Bates Motel, the A&E original series based on the Alfred Hitchcock's 1960 suspense classic Psycho, is about to launch its fifth season. This series focuses around young Norman Bates' (Freddie Highmore) life living in the motel with his mother, Norma (Vera Farmiga), prior to the events of his classic demise. In the pilot episode Norman is a sweet, if slightly awkward, young man and over the course of the intervening seasons, viewers have had a chance to peel back the layers that make up his complex character - taxidermy and all - and understand why he ended up the way he did.
With the fifth season right around the corner, A&E dropped a featurette titled "Check in on Norman Bates" holds a peek into how Norman's life now that his mother, Norma, is out of the way. Her absence certainly leaves many questions about how Norman Bates will cope: Who else will he harm this season? Can he take care of himself? When will some of the other characters start to take note of Norma's absence?
Following the death of Norma Bates at the end of the last season, questions have been swirling about how involved Vera Farmiga will be in the fifth and final season of Bates Motel. A quick look at IMDB reveals that she is credited for every episode, but there is nothing in "Check In On Norman Bates" that would suggest this to be true or false. We do know that Rihanna was cast as Marion Crane for the fifth season. Marion Crane is, of course, the famous character played by Janet Leigh in Psycho.
Viewers will note that the Bates house, as well a the eponymous Bates Motel, appear under kept - if not in a state of disarray in this promo. There doesn't appear to be anyone taking care of the upkeep, including Norman, himself. The kitchen seems to have suffered the most neglect, including food left out to spoil, an unclean stove and even foodstuffs on the wall. From a house that was once populated by the entire Bates family it is startlingly empty, even when a brief glimpse of Norman as he inhabits his mother's garb. The aforementioned taxidermy is still, evidently, taking up a lot of Norman's time and at the end of the video it is revealed that his current project is a gift for his mother. In the final moments, the shrine in which Norman has been keeping his mother is revealed. Somewhat fancier than where we discover Norma Bates in Psycho, this final shot is nonetheless horrifying.
What is really exciting about this little teaser for Bates Motel is that, after five seasons, viewers are finally getting a chance to see him become his mother Anthony Perkins-esque self. It should become abundantly clear how his character manages to maintain his facade for so many years after this. There is a definite sense that, amongst the neglect, there is a real shift in tone of the show now that he is completely unencumbered by his family.
Conversely, the absence of Norma from the show may be too big a change. Bates Motel's audience have come to know the strained, and at times, unique relationship the mother and son share. "Check In On Norman Bates" asks far more questions than it answers in the course of three minutes.
Bates Motel season 5 will air on A&E Monday, February 20, 2017.
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