TV Review: Bates Motel - Season 5: Episode 1 "Dark Paradise"

The final season begins for a series that had a questionable concept, but ended up becoming must see television for both horror fans and those who had never even seen PSYCHO. To this day, I still meet people who say they watch the show, but haven't seen the movie.  I find it fascinating as the viewing experience is going to vary for those who aren't familiar with the Norman Bates of the 1960's.  BATES MOTEL might have initially come off with a sour taste with teasers showcasing Norman holding an iPhone and a Vera Farmiga playing a living Norma Bates, promising an origin story we weren't sure we wanted.  Throughout the course of four seasons, however, it has proven to be its own mother of a monster and created a world outside of the film franchise.  After season three, it was announced that BATES MOTEL was renewed for two more seasons and it was clear while watching season four that the end was near.  During season four, Norma finally met her end as the result of a failed murder-suicide, leaving Norman to live on thanks to Sheriff Romero showing up a little too late. 

The fifth and final season takes place sometime after we last left off Norman playing Christmas tunes with his dead mother.  Norman has now developed a routine where Norma cooks and cleans (in his head anyways as the house is a mess when he's not home), but she never leaves the house.  Norma is aware of her own death and makes sure Norman is aware that she made the ultimate sacrifice to protect him.  She uses this to her advantage as Norman has clearly taken an instant liking to Madeline Loomis, a pretty blonde who owns a hardware store and looks quite a lot like Norma. 

A man signing in as David Davidson checks into the motel, wishing for only a few hours of time with his lover, who happens to have a female guest whose face we don't see.  My theory of who David is was proven right when the "This season on BATES MOTEL" preview came on after the episode, but I won't spoil it for those who didn't catch it.  Norman definitely doesn't like this guy or his purpose for needing a motel room, but business is business and business must grow. 

Up in Seattle, Dylan and Emma have made quite the domestic living.  They now have a baby to care for and an unexpected visit from Caleb, Dylan's dad.  The visit ignites something inside Dylan, but the family reunion is not going to stop there.  It turns out that the Seattle family has no idea about what has gone down at the Bates Motel.  Fans might remember that Dylan moved away on not so good terms with Norma and without any other family around, it's easy to see how Norma's death would be news to them.  Even though Emma has a one on one with Caleb, letting him know it's best that he leaves, he lives an unreliable lifestyle that guarantees drama and isn't going to disappear so easily. 

Norman is still having blackouts, not taking his medicine, but keeps a journal to help keep track of missing time and who might have interacted with him during this time.  This becomes an issue when Norman discovers a man's wallet in his pants, not recognizing who he is and how this ended up there.  When he confronts Norma about, she claims to not know what's going on, but it's obvious she knows the truth and might even be responsible.  It turns out that Sheriff Romero sent this guy to kill Norman, but failed and Norman (as Norma) fought back and slit his throat.  This revelation promises a tense storyline as Romero is locked up, but hell bent on making sure Norman pays for killing his mother. 

"Dark Paradise" gave us a promising start for the final season as storylines were set up and we finally enter the PSYCHO universe.  Rihanna promises to show up soon with her much publicized portrayal of the new Marion Crane.  I'm anxious to see how much of Crane's storyline will carry over into the show, the bad guy stealing money for love.  BATES MOTEL is full of shady characters that we love so she'll fit right in and I can't wait to see. 

Jovy Skol