Bates Motel—Season 5

bates motel season 5 poster review episode guide
8.0 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 8/10

Pretty satisfying ending, different direction than the movie

The shift in direction could both some viewers

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The end is here and things are going to get Psycho

Norma Bates (Vera Farmiga) is dead and time moves on in White Pine Bay.  Norman (Freddie Highmore) finds himself running the Bates Motel and living a happy (but solitary) life with Mother and the occasional visit from Chick (Ryan Hurst), but the arrival of a woman named Madeline Loomis (Isabelle McNally) could spark jealousy from “Mother”.  Dylan (Max Thieriot) and Emma (Olivia Cooke) work on raising their family in Seattle but find themselves inadvertently pulled back into Norman’s drama.  Imprisoned, Alex Romero (Nestor Carbonell) has his sights set on revenge against Norman…but Norman isn’t going down quietly.

Bates Motel—Season 5 is an A&E horror-thriller series.  Airing from February 20, 2017 to April 24, 2017, the final season of the series received positive views.

bates motel season 5 episode 7 inseparable norman norma vera farmiga freddie highmore

Always need some Mother-Norman time

For four years, it felt like Bates Motel was building to this point.  Psycho was Bates Motel’s origin, and this was a lead up to the movie…sort of.  With the modernization of the story, some things wouldn’t make sense as they were told today and things had to be changed from a logistic point of view.  While it feels like Bates Motel is going to rehash Psycho in the last few episodes, things suddenly change…and that wasn’t a bad thing.  Due to aspects of the storytelling, a ******spoiler alert****** exists for the rest of the review.

Psycho started with Norman living alone, being visited by a runaway thief, and killing her once he slipped into his Mother persona.  The movie then switched to a cat and mouse game with Norman attempting to cover up the crimes of “Mother” without knowing that he was Mother.  For Bates Motel, Mother has been covering the crimes for years, and Norman has almost become complacent to it due to an actual diagnosis (which he sometimes suppresses).  He doesn’t medicate himself, and the responsibility falls heavily on Norma and somewhat on Dylan who can see he has problems that they can’t handle.  This season has Norman committing his first actual murder in a reversal of Psycho by having Norman kill Sam Loomis in the shower.  It is Norman’s choice and Norman’s action…and Mother can’t really protect him or aid him from what he has done.  This spirals into a collapse of the barriers that Norman has set up for himself to protect him from Mother and a complete shattering of his mind.

bates motel season 5 episode 5 dreams die first sam loomis marion crane rihanna austin nichols

Anyone ever tell you that you look like Rihanna?

Bates Motel has been gifted by a strong supporting cast and for the series to become Norman-centric wouldn’t necessarily work.  It was also unbelievable that Norman would get away with his crimes due to his sloppy nature in an age of CSI and other forensic shows, and the series largely becomes a question of what happens to Norman now?  It might not be entirely satisfying for some viewers when Norman had become a kind of Dexter character who you wanted to see how he covered his tracks.  The series ends with almost an homage to Of Mice and Men with Dylan being forced to put down Norman for his own good and to save him from prison or years of institutionalization.

With Norma’s death, this season of Bates Motel has a lot of opportunities for fun visuals.  The show slips between Norman and Norma in scenes and plays with reflections and recordings to show the fluidity between the characters.  It is a real boon for both Freddie Highmore and Vera Farmiga who have a lot of meat to work with (and you get a great recreation of the famous Psycho eye shot with a different subject).  The season also utilizes the Pacific Northwest scenery a bit more which is something that felt missing in a lot of the previous seasons.

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Always remember a boy’s best friend is his mother

Bates Motel is one of those shows with a definitive ending and that feels good.  If Norman had been carted off to an asylum or gotten away with his crimes, it would have left open the potential for sequel projects that the show didn’t need.  The tone of the last couple seasons of Bates Motel felt different than the first few seasons and a conclusion needed to be reached.  In addition to this, the new characters created for the show needed their own personal story arcs and season 5 permits it.  Like the original Psycho, there are things that for the characters will never be answered.  No one knows Caleb was killed or what really happened to Bradley, and like real crimes, family and friends are left in a limbo as a result.  While some might not be entirely satisfied with how everything went down, the show’s ending feels better than some…and even has you possibly wanting to rewatch and revisit White Pine Bay again someday.

