The Horror Honeys: Bates Motel: Season 5, Episode 1 ~ Dark Paradise

Bates Motel: Season 5, Episode 1 ~ Dark Paradise

A Horror TV Honey Season Premiere Recap with Kat W

It’s here, it’s finally here! The final season of Bates Motel! It is both depressing and perfectly fitting that there will only be 5 seasons of this show. The creators knew what they were doing from start to finish with this longform Norman Bates origin story, and the buildup to this final season has been nothing short of a symphony.

The Season 5 Premiere opens on a spinning record, which is tinkling out (what I think is Bing Crosby singing) the jaunty tune “You Must Have Been a Beautiful Baby,” and oh boy, is our beautiful baby Norman looking good and feeling happy.

And why shouldn’t he? He wakes up to happy licks from his (dead) dog Juno, a sprig of happy flowers by his bedside, and a hot delicious smorgasbord of a breakfast, whipped up by his perfect, loving, (dead) mother. Over breakfast, he wonders if it’s maybe time to repaint the outside of the motel, and she wistfully wishes she could go down to the village with him to the hardware store to look at paint swatches. But alas, Norman says, her perpetual ghostly purgatory in the house is what they’ve both “signed on for.” As Norman exits the golden glow of the old Victorian, the title of this episode is made manifest in mere seconds as we see the reality of the unkempt house, bathed in blue shadows, revealed to us: everything isn’t, in fact, tidy and warm and full of cheer. This is Norman’s “Dark Paradise.”

Norman all the time now.
Norman, as great as his mother was at pretending like everything is fine and dandy while harboring murderous secrets, heads to town with a spring in his step and stumbles upon the most hipster hardware store imaginable, complete with chandeliers made of antlers and free cookies on antique trays. The store is run by Madeleine Loomis, a young woman whose dress, hair and demeanor smack of Norma, and whose name is (squee!) a reference to the source material (both Robert Bloch’s novel and Hitchcock’s film). To the very end, this show is methodical in its love for these characters, and for those paying attention, the nods to the Psycho universe are plenty. Norman’s meet-cute with Madeleine turns sour when he pulls out his wallet to pay for his paint, and it’s, uh, not his wallet. He returns home to review the situation with Norma, where we are reminded that Vera Farmiga is pitch-perfect at walking that fine line between drama and comedy. She brushes off the strange wallet, telling Norman that it was probably a guest who left it behind. Norman doesn’t remember checking the man in, which makes perfect sense, as he is clinically insane.

Dylan and Emma, all set up in Seattle, are having a party! Is it for Dylan’s new promotion at the brewery? Oh, no, it’s for Emma’s birthdayyyyyoooohhhhhWHAT THEY HAVE A BABY NOW!?! So it’s been the better part of a year and Dylan still doesn’t know his mother is dead? Aaaand now I’m dead. Caleb, Dylan’s Uncle-Dad (that will never stop being weird), shows up needing a place to stay, but for Dylan’s sake, Emma gently insists he find somewhere else to go. It’s just too complicated with him around. Understatement of the century.

Norman scours the hotel guest book, hoping for a sign that the wallet he has really does belong to a guest, but no dice. He snags a receipt out of the mystery man’s wallet and manages to match the date on it up with the date of one of his blackouts, which he has been keeping track of. That can’t be good. Norman continues his investigation of things he doesn’t remember, and we guffaw with laughter at his huffy insistence to a credit card company that he never ordered any luminol. If anyone’s ordering luminol, Norman Bates is ordering luminol. Also, apparently being insane creates a lot of extra paperwork!

This could take a while.
It’s time to check in with Alex Romero (former Sheriff of White Pine Bay, current inmate), who is going nuts on lots of punching bags in prison, making phone calls that don’t go through, and getting his parole denied. He’s a crooked cop, which means they want to make an example of him. Girl, he’s looking good, though. You can count on that.

A man comes to check in to the motel wanting to rent it by the hour, which is totally offensive to Norman, who insists that “this isn’t that kind of establishment.” The man pays for a full night and escorts his lady into Cabin 1, and we all know what happens when naughty business goes on in Cabin 1. That’s right, Norman watches and halfsturbates, unable to finish because his dead mother calls him up to dinner. If I had a nickel…

At dinner, which is a feast fit for a fucking king (and makes me wonder what the hell Norman is actually eating, since his mother who made the dinner is a Goddamn ghost), he asks Norma if she ordered the luminol, and she counters by telling him he’s blacking out and forgetting things because he isn’t taking his medicine, and he damn well should be. Norma is not pleased with Norman’s new friendship with this Madeleine Loomis, and the conversation devolves into an argument that, when you remember it’s all a product of Norman’s mind, is incredibly fascinating.

After dinner, troubled and unable to sleep, Norman heads down to the basement, where Norma’s frozen corpse sits on a throne of utter sadness. Norman lays his head in her lap and asks, “What dream am I in, Mother?” Uhhh….one that ain’t good? The next day, Madeleine shows up at the motel and invites Norman to a small business owner’s meeting in town; unfortunately, Norman is a Bates, and nothing goes smoothly for those folk, no matter how hard they try. Norma is beyond reluctant to give Norman her blessing for this innocent hang, and does everything in her power to prevent him from leaving; finally, the other shoe drops when Norma reveals the answer to the mystery wallet: it belongs to a man Norman murdered when he showed up at the hotel trying to kill Norman. Mother and son get in some good bonding enjoying an old pastime, canoeing out into the middle of the lake to dump a body. Out on the water, the dead man’s cell phone rings and Norman picks it up, hearing Romero’s voice on the other end. It finally becomes clear: Romero took out a hit on Norman. *Shocked face emoji!!!!!*

We have to wait at least a week for any hope of seeing a confrontation between Romero and Norman (I mean, did you see this teaser?!). How depressing. The suspense is terrible. I hope it lasts.