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Bates Motel: Season 3

What She said:

She

Why anyone would ever want travel to White Pine Bay, Oregon, I do not know. Worse yet, why would you decide to stay? This dreary, economically depressed town is the setting of Bates Motel, which recently concluded its third season run on A&E. It’s a scary place with lots of crime and some very, very messed up people. There’s not much that White Pine Bay really has going for it. Drugs, prostitution, gangs, mafia, crooked cops, nice scenery…OK, it does have some nice scenery, but that’s not enough to make up for the other stuff. And yet Norma Bates picked up her lovely family, bought a run-down motel, and relocated there a couple of years ago, and her trials and tribulations continue to rivet viewers.

Bates Motel: Season 2

To many, the Bates last name immediately invokes thoughts of Alfred Hitchcock’s 1960 film, Psycho. Well, this is THAT Bates family. The one with the murderous son who runs the motel. But Bates Motel takes place when Norman is just a teenager. By season 3, Norman is nearly an adult. Of course, he seems to have the mentality of a child. If you’ll recall, friend/hook-up Bradley has faked her own death and disappeared, and Norman already has been linked to a few suspicious deaths. In the wake of Season 2, Norman has decided to be home schooled. Best friend, Emma, is also going the home school route as she helps Norma and Norman run the struggling motel. In the meantime, brother, Dylan, continues his work in the weed growing business. He doesn’t spend a ton of time with Norma and Norman, but is there whenever they need him. During season 3, he does, however, begin to develop a strengthened relationship with his birth father, Caleb, who also happens to be his uncle. Yes, you heard me right.

Season 3 really centers around Norman’s continually deteriorating state. His “blackouts,” as Norma calls them, are becoming more frequent, and his behavior during them is becoming increasingly bizarre. One of my favorite scenes of season 3 is when Dylan finds Norman cooking breakfast in the middle of the night during one of his blackouts. Norman has shifted into his Norma persona, is wearing his mother’s apron, and tells Dylan to go wake his lazy brother up for breakfast. Dylan’s reaction is classic.

Bates Motel: Season 2

Norman senses that he’s losing control, and yet he’s also resisting the truth. As Norma’s concern over the situation escalates, she and Norman’s relationship begins to crumble. He feels very threatened, and she genuinely wants to help him. I get the sense that she knows that she’s now in over her head, and that she’s let things go for too long. But Norma also cannot shake her irrationally strong urge to protect her son, no matter how deranged he is. She does bring a psychologist in at one point, though. But during Norma’s fight for Norman and her family, she also crosses paths with some bad people, and this complicates things exponentially for her. Let’s just say that things are not going well for Norma in season 3, and it all comes to a head with her freaking out and attempting to escape her life, if even for just one night.

Sheriff Alex Romero finds himself deeply torn this season, as he wants to help Norma, but also really does not want to get involved with any more trouble. He has his suspicions about Norman and yet he cannot help but yield to his strengthening feelings for Norma. In the meantime, Emma, who truly is the best person in this town and does not deserve to be caught up in all this crap, finds her health going downhill. Her need for a lung transplant is becoming more and more urgent. Otherwise, she faces certain death. Interesting plot development in season 3, Emma and Norman test out a relationship, but the chemistry is just not right. The chemistry between Emma and Dylan on the other hand…woah. The He has coined this “the Dylemma.”

So, all in all, season 3 is full of all the juiciness and drama that you have come to expect from Bates Motel. This show is unique in that there are some genuinely funny moments—especially those that involve Norma’s quirkiness—but there is also a serious creep factor. There is so much in the plot of this show that is messed up that you cannot help but get a little freaked out by all of it. I mean, we’ve got a serious amount of incest alluded to on a weekly basis. It’s cringe-worthy. And Norman is always on the verge of freaking out and killing someone. And yet it’s all absolutely fascinating to watch. There’s a lot of “No way…NO WAY…ewwww…” I feel like I have to go to church or, at the very least, take a shower after every episode. That’s how messed up everything is. But boy, is it fun to watch.

Bates Motel is like a nighttime soap-opera. It’s pretty extraordinary, in the sense that it seems highly unlikely that any of this would EVER happen ANYWHERE. Come on, can a family really be this screwed up? But the show doesn’t bill itself as reality, and so it’s easy to suspend your concept of what is believable for the sake of some entertainment.

Bates Motel: Season 2

 

As with previous seasons, I think the acting on this show continued to be superb in season 3. Vera Farmiga leads the parade of crazy as the unpredictable Norma. Right by her side is Freddie Highmore as Norman. The two of them together are absolutely genius. They are unbelievably good, and their relationship is kinetic in all the wrong ways. Our supporting actors on this show are also quite good. As Dylan emerged as a more central character this season, Max Thieriot also shined in his ability to bring the elder son to a new level. Nestor Carbonell as Sheriff Romero and Olivia Cooke as Emma Decody were also very good.

The show continues to be very well shot, directed, and produced, and feels like a nicely stylized miniseries or movie. All in all, Bates Motel continues to be very well done. It has stayed strong, even through its third season, and I look forward to seeing what they do in season 4. There are a few challenges ahead as Norman’s character unravels. Will the themes and plots become repetitive, or can they continue to keep things fresh?

Thumbs up.

 

Bates Motel: Season 3

What He said:

He

I’ve said this before, but I have to say it again: Bates Motel is the best soap opera ever made. It’s listed as a drama/thriller and that’s not wrong, but this show has all the elements of a classic soap opera. It’s got sex, drugs, murder, and is as melodramatic as any soap opera in the history of television. Psycho is about a murder that runs a motel. This is about that and so much more.

