|Carlton Cuse (Lost) and Kerry Ehrin (Friday Night Lights) create a seductively eerie atmosphere with their present-day set prequel to Psycho, Bates Motel. It is seductive in the sense that it draws you in, enticing with just enough mystery to keep the viewer guessing, but not so much that it becomes muddled and frustrating. On the most fundamental level, the series is designed to explore how Norman Bates’ (Freddie Highmore) psyche unravels through his teenage years and unveil the dark, twisted story of his deeply entwined relationship with his mother, Norma (Vera Farmiga). |
The pilot episode, "First You Dream, Then You Die" introduces the audience to the show's new vision for these iconic characters.
Norman, of course, was made famous by Anthony Perkins' performance in Alfred Hitchcock's genre defining film. "Mother" existed only as a splintered fragment of sick and tormented Norman's mind (and as a bit of old-lady jerky) but she is no less of an icon in her own right. Norma, the flesh and blood, living version of the woman who would become a preserved corpse in Psycho, is an invention of the Bates Motel world. The series, in a sense, is one version of an answer to the question: "what happened between that woman and her child?"
Norma and Norman must move to the grey and misty coastal Northern California town of White Pine Bay following the possibly-possibly-not-accidental death of his father. With the insurance money Norma buys a fix-er-up-er motel in the hopes that running it will mean a new life for them. What they find is that the motel and the town have buried secrets and hidden dangers of their own. White Pine Bay itself acts as a metaphor or outward manifestation of Norman - pristine and inviting on the outside, with violence bubbling just under the surface.
In terms of the tone, the series effectively manages to blend in elements from the time-period of the source material into the modern world. Norman's innocence could easily feel out of place in 2013, but the show makes that work to its advantage. He is endearingly awkward, but not so much so that he is unrelatable. When two of the girls in his school start subtly vying for his attention we understand why they would be drawn to his sweetness as something unique and valuable in a world that is so often cynical. His vulnerability allows us as the audience to root for him, to hope, despite ourselves and the knowledge of where things are ultimately headed, that he might find another way.
Does anyone here watch this?
The first episode just came yesterday and I'm hooked. It's so amazing.
It's also based on one of my favorite films: Psycho.
I'm dying for the next episode.
EDIT: Spoiler for Psycho edited out.
Episode 1 Synopsis: Norman and his mother Norma buy a run down motel and house following the death of his father. This prequel to the Psycho films is set in modern times so the teenage Norman fights with his mother, deals with high school parties, flirty girls and teen drama while his mother deals with stalking by the menacing former owner of the property and a nosy sheriff.
Episode 2 Synopsis: Dylan wastes no time causing trouble at home and all the while, the Bates family is inexorably drawn into the dark underbelly of White Pine Bay.
Episode 3 Synopsis: The sheriff executes a search warrant and could expose Norma and Norman. Meanwhile we learn how his step brother earns his easy money. Norman experiences hallucinations and may have exposed another secret the town is keeping.
Episode 4 Synopsis: Dylan and Norman bond over their similar suspicions about Deputy Shelby’s motives with regards to Norma. Meanwhile, Deputy Shelby attempts to get closer to Norman in an effort to gain both his and Norma’s trust. Also, Norman’s friendship with Bradley blossoms as he continues to help her cope with her grief. Finally, Sheriff Romero’s investigation into Keith Summers’ disappearance turns up a particularly grisly and damning piece of evidence.
Episode 5 Synopsis:
I will finish this tomorrow (27/5/13)