Recent years have seen a number of television series created to act as prequels to other shows or beloved movies, attempting to strike the balance between telling an entirely new story while giving fans of the original property enough references to keep them satisfied. One such show is A&E’s Bates Motel, a prequel to Alfred Hitchcock’s classic 1960 horror movie, Psycho. The series follows Norman Bates (Freddie Highmore) and his mother Norma (Vera Farmiga) through their relationship preceding the events of Psycho.
Bates Motel season 4 wrapped up earlier this year with a shocking death among the main characters on the show. Now, following the Bates Motel panel at Comic-Con International in San Diego, we know more of what to expect when the show returns for its fifth and final season.
The cast and crew at the panel announced that pop music artist Rihanna has been cast in season 5 in the role of Marion Crane, formerly played by Janet Leigh in Hitchcock’s Psycho. Rihanna can additionally be seen confirming the casting in the video above. Executive producers Carlton Cuse and Kerry Ehrin said of the announcement:
“We wanted to thrust the iconic role into a contemporary spotlight and redefine it in a meaningful and exciting new way. We also heard Rihanna was a fan of the show, and we were huge fans of hers, so it was the perfect collision of creativity and fate.”
Additionally announced at the panel, Farmiga will executive produce season 5 and return to her role as Norma – even after her death in the penultimate episode of season 4. Plus, co-star Max Thieriot, who plays Dylan Massett, will make his directorial debut and Highmore will co-write an episode along with Cuse and Ehrin.
While the first few seasons of Bates Motel may have been more about establishing the series in its own universe, explaining the story behind the motel, and developing the twisted relationship between Norman and Norma, the latter seasons – especially the show’s fourth outing – worked to bring the story in line with Psycho. Now, this addition of Rihanna as the character Marion Crane seems to indicate Bates Motel may overlap with Psycho even more than expected for a prequel series.
Certainly, Norman’s devolution into a murderer has been a throughline of Bates Motel since the beginning, but the show moved even closer to the events of Psycho in season 4, and will seemingly embrace them entirely in season 5. That said, with the fifth season of Bates Motel being its last, it makes sense that those involved would want to give viewers of the show as many Psycho references as possible before signing off for the final time.
Bates Motel will return for season 5 in 2017 on A&E.