Bates Motel Finale

Spoilers for Bates Motel

I started the fifth and final season of Bates Motel soon after its premiere in February but just finished the last episode this weekend. The delay was not due to a lack of interest in the series itself, but more of a lack of interest in Kodi. I used the streaming service for any show that either wasn’t available on Netflix or didn’t have its latest season there. After dealing with the crash of one Kodi add-on after another, I grew sick of Kodi and then retreated exclusively to Netflix offerings for a long time.

Since I finished watching the first season of Hemlock Grove and Big Mouth, I finally made time to wrap up one of my favourite shows. This piece isn’t necessarily a review, it’s just an offering of some of the things on my mind after finally finishing.

Bates Motel was marketed as a “contemporary prequel” to 1960’s Psycho, and like some intended prequels I didn’t expect the events to line up exactly. The original film doesn’t give us too much about Norman Bates’s background, except the fact that he killed his mom and her lover out of jealousy. Seasons 1-3 were untouched territory in terms of Norman Bates’s development, and his relationship with his mother and other women.

While I detested some of the subplots in these seasons, mainly due to the terrible acting on display from the high school girls, especially Nicola Peltz as Bradley Martin. This woman has the ability to ruin anything she touches, whether it’s bringing down Bates Motel or adding to the misery of The Last Airbender.

Pictured above: One great actor, along with a black hole of charisma and screen presence.

I digressed.

While Peltz’s acting was awful, Norman’s relationship with her actually explained why he would grow even closer to his mother. After pursuing a girl he liked, he was rejected and used. Then Norma was quick to take advantage of that and reinforce all of the negative ideas swirling in Norman’s head about other women. While Norman had a good relationship with Emma Decody, she became his “good girl” in a sense: The sweeter girl who he ignored. By the time Norman moved on from Bradley, Emma was moving on from him.

Seasons 3, 4 and 5 got us closer to the formation of the Norman Bates we see in Psycho. While it was always implied that Norman’s blackouts were another personality taking over, season 4 gave us our first real glimpse of Mother taking over Norman. When Bradley dies, Norma isn’t represented as a figure alongside him. She literally embodies him. This is similar to a moment where Norman confronts his uncle, Caleb, in season 2, but Bradley’s death actually shows us Vera on camera in Freddie’s place.

Followed by Bradley’s death:

With Bradley’s death at the end of season 3, one of the worst actors in the show is removed and more importantly, we get closer to Psycho. Norma and Romero get married in season 4, starting off for financial purposes and then developing into real love. At this point, I wondered if Romero would be the lover that drives Norman to commit a double homicide.

Later in the season we find out that Norman doesn’t kill Romero and Norma at the same time, but mother dearest does meet death at her son’s hands. This was a change from the movie mythos but one change I did not expect was Norman’s death at the hands of his brother.

From the beginning I assumed that any character not referenced in Pyscho would be dead by the time the show ended. I imagined that Norman would remain the only main cast member alive, managing the motel by himself as the show ended. This theory got thrown out when a character from the original film, Marion Crane was introduced. Crane, the infamous 1960 shower victim, was the series’s biggest callback to the film. While Crane didn’t serve as the victim in the show, she still played a part in events that sent Norman into full on Psycho territory.

Crane is replaced by Sam Loomis, another person that I was very happy to be rid of.

As I mentioned in a previous post about Bates Motel,  I was happy the show didn’t use the iconic score from the film (good quality uploads are hard to find online). Episode 5.6 became one of my favourites simply for how it handled this scene and for all the possibilities it gave us in future episodes.

Like the movie, Norman has unearthed his mother’s body and brought it back home. He is starting to wear his mother’s clothes and wig when her personality takes over, and for a part of the season it looks like he might avoid punishment for any of his crimes. Norma’s downfall is all tied to a moment of self-awareness and empathy that allows him to confess to his crimes, forcing the police to look into the whereabouts of his victims. By the time Norma takes the reins again it is too late.

Romero dies, mainly because his grief causes him to turn his back on Norman. One of the toughest characters on the show ends up bludgeoned and shot by a kid who’s neck he should have snapped when he had the chance. It is actually my favourite character, Dylan, who ends up being the hero and delivers the biggest shock of the show.

Bates Motel branches off, carving its own path and killing off Norman Bates. Norman gets to be reunited with his mother, while Dylan is reunited with his family. While it was still sad to see Norman die, it was the only way to end his pain and to stop him from harming anyone else. If he was constrained to a mental institution away from his mother for the rest of his life, he would have been miserable. If he remained free, with periodic killings of any woman that “Mother” viewed as a threat, then other people would end up suffering.

The relationship between Dylan and Emma was strained following the confirmation that Norman killed Emma’s mom, but I was happy to see that they remained a couple. Perhaps it would be more realistic that Norman’s actions drove a wedge between them. Then again, it is not like Emma met Norman due to Dylan. It was the other way around. Dylan can’t be blamed for bringing Norman into their lives and he can’t be blamed for what Norman did. Norma is more to blame for refusing to get help for her son, but Emma’s visit to Norma’s grave shows that she still loves and respects Mother.

It’s been a long time coming but I am happy to wrap up one of the few shows that actually continued to get better with each season.

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.