TV Review: Bates Motel - Season 5: Episode 8 "The Body"

The direction BATES MOTEL is going is truly unpredictable and I love it. As a fan of the franchise for as long as I can remember (of both the films and novels), watching this version of Norman Bates unravel is some of the most riveting television out there. Freddie Highmore has not only proven himself a talented actor, but a director to watch as well as he's shown with this latest episode. Filling in some big shoes behind the camera, Highmore utilized this role to show off his chops as Norman switched between Mother and himself seamlessly. 

Norman has confessed to murdering Sam Loomis and the Sheriff is still unsure of how all the pieces fit. While he's sure of his crime, he's unable to explain some gaps or the possibility that there might be more crimes to confess to. I was beginning to get annoyed when she accused Norman of confession to the murder for attention, but luckily, Norman momentarily came to his senses and convinced her otherwise. Mother, on the other hand, did not like this and took over for much of the episode. With beautifully staged shots, we get to literally witness the two sides of Norman Bates in the interrogation room. As Mother thinks she's coming up with clever ways to get Norman out of this, the evidence pours in and Norman is charged with murder. 

This is where that brotherly love comes into play when Dylan finally verbalizes his feelings about Norman's health. He hires an attorney to not just get his brother out from behind bars, but, more importantly, get Norman the help he needs. He doesn't believe Norman is a bad person, but has a condition that causes him to do bad things without even noticing it. I'm loving that BATES MOTEL is focusing a lot on Norman's mental illness and not treating it as some exploitative plot device. Watching him unfold with a sense of self-realization feels like something so rare, especially on a hit show where the lead characters can be considered their own villains. 

Speaking of villains, Norma/Mother has truly become a scary monster this final season. Norman does everything it takes to get away from her, but she shows up at his most vulnerable and attempts to convince him that she is looking out for his best interests. In this version of Norman Bates, a boy's best friend is not his mother and she's out to keep herself in the picture, dead or not. Her body has yet to be found, but other victims have been. She shoves Norman's face into a steel toilet to knock him out and takes over his body to give a heartbreaking yet deceitful monologue about why a flawed young man would confess to a crime he didn't commit. 

Alex Romero's story is finally coming full circle as he finally makes it back to town, but finds Chick in the basement, typing away at the tragedy that is the Bates motel. Chick is not aware that Norman is in custody and that the end of the story is near. He isolates himself where Norma's body was stored to capture her essence in his writing and informs Alex the Cliff's Notes version of what's been going on. Alex impulsively kills Chick, closing one storyline and taking us to the last act of Alex's story which will play out in the next two episodes. 

As we near the end, I feel like everyone is giving it their all and it helps that scrips are at their best, which will make it that much harder for fans to let go.