Bates Motel, a ‘contemporary prequel’ to Alfred Hitchcock’s 1960 film Psycho, returned to Universal Channel for its third season.
Dark and thrilling, the series explores the controlling, obsessive, almost incestuous relationship between the infamous Norman Bates, and his overly devoted mother, Norma. The series takes place, chronologically, before the Hitchcock movie, but is placed in a modern-day setting. It’s a bit of a time-leap, but it works.
Series 3 brings the news that Norma’s estranged mother has passed away. She tells the solicitor she isn’t interested in whatever she’s been left in the will. She breaks the news to Norman, almost flippantly, but later breaks down in tears, first to her older son, Dylan, and then to Norman. She is an expert in emotional blackmail, and it’s hard to believe that her distress is anything more than game-playing.
The bereavement also brings Norma’s disgraced brother to town. He seeks out Dylan, who is both his nephew, and his son (yes), trying to give him money from his late mother’s estate. Dylan refuses, and is only interested in seeing him leave town.
But with the DEA crawling all over White Pine Bay, destroying the town’s long-standing secret income of marijuana production, Dylan finds himself out of a job. Although he has plans to ‘go straight’; to move away and open a quiet, legitimate bar somewhere, there’s still a possible spanner in the works. That spanner comes in the form of Sheriff Alex Romero, who threatens that, if Dylan wants out of the drug business, then he can no longer offer him ‘protection’.
It’s the first day of term, following the murder of beloved teacher, Miss Watson, and Norma has to forcibly drag Norman from the car to get him to go. But he’s soon home again, after having a lunchtime chat with a vision of Miss Watson. Deciding it’s safest to keep him close, Norma relents and offers to home school him. She also promotes him to Motel Manager. Maybe this will prevent more bodies from turning up.
But when Annika Johnson books in; an attractive escort with an impressive cleavage, Norman’s teenage hormones go into overdrive. Despite asking his only friend—fellow social misfit Emma—to join him in home schooling, and to become his girlfriend, Norman can’t resist spying on Annika in the shower. Norma catches him, and isn’t best pleased: she knows where these things can lead.
Norman offers to accompany Annika into town, to show her where to go for her next ‘job’. But the last time Norman lusted after a woman, namely his late teacher Miss Watson, she ended up dead. So when Norman returns to the hotel alone, driving Annika’s car, we’re left to wonder where she is, and whether she’s the next victim to Norman’s episodic ‘blackouts’.