Monday, June 15, 2015

Bates Motel: The Complete Third Season Overview


Nothing like a little mother/son bonding to make things all sweet, sunny, and sugary.  

Bates Motel continues to be among the best shows on television: troubling, sometimes highly disturbing, but maintaining that balance between prequel to Psycho and as a story of its own.  This season was a particular rewarding one for me, personally, as I found myself declared a 'super-fan', complete with a prize.  I wasn't expecting a prize for answering trivia questions correctly, but I'm thrilled with my Bates Motel guest book and fan art. 

As I look back on this season, I see that we are still getting a pretty amazing show, though by the end I found a tad bit of predictability attached to it.  However, if there was a theme in Season Three of Bates Motel, it was that of family: it starts out with the death of a mother, and ends with the emerging of "Mother".  For all their good intentions, the Mother figure ends up being one of death and chaos.

The show continues to be among the best-acted.  The double-act of Vera Farmiga and Freddie Highmore continues to make Bates Motel intense watching, as they skirt around their issues (no pun intended).  Highmore brings Norman's increasing insanity to life in a masterful way, especially when he literally thinks he is his own mother.

Farmiga for her part continues making Norma Bates this complex, complicated, contradictory character: a woman who loves her sons but who also damages them.  Any sensible mother would have done what she did and checked out a mental hospital for Normie a lot sooner.  However, a sensible mother would also have been alarmed at seeing her son peering through guest windows or suggesting that maybe her son was a little too much into her.

My hat goes off to Max Thieriot, whom I first dismissed as a mere hanger-on as Dylan, the bad boy brother.  His character's evolution into almost the moral core of the show has been fascinating to watch.  I think that of all the people on the show, with the exception of Olivia Cooke's Emma Decody, Dylan is the most moral and responsible...and he sells pot! 

Now, this isn't to say Bates Motel is perfect.  I hated a few things on the show.  I never warmed up to 'creepy villain of the season' Chick (or as I called him, a strung-out Mac Powell from Third Day look-alike).  He would pop in and be all weird, and a character who basically says, "I'm really weird and creepy" doesn't do it for me.  Neither does this season's antagonist, Bob Paris.  It isn't a slam on Kevin Rahm's performance, but it does seem a little repetitive to have a drug lord cross swords with Norma, and a little more repetitive to have Nestor Carbonell's Sheriff Romero bail her out by killing the guy...and on the docks, AGAIN!

Worse was the brief return of Bradley.  I never liked her, and seeing her come in to get killed off (as if anyone thought she was going to make it) isn't all that interesting.  By the way, did they ever solve the murders of the two girls who were at Paris' sex party?  And how did Norma climb over the wall in an evening dress?

Oh, well, given the general nuttiness of Bates Motel, that little detail isn't a big thing. 

On the whole, Bates Motel went down slightly this season.  The slightly repetitive nature of things pushed it down (oh look, we end the season with Norman killing someone he's sexually attracted to!).  However, the show continues to be a brilliant exploration into the complex relationship between a mother and her son... who will end up becoming iconic figures.  Granted, for all the wrong reasons...

NEXT EPISODE: A Danger to Himself and to Others

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