Monday, March 25, 2013

Bates Motel - First you dream, then you die



Goooood Eeeevening Addicts. That was my best Alfred Hitchcock impression via the Internet. What do you think? There has been a lot of buzz about the new interpretation of the classic Psycho. I saw the movie as a kid, and it terrified me. My Dad was a big Hitchcock fan and so he wanted me to like his movies. The thing about Hitchcock is, rather than spend a lot of time and money on a special effect or showing a scary creature, he’d let the viewers imagination create their own version of what lies behind the door. It’s something a lot of film makers don’t remember, chose to ignore, or don’t know about. Then again, audiences these days want all the facts, straight up, with no bullshit or we get mad. It’s unfortunate that imagination has been surgically removed from the theater.

But I digress! We’re here to talk about the new show on A&E, Bates Motel. It’s a modern day interpretation of what the set up to Psycho would be. It stars Freddie Highmore as Norman, and Vera Farmiga as Norma (the mom).


We meet Norman as he is wandering around his house, that’s full of creepy portraits on the wall. He focuses on a picture of his parents wedding and for some reason freaks out. He calls out for his mom and is running around only to find his Dad dead on the floor of the garage. He high-tails it back in the house and finds Norma in the bathroom, pounding on the door. When she finally opens the door he tells her something’s wrong with Dad and runs off back to the body.


My senses are going off that tell me that Norma is not innocent here. Look at the smile on her face. Maybe I’ve been watching too much of The Following where no one is to be trusted, but I feel like this will be the same type of show. Everything she says is up for debate. She takes her time tying her robe and slowly saunters down the hall. Clearly in no hurry. She puts on a sad face for Norman when she finally gets to the body and says, “I’m so sorry”. Is she sorry that Dad is dead? Or is she saying sorry because she killed him?

Flash to a beautiful coastal area. Norma and Norman (that’s already going to be super annoying) have witty banter in the car about how this new step is great and wonderful and not at all something that Norman gets a say in. They pull up to the house.


That looks exactly like the set used for the original movie. For filming locations, Canada is listed. It’s entirely possible that they built a replica, since I know that the original set is in LA. Either way, bravo. It would be a little sac religious to film in the original house, I think. But I’m a purist about things like this. Norman (I think I’ll start calling Norma, Mother, as he does) isn’t really impressed. The house comes fully furnished, as does the motel, to fully give the effect of vintage. They go upstairs and Norman finds a door that goes up an extra level and asks if it’s his room. She says, “Noooo, your room is down here, closer to me!” It’s already creepy. They talk about starting over; having a new life. Norman isn’t convinced.


We see Norman sitting at some sort of bus stop, listening to classical music, when a troop of girls walk to him and start attacking him with questions. Another girls shows up in a car and they all pile in, and bring him with. One girl, Bradley, sits on his lap and steals his phone to put her contact info into. Creepy alarm going off. That doesn’t happen. Not in real life. He tells the girls he has an older brother but he doesn’t live with them.

Mother is preparing food and her phone rings and it’s Dylan (the other son). He is pissed that she didn’t tell him he moved. He tells her that he needs money because his job fell apart. He yells out for Norma. She hangs up. There’s issues here we don’t know about it.

Norman meets with his advisor at school. His test scores are off the charts, but his grades aren’t very good due to his moving around. She suggests that maybe he try to put down some roots; play some sports. She suggests track since the try outs are today. He seems to like the idea.


Norman comes home to find Mother sitting at the table, waiting. She tells him that she has indeed been waiting. He tells her he stayed late to try out for the track team. She’s not impressed. He hands her a consent form she needs to sign in order for him to run. She sees that practice would be almost every day after school, plus meets on Saturdays. She tells him he’s putting her in a tough position; how is she supposed to run the motel without him? She uses skills of amazing manipulation. When he tells her he doesn’t have to run, she says, “No, it’s ok. I’ll just do everything on my own…like I always do.” Ugh! My own mom uses that kind of line. It’s so infuriating. Then again…I’ve used it on my boyfriend a time or two…uh oh. Dangerous territory. She then says she’s not even hungry, signs the form, and leaves him to eat alone.


