‘Bates Motel’ S5E2: Convergence of the Twin & S5E3: Bad Blood

★ ★ ★ ½

Bates Motel's final season isn't avoiding the cheese. If there's one thing that Bates has consistently done over the course of its time on television is drive its plot lines with an incessant amount of camp. Characters are thrown into situations caused by their own hubris and faults, which all spin out of control the very second they start playing the game. Caleb fell into a trap of his own making and the results are certainly… interesting.

Caleb's relationship with Norma has always been weird, but it got a whole lot weirder with "Bad Blood." While Caleb was teetering on the edge of insanity, it didn't make much sense just how much of his reimagining of Norma was delusional and what wasn't. For some portions of his final episodes, it seemed like he was just playing along with Norman's game like Chick was, but then again he wasn't. So was Caleb buying into the fantasy because he was that desperate for some remnant of Norma by the time of his death? As dark as Bates Motel gets, it sure does love a good old punchline and Caleb's death was about as good as any.

Didn't expect Chick to be such an important character this season. I don't know about other people, but I've never been a fan of him and his oddball antics, especially since he stemmed from the pot storyline. With all of the other mysteries and characters in town, Chick is one of the more noteworthy, but not as interesting as some of the others that have propped up over time. Serving the plot more than serving his own character, Chick is the Bates' henchman for one entirely new reason: he's a writer. Known for his large number of hobbies, this shouldn't be too much of a stretch, but still, it comes across as a sort of random piece of character development for him. The latent development is all thanks to Bates Motel being in the home stretch. It's like Season 3 of Hannibal, as both shows give smaller characters big shares of the story to buy time for themselves in the adaptation seasons.

Bates Motel: S5E2

The Loomis couple are the wildcards of the season and, given their importance to Psycho, they're the equivalent of the Red Dragon to Season 3 of Hannibal. How they factor into the plot so far isn't all that important, but what is important is how they'll factor into Norman's life after the deaths of the rest of the characters. Their relationship with Norman so far is adorably over the top. Between the awkward and passive-aggressive double date to Norma showing up in a full clad noire outfit, they spice up the season in organic ways that Chick never could. Unlike Chick, their relationship adds more dimension to Norma/n as a post-Norma character and how Norma/n reacts to the rest of the world. Chick, no matter how hard he may try, will never be able to muster up anything but comedic relief in Norman's new lifestyle.

It was scary having to watch Norma go last season since it left things uncertain for Vera Farmiga, but the second she reappeared on screen was a blessing. Farmiga does an amazing job portraying a Norma without any depth. It's odd describing a character whose only ulterior motive appears to be "go let me kill people." What is interesting about this version of Norma is how Norman believes her reactions would be in some situations. As realistic as it is to believe Norma would follow Norman on his dinner date, you can tell where the cartoonish version of her blends with the real portions of her personality. The same goes for her inability to kill Caleb or not love Romero, even though this makes Norman's imagination of her even more complicated than it is. Which begs the question: where does Norman draw the line between the desire to kill someone and the authenticity of Norma?

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TelevisionFanboyContributor
Mar 15, 2017 6:18PM EDT

Your sentiment about Chick is so apt. His becoming a writer serves a good purpose, but it's really more plot related than character driven. I've never been a fan of his character but now that he's serving as a minion/meta character for the show, I kind of prefer it. But Chick killing Caleb after Caleb almost killed him wasn't nearly as satisfying a moment as it should have been.

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