TV Review: “Bates Motel: Season 3” Far Exceeds Expectations

"Bates Motel"

“Bates Motel” is a contemporary prequel to the genre-defining film “Psycho,” and gives a portrayal of how Norman Bates’ psyche unravels through his teenage years.

“Bates Motel: Season 3” picks up after the abduction and subsequent rescue of Norman (Freddie Highmore) from Nick Ford. Having spent the summer at home with his mother Norma (Vera Farmiga), Norman is hesitant and adamant that he doesn’t want to return to school but after having received some bad news about her mother that very same morning, Norma is not in the mood to deal with his childish behavior and physically grabs him out of the car and leaves him outside the school. After a bloody hallucination involving Miss Watson (Keegan Connor Tracy), Norman leaves school and races home in a panic whereby after telling his mother what happened, she informs him that she will home-school him instead.

With Dylan (Max Thieriot) now wanting to get out of the drug business, Sheriff Romero (Nestor Carbonell), tells him if he’s not working for him any more, he will no longer be able to protect him but Dylan is willing to take that chance. When Dylan heads out to the cabin, he is surprised to find Caleb (Kenny Johnson) there but Caleb informs him that he just wants to spend some quality father-son time with him. When I first heard that “Bates Motel” was being produced, I immediately rolled my eyes into the back of my head. The show exclaimed that it would study the psyche of Norman Bates and the relationship between he and his mother and I felt that was just so unnecessary.

I don’t need to know what makes Norman tick, we all know that he lost his marbles and literally snapped, and in the process, became a psycho but the show actually does work. Unlike Rob Zombie’s reincarnation of Michael Myers in “Halloween,” Mr. Zombie felt the incessant need to tell us how and why Michael Myers became the killing machine he is but sometimes, less is more and leaving the backstory and plotline as to how someone became a monster, is best left to the imagination. Norman Bates however, is not a rampaging killing machine who murders mindlessly and mercilessly, well not yet anyway and watching the relationship between he and his mother and others around him, is shaping up very nicely.

This episode even boasts an unabashed precursor to the now-infamous shower scene from Alfred Hitchcock’s “Psycho” and overall, the series is developing commendably. Vera Farmiga and Freddie Highmore as Norma and Norman Bates have undeniable onscreen chemistry and at times, it is so irrefutable, it becomes very uncomfortable. Watching them both sleep in the same bed, their arms wrapped around each other, makes you feel dirty just for watching. While we haven’t seen anything yet, incest has always been hinted at throughout the movies and here in the show so it’s anybody’s guess as to how it will play out. Personally, I’m enjoying the ride and can’t wait to catch the next episode.

“Bates Motel: Season 3” Premieres March 9th at 9/8c on A&E


James McDonald

Originally from Dublin, Ireland, James is a Movie Critic and Celebrity Interviewer with over 30 years of experience in the film industry as an Award-Winning Filmmaker.
2 Comments on this post.

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  • D H
    10 June 2015 at 10:34 PM

    Zombie bashing is so “Not-Cool” Mr. McDonald. tsk tsk tsk
    However, I do agree that the show has done a remarkably good job of creating and maintaining interest on a show-by-show basis, while at the same time ‘coloring within the lines’ previously established by the original films.

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    • IrishFilmCritic
      11 June 2015 at 2:35 PM

      Zombie Movies = Cool! Rob Zombie = Not So Cool! 🙂
      I really liked how they’re handling this show, it’s turning out much better than I had expected.

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