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Bates Motel - S5E1 - Dark Paradise

Previously on Bates Motel

Norma Bates is dead, yet everything that Norman Bates does, and everything that happens to him, is because of her. In the dark paradise Norman’s created, Norma is spending her days taking care of him while everyone thinks she’s deceased. This, she explains, is a grand sacrifice meant to keep her from being distracted while making sure he stays healthy and out of trouble.

Images: A&E

Even though this has been all Norman ever wanted since season one, it’s not perfect. He believes that when he blacks out, Norma’s harming people - namely, the man whose wallet he found despite having no record or memory of the man checking into the motel. And when Norma suspects he has romantic intentions towards a young, married hardware store owner, she berates Norman. She’s literally given her life to protect him, and he’s about to do something that, in the past, has only led to trouble. Even in the faults Norman has given her in his mind, Norma still only acts the way she does because it’s in his best interest.

Since the events in the season four finale, Dylan and Emma have moved to Seattle, bought a home, and had a baby girl. Caleb shows up looking for a place to stay, and with plans to move to Seattle permanently. Dylan confesses to Emma that Caleb paid for her surgery, and he feels he can’t turn his father away - even though having him around doesn’t feel quite right either. Emma steps up and tells Caleb he can’t stay; it wouldn’t be good for Dylan or their family. This is a great moment for Emma, and, assuming his understanding acceptance is genuine, for Caleb as well. Oddly, and tragically, Dylan still doesn’t know Norma is dead (and neither does Caleb), citing their strained relationship as the reason.

Because Norman knows his mother so well, the Norma we get this season feels like she could be Norma, and Vera Farmiga is simply amazing, as always. Still, Norma was the most herself towards the end of the episode when she attempts to stop Norman from driving into town. He think it’s because she doesn’t want him to see the shop owner, and she says it’s because she’s afraid he’ll have a blackout while driving. But what she really wanted was to use the car to dispose of the body of the wallet’s owner. Norman finally remembers the man trying to kill him while he was working in one of the rooms. Norma killed the man instead.

The two fall back into a familiar pattern of cleaning up deadly messes “Norma” has made in order to protect Norman. Norman questions why the man wanted to kill him, but Norma has no answer. He gets it, though, when he answers the dead man’s cellphone and hears Romero, serving time in prison, on the other end.

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Bates Motel has always been equal parts a compelling family drama and a psychological thriller. This episode delivered a true horror movie moment when Norma suddenly appeared in front of Norman’s car as he tried to leave the motel.

Watching Norman pretend to speak with hid dead mother is disturbing, but the reveal that the bright and sunny home filled with music and the smell of good food is actually a home fast on its way to being featured on Hoarders was worse. Norman hasn’t just placed his mother’s memory in front of him; he’s redesigned his entire surroundings.

The Walking Dead’s Austin Nichols checked into the motel as “David Davidson,” an obvious fake name to hide the affair he’s having. The married hardware store owner is named Madeline Loomis. It’s safe to assume Nichols is playing her husband as the woman he was in bed with is black and Rihanna is slated to play Marian Crane. This gon’ be good.

Bates Motel S5E1
  • 9/10
    Plot - 9/10
  • 10/10
    Dialogue - 10/10
  • 10/10
    Performances - 10/10

"Dark Paradise"

Starring: Vera Farmiga, Freddie Highmore, Max Thieriot, Olivia Cooke, Nestor Carbonell, Kenny Johnson, Isabelle McNally, Austin Nichols

User Review
5 (1 vote)

About Nina Perez (1391 Articles)
Nina Perez is the founder of Project Fandom. She is also the author of a YA series of books, "The Twin Prophecies," and a collection of essays titled, "Blog It Out, B*tch." Her latest books, a contemporary romance 6-book series titled Sharing Space, are now available on for Kindle download. She has a degree in journalism, works in social media, lives in Portland, Oregon, and loves Idris Elba. When not watching massive amounts of British television or writing, she is sketching plans to build her very own TARDIS. She watches more television than anyone you know and she's totally fine with that.

1 Comment on Bates Motel - S5E1 - Dark Paradise

  1. Again? I need to stop slacking and get caught up and on this

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