While the characters of Norman and Norma Bates – along with their iconic house/motel property – firmly establish A&E drama Bates Motel as taking place within the Psycho universe, the series has never been shy about upending expectations viewers might have as to how closely events would mirror the canon of the films. In addition to moving the setting to Oregon from California, Bates Motel has seemingly taken delight in altering multiple elements of the Bates family backstory.
For example, in the Psycho films, it’s made clear that while Norman had always been mentally unstable, he didn’t become a serial killer until after murdering his mother pushed him entirely over the edge. While Norman did finally kill Norma near the end of Bates Motel season 4 – an event that never stopped being inevitable, despite the changes to their past – he had already brutally slaughtered multiple people by that point, and had also assumed the identity of his mother when killing, another thing the films said didn’t happen until after Norma was dead.
With Bates Motel’s fifth and final season soon to debut on A&E, showrunner Kerry Ehrin and the series’ writing staff are set to take on their most intriguing task yet: retelling the events of the original Psycho film, albeit altered to fit the changed continuity. It was revealed a few months back that pop star Rihanna will portray Marion Crane, the character played by Janet Leigh in Alfred Hitchcock’s classic. Now, another notable name has been cast in a role inspired by the original Psycho, with Deadline reporting that Austin Nichols (Spencer on the AMC’s The Walking Dead) signed on to play Sam Loomis.
In Hitchcock’s Psycho, Sam Loomis was Marion’s married lover, and her desire to be with him was the primary factor that led her to steal a large amount of money from her boss and drive away from her mild-mannered life as a bank employee. However, the official description of Bates Motel’s Sam paints a much different picture. Sam is described as a “mysterious and charismatic newcomer to White Pine Bay who quickly antagonizes Norman Bates when he tries to involve the Bates Motel’s owner in his web of lies.”
While it’s still unclear what leads Rihanna’s Marion to the titular motel in this version, it sure doesn’t sound like her and this Sam will have an existing relationship prior to their respective arrivals in town. With so much changed regarding the two characters, one wonders whether Bates’ writers aren’t planning to throw out a major curveball, and won’t try to replicate the original Marion’s infamous fate of getting slashed up in the shower. Bates Motel season 5 may be heading into familiar territory, but it seems like its ultimate destination will be quite different.
Bates Motel season 5 premieres Monday, February 20th on A&E.