Sunday, September 25, 2016

Bates Motel: Season 4 (2016)

Creator: Carlton Cuse, Kerry Ehrin, Anthony Cipriano
Starring: Vera Farmiga, Freddie Highmore, Max Thieriot, Olivia Cooke, Nestor Carbonell, Damon Gupton, Jaime Ray Newman, Andrew Howard, Terence Kelly, Ryan Hurst

Picking up directly after the completion of Season 3, a distressed Norman Bates (Highmore) is discovered by a farmer and sent to a psychiatric ward. An hysterical Norma (Farmiga) is chastised by the doctors and seeks help in the form of Dr. Gregg Edwards (Gupton), a gay psychiatrist who practices through the Pineview Mental Hospital. With no insurance to help cover her or Norman, she provides an offer to Sheriff Romero (Carbonell) in the form of marriage. With his previous romantic inclinations, Romero agrees leading to a tussle between himself and his former lover Rebecca (Newman) over drug money Romero has stolen from Bob Paris, whom Romero killed in the Season 3 final episode.

Meanwhile, Norman's brother and protector Dylan (Thieriot) travels to Portland to take care of girlfriend Emma (Cooke) whose recovering from her lung transplant. While waiting in the hospital, Emma's estranged mother Audrey (Karina Logue whom most will know for her featured roles in The Practice, True Blood and the current Scream: The TV Series) returns much to the dislike of Emma's father (Howard). When Audrey turns up at the Bates Motel to persuade Norman to help her, it sets off a chain of events of the likes we have not seen before.

Finally after three seasons of drug lords, step-brothers and teenage stowaways we have something juicy to experience and the nostalgia that should have been in place from the get go. I knew this day would come and I'm glad Cuse (Nash Bridges, Lost) and Ehrin (Friday Night Lights), who are still strongly overseeing things, have finally allowed it to happen. My only issue is the third act which appears during Forever (Episode 9). Most commercial products would have left this moment as the cliffhanger of the series as it is such a shift in momentum and very unlike the series to follow (I'm guessing they've been catching Game of Thrones) however the final episode is still enthralling and sets up a much anticipated Season 5. Also, the plotting of Emma's storyline has dragged on again and needs a shake-up.

Kenny Johnson returns in the mid-season episode The Vault as Norma's estranged brother Caleb. The three main cast members, all of whom provided delicious on-screen work, also lend a hand behind-the-scenes with Farmiga returning as one of the producers, Carbonell directing episode 7 (There's No Place Like Home) and Highmore writing the script for episode 8 (Unfaithful). Hurst's Chick Hogan is especially intriguing and a great asset to the show. Hopefully, the expectations of Season 5, reportedly the final in the series, is meet with the same bravado as this is.

4.5/5

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