Bates Motel—Season 5 Complete Episode Guide:

bates motel season 5 episode 1 dark paradise mother vera farmiga

“Dark Paradise”

5.1       Dark Paradise Airdate:  02/20/17

Two years have passed since Norma’s death, and Norman (Freddie Highmore) is trying to make a life for himself and “Mother” (Vera Farmiga) at the Bates Motel.  Meanwhile, Alex Romero (Nestor Carbonell) is serving five years in prison and is anxious to have his revenge on Norman.  Celebrating the birth of their child, Dylan (Max Thieriot) and Emma (Olivia Cooke) get a surprise guest.  Norman meets a young woman named Madeline Loomis (Isabelle McNally) and questions how Mother is holding him back…or helping him.

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“The Convergence of the Twain”

5.2       The Convergence of the Twain Airdate:  02/27/17

Romero’s attempt to have Norman killed has Norman visiting Romero in prison and leaves Romero even more desperate to get out.  Caleb (Kenny Johnson) returns to White Pine Bay to see Norma and learns the truth of Norma’s passing.  Norman goes to a dinner with Madeline and her husband Sam (Austin Nichols) but finds Mother isn’t happy about it.  Chick (Ryan Hurst) learns Caleb is back in town, and Chick and Caleb are about to discover that Norma isn’t as dead as everyone believes.

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“Bad Blood”

5.3       Bad Blood Airdate:  03/06/17

Caleb has been taken prisoner by Mother in the basement of Norman’s home, and Chick begins to understand Norman’s special connection to Norma.  Romero’s beating in jail leads to a transfer and the opportunity he’s been looking for.  Norma tries to determine what to do about Caleb and leaves it up to Norman.

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5.4       Hidden Airdate:  03/13/17

Caleb has been run down by Chick on the road and Norman feels both Chick, and Norma are leaving him out of decisions affecting his life.  The new sheriff Jane Greene (Brooke Smith) learns about Jim Blackwell’s disappearance and has some questions for Norman…which Norman doesn’t handle well.  Romero finds himself shot while on the run and seeks out help.  A dinner with Madeleine has Norman worrying that Mother won’t let him live his life.

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“Dreams Die First”

5.5       Dreams Die First Airdate:  03/20/17

Norman wakes up with a hangover and questions what happened to him after his dinner with Madeleine, and the discovery of his car at the White Horse Bar leads Norman to a shocking discovery.  Sheriff Greene has questions about Norman’s story involving Romero, and Dylan reveals his fears to Emma about what is really happening at the hotel.  Sam’s mistress Marion Crane (Rihanna) makes a big decision at work that could seal her fate.

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5.6       Marion Airdate:  03/27/17

Dylan learns that Norma has been dead for two years and has questions for Norman.  Marion debates her next step as she learns she is the mistress in Sam’s life.  With his world falling apart, Sam is stopping by the Bates Motel to talk to Marion, and he might not check out.

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5.7       Inseparable Airdate:  04/03/17

Sam Loomis is dead and Norman, and “Mother” have a mess on their hands.  Dylan decides he has to see Norman and learns that Norman’s sicker than ever before as he learns of more and more people missing.  With the lies closing in around him, Norman has to keep Mother safe…and Dylan could threaten that safety.

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“The Body”

5.8       The Body Airdate:  04/10/17

Norman is held in custody for admitting to the murder of Sam Loomis, but Mother has her turn to try to clear Norman’s name.  Dylan hires Julia Ramos (Natalia Cordova-Buckley) to defend Norman but learns that getting Norman help might not even be possible.  Romero leaves Maggie Summers (Jillian Fargey) and sets out to find Norman…but Chick could get in the way of his plans.  As Sheriff Greene searches for evidence, Norman’s own words might seal his fate.

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“Visiting Hours”

5.9       Visiting Hours Airdate:  04/17/17

Emma learns that her mother has been confirmed as one of Norman’s victims which causes a rift between herself and Dylan.  Dylan debates how much he can stand behind Norman as the truth of his crimes are revealed.  Emma decides that she must see Norman to balance her past.  Romero’s discovery of Norman’s location leads to a desperate attempt at vengeance.

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“The Cord”

5.10     The Cord Airdate:  04/24/17

Forced by Romero to lead him to Norma, Norman learns that the bond to his mother might be permanently shattered.  With an even greater break from reality, Norman finds himself moving to White Pine Bay for the first time again with Norma.  Dylan learns of Norman’s escape and realizes that he must do the unthinkable to save Norman and himself.

Related Links:

Bates Motel—Season 1 Review and Complete Episode Guide

Bates Motel—Season 2 Review and Complete Episode Guide

Bates Motel—Season 3 Review and Complete Episode Guide

Bates Motel—Season 4 Review and Complete Episode Guide

Psycho (1960)

Psycho II (1983)

Psycho III (1986)

Psycho IV:  The Beginning (1990)

Psycho (1998)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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