Just finished Season 3 of Bates Motel. Spoilers lie beyond this point so tread carefully if you are interested in this show.
Oh my god that was wonderful. I was really wary of where the show was heading after the up and down quality of season two, but Bates Motel pulled its shit together and made the entire show fire on all cyllanders each and every episode this season. I was more than impressed, I was chilled and often terrified. I’ll get it out of the way right now. My biggest complaint with Season 3 was that I felt Norman’s descent into an obliterated state of mental health was a bit too sudden from where he was at the end of season 2. He snapped a bit there at the end, sure, but I didn’t think it was going to be as dramatic as it turned out going forward.
Personally I can see it going this way but he went from trying to kill himself at the end of season 2 so he doesn’t unintentionally kill any other people to a depraved sociopathic, unsettling boy with an oedipus complex. Like… I get it. I know the backstory for Psycho. I know in the end he’s going to kill his mom and that’s the ending, but I didn’t really empathize with Norman anymore in this season. It was a bit fast, but it’s also pretty realistic.
I really, really, really want to praise this show for showing you how awful and crippling living with mental illness is. You wouldn’t sympathize with Norman and he’s no longer a relatable character but he’s incredibly pitiable. The stuff he goes through in his own head this season was horrifying and a gateway into the mind of a true delusional person. The scene where he breaks for the first time and actually wears his mother’s dress and believes to be her (at 4 in the morning no less) was terrifying to me. I will say it now; Freddie Highmore is an incredible, INCREDIBLE actor. His impersonation of Vera Farmiga’s Norma Bates was incredible. Her speech pattern, her body language… He captured it all here. It was deeply unsettling watching him like this.
I appreciate how they fixed my problems with how season 2 started by introducing a missing girl plotline and leading the viewer to suspect that Norman was behind it. I thought it was a bit too obvious, but it still led its hand at an overbearing sense of dread this season that made you want to watch more. There was a central problem that needed to be worked out which season 2 lacked and altogether made season 3 flow that much better.
They also fixed my problems with Emma, kind of. I was tired of how she just sat around being not important and just there, while now Norman (in his delusions) believes he suddenly wants to date her because it ‘makes sense’. You could tell he didn’t actually like her and it was his mania setting in, I liked this a lot and showed that Norman was beginning to distance himself from others. About halfway through though she sees him break and breaks up with him and for some reason she and Dylan are totally into each other now. Not sure why that’s a thing but I don’t hate it I guess.
Dylan’s plotline was kind of forced again as he had to deal with his gun smuggling neighbor who was honestly a pretty interesting character who amused me a lot but it was still pretty unecessary in the long run. I did like how Caleb, Dylan’s dad-uncle incest daddy more or less joined the main cast here and how the show actually managed to have he and Norma reach an understanding of sorts. It was really sweet how, well, typically you’d expect ‘oh wow he raped his sister a lot wow what an evil person he must be a complete scumbag and should be killed’ yet they play the opposite and actually make Caleb a very likable person who deeply regrets what he’s done and only wants to say sorry. I applaud this show for having the heart to tell such a fucked up story yet treating it with respect and acknowledging that things aren’t as black and white as we’re led to believe.
Sheriff Romero… I have said this in every review so far. This guy is the shit. By far the breakout character for me. His badassery reached new levels this season and had me laughing out loud during a certain scene because I was in literal disbelief that he was doing the shit he was doing on screen. Seriously I adore this character. I also really love his developing crush on Norma, and it makes me wonder if he’s going to be the one who she’s dating at the time Norman eventually kills her and her future husband before the events of Psycho. That’s probably the only death I’d allow this character to get away with. He’s too badass to go any other way unless it’s story related.
I wanted to go over Norma last of all. Her performance this season was incredible. She had to deal with a new antagonist who was pretty good, Bob Paris, a wealthy dude who owns a big country club for rich weirdos to have rampant sex parties in. Pretty cool stuff. But no, Norma shined in her ongoing mental breakdown which happened very realistically. As someone with a bipolar mom, I could vouch for the reality of the scene where she packs all of her things and skips town out of anger without responding to her sons. I really loved how she had to struggle with Norman’s worsening mental condition until the very end where she’s ready to accept it… this kid needs help. He needs it really badly, but it’s too late. He’s killed yet again (Welcome back Bradley? She was hotter without blonde hair at least) and the Mother in his mind has dominance over the Mother in real life it seems. Norman is very against mental treatment, so I’m very, very interested in where season 4 is going to take the story to. I would like to see a period of time where Norman gets better and gets actual treatment, is put on anti-psychotics until things inevitably mess up and he begins to spiral yet again.
I’m so damn glad this show picked up after its comparatively boring season 2… I’m just upset I don’t have anymore to watch. Guess I’ll go back to reviewing manga or something… I do need to watch Twin Peaks sometime, though. Aw man writing this took forever. Oh well. Thanks for reading guys!