Wednesday, 16 March 2016

"Bates Motel" Season 4 Review

Things are finally getting interesting in White Pine Bay. After a dull, hackneyed second season and a promising third, Season 4 could be a corker. Episode 1 had a terrific first scene with the scuttling of the fishing boat and a haunting aerial shot. The final scene with Norman/Mother (in mom's dressing gown) graciously serving Emma's mother coffee before strangling her knocked my socks off.

Lots to like in Episode 2:
  • The fact that Norman is convinced Norma is a killer. Terrific acting between the two leads. Highmore is pulling out all the stops in this season. (Child star done good)
  • The power/love play between mother and son. 
  • The contrast between nightmarishly lit county hospital and plush, shiny Portland private hospital. 
  • The use of Hope and Crosby's "Road to Bali" in a key scene. 
  • Seeing Norman as the charming motel manager checking guests in at reception. Anthony Perkins would approve.
  • Norman's use of the lamp in the cellar (precursor to the swinging lamp in key scene in "Psycho").
Episode 3 was fairly pedestrian. Highlight was the return of Dylan's creepy old hippy neighbour.
Episode 4 saw Norma smile a lot (for a change, rather than looking strained). Julian (Pineview's Andy Hardy meets Robert Morse) leads Norman to don a fetching black ostrich number.
Episode 5 notable only for the machinations of psycho-hippy "Chick" and a couple of intense sessions between Norman/Norma and the affable shrink. The rest was pure soap. Scars and Dylan's torso - yawn.
Episode 6: two things of note - Chick's blindfolded doll's head walking stick and a disturbing rape scene flashback to Norman's past.
Freddie Highmore has an impressive scene with Dr Edwards about two-thirds into Episode 7. Nestor Carbonell (Sheriff) directs this episode with flair, particularly the final scene.
Freddie Highmore wrote Episode 8. Lots of tension in the second half, starting with the Christmas tree market scene. The highlight was Norman boring into the motel wall to make his spyhole (to feature in the 1960 movie).
The creators wrote Episode 9 and it shows. Not a dud scene. The earring confrontation ( about a third of the way in) with Dylan and Norma was their strongest piece since the show started. The concluding "Mr Sandman" scene was chilling. The writers are playing with the audience how does Mrs Bates die in the original movie?
Episode 10 was a tremendous return to form. Certainly the funniest in the series. The funeral home scenes with nonplussed mortician (Harvey Fierstein lookalike), goth daughter on the organ and Norman and stepdad slugging it out in the empty church. Then we get a dose of "Weekend at Bernie's", Norman wrestling with Norma out of the grave and out of the Mercedes. The glued eyelids was disturbing, though. In all, a most satisfying season final.

  • How long before I tire of the Emma/Dylan subplot? Please God, let's not have another S2 teeny soap opera.
  • Those disturbing paintings in Dr Edwards' rooms are not helping the patients.

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