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Bates Motel - Dark Paradise - Review: Execution

For 4 seasons, Bates Motel showed us the evolution of Norman Bates mental state, season 5 is all about the execution of his craziness. In a phenomenal series premiere, written by Kerry Ehrin and directed by Tucker Gates, Bates Motel continues to tell their story in a continuously dark and terrifying fashion while pushing the boundaries of sanity and storytelling. Let's check into Bates Motel and discuss the events of their by far best season premiere.

The season premiere picks up 2 years after Norma's death and Norman created a world inside his head which he doesn't intend to exit. Norman, the self-proclaimed manager of Bates Motel, is now living a peaceful, undisturbed and isolated life with "Norma", yes we can call it Norman's Paradise. The premiere has a very nice build up, throwing little clues and hints that something isn't right in paradise and climaxes with powerful interactions between Norman and "Norma". Norman's life gets tossed upside down when Norman finds someone else's wallet in his jacket which leads up to a paranoid Norman check his little blackout diary. Freddie is so exceptional in those moments of struggle and self-doubt, such a pleasure to watch. He really takes the whole acting thing to a new level.

The casting news of Austin Nichols' joining the cast of Bates Motel made me quite happy but I never expected him to play such a douche. David Davidson came to the motel to have some fun for a couple of hours which resulted into Norman having some fun as well. I loved this scene so much, and not cause of the obvious heat it brought to the episode, but more for showing how deep Norma influence was and how the constant hazing and correcting left permanent scaring on Norman's psychic. Even in the moments when his mind and focus should be in a completely different place, Norma is still present.

The follow-up dinner scene was a masterpiece. Freddie and Vera once more surpassed their previous acting accomplishments and rose above their previous work. It wasn't only the acting that made it so great, the writing and the directing were just on point. I loved the light blue almost ghostly filter they used when showing Norman speak, the director really took its time to show the difference and gave those "Norma" single shots creepy vibe. And that writing, it felt like Norman was fighting with himself, that small sane part of him pushed for freedom but Norman was way too deep into his hallucinations that there wasn't a way for him to fight his way out on his own. Norman going to cuddle up with frozen Mother freaked the chill out of me.

Besides Nichols, the season premiere introduced another intriguing character, Madeleine Loomis (played by the stunningly beautiful Isabelle McNally). Madeleine was the spitting image of Norma and she and Norman had so much chemistry in their scenes. Her innocent Barbie doll look and warm motherly energy complete infatuated Norman. In a context of paradise, Madeleine would be the apple and Norman's one-way ticket out of paradise. Madeleine was the temptation and Norman knew he couldn't taste it. This triggered Norman's subconscious stirring up a fight between Norman and "Norma". The fight eventually escalated and lead up to the revelation that someone tried to kill Norman a couple of days ago and that Mother killed the sorry sob during another blackout. Once again the Norman-"Norma" dynamic was so impressive, especially when she forced him to face what happened during the blackout. As he came face to face with the bad deed, Norman and "Norma" decided to get rid of the body. I really admire the imaginative approach the writers were taking as they create the scenes for the premiere. The moonlight boat ride involving Norman, a dead body and a hallucination of his mother was certainly a first for me and it was so fabulous. The scene was simple and powerful at the same time and it got so much more power after it was revealed that Romero hired the killer.

As a huge Romero and Nestor Carbonell fan, I was a bit disappointed by the amount of screentime he got in the premiere. Still, his story is just building up and I can't wait to see how his story goes from here on.

Meanwhile miles and miles away from White Pine Bay, we encounter Dylan and Emma living a peaceful and beautiful life with their baby girl. I love this change of life events for Emma and Dylan, they are a great couple and complement each other very well. But to be honest those two aren't built for a boring suburbia life. Can't wait to see how the writers will drag them back in into Norman's crazy world and how their re-encounter will tear their paradise apart. Caleb knocking on their door was a great first step, though. The whole story felt so tense, the fear on Dylan's and Emma's face in front of the possibility that Caleb could be the catalyst to destroy their little world. Dylan's inability to tell Caleb off just showed how much he grew by Emma's side. Emma stepping up for her family and telling Caleb he has to leave surprised me but it was a powerful scene which will certainly push the story going forward.

With the shocking revelation of Romero ordering Norman's murder, Bates Motel closed out a fantastic hour. What did you think of the Bates Motel's final season premiere? Feel free to sound off in the comment section and share your thoughts on "Dark Paradise".