TV Review: Bates Motel 5.1 “Dark Paradise”
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Bates Motel
Season 5 Episode 1: “Dark Paradise”
Directed by Tucker Gates
Written by Kerry Ehrin
Starring Vera Farmiga, Freddie Highmore, Max Thieriot, Nestor Carbonell, Olivia Cooke
Air Date: Monday, February 20th, 2017, 10pm

Warning! Spoilers below for the 5th season premiere of Bates Motel!

When we last left Norman Bates (Freddie Highmore) on Bates Motel, he had killed his mother Norma (Vera Farmiga), and threw away his meds to be reunited with her. He also dug up her body and put it in the basement. He almost pulled the trigger and ended it all, when the full psychosis kicked in complete with music, as Norma returned to live in the fantasy that they are happy together, forever. He did not tell Dylan (Max Thieriot) she was dead. Alex (Nestor Carbonell) freaked out in grief, knowing Norman did it, and was hauled off to jail for perjury, not the punch he gave Norman.

Spoilers below.

Bates Motel 5.1 “Dark Paradise” review: A record plays and we see Norman asleep, woken by Juno, his dead dog. Norma greets him in the kitchen with breakfast and a smile, forever trapped in that house.

I already have chills.

Alex is in jail. His parole was denied.

Norman is intent on sprucing up the motel, and meets Madeline Loomis (Isabelle McNally), hardware store owner. He goes to pay but has somebody else’s wallet, and cannot remember where it came from. He asks his mother when he gets home. She “tells” him to put it in the safe.

Dylan is barbecuing at Emma’s birthday party in their beautiful house. He and Emma (Olivia Cooke) have pretty much the cutest baby in America. Caleb (Kenny Johnson) shows up, and Dylan obviously has mixed feelings. Nobody knows about Norma (Caleb asks). Dylan talks to Emma about his father. He finally tells her that Caleb helped pay for the transplant, and says he does not want to turn him away. She tells Caleb later that night that he has to go because he is putting Dylan in an impossible position. Caleb agrees with her, but is really sad. The whole scene is just really sad.

Norman looks through the guest register for the wallet’s owner. He has a blackout book, that coincides with a receipt date he found in the wallet.

A man (The Walking Dead‘s Austin Nichols) comes in with an obvious fake name wanting a room for a few hours. The man brings a woman in, and Norman spies on them having sex. Norma interrupts with a phone call. Over dinner, they talk about paint swatches and Madeline Loomis, and fight. Norma says she is pretending to be dead, and she is going “crazy.” In the middle of the night he goes and snuggles with her real corpse. Madeline Loomis shows up with paint and invites him to a small business owners meeting. He tries to go. Norma said he can’t take the car because of the blackouts. She shows him the body (wallet guy) and tells him a story, and they get rid of it together to the tune of “At Last.”

The dead guy’s phone rings and Norman picks up. Alex is on the other end. What!!!!

Oh my gosh. Just wow. Norman is obviously worse without real Norma, who was really protecting him. This Norma is the evil hiccup in his brain that made him kill everyone. He is full on “psycho” now and I fully expect one body per episode. The addition of the Loomis name on top of the anticipated Marion Crane appearance is just an homage to the original lore. At first, I was not happy with Emma for pretty much kicking Caleb out, because he really is so sorry, but she’s right. There is no good explanation to tell a kid about those origins. I’m really looking forward (and not looking forward) to Dylan finding out about Norma. On one hand, he deserves to know, but I am convinced that if he goes back to White Pine Bay, he will die at Norman’s hands. Caleb is definitely dying by Norman. Will Alex? Probably him too. I cannot TAKE this show!

Particularly haunting was the contrast of the house setting between the reality and the fantasy. The dark mess against the sunny cleanliness is simultaneously heartbreaking and scary, like a “dark paradise.”

Bates Motel airs Monday nights at 10:00pm ET on A&E.

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