Bates Motel: Season 2

I guess I’ll start with one of the first revelations. Because of his blackouts and generally odd behavior, Norma (Vera Farmiga) has told Norman (Freddie Highmore) that he is allowed to be homeschooled. She plays it off as if it is a good thing, but it’s really a way to keep him away from others.

Coworker – and potential love interest – Emma (Olivia Cooke) gets permission from her father to also be homeschooled with Norman. They spend more time together now than ever, since they are not only work together, but also doing lessons together.

Bates Motel likes its subplots, so Norma’s other kid is not to be left out. Dylan (Max Thieriot) decides to quite the drug business. Well, sort of. After a war between his bosses and another gang, there aren’t too many people left. Some of the survivors try to encourage Dylan to become a boss, but Dylan decides that he is done. It’s a good thing too, because the DEA is about to come down hard on White Pine Bay. Anyway, Dylan buys a small piece of property by the lake and gets to work on rehabbing it. He also plans to grow his own stash of weed, which I think he said he wants to sell legally?

Bates Motel: Season 2

I forget how and why, but his Duncle (daddy and uncle) Caleb shows back up. Caleb (Kenny Johnson) wants to be a part of his son’s life; despite the fact that he is a product of an incestuous relationship with his sister Norma. Duncle Caleb also wants to reconnect with Norma. He says that he just wants to tell her that he is sorry for what happened between them, but there’s always subtle hints that he would rekindle their forbidden love should Norma ever express an interest.

Dylan isn’t too fond of Norma right now, but flat out hates Caleb, because Norma says that the sex was not consensual. So, according to her, not only is Dylan the product of incest, he’s the product of rape. I can’t think of a single thing that someone can be told that is worse than that. However, Dylan is desparate for a family and eventually starts to hang out with Caleb more. The two bond while they are working out Dylan’s house.

Speaking of which, one day while working on Dylan’s house, some dude emerges from the woods to talk to them. Chick (Ryan Hurst) is an odd guy. He pops up from time-to-time, says something mysterious, but never really says what he wants. He appears to be feeling them out. You will find out what he wants by the time the season winds down.

Dylan also has another subplot involving Emma, whom he has a little unspoken chemistry with. She feels it, he feels it, hell the audience feels it. They have a #Dylemma though. Neither one of them wants to hurt Norman, so they are very hesitant about acting on their feelings.

Don’t worry, I didn’t forget about Norma; who is arguable the most entertaining character on the show. As always, Norma’s life is filled with a tremendous amount of drama; much of which she is responsible for creating. First there is the issue with Norman. He is not well and she knows this, but she’s very hesitant to do anything about it. Sometimes she thinks she can keep it under control. Other times, she knows she is in over her head. Despite this, she has a hard time doing the right thing – which would be committing Norman to a mental institution. They fight a ton this season too. One minute they are fawning over one another to the point of it getting a little uncomfortable. The next minute they are going at it like a highly dysfunctional old married couple.

Bates Motel: Season 2

Norma is also knee deep in the criminal activities of White Pine Bay. The drug kingpins might be dead, but that doesn’t mean there are no more bad guys in this picturesque – but arguably the worst place on Earth – little community. She comes across some information that a man named Bob Paris (Kevin Rahm) wants very badly from her. This information is almost like a history book for all the little dirty secrets that go on in White Pine Bay. She is only one woman, so she’s not equipped to take on a professional criminal, so she coaxes Sheriff Alex Romero (Nestor Carbonell) to help her.

Speaking of Romero, his life is also filled with tons of drama. He is dealing with the fallout of the drug war from last season. All the drug activity in this town – much of which Romero was aware of – has not gone unnoticed by the DEA. Some of this has to do with Bob Paris; as does the drama between Paris and Norma. And don’t worry, that awkward sexual tension between Romero and Norma is still alive and well.

Romero is a fascinating character. You don’t fully know what his motives are and he always surprises you. He is aware that the town’s economy was heavily reliant on the weed business. He also knows Bob Paris plays a huge role in just about everything that goes on in town. He’s willing to turn a blind eye to it if the town benefits from it, but will not hesitate to kill any of the criminals if they get too far out of line. He’s got an odd moral code. He’s willing to put up with a lot, will even fix crime scenes himself, but does have a breaking point. He will not hesitate to put a bullet in any of the criminals that he has allowed to conduct business for years if he thinks they cause more harm than “good” (meaning contributing to the economy of the town). We find out this season that his father was also a dirty cop, but he resents being compared to him.

Bates Motel: Season 2

I haven’t even talked about Norman that much, but don’t worry, there is still plenty of going on in his life. He is descending further into madness. As the She mentioned, one of the more amusing scenes is when he thinks he is his mother. Highmore’s performance and Thieriot’s reaction were priceless.

The entertainment value is extremely high with this show. It is dark, funny, and fascinating. It’s well-acted, looks great, and has all the trashy drama of a soap opera, but has the production value of a legit drama. Highmore and Farmiga’s scenes together are fantastic. Watching them go at it, and make up, and go at it, and make up, never gets old. Thieriot really steps it up this season. He’s never been bad, but they have expanded his role and he’s handled it fine. Romero is a complete and total badass and just a joy to watch. This guy is just too fucking cool. You might not agree with what he does, but you’ll like watching him do it. Kenny Johnson is also kind of hilarious – and pathetic – as Duncle Caleb. This guy turns into a bumbling idiot around his sister, but he just wants her forgiveness and to be accepted by both her and Dylan. Olivia Cooke’s Emma is easily my favorite character. She’s pretty much the only decent person in down and you genuinely don’t want to see anything bad happen to her. Plus, she’s freaking adorable. If you like lots of drama and dark/trashy subject matter, this show is for you.

Rating: Thumbs up.

This movie review was given the He said, She said seal of approval on May 21, 2015.

 

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