‘Bates Motel’ Final Season Debut Recap ‘Dark Paradise’: Unhinged

In the ‘Bates Motel’ recap for the final season debut, Norman is adjusting to having his mother back in his life, Dylan has moved on but Romero clearly has not…

By Damon Martin — Editor/Lead Writer

It’s been 18 months since we left the ‘Bates Motel’ as Norman’s fractured psyche continued to splinter in even more radical directions following the death of his mother a season ago.

Norman’s attempt at a murder-suicide backfired when he survived, but his fragile mind couldn’t fathom a world without Norma so in turn he created ‘Mother’. For all the mistakes Norma made as an overbearing parent yet still truly caring for her son, Norman’s version of ‘Mother’ is built with all the same emotional manipulation with the volume turned up to 11.

Now Norman lives with Mother in the spooky house on the hill while he runs the Bates Motel by himself. In his mind, he’s waking up to a fresh breakfast every morning complete with flowers by the bedside but in reality Norman is living in a dilapidated house, surrounded by filth with Norma’s rotting corpse propped up like a mannequin in the upstairs attic.

In Seattle, Dylan and Emma have started a new life together complete with a new daughter that they’ve just welcomed recently but when Caleb shows up looking for a family reunion, it recreates the exact kind of chaos they left behind in White Pine Bay.

And finally, disgraced sheriff Alex Romero spends his days in prison after he was convicted on perjury charges and who knows what else while pretending that the punching bag in the yard is actually his stepson. Romero won’t ever forget his brief marriage with Norma or the way her psychotic son took her from him.

It certainly sets the stage for an eventful final season ahead and with that we recap the first episode of season 5 of ‘Bates Motel’ titled ‘Dark Paradise’…


When Norman Bates wakes up every morning he envisions sitting down at the breakfast table and enjoying a home cooked meal alongside his mother. Following Norma’s death a season ago, Norman’s mind, which already created a ‘Mother’ persona whenever he would black out, has completely split into two separate parts. Norman still has his own existence but in his head, ‘Mother’ is always looking out for his best interests and that’s all she can do now that she’s dead.

It’s truly a piece of psychological genius that the writers behind ‘Bates Motel’ have concocted as Norman speaks to ‘Mother’ at home like she’s directly in front of him — and in his mind she’s really right there. In town, Norman tells people that Norma passed away but in other conversations with ‘Mother’ it’s as if she’s faked her own death so she can devote all of her time to taking care of him now.

When Norman was growing up, his mother was dedicated to only his well being but after moving to White Pine Bay, she started to live a life of her own and their bond was weakened. Norman ensured that they would never be apart again but now ‘Mother’ is even more possessive over every aspect of his life. Of course it’s Norman’s own brain reacting to the feelings he’s having or the actions he’s about to take as ‘Mother’ tells him what’s right and what’s wrong.

Norman decides to travel into town on that particular morning to look at some paint so he can fix up the motel with a fresh new look. Inside the hardware store that’s just recently been purchased by new owners, Norman meets Madeleine Loomis, the new co-owner of the hardware store along with her husband, who doesn’t have as much interest in selling paint, hammers or nails as his wife. That last name Loomis should sound familiar because it plays an integral part in the original film ‘Psycho’ and will undoubtedly come up again in ‘Bates Motel’.

Madeleine also just happens to bear an uncanny resemblance to Norma, which catches Norman’s eye as well. The two converse over some different paint samples but when it comes time to pay, Norman realizes that the wallet in his pocket is not his own. It belongs to a man named Jim Blackwell and Norman has no idea how it got there. In a panic, Norman makes up an excuse and promises to return to purchase the paint at a later time.

Back at home, Norman quizzes his mother about this wallet and she tells him to just forget about it. The wallet must belong to some wayward traveler who came through the hotel and lost it there. Of course, Norman’s search through the hotel log shows that there was never a Jim Blackwell that stayed there. To add to Norman’s suspicions, he finds a receipt in the wallet and the time stamp matches to a diary he’s been keeping that marks the times for his blackouts.

Norman may have lost a grip on reality by creating a fantasy at home with his long dead mother but he must also know that she completely takes over whenever he blacks out. His questions only go deeper when he finds purchases on his credit card that he doesn’t recognize — including one for luminol — a substance routinely used by forensic scientists to find traces of blood at a crime scene.

He knows there’s something more going on but ‘Mother’ can still manipulate him no matter how hard to tries to fight against her wishes. She even questions his talk with Madeleine from the hardware store, which is once again just a further exaggeration of what Norma really did to Norman whenever he brought up anybody who could grow to be a wedge driven between them.

Still, Norman is trying to resist his ‘Mother’ but she always finds a way to win.

Behind Bars

For the past 18 months, Alex Romero has been biding his time behind bars after his conviction for being a dirty cop. These days, Alex doesn’t miss his badge as much as he misses freedom but not because he’s ready to resume his life away from criminal activity.

Instead, Alex is just counting the days until he gets released from prison so he can finally exact revenge on his stepson Norman for taking away the person he loved most in this world. Alex is clearly still haunted by Norma’s death and he’s going to do anything in his power to get to Norman once he’s free from prison.

Unfortunately, Alex’s plan to get out of jail are being shot down after being denied in his latest parole hearing and even he understands that it’s going to be awfully hard to convince anybody to let a dirty cop out of jail before he’s served his full sentence.

