BATES MOTEL Review: “Dark Paradise”


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is brilliant.  I’ve been a fan of Vera Farmiga since her roles in “The Departed” and “Up in the Air”.  I am elated that she plays Norma Louise Bates in A&E’s flagship series.  Freddie Highmore is equally impressive.  I completely believe his performance as the younger Norman Bates that I was frightened of in the movie “Psycho”.  Now that my own personal standing ovation is over, here comes my recap from the first episode of the final season.

Whoa, whoa, whoa!  Norman surely does a lot to keep his mother alive (in his head).  He makes enough food for 2 people every morning and evening.  He sleeps on one side of the bed to leave room for her on the other side.  He carries a dead body by one end to make it seem like his mother carries it on the other end.  Yea, they kill people.

An unlucky older gentleman gets chopped up by Norma before he can put a bullet in Norman.  Turns out that gent was sent by someone who wants Norman dead.  Culprit? Sheriff Alex Romero.  That’s ol’ boy from “Lost” who never aged in that show because he was like a time-traveling ghost or something.  What’s crazy is that he hasn’t aged in real life either!  Nestor Carbonell is his name, and he is a badass. Keep in mind that since this is my first rodeo, I’m not sure of his relationship with Norman, but he is dead-set on killing that boy.  Did I mention Alex is in prison?  He obviously still has enough resources to murder someone from behind bars.


I doubt if Norman is worried because he is crazy.  And how do you deal with crazy people?  You don’t. Without knowing what happens to Alex by the end of this season, I can guess that he will be whacked. Norman has a cold reaction to hearing Alex’s voice on the other line of the phone as it rings in the dead guy’s pocket.  Again, he is cray.

Norman also seems to be living in the 60s.  I almost thought there was a flashback/flash forward dynamic going on in this show, but no.  It is 2017, but Norman is just very old school.  His speech, dress and mannerisms are very “Leave it to Beaver”.  It makes sense in a way because I assume that’s the era his mother grew up in.  He’s been able to literally freeze his mother in his home.  He’s also done that with the atmosphere.  So, if he’s been able to go to such great lengths to create this non-existent world, he will go to even greater lengths to remove Alex from the earth.  Alex: you don’t know who you’re dealing with.

However, Norman may have a weakness.  A cute, young lady.  And yes, I said weakness.  Liking someone can be a weakness.  Norman tries to act like he’s not into by telling his mother that she’s married. Norma responds, “Well, that’s irrelevant”.  No truer words have been spoken.  I was enlightened about a significant number of married couples welcoming people into their bedroom via Bravo’s “Married to Medicine”.  Apparently, many patients of two OBGYNs inquire about safer sex with random sex partners. Clearly, their marriages bands mean nothing.  So, Norma hits the head on this one.  We will see how far Norman gets with this lady, but if she disappoints him, it will not be good for her.

What I love about Norman’s mental illness is that he believes that he’s mentally ill.  His mother is aware that she’s dead, and he’s aware of that as well.  He carries on in life with this information and thinks nothing of it.  He lives an imaginary life inside his home, and when he leaves the house, he’s able to interact normally with reality.  He tells people that his mother is indeed dead, so his ability to live two lives kinda makes me question whether he’s mentally ill.

Could it just be that he’s traumatized? What happened to his mother to make him yearn to keep her around?  It doesn’t seem like he imagines her according to his own perspective.  She looks annoyed sometimes.  She gets angry.  Frustrated.  It’s quite fantastic that he’s able to create these new storylines with his mother based on his upbringing with her.

This episode gives us a sneak peek of next week.  Rihanna will make a guest appearance, and I am over-the-moon about it.  She’s not even one of my top 10 singers, but she is one of my top fav people.  Can’t wait to see how she interacts with Norman’s crazy ass.  Love, love, love, this show.

TB-TV-Grade-ASeason 5, Episode 1 (S05E01)
Bates Motel airs Monday at 9PM on A&E

Read all of our reviews of Bates Motel here. 
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Jennifer spends her nights writing, her days securing insurance for shows, and her in-betweens blogging about the silliness and seriousness of life on her blog.
Follow Jennifer on Twitter: @reneseford
Keep up with all of Jennifer’s reviews here.

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