York Times

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