Still, Romero has every intention of getting out of jail one day if for no other reason than to get his hands on Norman to make him pay for what he’s done.

By The Hour

As Norman continues to investigate the strange wallet he found in his pocket, he gets a new visitor at the Bates Motel. The man is looking to rent a room by the hour, but Norman explains that his motel isn’t that kind of place.

So eventually the stranger ponies up the cash for a full night while telling Norman his name is ‘David Davidson’ before grabbing the key and entering the room with a woman, who was waiting in the car for him. ‘David Davidson’ is played by Austin Nichols (best known from ‘The Walking Dead’) and we already know he’s actually portraying Sam Loomis this season.

Sam Loomis was the hardware store owner from ‘Psycho’ who was having an affair with Marion Crane. So it’s easy to surmise that the woman with him in the hotel room was Marion, who is played by Rihanna this season. It might also be easy to assume then than Sam is the wayward husband to Madeleine Loomis and he’s cheating on her with Marion.

All that aside, ‘David’ and his mystery woman retire to the room but waste no time getting out of their clothes and onto the bed. Little do they know that a few feet away in the office at the Bates Motel, Norman Bates has uncovered his secret peephole into that room and he’s watching everything unfold while simultaneously unbuttoning his own pants to join the party.

Watching is what Norman does best these days but his self-pleasure is soon interrupted by a call from ‘Mother’ at the house. Once again, Norman’s own psyche is telling him what he’s doing is wrong — or at least his mind won’t allow him to enjoy much of anything these days.

The next day after ‘David’ and his guest have gone, Norman gets a visit from Madeleine, who drops off those paint samples so he can see which ones he might like for the motel. She’s obviously interested in Norman in some way but as he walks her to the card, he spots ‘Mother’ staring down at him from the attic above.

Madeleine invites Norman to a small business owners meeting in town later that night and as much as he wants to go, he already knows his mother won’t approve. Still, Norman’s sly smile whenever Madeleine is around is unmistakable and it’s a look ‘Mother’ surely notices as well.

Long Gone

In Seattle, Dylan and Emma have settled into a new life far away from the drama they left behind in Oregon. They’ve recently welcomed a new daughter, Dylan is enjoying his job and Emma is healthier than ever after her lung transplant a season ago.

As much as they wanted to escape everything they left in White Pine Bay, the past catches up to them when Caleb shows up unannounced after finding out that they had a new addition to the family.

They invite Caleb to stay for a few days, but Dylan knows his father wants to move to Seattle permanently so he can be closer to family. Dylan feels obligated to let Caleb stay after he helped contribute the money that paid for Emma’s surgery. He finally reveals that to Emma, who seems to agree that perhaps it’s the right thing to do for Caleb to stay.

Later as Caleb feasts on a late night snack, Emma thanks him for helping to pay for her surgery but as much as she appreciates the assist in saving her life, it’s time for him to go.

Emma explains that Caleb being there is just too traumatic for Dylan as he tries to start his own family and there’s just no way it could work. Caleb understands and plans to shove off in the morning.

Of course this means Caleb will soon seek out the rest of his family — namely his sister Norma Louise in White Pine Bay. Because Dylan cut off ties to his mother and brother when moving to Seattle, he has no idea that she’s dead but something tells me Caleb’s arrival will see that news spread rather quickly.

All For You Norman


Back at the motel, Norman insists that he’s going to the small business meeting in town but much to his surprise, ‘Mother’ doesn’t put up a fight at all about it. Instead, she tells him to have a good time but adds that he’ll have to walk because he can’t use the car. Now clearly, Norma isn’t driving anywhere but she feigns concern for Norman by saying that his blackouts are reason enough he should never be behind the wheel.

Defiantly, Norman refuses his mother’s request and gets in the car anyways. A second later as he’s backing out of the driveway, she appears behind the car to stop him.

Finally, ‘Mother’ reveals the reason she was trying to stop him — she needed the car to dispose of a body. It seems ‘Mother’ killed a man to protect Norman and he’s been sitting in the basement freezer ever since. The dead man is Jim Blackwell — the same person whose wallet was inside Norman’s pocket at the beginning of the episode.

As ‘Mother’ begins to tell him what happened, Norman has flashbacks of the night Jim Blackwell died. He showed up at the motel while Norman was putting up new shower curtains (an ominous hint at what will likely come later this season when Norman meets Marion Crane) and the mystery man pulled out a gun after announcing himself.

A second later, ‘Mother’ leapt into action and stabbed Jim Blackwell to death with a box cutter. Norman’s memories are hazy and missing pieces like a puzzle that’s been put together from the middle instead of around the edges. Still, Norman agrees that they need to dispose of the body so they drive to the lake and row out into the middle before preparing to dispatch the frozen corpse into the water.

Just before dumping the body, Jim’s phone rings from inside his pocket.

Norman rushes to grab the phone before somebody near the lake hears the noise or sees the light but rather than just turning it off, he answers the call. There’s no noise from the other end at first but finally someone speaks from the other end — ‘Jim, are you there?’.

The voice belongs to Alex Romero and Jim was the hitman he sent to kill his stepson.

‘Bates Motel’ returns with a brand new episode next Monday night at 10pm ET on A&E.


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