TV Review: “Bates Motel: Season 5” Jumps Right Into The World Of A Fully Unhinged Norman Bates

“...Freddie Highmore has developed his character alongside (Vera) Farmiga splendidly. He slips in and out of being a clear-eyed innocent boy to something more demented with such ease it’s excitably unnerving.”


 

A contemporary prequel to “Psycho,” giving a portrayal of how Norman Bates’ psyche unravels through his teenage years, and how deeply intricate his relationship with his mother, Norma, truly is.

“Bates Motel: Season 5,” (the final season) picks back up about a year and a half after the death of Norma Bates (Vera Farmiga). At the end of Season 4, we know that Norman (Freddie Highmore) is beyond certifiable crazy. After surviving his murder/suicide plan, he is distraught. Tight-lipped and proper as always in front of strangers and completely beside himself with grief and disbelief in private, eventually convincing himself it is all a ruse. He believes it so much so that he secretly digs Norma up and takes her home and she is “alive” once again. It’s such a bizarre spectacle that you can’t peel your eyes away from it although it is sufficiently creepy and nearly nauseating. It’s brilliant. And the brilliance continues as Norman/Norma figure out their new way of life.

Episode One catches us up with all our favorite people who have either fled the murky waters of Norman and Norma or wound up in other unfortunate situations. Dylan (Max Thieriot) and Emma (Olivia Cooke) are blissfully ignorant of the sad turn of events back in White Pine Bay and are comfortably nesting in a home of their own. Caleb (Kenny Johnson), Dylan’s father/Norma’s brother shows up at Dylan and Emma’s home unexpected and is received with a nervously warm welcome. It’s soon decided that it isn’t “good” for him to be there and he then leaves to check on Norma, which leads to much confusion when it appears she’s nowhere to be found.

Sheriff Alex Romero (Nestor Carbonell) on the other hand, faces a more unfortunate circumstance, serving time in prison and is hell-bent on getting revenge on Norman for killing Norma. Meanwhile, Norman is running the motel and out and about running errands, all smiles and delusions. His mother is only “dead” to the public, but really, Norma has decided to be “dead” and hide out in the house so that she may devote all of her time to Norman. The tension between Norma and Norman is quite amusing. Vera Farmiga is at her best and has completely let loose as the Norma in Norman’s head. She’s just as biting, controlling, and protective as ever with a tad more kook than usual. It’s very interesting to see such a severe co-dependence between two people play out solely embodied by Norman.

It’s hard to see the line, if there ever was one, between Norman realizing that his mother really is dead and then not. And Freddie Highmore has developed his character alongside Farmiga splendidly. He slips in and out of being a clear-eyed innocent boy to something more demented with such ease it’s excitably unnerving.

With this being the last season of “Bates Motel,” I think we’re building up for something good, monumental even. Norman is completely unhinged. He’s having his blackouts and bodies are still dropping. And new people are introduced within the first two episodes that will trigger some excitement for those who love Hitchcock’s classic “Psycho.” It’ll be interesting to see how things pan out with everyone involved. Will Romero get his revenge? Will Dylan and Emma be lured back to White Pine Bay forsaking their desire to “live in the sun?” And then there’s the ever-curious Chick (Ryan Hurst) who is aware of Norman’s peculiarities but quietly ignores them for the sake of his own motives. I’m looking forward to this season and can’t wait to see what unfolds, to see how far Norman will go and what the body count will be. It’s definitely going to be out of control.

“Bates Motel: Season 5” will premiere on Monday, February 20th at 10pm ET/PT on A&E


 

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