Bates Motel: Season 3
Fascination with serial killers may border on the morbid but it does appear so deeply ingrained dark recess of the human mind that transcends geographical and cultural boundaries. Stories concerning those monstrous people capable callously taking one human life after another almost guaranteed to become popular the venue of cinema one film does stand out as the gold standard for presenting such themes; Alfred Hitchcock’s ‘Psycho’. This account of the apparently homeless hotel owner, Norman Bates, has long been held suspenseful crime thriller whose craftsmanship is unparalleled. Frequently overlooked in the serial killer story is attention to the origins; that cascade of emotional and psychological damage that can create or at least nurture psychopathic tendencies. In most instances it may be a cursory explanation depicting an abusive family or an inborn lack of any empathy, moral compass or compassion that resulted in the creation of the serial. In the case of Psycho, the situation has been rectified incredible attention to detail in the assembly of talent on both sides of the camera worthy to be the prequel to Hitchcock’s masterpiece. The ‘Bates Motel ‘brings the audience back to before Norman Bates assumed the identity of his mother’s mummified corpse he maintained. This critically acclaimed series on the A&E network has its third season releasing it on DVD and Blu-ray. The network is such faith in the quality of popularity of the show that it is for the rare honor renewal for the next two years. With the current paradigm of television series desperately trying to be granted a full season, a networks commitment to additional years demonstrates a rare trust in the continuation of the story. This is actually great news for fans of the show since one of the major contributions to success is the gradual pacing in tracing the transformation of Norman Bates from a meek mama’s boy to a cold-blooded killer. An important element crucial to such gradual revelation is for the writers to maintain inexorable billing of suspense and tension also informed period of time. The people behind the production of this series have achieved the precision in their screenplays in such an ineffable style in the direction that when brought to life by the talents of exceptional actors, a true synergy is achieved.
One of the most important factors that led phenomenal display of creativity used in the very core of the show is that it is set in modern times. Such things as cell phones, flash drives and organ transplants were unheard of during the timeframe of the original film that took place in the 60s. One aspect of the series that has always struck me as pure genius that the sets within the owner’s residence that promoting the towers over the actual motel embodies the distinctive 50s feel. The sets and props within those walls all vintage with the distinctive look so familiar to those of us in post-World War II America. This allows for themes that relate directly to this new millennium while permitting a feeling of a certain timelessness that allows the audience to accept this series is a true prequel to the film. One example of modern theme is an elaborate marijuana production enterprise. Once estranged son of Norma Bates (Vera Farmiga), Dylan Massett (Max Thieriot) is the criminally oriented half-brother the primary character, Norman Bates (Freddie Highmore). Initially Dylan worked with the owner of the marijuana farm which is a major source generating illegal income for consortium that includes most of the town’s most powerful and influential people. When the force of the operation becomes mentally unhinged everything falls apart. This understandably results in a major concern on the part of powerful cabal behind it. Hoping to turn things around and remain lucrative Dylan’s plan with his father, Caleb (Kenny Johnson) to turn it into medicinal marijuana grow house. Complicating Dylan’s relationship not only with his father but with Norma and Norman is his discovery that Caleb is Norman’s biological brother and that he was a product of incestuous rape. The dysfunctional family dynamic is exceptionally deep reservoir combined to produce and influence Norman.
Norman attempts to turn his relationship with his best friend, Emma Decody (Olivia Cooke), into a more romantic one. Although not completely innocent, Emma is one character in the story that possesses a certain purity of motive. She is always pulling a tank of oxygen around with her due to damage to the lungs as a result of cystic fibrosis. A first date with Norman is exceptionally awkward particularly when they try to become intimate. The conclusion is to remain best friends, that that relationship is the most important one. This does leave open to being mutually attracted to Dylan. He has such concern for her that he is willing to undertake exceedingly dangerous illegal job to secure the $20,000 necessary to obtain a set of lungs for her. In this season Dylan also becomes increasingly concerned the psychological well-being of his half-brother, Norman. The catch is glimpses of what the audience knows is the future of Norman when he covertly sees Norman manifesting the personality of their mother. This is the first overt look at what was the big reveal for the film; Norman is becoming his mother.
One of the main complications for Norma begins with a decision to pull Norman out of high school and teach them at home. She then promotes them to manager of the motel placing a lot of pressure on an already disturbed young man. This also puts Norman off any opportunity to associate with normal people, that is to say people outside his dysfunctional family unit. A new guest, a pretty young woman, Annika Johnson (Tracy Spiridakos), is flirtatious with Norman much of the chagrin of his mother. The situation takes a distinctive turn to the sinister when Annika disappeared without a trace. Norma takes to searching the girl’s room and finding an invitation to an exclusive club. She attempts to infiltrate the club by impersonating the young woman but is intercepted by Sheriff Romero (Nestor Carbonell) who demands normal leave immediately, promising to look for the girl himself.
Norma comes into the possession of a USB flash drive that Annika stole from secretive organization of powerbrokers. Contained within it is a complete detail of the illegal drug business and other criminal enterprises that the town’s elite were involved with. The leader of the group, Bob Paris (Kevin Rahm) puts pressure on Norma to return the drive. The first tries bribery offering her a seat on the town Council conveniently vacated by the sudden death of a Councilman. This would allow Norma an opportunity to derail the plans to move the highway that is the only source of traffic to a motel. When that doesn’t work Paris takes a more threatening approach closing Norma to attempt to leave town and start a new life. She’s worked back by the Sheriff which places him on the outs with Paris of the organization.
All of this intrigue, mystery and danger is merely the backdrop keep the audience interested is the true main plot of the story carefully unfolds. Norman has been experiencing blackouts that leave him completely unable to remember what he has done during those periods of time. Of course, the audience to see some of what goes on including the assuming the identity of Norma and his growing willingness to use lethal force to address any real or perceived dangers. Norman begins to pull away from his mother in a large part due to the reappearance of a disruptive girl was always interested in Norman, Bradley (Nicola Peltz). Previously was necessary for Bradley to leave town after having death faked. Reappearance serves to hasten Norman’s need to distance himself from his mother. His feelings of self-doubt and his monumental step are made real by arguments and overt actions by Norman assuming the persona of his mother. With each episode can watch as his burgeoning serial killer. It is such a rare opportunity to watch such a transformation or curb in such painstaking attention to detail executed in such an addictively entertaining fashion. Like most fans I am on the edge of my seat waiting for the next season to begin.