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Thursday, 18 June 2015

Bates Motel (2013) - Early Years of the 'Psycho'


If you are a fan of Alfred Hitchcock and his super-hit movie Psycho, then you simply cannot miss Bates Motel. 
This TV thriller follows the teenage years of Norman Bates, the boy who grows up to be the motel owner and psychopath from the legendary movie Psycho.
Bates Motel started in 2013 and has concluded 3 seasons on A&E. The series has been renewed for 2 more seasons. It is said that Season 5 might be the final season of this super-hit thriller.
While it is a prequel to 'Psycho', the TV show introduces some changes in the story and adds a few interesting characters, each of whom have a role to play in the lives of the 2 main protagonists - Norman Bates and his mother Norma Bates. 

The Troubles of Norman Bates

Norman Bates is a quiet 16 year-old boy who lives with his mother, a motel owner in White Pine Bay. On the surface, he is the ideal son who shares a very intimate relationship with his mother, something quite unusual for a boy of his age. He is obedient and understanding because "mother knows the best". 
He suffers from occasional blackouts where he goes into a trance for several minutes or hours. Unfortunately for him, he is never aware of his activities while during this dazed period.


Norman and Norma Bates - A boy's best friend is his mother
Unable to easily make friends and shunned at school by most of his peers, Norman's only friend is Emma Decody, a sweet-natured girl suffering from a lung condition which limits her life-span unless she can get a lung transplant.
Emma takes up work at the Bates Motel and deeply cares for Norman. In fact, she develops a crush on him right from the beginning, but Norman does not feel the same way about her. His emotional distance and mixed signals constantly torments her, though he does seem to care about her in his own way.
Emma Decody, the tormented friend 
  • Meanwhile, Norman develops a serious crush on Bradley Martin, a beautiful and popular girl in his school. 
  • Bradley tries to exploit Norman's feelings for her and falsely accuses Norman of forcing himself on her, leading her boyfriend to punch Norman on the night of the school prom. Mad with anger and reeling from the insult, Norman runs out of the school in the rain.
  • Norman find one more friend in his English teacher Blair Watson, who always seemed overtly concerned with Norman's well-being. 
  • While driving back from the prom, Blair Watson discovers a drenched and disturbed Norman walking alone on the road. She offers a ride and takes him to her home on the pretext of nursing his wound. At her house, she seduces Norman.
  • The next morning, Blair Watson is found dead in her bedroom, with her throat slit open. Since Norman was the last person to see her, he comes under the scrutiny of the sheriff. However, based on his narration of events, the cops manage to nab Blaire's ex-boyfriend for her murder. All's well that ends well, at least for the time being.

Mother Knows Best - Or Does She?

Norman's mother, Norma Bates has a troubled past of her own and is fiercely protective of her son. After the death of her abusive husband in a freak accident, she decides to start a fresh life. The mother and son move to White Pine Bay, where Norma buys a motel and goes out of her way to prevent a new bypass from coming up that might spoil her motel business.
It will always be you and me, Norman.
Seemingly quiet and peaceful, the town of White Pine Bay hides some deadly secrets. An important hub for marijuana and other illegal trades, it has some of the most influential people of the town involved. 
Though very resourceful and opportunistic, Norma has the knack of getting involved with all the wrong people possible.
  • It starts with her affair with Deputy Sheriff Zach Shelby who covers up a murder for her. But he is not what he seems. One night, Norma discovers a trapped and tortured girl in his hidden basement and realizes that Shelby deals with women trafficking. 
  • Soon, her own life comes under threat as Shelby stops at nothing to keep his secret buried. However, some unexpected turn of events unfold and she is rescued by Sheriff Romero in the nick of time.
  • To complicate things further, her eldest son Dylan Massett who had been estranged from her for several years turns up at Norma's doorstep. Dylan gets into the drug business and starts working at one of the "farms". Their strained mother-son relationship, coupled with his shady profession, takes a toll on Norma. However, Dylan proves to be the most sane person in the Bates household.
  • Norma's troubles continue as yet another of her estranged relative shows up - this time her older brother Caleb Calhoun appears in town. Norma's dark past is revealed as she discloses to her sons that Caleb would repeatedly rape her when they were young. A much worse and twisted secret is revealed at a latter point of the show.
Dylan - the other son, Caleb - the brother

  • As if this is not enough, Norman has a panic attack at school and starts home-schooling. Soon enough, Norman realizes that her son's psychological trouble goes far beyond black-outs and she starts suspecting that Norman might have had something to do with Blaire Watson's murder.

Fatal Attraction

As Norman and Norma try to cope with the complications in their lives, and their weakening business in Bates Motel, new developments reveal that Norman is physically attracted to his mother. The thought of her sleeping with anyone becomes completely unbearable to him, as seen by his nasty behaviour towards her when he suspects her of spending the night with her friend and psychiatrist James. 
So obsessed is Norman with his mother that he even gets jealous of his brother Dylan's closeness with their mother. Norman imagines his mother sitting in front of him, talking to him and pushing him to do things, even if she is not really around. 
Mother, I can't bear to see you with anyone. 

Sheriff Romero - the Devil Angel

The Sheriff of White Pine Bay, Alex Romero, is one of the most intriguing characters of the show. He is a silent and dangerous man, aware of all the illegal activities going on in his town, and he is okay with it, only as long as he approves of them. When he doesn't, he has his own methods of justice. He can be ruthless and completely unpredictable.
Sheriff Romero rescues Norma from life-threatening situations several times - his own deputy Shelby, the shady billionaire Bob Paris who targets Norma after she tries to blackmail him, and many more. The chemistry between Romero and Norma is quite evident and yet somehow, they never develop a relationship, making the viewers crave to see them together, at least at some point.
Sheriff Alex Romero
The line between the good and the evil gets blurred in Romero's character. You love him for his calmness and gritty nature, and you cannot hate him in spite of his ruthlessness because he gives his victims what they deserve - punishment.

Verdict

Bates Motel is a truly gripping and dark TV show which will keep you interested from start to finish. The complicated relationship between mother and her sons is both fascinating and twisted. 
So is the gradual evolution and revelation of Norman Bates and how he comes to be the psychopath he is. If you like a good thriller with unexpected twists, this show is a must-watch. I would rate this 8.5 out of 10.

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