I am still saddened and shocked that one of my favorite shows ended it’s 5 season run this week. I have been a Bates fan from the beginning, and looked forward to seeing that hotel sign crackle to life each week. What first drew me in was my love for Hitchcock films, and hope for a good reimagining. Secondly, Carlton Cuse’s involvement as the executive producer hooked me, as I loved his work on Lost. Once you paired that with the perfect casting of Vera Farmiga as Mother and Freddie Highmore as Norman, I knew it would go down as one of my favorite shows of all time.
The show began as a modern day prequel to the events of the film Psycho. Freddie Highmore played a younger Norman than we were used to and we finally meet an alive version of Norma (mother), which Vera Farmiga played the hell out of. From the get go I felt like the show gave off a Twin Peaksesque vibe. Partly due to the setting of Oregon as opposed to California in the book/film. Also because we were introduced to many other interesting supporting characters and subplot storylines that weren’t in the original film. Each season was only 10 episodes, and the first got right into the action as you find Norma and Norman relocating to start a new life and buying the hotel to run. Very early on we get hints as to things not being right with Norman and there is definitely a strange relationship between him and his mother, who is also a little off. Seasons 2 and 3 continue to introduce side storylines that really didn’t matter to the endgame of the show, but were interesting nonetheless. We also slowly learned more about what was really going on with Norman and some of the questionable things Norma was willing to do to protect her family. I really don’t want to go into too much detail as I don’t want to give anything away and encourage everyone to watch all 50 episodes of this show as soon as you can.
Before season 4 premiered, it was announced that season 5 would end the series. This was the clue that they were ramping up the storyline to meet back up with the original Psycho we all know. This season saw Freddie Highmore really start to show range as his mental illness continued to get worse and SPOILER ALERT we see Norma die at the end of the season. This really propels us into the final season and where Norman’s mind will go.
This brings us to season 5, where 2 years later we see Norman living alone and running the hotel, but maintaining a spilt personality where he embodies his mother and listens to her advice. The body count continues to rise and we really get right up to the events of the original film with the arrival of Sam Loomis and Marion Crane (played by special guest star Rihanna). They threw me for a loop here as they deviated from the original film storyline and SPOILER ALERT Norman lets Marion live in her shower scene. I was so anticipating her death and it never came. I found this to be a genius twist by Carlton Cuse and Kerry Ehrin (co creator and producer). Eventually Norman does kill Sam in the shower which was a nice change. The show then continued to go beyond the story we got in the film. Norman actually gets arrested and charged with multiple murders after a stress induced/mental breakdown confession. He then gets out of jail (without getting into a major explanation) only to be killed by his half brother. The show actually kinda ended on a happy note for Norman, yes he was dead, but reunited with his mother.
Throughout the 5 season run there were a couple other major recurring characters that made the show great. Norma’s former husband/former sheriff Romero (played by Nestor Carbonell of Lost), was originally only a guest star but became recurring after the 1st season. Norman’s half brother was played by Max Thieriot who showed a lot of surprising range in the final few episodes. It’s hard to think of him as that teenage boy from The Pacifier anymore.
I truly loved this show and thought it was masterfully pulled off. Yes some of the first 3 seasons seem like filler episodes in retrospect, but the way they created their own version of this familiar story was amazing. Vera Farmiga and Freddie Highmore gave career defining Emmy worthy performances in every episode. I only wished this had been a more popular show, however I am glad they got the opportunity to tell their whole vision and go out the way they intended.
Were you a Bates fan like me? Comment below or email me. I would love to talk more about this wonderful show.