in Horror General, Movie Reviews

Bates Motel Season 5 – What A Disappointment.

Being a big fan of the Bates Motel TV series, and having bought each new season on DVD every year, I was so looking forward to watching Season 5, which is the last in the series, as it takes Norman’s story right up to where Marion Crane (played, of course, by Janet Leigh in the original 1960 movie) visits the motel. However, unlike all the previous seasons, I have to say that Season 5, for me, proved to be a big disappointment. In fact, I would even go as far as to say that it was truly awful.

So why did I hate Season 5 of Bates Motel so much? Why did this hitherto brilliant retelling of the Norman Bates story go, so suddenly and sharply, downhill? Well, for one thing, the story line was, for the most part, extremely dull, boring and far fetched, and was nowhere near as entertaining and gripping as the ones in all the previous seasons. With Series 1-5, I found myself watching so many episodes per night, as I just could not wait to see what happened next, that’s how good the stories and the characters were. However, with Season 5, I found myself becoming so bored that I just couldn’t give a toss what happened next. I actually struggled to get through it all, such was the extent of utter weariness with the pathetic plot.

The main failing of Season 5 of Bates Motel was, for me, the way they kept showing Norman’s dead mother, Norma, coming back time and time again, as if she hadn’t really gone at all. An extremely physical-looking ghost, to me, has NEVER EVER been scary, but this was really too much. In fact, the writers took the premise of the constantly popping up of Norma that far that it just became so utterly ridiculous and laughable. Why on earth didn’t they just keep it to the tradition of the original Psycho movies, where dead Norma berates Norman about bringing “whores” back to the hotel in that iconic, creepy old woman’s voice? And I hated – just HATED – the corny, far-fetched dreamlike sequences, where Norma appears to Norman in the woods, all angelic and affectionate looking, as she holds out her loving arms to her troubled son, urging him to run into her warm embrace. I ask you!

The worst part of this constant reappearing of Norma was where she kept replacing Norman’s form as he was in custody, and even when his trial opened. This was just taking things a bit too far, and in the end, rather than being gripped and disturbed as I was in all the previous seasons, I found myself being strongly urged to reach for the off switch. God, when is she going to stop reappearing and just stay dead in her grave? I kept thinking.

The other parts I disliked about Season 5 of Bates Motel were the dull sub plots of both Dylan and the policeman, and the irritating presence of Chick Hogan. The only part I really liked out of all the episodes was near the end, when Norman invites Dylan back to the motel for a “meal”. Other than that brief spark of tension and drams, I have to say that generally Season 5 of Bates Motel was a profoundly soporific mess. Never have I been so disappointed with a final season of a top horror series as I was with this one. After being so entertained for the last couple of years by Bates Motel – in particular both by Freddie Highmore’s superb portrayal of the psychotic Norman Bates, and Vera Farmiga’s equally superb performance as his mother – I just felt so utterly let down by this dire season finale. It could have been so much better, if they’d have only dropped the ludicrous Norma-reappearing story line, but regrettably they didn’t. It was such a shame that the series didn’t go out on the high that I had been expecting.

RIP, Norman and Norma, and don’t check back in soon.

Alan Toner
www.alantoner.com