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New ‘Bates Motel’ takes fresh twist on source material

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“Bates Motel” is back, and with every scene viewers inch closer to the original source material of Hitchcock’s “Psycho.”

Season five picks up 18 months after the end of last season, where audiences were left to grapple with Norma Bates’ death and Norman Bates’ further descent into madness. The first two episodes depict Norman hallucinating his mother as still alive, but pretending to be dead in order to devote all of her time to him.

The new season has brought some new faces to White Pine Bay, from Norma-doppelganger Madeline Loomis (played by Isabelle McNally) to Sam Loomis (Austin Nichols). It’s worth noting that Sam Loomis is a character straight out of “Psycho,” in which he was the love interest for shower victim Marion Crane, while Madeline is an original character.

Bates showrunners have stated they use “Psycho” as source material more liberally, building the show in their own modern universe with some differences. It’s brilliant, paying homage to a horror classic while also providing viewers with a unique, edge-of-your-seat plot.

Freddie Highmore and Vera Farmiga shine as the dysfunctional, half-imaginary duo of Norman and ‘mother.’ Highmore convincingly plays a madman while still bringing a certain sympathy and emotion to the character, while Farmiga takes on a potentially sassier and fiercer version of her deceased character. It’s a joy to see them interacting and playing off of each other’s energy.

One complaint that I have is the return of Caleb, Norma’s brother who was involved in earlier seasons. I feel the show unnecessarily sympathizes with him and brings him back when he is not needed for the plot to continue. However, his screen time is short enough for it to be bearable to watch.

Looking forward, there’s still promises yet to be fulfilled. Rihanna has yet to make an appearance as Marion, and there’s supposed to be a new sheriff in town as former Sheriff Romero simmers in prison. There’s a lot to look forward to, and I can’t wait to see it happen.

5 Stars (5 / 5)

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University of Southern Indiana's student publication
New ‘Bates Motel’ takes fresh twist on source material