Bates Motel: Season 4 Review

Bates-MotelI completely blame A&E for making me a complete nervous wreck from the first second of season 4 until the last minute. Norman Bates was full on psycho this season and it was creepy as heck. For those who have yet to catch up on the first three seasons, there may be some spoilers along the way. Just a heads up.

After Norman’s alter ego Norma killed off Bradley Martin (Nicola Peltz) in the Season 3 finale and doing away with the body, Norman is found alone and disoriented in the middle of a farm by a motorist. Because he was talking to himself and showed violent tendencies, he is admitted temporarily to a county’s mental hospital. If Norma (Vera Farmiga) could not prove that she is able to care for her son and address his mental illness, she stands to lose her son to the care of the state, and see Norman committed. Left with no choice, she asks for Sheriff Alex Romero’s  (Nestor Carbonell) help and their relationship evolves to a new level, which Norman cannot accept.

I’ve been a fan of this series from the beginning because of I’ve just been so hooked to Norman and Norma’s abnormal relationship. While Norma has unconditional love for her children, her manner of expressing  her love and affection couldn’t exactly put her in the running for Mother of the Year because its just so wrong on so many levels. Viewers can’t really blame her though, because each season unravels another layer of tragedy in her life that helps them understand just how damaged she is. The one bright spot in this season was actually Alex and Norma finally coming together after several seasons of set up. Alex has been in love with Norma for a while and Norma’s emotional problems have always kept her from seeing Alex as a man. This changed this season and I, for one, was glad that finally, Norma could be in a relationship with a relatively normal person.

norma-alex
FINALLY SOME NORMALCY. Norma’s first time to fall in love, and then Norman has to come home and ruin it. 

I was also shipping Emma and Dylan’s relationship for the entire Season 3 but while theirs seemed to be going well, something was definitely missing this season. It may have had something to do with what Dylan suspects about Emma’s mom.

I also liked the developing relationship between Norman’s shrink Dr. Edwards and Norman’s two personas. While there were times that I wanted to applaud Dr. Edwards for standing his ground, I wanted too, to slap him on the face for also falling prey to Norman’s manipulation despite what he already knew about him and “Norma.”

For the record, when I said that I was totally creeped out by Norman this season, its a credit to Freddie Highmore for his excellent portrayal of a repressed psychopath. While the revelation of the backstory that fueled his madness somehow put his insanity in perspective, I just kept waiting for him to snap. And the threat of him going full on psycho kept me at the edge of my seat the entire time. My heart was just about ready to jump out of my chest because gone was the innocence and the charm of Norman of days past. His eyes were just a pool of menace that I was even surprised that it was only Romero who saw through him. Bravo, Freddie Highmore, Anthony Perkins (the original Norman Bates) would be proud.

All in all, I liked the earlier seasons better than this one but never have I been as absorbed by the events of the storyline as I’ve been in Season 4. It had a different appeal. While before, there was a mystery, this time left no doubt who the main threat was, and as the body count grew, viewers found themselves spiraling deeper and deeper into an abyss that was the inside of Norman’s mind. It was dark, it was grotesque and it was a beautiful place in television. I can’t wait for Season 5 to feel this horror all over again.

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