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TV Review: Bates Motel 5.6 “Marion”
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Bates Motel 506-01

Bates Motel
Season 5 Episode 6: “Marion”
Directed by Philo Abraham
Written by Carlton Cuse & Kerry Ehrin
Created by Anthony Cipriano, Carlton Cuse, Kerry Ehrin
Starring Vera Farmiga, Freddie Highmore, Max Thieriot, Nestor Carbonell, Olivia Cooke, Ryan Hurst, Rihanna, Austin Nichols, Isabelle McNally
Air Date: Monday, March 27th, 2017, 10pm

Warning! Spoilers below for the last 2 episodes of Bates Motel!

Approaching the series finale of A&E’s Bates Motel, we finally caught up to Alfred Hitchcock’s classic last week with the official introduction of Marion Crane (Rihanna). Unlike the original film, Sam Loomis (Austin Nichols) is already married and Marion is the unknowing other woman. Annoyed by a crap job with few prospects, she absconds with $400,000 and heads out from Seattle to White Pine Bay to be with her man. Except when Sam can’t sneak away from his actual wife Madeleine (Isabelle McNally), Marion is forced to take to refuge at… well, you guessed it. Norman (Freddie Highmore) is dealing with the possibilities of Romero (Nestor Carbonell) showing up at any second after escaping prison, and more importantly, he is struggling with the reality that Norma(n) has been taking over his body for longer periods of time. It’s the beginning of the end…

Spoilers below for this week’s Bates Motel:

Like Janet Leigh in 1960, Rihanna’s Marion Crane pulls into the Bates Motel and is greeted by an awkward but charming young man. She signs Marie Samuels, and checks into Room 1. I actually got goosebumps as she views the room with the shower lingering in the background. Freddie Highmore is just off the charts and seriously deserves an Emmy nomination. He is friendly and inviting one minute, and shaky psychotic the next, trembling as he deals with Norma (Vera Farmiga). He’s desperate to break free of her hold on him, but then again, he’s the one creating the hold in the first place.

Dyl-Emma finally find out the truth about Norma’s death. Dylan’s (Max Thieriot‘s) reaction… goddamn it. Now goosebumps and tears. It’s only a matter of time before he and Emma (Olivia Cooke) return to the motel. Norman and Marion get to know each other over ham sandwiches and tea. I’ve said it before, but Highmore has done the near impossible. He is just as much Norman Bates as the late great Anthony Perkins. Few times has an actor stepped into a previously established role and made it his own more than him. And that zoom in through the picture on the wall to Norman’s watchful eye was fantastic.

In a twist of the narrative, Marion survives the shower, for now, and Norman gives her Sam’s address confirming that he is in fact married and a scumbag. I really like this update on the story, and I’d be down for a total retcon. After all, in Psycho, Sam was a legitimate good guy, desperate to find his girlfriend and save her from the trouble she’s gotten herself into. Here Sam is the bad guy, Marion is just caught in the middle. In the midst of this, Dylan calls Norman wondering why he wasn’t told about Norma’s death. Another phenomenal Freddie Highmore scene as he tearfully tells off Dylan, and is forced to come face to face with Norma in an intense scene.

Speaking of intense, Marion returns to the motel to pack her things, and Norman sends her off shaking vigorously, all to save her. Sure enough, Sam shows up desperate to find her and waits in Room 1 for her, unaware she’s gone, money and all. As he waits, why not a shower? We. Get. Our. Scene! 5 seasons in, 4 episodes away from the series conclusion and we finally have our glorious shower scene and it is wonderful, the perfect blend of originality and homage.

Take note future remake writer/directors. This is how you do it. You take a classic story, and give it modern updates that actually make sense and fit the characters you’ve worked so hard to create. Last week, my complaint was that it felt they were slaves to Hitchcock’s classic and it violated the trust we’d built over these 5 seasons. This week, I take back all complaints. They dared to tinker with arguably the most famous scene in horror history, and it was truly glorious. The balls; the chutzpah! I loved it. I’ve decided I’m sick and tired of mainstream neglect for horror themed shows, so I’m taking it upon myself to tweet #canwepleasegetFreddyHighmoreanEmmynomination. Share this review and retweet it if you love Bates Motel, Freddie Highmore, and horror on television.

Bates Motel returns to A&E next Monday night at 10:00 PM, only four episodes left.

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