It's been quite a psychotic ride for A&E's "Bates Motel": a parallel path to the acclaimed "Psycho" literary and film franchises. At times, it's been more of a mad soap opera than all-out horror. There's no doubt that the new-century Norman Bates, played to chilling effect by Freddie Highmore, certainly experienced more success with the ladies (well, at least of a potential sort) than his towering predecessor, portrayed by the legendary Anthony Perkins. I can't say that's necessarily a plus, but for better or worse, it's simply a bloody (pun intended) fact.
It does appear that the teenage mush has at long last gone bye-bye, which for the sake of the show's lead character, only leaves more demented paths for him to travel. For example, as we begin Season 5, two years have passed, with the endearing but domineering Norma (Vera Farmiga) long defunct, yet lingering as an imaginary specter/Sister Hyde, as well as a preserved corpse. Her haunting presence should give Highmore lots to work with through the new season's inevitable, unsettling scenarios. With this in mind, the set-up could gain an even stronger Hitchcockian slant, along with the appropriate nods to Robert Bloch's novel and sequels. I, for one, would delight in such a blend.
Also, Marion Crane will make her mythic entrance, this time played by pop-icon Rhianna. Will she arrive early or late in the season? Who can say, outside of those who've fashioned it? For certain, though, fans will be watching with great anticipation.
I'm confident, too, that viewers will be biting their nails regarding the fates of steadfast Sheriff Romero (Nestor Carbonell); diligent Dylan Massett (Max Thieriot); woeful Caleb Calhoun (Kenny Johnson); faithful Chick Hogan (Ryan Hurst); and conscientious Emma DeCody (Olivia Cook). Where will the madness take them? Will they survive, flee, or...well, this is Norman's world, after all, and so...
Personally, I don't think Season 5 needs to end "Psycho'"s latest incarnation. Perkins made superb use of Norman for four terrific films. There's no reason why after a few years, Highmore couldn't return from, let's say, an institution, supposedly cured and start anew before slipping again. Perhaps we could even see his extended story unfold within a hospital, meeting people, killing them...escaping (maybe running off with his good buddy, Michael Myers, only then to be captured and analyzed by that compassionate crackerjack, Hannibal Lecter--ha,ha). Indeed, for those willing to broaden their minds, the sky's the hellish limit for our precious Hamlet of Horror, but for now, seeing the fruition of his early phases should more than fulfill.
"Bates Motel: Season 5" commences Monday (Feb 20) at 10 pm.