Norman is outside beating a carpet with a broom (do people really do that?) and a man walks up to him and calls him by name. Asks how he likes the house he just moved into, says he knows about his mom, Norma. He then goes off on a tirade about how the house was built by his great-great grandfather built the house and his grandfather built the motel. He’s very upset about losing his house and property. Anyone would be. He gets a little creepy. “I know everything about this place, every nook and cranny, every dirty secret.” He gets all threatening. Mother tells him to leave or she’ll call the police and then maybe shoot him. He tells her to go ahead and call the cops, because he fishes with half of them. I don’t really know where this setting is supposed be. East coast, maybe?

Norman and Mother are enjoying their evening when the doorbell rings.


The coven has arrived! They ask if Norman can come to the library to study. Mother tells the girls that he’s too busy with unpacking and that he can’t go, despite his attempts to break free. She tells him he can go another time, when they’ve settled in. He lashes out because he wanted to make friends. Mother tells him he doesn’t know them, that he needs to be careful. He runs up to his room and she tells him to just stay there for the rest of the night. Norman quickly remembers that Bradley gave her his number, so he texts her to meet him at the bus stop. He climbs out his window and is free-along with his textbooks! The girls laugh at the fact that he actually thought they were going to study.

I didn’t go to many parties in high school, so maybe I’m just na├»ve, but there’s practically a light show going on, a room with a black light and bikini wars, a table full of weed, and a table full of coke. Am I ridiculous to think that this a little farfetched? If it’s not, I may not have kids. That’s insane.


Norman finds himself only comfortable in the kitchen, alone, with a beer. For shame, Norman. I don’t think Mother would like that. He has the googoo eyes for Bradley and she gives him some gushy eyes back. She comes to talk to him and he says, “There’s a lot to look at” and she asks if he just gave her a line. He says no. Then she says that he’s “different”. Yeah, in a murderey sort of way! They have some flirting and leaning in and then some guy shows up and I get the sense that he’s Bradley’s boyfriend. Especially since he calls her babe. They walk off together to meet some guy and the dude is not happy about Norman.

Back at the house, Mother is doing dishes when there’s a noise at the back door. I’m getting a little nervous…BOOM! Damn you mood music! Jump scenes get me EVERY time. This is gonna be a long season…The threatener is back.


Mother grabs a knife and screams out for Norman (but we all know he’s not there). He kicks her in the gut and then pulls out an exacto knife. She tries to grab it, for some reason and he pulls it out of her hand, cutting her. He puts a piece of tape over her mouth and then bends her over the table and handcuffs her to it. “This house is mine, and everything IN this house is mine.” He then rips her underwear off and proceeds to rape her.


It’s slightly disturbing and uncomfortable (as most rape scenes are). I’m a little shocked at what A&E is getting away with. This is the show I used to watch British murder mystery shows on. Norman shows up mid-thrust and hits him over the head with an iron. Norman goes to see if he has a key for the cuffs, and they uncuff Mother and cuff rapists hands together. He starts to stir. She grabs the knife again and he laughs at her and says, “You liked it.”


She stabs him She stabs him 8 times (yes I counted) before Norman comes back into the room after finding the first aid kit. He goes to call the police and she stops him. “Who’s going to come to the rape/murder motel?” She demands to know where he was because he would’ve come down to help her otherwise. He tells her she went to a party and he diverts her anger by saying that there’s a dead body on the floor with a lake of blood. Then plan is to soak up the blood with bed linens from the motel and then they’ll wrap up the body in a comforter and store him in a tub in one of the rooms until they figure out a better plan tomorrow.
They stumble along and get him in the tub. Now there’s blood on the carpet. They figure they’ll have to pull up the carpet in rooms 4-7 since the carpet is all the same through those ones. Plus if someone sees them, they’ll just say they’re renovating. “How do we pull up carpet?” Oh Norman. It’s kind of self explanatory. You cut, and you pull.

