The third season of Bates Motel has begun with even more Bates family weirdness. Norma (Vera Farmiga) keeps inviting Norman (Freddie Highmore) to lay in bed with her, and Norman’s begun his shower peeping. This week Highmore and Bates Motel writer Kerry Ehrin gave a conference call to discuss the new season.
“There’s definitely another really interesting bathroom scene,” Highmore teased.
We all know Psycho and the famous shower scene, so it was exciting for the show’s producers to delve into the bathroom. “We got a new bathroom set this year which is amazing,” Ehrin said. “I know it sounds stupid to say but we’re excited about a bathroom set. It’s such an amazing design and we got to film some really pivotal scenes in it. It’s inside the Bates house and there are some amazing scenes in it.”
In two seasons, we’ve seen hints at Norman Bates becoming the Psycho we all know, and there’s still much more life to the show. “This season was more changing him and making him a bit more mature with the self-awareness that he gained at the end of the second season,” Highmore said. “Perhaps trickier than giving a look or finding out who norman was, in this third season it was about discovering in what ways he would change and grow up.”
Since she knows even more about the upcoming scripts than Highmore, Ehrin added, “Also the natural development of teenagers to start seeing their parents as real people as opposed to gods or goddesses in their universe. I think there’s a bit of that in it as well, and also this season very much playing with the game of control between him and Norma and the power struggle which is really delicious.”
Norman Bates was always a mama’s boy, but Bates Motel might show he’s more in charge of the relationship than we knew. “This struggle for power between Norma and Norman in their relationship that will start to become ever more important,” Highmore said. “Whereas Norman has always been very much the son or the younger person in the relationship before, their dynamic is starting to shift. Even in the first episode, it’s much more set up as these two equals, either lying in bed together or on some level equals. I don’t think it will stay that way. Norman will seek to take more and more control of their relationship and become the person who’s more dominant by the end of the season. I think that’s interesting. He’s become slightly more manipulative and capable of toying with Norma.”
It looks like Norman has already committed another murder, driving new Bates Motel guest Annika Johnson (Tracy Spiridakos) into town but mysteriously coming back alone. Ehrin is happy to have us think Norman has killed again, until next week at least.
“I feel like on Bates Motel it’s safe to assume anything,” she said. “There’s an aspect to the storytelling that we love which is there’s a lot up for interpretation. Part of the fun of the stories that we do is slowly peeling away layers of truth. So I think that it’s safe to assume whatever anybody wants to assume.”
Highmore ran with it too. “It’s safe to assume that Norman will be killing again,” he said. “I think that’s what everyone knows.”
The season premiere also saw the return of Caleb (Kenny Johnson), Norma’s brother and the father of Dylan (Max Thieriot). “A really exciting dynamic of the story is that he is a ticking bomb, present in that family community,” Ehrin said. “We don’t know what’s going to happen. We don’t know if Norma’s going to see him. We don’t know if Dylan is going to bond with him. We don’t know if Caleb is full of it.”
Bates Motel airs Monday nights at 9 on A&E.