‘Bates Motel’: Does “Final Season” Premiere Live Up To Horror Hype?


A&E’s ‘Bates Motel’ returns with ‘Dark Paradise’, the “Final Season” premiere. This season is highly anticipated but is the opener worth to the wait?

The following review of Dark Paradise contains spoilers. Warning, don’t check into our take on the ‘Bates Motel’ opener before watching. Enjoy Tenants.


Set some time after last year’s finale, Norman Bates is now running the motel alone. With Norma now a living figment of Norman’s imagination, and Sheriff Romero in prison, Norman has everything he wants. But after discovering he may be blacking out and his relationship with Norma straining, things become clearer. And if he doesn’t begin to gain control, Norman may not make out of the motel alive. Welcome to Dark Paradise.


Two nights ago, Bates Motel began airing its highly anticipated final season. After hyping fans up for a truer “Psycho” season, the A&E hit came out of the gate with Dark Paradise. But is the opener a great start to an epic season or signs the series is readying something half-baked? After seeing the opener, I’d say its a mixture of both. So let’s check in and get into this bad boy.

I can’t leave. I can’t go anywhere. I’m going nuts here. – Norma Bates

Firstly, I’ll get the bad out of the way. One of Dark Paradise’s biggest flaws is the juggling of too much narrative. While trying to service every relevant character, the episode is over stuffed, often pulling focus from the only storyline that matters — Norman’s further descent into madness.

And honestly, what needs to go is the Dylan/Emma stuff. While the two do need to be involved, as I’m thinking they play heavily in the series’ end, a 40 percent dedication is a stretch. Supporting characters do just that — support the protagonist’s story. Even if a side character’s story is expanded, their journey must be tied to the success of the protagonist (the Romero stuff is a perfect example of this). Here, Dylan’s time is mostly unneeded character moments.

Freddie Highmore and Vera Farmiga in ‘Bates Motel: Dark Paradise’ – Courtesy of A&E

Then we have the great stuff about Dark Paradise. While the Dylan/Emma stuff drags the narrative, the Norman/Norma/Romero stuff is perfect. With solid direction by Tucker Gates, the scenes between Norman and Norma are some of the best stuff you’ll see this year.

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After making a stark discovery, the two are at each other’s throats one minute and eating dinner the next. A moment after that, they’re taking care of bodies together. While I was originally taken back by how Norma is self-aware, meaning she knows she’s dead, I began embracing it as Dark Paradise went on. No doubt helped by the striking talents of Vera Farmiga and Freddie Highmore, the experiment pays off. Here’s hoping this continues.

On top of that, the Norman scenes are insanely good. With his ever maddening world the main narrative, every scene Norman is in is great. Is he going insane, even to himself? Is he doing things he doesn’t remember during blackouts? Or is it Norma? Watching his playing detective to his own life is one of the better aspects of Dark Paradise.

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So, will Romero get closer it getting his revenge? Will Dylan find out the truth? Is Norman getting worse? You’ll have to check into Bates Motel on Mondays at 10 pm, only on A&E/


Tucker Gates‘s Dark Paradise is a slight letdown – but only slightly. While the Norman/Norma stuff is experimentally perfect, the Dylan/Emma stuff drags far longer than it should’ve. Though solidly directed, Dark Paradise is trying to do too much. Simply put, any time not spent with Norman/Norma/Romero is a waste. The again, i’ts the first episode and set-up is forgivable in openers. We’ll have to wait this baby out and let it breathe before making full judgments. Now, it’s time to check out. See you next week at Bates Motel.


Love ‘Bates Motel’? Thinking we got it wrong about ‘Dark Paradise’? Let the other Bates Tenants know what you think in the comment section below.