Binge Missions

As I start my weekend I was sitting in front of my tv, with Netflix up, wondering what show to watch. In a way, I felt like Don Jon: so many choices making it hard or near impossible to pick something.

Pictured above: Me, but with clothes, I guess.

I have been meaning to finish season seven of Suits for months now, along with season five of Bates Motel. Then I got sidetracked by season (or series) 3 of Luther, which I finished watching this week. Now the question is do I move onto four or try to find more time for all the other shows I have already started, such as season 2 of Attack on Titan.

Not to mention the ones I have been meaning to start for a while now, such as Rick and Morty, because all my friends talk about it. Or Hemlock Grove because of Bill Skarsgard, who nailed his role as Pennywise the Clown in It. 

Let’s not forget all the movies I want to watch as well. My appetite for horror has increased after It and I now want to see Sinister and The Strangers.

All of these shows and movies only scratch the surface. I accept that this is a first world problem at it’s finest. I also accept that I simply can’t, or shouldn’t, make enough time to see all of them.

Bates Motel: The Scene We’ve Been Waiting For

Warning: Spoilers will ensue for Bates Motel up until this point, which is episode 6 of season 5.

I remember watching Psycho (1960) years ago, mainly to see the film that birthed the most iconic shower scene in cinema history.

The music, the scream, the knife-wielding silhouette…it’s perfect. Maybe it comes across as cheesy now but I think the context has to be considered here. At this time, Psycho was breaking new ground in the horror genre, inspiring numerous other aspiring writers and directors, while also making people scared to take a shower.

Bates Motel could have turned out to be a terrible attempt to try to rehash, or cash in on a classic, but it has been able to truly become its own beast. It has carved out its own mythos, while also respecting and paying tribute to its source material: the 1960 film and the book that preceded it.

These past two seasons of Bates Motel have improved greatly by removing strenuous subplots and focusing on the Bates family. More specifically, the show became a lot more interesting as it focused on Norman’s descent into madness.

This season brought up a significant character from the old movie, Marion Crane, the victim of the famous shower scene. I was worried that Rihanna would ruin this season with her presence, but she was surprisingly competent in the role. I’m not going to say she was great, but she wasn’t atrocious and didn’t ruin the show. Maybe I was setting the bar low for her.

I was sure the show would have their own version of the shower scene, but I wasn’t sure how they would approach it. Would they try to do a carbon copy of the scene? Probably not a good idea since the original is so iconic. Instead, we get a genius twist on the scene, with the show’s biggest douchebag getting carved up instead.

The choice of music was perfect, with the lyrics and the tone matching the footage of Norman embracing his other half. The music was also vastly different from the original, creating a scene that is a homage to Pyscho but can still stand by itself. I like the fact that his alternate persona is portrayed as being self-aware of its own existence, acknowledging that it is a coping mechanism, but arguing it is still a necessary piece of Norman’s mind.The show was even brazen enough to tease us with the possibility of Marion’s death earlier in the episode.Marion lives another day, but Riri will likely not return to the show (which is okay with me).

Freddie Highmore has been a true powerhouse over these past few seasons, and Vera Farigma continues to kill it as Norma (or pretend Norma). This dynamic duo has the rest of this season to bring Bates Motel home and I am looking forward to seeing how this series ends.

 

Bates Motel Season 5 Premiere Thoughts

Warning: This post contains spoilers for the season 5 premiere. Bates Motel premiered in 2013, serving as a contemporary prequel to Psycho (1960). Since the series is a prequel this blog post will also have spoilers for the film, and ultimately the fifth and final season of the show.

I have always tried to avoid getting immersed in too many television shows at one time. For the moment, I was content to finish up The Boondocks (or at least the first three seasons) and Suits, while also watching Taboo weekly. Then I happened to see a commercial for the fifth season of Bates Motel and knew that I had to add another show to my list.

Season 4 was the best one so far in my opinion. Weak subplots and actors were removed for the most part once Bradley Martin (and some other girl later on) were eliminated for good. Instead of padded teen drama, the writers focused on Norman’s descent into madness, building up to the character we see in Psycho. As usual, Vera Farigma and Freddie Highmore shined, and had great support from Nestor Carbonell, Max Thieriot and Olivia Cooke.

Season 5 continues two years after season 4, with Dylan and Emma living happily together with their baby, while Norman is now the manager and sole employee of the motel. Meanwhile, Romero is serving time in prison.

By this point, Norman is pretty much the character we see in Psycho. Norma still exists in his head, but is pretending to be dead and confining herself to the house in order to be always be there for him. Meanwhile her frozen body resides in the basement and is a source of comfort for her unhinged son. Norman’s diary makes it clear he’s been having more blackouts, which are clearly the times that the Norma persona takes over. Most recently, Norman killed a man that Romero sent to kill him. While trying to dump the body, Romero calls the man’s phone, making it clear to Norman why someone wanted to kill him.

Brief glimpses from the commercial made it clear Romero isn’t in prison the entire season, so I am very interested to see what happens the next time he and Norman are face to face. I also wonder if Romero’s actions will have more repercussions for him down the road. The show doesn’t sync with the movie perfectly, but it is likely Romero will die if the fifth season is to end with Norman still running the motel.

Speaking of the motel, it is interesting to see that Norman’s voyeurism has now extended past spying on his mother. When “David Davidson” gets a room for he and his mistress, Norman makes sure to give him the room with the peephole so that he can watch them while he… jacks it. I originally thought Norman was simply shaking due to excitement (in a way he was), but his fumbling at his pants when he was interrupted make it clear he wasn’t just watching.

I am curious to see how the storyline with Dylan and Emma develops throughout this season. Their lives seem to be going great, which means something is bound to happen to remedy that. Caleb returns to them, but Emma is quick to drive him away. However, I doubt we have seen Caleb for the last time. At this point, he doesn’t know Norma is dead yet and I suspect he’ll find out somehow and have a desire to know exactly what happened.

Speaking of Psycho, the fifth season of Bates Motel will also introduce Marion Crane, the main character of the film. Since we have seen enough weak acting from Mrs Loomis, I am hoping Riri doesn’t add more. Crane is a central character to Norman’s story and I’m hoping Riri doesn’t bring down the season that has the potential to be the best.

Crane’s death in Psycho is immortalized in this infamous shower scene.

Perhaps her character will have a different backstory in the show, but I am thinking she will end up dying at some point. Clips from season 5 reveal that her and Norman kiss at one point, and his closeness to her could drive the possessive Norma persona to take action against Crane. Maybe the shower scene will be re-created. It can’t live up to the original but some sort of homage to it would be a real treat for anyone who has seen Psycho.

Mrs. Loomis (Isabelle McNally) is also another weak link in the series, with her acting bringing back the trauma of suffering through Peltz’s performance as Bradley Martin. I originally thought the last name was a reference to Scream (1996) but Madeleine Loomis is a character in Psycho II (1983). In that film, Madeline is actually Marion Crane’s niece. Due to Rihanna’s age it is unlikely that the show will incorporate this relationship.

On a side note, it was amusing to see Austin Nichols play yet another douche on tv, after playing Spencer in The Walking Dead. A brief search online shows that Austin is playing Sam Loomis, Madeleine’s husband. This is obviously going to result in another meeting between the two characters at some point. Maybe Mr. Loomis will end up in Norman’s freezer next. If “Norma” gets her way, Madeleine will likely be in there as well.

Concerns about Riri and Mrs. Loomis aside, this season of Bates Motel adds yet another small screen treasure to 2017.