Thursday, March 23, 2017

Bates Motel 5x05 Review: "Dreams Die First" (Disturbia) [Guest Poster: Erin Allen]


"Dreams Die First"
Original Airdate: March 20, 2017

Everyone is on edge and pissy with each other on this week’s episode directed by actual unicorn, Nestor Carbonell.


Norman tries to piece together his actions during his latest blackout, and is none too happy with the shenanigans Mother gets up to without him. But mostly, he’s scared to death. She still hasn’t returned to him after his vision of her with Madeline. He is freaking out, but tries desperately to keep it together. He lashes out at Madeline: “I don’t need you to understand my life, Madeline. I barely understand it myself,” and he tells her about Sam’s motel tryst. She gets upset, and kicks the already emotionally unstable Norman out of her truck.

Also unexpectedly, Norman runs into Dr. Adams, and discusses the therapy they had done together. Dr. Adams offers to resume his treatment, blaming himself for pushing Norman “too far, too fast.” I think it’s great that Dr. Adams shows up at this particular time. He was always very patient and gentle with Norman. That’s why he was able to have some sort of breakthrough. If they would’ve continued, there might’ve been hope for Norman. But, alas, Norman is too far gone or unwilling to try. “Sometimes I see my mother when she’s not really there, and sometimes I become her. Well, that doesn’t happen anymore.” Either he is lying to himself or he’s lying to Dr. Adams.

At this point, he thinks the only person that can help him is his mother, but she is nowhere to be found. Norman isn’t the only one missing her. Her absence from the episode is acutely felt, but it really did underscore Norman’s distress.


Another character we didn’t get to see was Alex “I’m a unicorn” Romero. Nestor Carbonell, who plays the sheriff turned convict, escaped from in front of the lens to behind the camera. He delivers a dark and tense episode, wrapped in a bright and beautiful package.

Carbonell does a great job of building the tension between all characters, even the happy ones. It was only a matter of time before the bubble burst for Dylan and Emma. Everything we’ve seen of them this season shows that they are a happy and healthy little family. Their home is filled with light — so different from the Bates house and moody White Pine Bay. The darkness of their past and of things unsaid creeps in and disturbs their peace. Dylan gets impatient with Emma, and serves her a high quality burn: “I know you think you have this superpower where you know what people want even though it’s not what they say, but it’s getting really old, and sometimes people know what they want without you having to tell them. So, if you could just drop the Norma thing, that’d be great.” OUCH.

He ends up telling her about his fear that Norman is responsible for Emma’s mother’s disappearance/death, and Emma is pissed. What does he expect with what he said to her earlier? (And, by the way, do we think he still made her lunch after that?) Dylan tells her that he let Norma talk him out of doing anything about Norma because he was “a coward” and wanted to be with her, essentially assigning her some blame in his decision. We haven’t seen Dylan or Emma find out about Norma or Caleb, but now we’ve seen Emma learn the awful truth about her own mother. To be honest, that wasn’t even on my radar, so it surprised me. Also, watching their idyllic life come crumbling down is pretty upsetting to watch. And we know there is more on the way when we see Emma discover a headline reporting Norma’s suicide.

These performances set in the sunny, cheerful atmosphere were copacetic. I liked Carbonell’s choices on the whole Dylemma portion of the episode. Max Thieriot (Dylan) and Olivia Cooke (Emma) conveyed a lot in their scenes together, setting us up for more emotional turbulence with them.


Like Thieriot did in his episode, “Hidden,” Carbonell manages a fresh take on the original, but still pays tribute to Hitchcock’s work. He approached the Marion Crane part of the story thoughtfully. There were some little things that I would’ve liked to have seen recreated here, like the push in through the window that begins the film, but I think what they chose to pay homage to was pretty great. And, anyways, why would we need a shot for shot imitation? Really, Gus Van Sant, why would we need that?

Rihanna as Marion is really cool casting. I thought she was a little stiff at times, but overall I like the direction she’s taking the character. My main problem with this storyline is that Sam is such a dolt, that it’s hard to believe Marion would risk so much to be with him. What could he possibly bring to the table in this relationship? At first, I thought it was an interesting divergence from the Sam Loomis in Psycho, but now that Marion’s decisions are based on the quality of his character, I’m not liking it quite so much.

We are only halfway through this final season and it really feels like we are hurtling toward the conclusion. No doubt, there is a lot more chaos on the way, and if it’s kept at this pace, we are in for a wild second half.

Motel Amenities:

  • “She’s a nut, but how amazing would she be as a grandmother?” Ow, my feels!
  • Major continuity flub in the scene between Marion and Sam — her jacket disappears in one shot and then reappears for the rest.
  • I loved Marion eyeing the briefcase.
  • “With Janet leaving, I would like to submit myself for the position.” How brilliant is this line? Rihanna is taking the part that Janet Leigh played.
  • Friggin’ Freddie Highmore and his perpetual teary eyes! I can’t handle it.
  • The music was nice and Bernard Herrmann-y.


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