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Freddie Highmore and Carlton Cuse talk the season 2 finale of 'Bates Motel'

Vera Farmiga as Norma and Freddie Highmore as Norman in "Bates Motel."
Vera Farmiga as Norma and Freddie Highmore as Norman in "Bates Motel."

The Season 2 finale of "Bates Motel" airs tonight with Norman (Freddie Highmore) haunted by a tragic event in his past, Norma (Vera Farmiga) trying to save Norman from making a horrible mistake, and Romero (Nestor Carbonell) and Dylan (Max Thieriot) trying to bring closure to the drug war. Also, Emma (Olivia Cooke) makes a decision about her future at the Bates Motel.

In a conference call to promote the finale of "Bates Motel," series star Freddie Highmore and executive producer Carlton Cuse talk about how this finale compares to Season 1, will we find out if Norman really is a killer, the incest-tinged relationship between Norma and her boys, and what's on tap for Season 3 as the series has already received its pickup.

How do you think tonight's Season 2 finale compares to the first season finale?

Freddie Highmore: I think the whole Arc of the second season has been fantastic for Norman. There's always time that you need, in terms of establishing a character and seeing them as they are before they start off on this journey. Towards the end of this season, by the 10th episode, we start to see this manipulative side to Norman, that starts to question our allegiance to him. That has been great fun, as an actor, to play because you play against the sense of what people thing Norman should be like. But then, there comes a point where you have to decide to what extent you can continue to support his actions. With Norman’s growing realization of who he is and who he might become and what he’s capable of comes this sense of power for him. And what I think is great about the tenth episode is to what extent would that power Norman take as a selfish decision. And by the end of the episode, are we still with him or not?

Can we expect an answer by the end of this season to the question of who killed Ms. Watson?

Freddie: Yes, there will be an ultimate [answer to] that question before the end of the season. It's tricky in terms of not wanting to spoil too much.

Norman and Norma are usually so close but the secret that she's been keeping about his blackout is really driving a wedge between them, will their relationship continue down the strained path or is there reconciliation in the near future?

Carlton Cuse: Norma and Norman's relationship is at the very heart of the show and that I don't think ever will change. That's what makes the show wonderful is this incredible dynamic that exists between these two characters as portrayed by these two actors. That's the very heart and center of the show. The nature of that relationship, however, will evolve over time and I think what's really interesting is that Norman is going from being sort of a boy to being a man. That's part of his journey over the course of the show. I think as he becomes more of a man, that consequences in terms of how he and his mother relate to each other.

What's happening with George? Is he too good to be true?

Carlton Cuse: I think part of the story arc this season has really been about seeing how close to the sun Norma can fly. She's always had this vision of moving to this idyllic small town, being in with the right people and having the right relationships. And George sort of personifies acceptance and admission into the society of this town. In the finale we will definitely see where that leads and where that leaves Norma at the end of the season, and so it will pay off.

Have the incestual undertones between Dylan and Norma and Norman and Norma been intentional?

Carlton Cuse: Obviously, there's a sexual tension that is a part of Norma and Norman's dynamic. I think that with Dylan, it's really much more incidental, or not really intentional. Norma and Norman have this very close relationship that borders on being inappropriate. [Executive producer] Kerry Ehrin and I have tried to make you understand why it exists. That’s just part of the tension that's very much at the center of the show. We’re intentionally playing into that, but at the same time, there are certain lines that we, as writers, don’t feel comfortable crossing.

Do you have a sense yet of what the shape of Season 3 will be?

Carlton Cuse: Look our goal is to continue to write the show on a high level and make Season 3, hopefully even better than Season 2. Our expectations are that high Kerry and I have actually spent a fair amount of time talking about it, and we do have a preliminary game plan that we're very excited about. It's tough to say too much about it because a lot of it is driven by events that are in the finale that I don't want to spoil.

But I feel very confident that we can make a really engaging Season 3. We do have a plan and, in fact, now that we've been picked up, we're hard at work in terms of laying out the architecture of the new season. And I think it's going to be great, I'm really excited about it.

Do you have an overall plan for however many season the series goes?

Carlton Cuse: Yes, Kerry and I have a plan. We’re having discussions with A&E and Universal Studios about just how many episodes we’re going to do, to finish the show. It’s definitely a show that has a beginning, middle and end, and I think we’re getting to the point where we need to define that with the studio and the network and figure out exactly how many more total episode we’re going to do. I’m hoping that we’ll be able to work that out. We do know where we’re going to end.

The Season 2 finale of "Bates Motel" airs tonight at 10 p.m. ET/PT on A&E. Then stay tuned for "Bates Motel: After Hours," a live half-hour special event at 11 p.m. ET/PT during which the stars and Cuse will answer fan questions, share behind-the-scenes analysis and give insight into Season 2 and what may be to come in Season 3.

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