Bates Motel is back and ready for the creepy as the series kicked off its third season last night. In a recent interview with Nerdist, executive producer and developer Kerry Ehrin promised that season three of the acclaimed A&E series would focus heavily on family. If the premiere is any indication, they’re wasting no time.
This season opens with Norman and Norma snuggling in bed. It’s morning and they’ve clearly spent the night together. When Dylan wakes up looking for Norman so he can get ready for school, he finds them together in Norma’s room. She wakes up and heads downstairs to make breakfast. Naturally Dylan finds them sleeping together weird, Norman is 18 now, after all, and points it out to Norma that morning. They’re getting along, a recent development in season two. Norma receives a call from a man in a really wonky, run down looking room (Norma’s mother’s house?) calling from a law firm. Norma’s mother has died but Norma tells him she’s not interested in anything from her. They get dressed for the day and Norma breaks the news rather abruptly to Norman as they are on their way to school. Norman expresses concern and offers to stay home with her–but really we know that he’s looking for any reason to stay out of school. Once they arrive for Norman’s first day, he panics and refuses to get out of the car. Norma grabs him and violently throws him out. It’s super awkward and everyone at school stares at him. Are these the beginnings of adult aggression that turns Norman into the character we know from the Hitchcock original?
Once inside school, Norman is tormented by visions of the violently deceased Miss Watson. We’ve been led to believe Norman was her murderer, but he was ultimately cleared of any wrongdoing in her death during the season two finale. He runs out of school and back to the motel. Just then, a very sexy woman, Annika Johnson (Tracy Spiridakos), arrives at the hotel looking for a room. Norman is interested in her and later in the afternoon, she rings the bell on the main house because she needs help changing a light. Norman goes to her room and as they talk, we find out that she’s an escort of some kind but Norman thinks she seems like a “nice girl.”
Meanwhile, Romero overlooks a burning marijuana field alongside a DEA agent. The marijuana trade in the town is over now. Dylan sits at a diner going over some paperwork and Romero joins him for a quick chat, continuing their discussion from season two. Romero wants Dylan to be his “in” to the illegal drug trade in town but Dylan wants no part of it. Romero isn’t happy about Dylan’s choice and warns him that if they’re not working together, he can’t protect him any more. It’s not a threat but it’s not a friendly exchange, either. Later that night, Dylan notices he’s being followed. He pulls over and realizes that the person following him is Caleb, his uncle-father who wants to talk. He tells Dylan that his mother died and he wants to give him some cash from the sale of her house, but Dylan isn’t interested and tells him to leave.
Later that night, Norman and Norma are sitting in Norma’s bed and she tells him that he doesn’t have to go to school anymore; she wants him to complete high school on his own and she gives him the title of motel manager. Side note: Did anyone else have flashes of George Michael Bluth becoming “Mister Manager” at the banana stand? “I’m Mister Manager!” Anyway, as Norma curls up for sleep, she awkwardly tells Norman that he should sleep in his bed from now on. Their physical interaction is getting reeeeally weird… I love how the series is really beginning to shift Norman and Norma’s dynamic into that of jealous lovers so early in the season. It’s incredibly creepy.
The next day, Dylan is driving and sees Caleb broken down on the side of the road. He pulls over to try check it out and ends up giving him a ride to an auto garage for a new part. Caleb finally admits to knowing that he’s Dylan’s father and explains the abuse that both he and Norma grew up with inside their house. Across town, Romero is having a drink at a bar and is confronted by two drug dealers who are pissed that the DEA showed up and torched the fields thus putting them out of a job. When one of them tries to threaten Romero he kicks is ass shutting them both up fairly quickly. Will the DEA showing up and ruining the drug trade in White Pine Bay haunt Romero for the rest of the season? My guess is most likely…
Back at the motel, Norman tells Emma that he’s not going back to school and she tells him that her medical condition is getting worse. Norman suggests that she studies with him and doesn’t go back to school either. When she agrees, he then tells her that they should start dating. These are the words Emma has been longing for for so long and naturally she’s thrilled. Up inside the house, Norma sits Dylan down and tells him that his grandmother died and discusses her mother’s mental illness. As Norman is walking back up to the house from the office that night, he is distracted by a raccoon and then manages to peek into the bathroom at Annika, the young woman who is staying at the motel. He watches her shower as Norma comes down to take out trash, catches him and promptly freaks out. Later, Norman hears Norma crying in her bedroom. She’s grieving the loss of her mother and invites Norman to spend the night with her but just for tonight prompting Norman to utter the weirdest thing EVER (“Move over, you silly woman.”) before spooning his mom. It’s such a bizarre scene and to think that this is only the first episode of the season!
Dylan runs into Caleb who still hasn’t left town yet. His patience is running thin; if Norma finds out he’s hanging around it will not be a good thing. Back at the motel, Emma and Norman are studying and discuss dating, when Annika comes in ready for “work.” She’s wearing a sultry red dress and is looking for directions to a restaurant in town. Norman offers to ride with her to show her where the restaurant is. As they ride, they begin to have a discussion about what Annika does for a living. The conversation turns to sex and Norman looks uncomfortable. Later that night, right after Emma closes up for the night and drives away, Norman returns in Annika’s Porsche but no one else gets out of the car. Did he kill her?! We’ll have to wait until next week to find out.
Bates Motel airs Monday nights at 9/8c on A&E.