Bates-Motel-Norman-NormaFollowing the dramatic conclusion of Bates Motel’s first season, in which Norman (Freddie Highmore) carried out his first murder, the long-awaited second season kicked off with yet more darkness and disturbia as it appeared Norman wasn’t the only person with ongoing issues.

In a typically bleak opening sequence, the funeral of Miss Watson paved the way for yet more darkness and despair to follow as Norman’s fixation on his teacher’s death would begin to take over his life. With his passion for becoming a full-blown taxidermist, coupled with his insistence in uncovering Miss Watson’s murderer, Norman’s behaviour began to unsettle Norma (Vera Farmiga), whose hotel business seemed to have hit a high point.

While the hotel business appeared to be booming, the revelation that the construction of the local bypass was to go ahead would soon turn things sour, and the Bates family weren’t the only ones heading into a downward spiral. Still looking to uncover the answers to her father’s death, Bradley (Nicola Peltz), fresh out of the mental hospital following a suicide attempt, would stoop to new depths in order to get the information she needed, with shattering consequences.

It’s been a long wait for Bates Motel to reopen and upon its return we are back to familiar territory that brings yet more evolving desolation for young Norman Bates as he slowly declines into a life of murder and mayhem. Already earmarking Norman’s plight to such depths, the show so far painted the younger of the Bates family as a figure we could often sympathise with, his mother seemingly holding him back from a ‘normal’ teenage life. All that seems to be changing though, as now the tables are turned, and it is Norma who is attempting to instil a level of regularity about her son and his ongoing questionable behaviour.

As ever, the plucky pairing of Vera Farmiga and Freddie Highmore are on top form, bringing that cutting edge to the continuing plight of their troubled individuals and really adapting to the different scenarios thrown their way. Highmore particularly seems to have already embraced his changing characteristics and looks unsettling as ever, while still maintaining the side of Norman that offers the slightest hint of audience sorrow as he remains dazed and confused.

Aside from the perfectly poised Farmiga and Highmore, one individual who has stepped up to the plate and looks to have a huge part to play in this series is Nicola Peltz. While she will be seen running, jumping and screaming her way through Michael Bay’s latest Transformers entry in the summer, this is Peltz’s chance to shine dramatically and she sure hits every notes in just the opening episode of this season. As her troubled and frankly unhinged Bradley looks to uncover the true extent of her father’s death, the young actress delivers a shattering character breakdown and leaves us wanting more from a character who was often on the sidelines in season one.

Carefully etching out the focal points within this season, Gone But Not Forgotten went a long way to present to us who will be the key players in this impending series and just what horrors lie ahead. Combining a range of tones throughout, Bates Motel remains one of those television shows that you simply cannot keep your eyes away from, and this first episode ensures plenty more thrills ahead.