A&E’s requel (reboot/prequel) series Bates Motel just aired its fourth episode (read our review), but the misadventures of troubled young Norman Bates (Freddie Highmore) and his dragon-lady mother Norma (Vera Farmiga) will continue into next year, as Bates Motel has received a second season order from the cable network.
The news is not all that surprising, considering that the Bates Motel series premiere was the highest-rated program in A&E’s history, but as with all shows – particularly ones that air in the more Avant-garde realm of cable – there are the begging questions of should the story continue, and where it will go from here.
TV Line reports that Bates Motel season 2 will consist of ten episodes, just like season 1 – and what a first season it has been so far. As recently discussed on our Screen Rant Underground Podcast, the show (which looks back at the formative years of Hitchcock’s Psycho killer Norman Bates within a modern-day context) is not quite as thrilling or frightening as Fox’s The Following, or quite as interesting in its character study as Showtime’s Dexter or NBC’s Hannibal, but it is nonetheless solid.
Bates Motel is consistently creepy, mostly due to the way it juxtaposes the events of the series to what we know will be Norman’s ultimate fate as a deranged split-personality serial killer. Highmore and Farmiga are also good at charging their scenes with ambiguity and subtlety, making this slow downward spiral perennially discomforting in its teetering between the relatable and the twisted.
The show also had a pretty intense pilot that laid down a lot of threads slowly being unraveled over the course of season 1. However, it is also clear by now that the writers have a definite larger arc tying those threads together – including a murder cover-up for our central characters; a town that’s slowly becoming something out of Shirley Jackson’s The Lottery; not to mention, several family drama and/or romantic triangles waiting to be resolved. As AMC’s The Killing found out the hard way – with nearly fatal consequences – audiences don’t appreciate when stories get stretched out for the sake of making the network a season 2 dollar. So how best to continue Bates Motel?
Thankfully, the series has plenty going for it in terms of narrative space. There is of room for Norma and Norman (and even half-brother Dylan, played by Max Thieriot) to overcome their current legal and psychological predicaments and finally settle into town, their relationships with each other, their own skins – and of course their iconic motel, which has yet to actually open.
The potential storylines involving an increasingly psychotic Norman, a volatile Norma, and a rotating series of motel guests, could definitely sustain a second season pretty well. It also leaves room for season 1 to end on a satisfyingly shocking note (Norman killing someone), offer a few shocking revelations (Norman killed his dad, for example) – with a tease of future mayhem in Season 2 (Bradley or Jenna growing closer with crazy Norman – the motel opening with two psychos as its operators, etc.).
The only issue is whether the creators planned for such progression initially, or took the ‘act like it’s your only season’ approach with the storyline, which could make a season 2 transition quite clunky (see again: The Killing). But so far, watching the evolution of Norman Bates has been a solid (if not great) experience for many of viewers; hopefully, the rest of season 1 and season 2 build on that dark momentum.
Bates Motel airs @ 10pm, Mondays on A&E.
Source: TV Line