Friday, 16 August 2013

(16) Bates Motel (2013-) for sleepless nights

Bates Motel, TV show (2013).
If you are not looking forward to a good night's sleep, but instead, seek for some sleepless nights, then stop by and read on.
New, successful and captivating TV show Bates Motel is already confirmed for a second season and if you missed the first season on your TV screens, go and get the first season's box set. You have to watch it, you have to see it! It is not a remake of Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho or Robert Bloch's novel Psycho it is a prequel to Psycho set in modern times, which occasionally pays homage to "the good old films" from Hitchcock's Psycho era. It is a story of how Norman Bates became Hitchcock's iconic psycho.

Many thought that this show would not work, that it should not work, that Bates Motel shouldn't exist, but the executive producer from Lost, Carlton Cuse, and the writer of Friday Night Lights, Kerry Ehrin, somehow succeeded, even so much that it makes you wonder why TV producers didn't come up with this idea sooner?
Freddie Highmore from Tim Burton's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005) and August Rush (2007), the little chocolate loving and guitar playing boy has grown up and becomes Norman Bates, alongside the exceptional Vera Farmiga starring as Norman's all loving mother, Norma Louise Bates. A lovely addition to both of them is Norman's half-brother Dylan, played by Max Thieriot. The cast is fantastic for this show, Highmore fearlessly steps into Anthony Perkins' shoes and captures the essence of Norman Bates, the chemistry between Farmiga and Highmore is so deep and indisputable, that sometimes it tricks the viewer into believe that the relationship between Norman and Norma is normal and perfectly sane. However Thieriot's character Dylan is there to remind us how insane and wrong it all is. I would say that out of all the characters, Dylan is the only rational one, but despite this fact, it is still quite easy to relate to all of the characters, there is nothing paranormal about them, nothing that would alienate them from the viewer, despite all the horror they go through and inflict.
The picturesque village and lovely landscape shots reminds me of David Lynch's created TV show Twin Peaks. Both shows inhabit a little picturesque village full of dark secrets, weirdoes and, obviously, high crime rate. I just hope that Bates Motel won't go down the path of extra-terrestrial creatures, the spiritual world and backwards speaking midgets (don't get me wrong, I love Twin Peaks), I just hope that Bates Motel will strongly hold its foot in this world. Although, from Hitchcock's Psycho you know who is the psycho, still after every episode you want to see the next one and the next one... Suspense and horror is there to keep you awake for few nights and to keep you coming back for the next episode.


Burns: But all she really ever wanted was home.
Bruce: Well, I'll try to give her one.
Burns: I know you will, Bruce. Are you going to live with your mother?
Bruce: Just for the first year,
Burns: That'll be nice. A home with mother. A real honeymoon.

The opening dialogue of Bates Motel is from His Girl Friday (1940) (read about it on my blog here), and with these lines opens up the world of Norman and Norma Bates and the line "That'll be nice. A home with mother.", will stay and echo in the viewer's mind all throughout the first season.
The story immediately sets off, mother and her son moves to the house that overlooks the notorious motel in the beautiful village of White Pine Bay. All the craziness starts, threats, attack, a rape scene, murder, a manga book, Asian sex slaves, a mysterious man from room number 9, a murdered police officer, fields of pot, a burned man in a car, a burned man hung, an eye for an eye and a hand for a hand... A lot happened in the first season, almost too much. If the first episodes kept a bit of mystery with controlled pace, in which the viewer could keep a track on who is involved in what story line, then starting from episode 3 or 4 it just all started to boil over, it seemed a bit too much. However by the end of the season the show found its footing again, and luckily, also found conclusions for a few cases, at least the Asian sex slave case, although we never get to know what happened to the girl after she ran into the woods.
In spite of the quick pace and many twists and turns, Bates Motel still delivers engrossing tales, for example, the viewer gets to know how and when Norman's black outs start to appear, we all know, that Norman's black outs don't lead to anything good. Furthermore we get to know how and why Norman fell in love with taxidermy. After all, there are loads of stuffed birds in Psycho (watch the short clip from Psycho below). In Bates Motel, when Norman's dog Juno gets hit by a car, he says that it feels disrespectful to bury Juno, so he goes to Emma's father to learn taxidermy, so in some ways he can keep Juno.

Furthermore, we get to know Norman's infamous mother better. Despite all the burned men and severed arms, Norma's rape scene, in my mind, will stay as the most horrific scene of all. Norma's rape scene aroused a weird mix of feelings, fear, shock, sympathy, disgust, repulsion, and somewhere far, far back in my head a tiny voice was saying that she deserved it, because of what she is doing and will do to Norman. Then, in the last few episodes of the season we get to know that Norma's brother raped her during her childhood, then the rape scene starts making more sense, her need to be in control of everything and to know everything makes sense and all of a sudden, she doesn't seem as such a monster who is ruining Norman's life, instead she becomes more human. Norma is simply a ruined human being. Because she doesn't know how to exist in this world, she also doesn't know how to let Norman live in this world. 
So in the end, despite all their wrong doings, you feel sympathy for the characters, you understand them, you still know that what they are doing is wrong, even evil, but somehow it seems the only way they can exist.
I loved it! I loved the first season, it had its pros and cons, but I am positively surprised how well it all turned out.

P.S. To answer the question whether Norman killed his teacher or not, I am on the side of the argument that says he did. He has his black out, we hear the key phrase: "You know what you have to do, don't you?". And the next thing he is running away and she is on the floor dead.
Well, I might be terribly wrong, but we won't know till the second season, will we?

1 comment:

  1. Really look forward to watching this show now.


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