As the carpet pulling is going along, a light shows up on the windows. Cops. They start to panic. Mother calms herself down, and walks out to greet them.


It’s that guy from Suddenly Susan! The photographer. She tries a joke and says she was going to tell them they weren’t open for business yet and that they moved in a few days ago. The cops say they didn’t know anyone had moved in. The cops mention that it’s a little unusual that their names are Norma and Norman. They say it’s a little too late for her to be having her son up, when he has school the next day. They ask about her hand and she says she just nicked it when she was cutting the carpet. They ask to take a look inside the rooms. They walk in and find Norman (who’s in the room with the body). He asks to use the bathroom, and Mother tells him the toilets aren’t flushing. He says it was a problem he had told the previous owner about, that you just have to jiggle it, but he’ll take a look at it.


The other cop makes small talk with them about the weather. I think he’s the dumb nice cop, while the other one is the hard ass. He jiggles and flushes and comes out. Then they get a call on their radio and they leave. That was about as close as it can get, I think.


The next day at school, Norman looks like hell. He is pale, and sweaty and he looks down at his shoe and there’s a blood stain. He runs and pukes in a garbage can. Then a girl with an oxygen tank walks up next to him. She tells him to get it all out, don’t worry about being embarrassed. She hands him a mint and tells her that she has cystic fibrosis so she’s no stranger to being sick. She’s pretty cute. She asks if he has a chornic illness. Her name is Emma. I think Norman is gonna go after Bradley while Emma goes after Bradley. She checks to make sure he’s really ok and then walks away, tank in tow.

Norma is walking in town and sees a sign posted in the window that advertises a public forum. There’s a new highway being built on the other side of town. This would be debilitating for the motel. No one would know the motel was even there if the highway gets built.

Mother and son put the body in the trunk and then in a row boat. He’s got at least one anchor tied around his body. “I suck” is her opening line in the boat. She tells Norman about the highway being built and that she feels foolish for buying it and that people suck. Everyone sucks, except Norman. “You’re too good for me. I’m the worst mother in the world.” These writers are pretty amazing. Norman tells her that she’s everything to him. “I don’t ever want to live in a world without you.” You won’t, Norman. Trust me. I’ve seen how this ends. He gives her this whole dialogue and she realizes it’s from Jane Eyre. I wouldn’t know. But they have some more loving words for each other, and then they dump the body. I realized she stabbed him 8 times, but based on all the murder mystery TV shows I’ve watched over the years, isn’t it sort of common knowledge that when the body starts to decompose, gases expel, which make the body float. Wouldn’t you stab the body as many time as you could to let the air have a chance to get out? Is this becoming a how-to-murder blog…I better stop now.

The new sign is going up in front of the motel. Norman is in his room looking at some sort of journal that he grabbed off of the rapist.


It looks like he was a bit of a sick-o even before he raped Mother. Norman seems confused, and yet can’t look away. Mother is very excited to show him the new sign. Its blue, his favorite color.


She tells him that they’re not going to build the bypass, but that she’ll think of something. I have no doubt. Bodies will drop. Freddie is creepy when he calls her Mother. We then get a cut scene to a woman, chained to the floor. With all kinds of needle marks on her arms. Someone inserts another needle into her arm and scene. She’s the girl in the sketch book. So if rapist is dead, who’s injecting this woman?
It’s going to be an interesting show for sure. Vera and Freddie turn in amazing performances so far. The pilot is always the hardest. You have to create a whole world based on no previous information. I’ll be staying with this show to see how it goes. It’s hard to see Freddie Highmore as anything but the unbelievably adorable Peter in Finding Neverland. Seriously. If you haven’t seen it. Watch it. He’s captivating.

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