HOLLYWOOD—Episode 3 of the “Psycho” prequel “Bates Motel” titled, “What’s Wrong with Norman?” is appropriately so, as Norman (Freddie Highmore) begins to transform from the innocent-loving boy to the iconic, dark, twisted character that Anthony Perkins famously portrayed in the 1960 film.
The show begins with Norman (Freddie Highmore) blacking out in school after severe visions of the graphic pamphlet that he alongside classmate Emma (Olivia Cook) have tried to uncover, that lands him in the hospital. Before the doctor can fully diagnose what's exactly wrong with Norman, he is rushed out by his dear mother.
Things only get worse for the other members of the Bates’s family. Norma (Vera Farmiga) is once again under suspicion by Officer Romero (Nestor Carbonell). He arrives to her motel-this time with a search warrant.
Then, resident bad-boy and outcast son, Dylan (Max Thieriot) begins his new job in the marijuana fields that Emma and Norman came across last week and almost lost their lives trying to escape. Though this may seem like a minor subplot, the illegal activity occurring in the mysterious White Pine Bay area adds to the “psycho” factor of the show and seems more like destiny when considering the Bates.
Norman begins to see strange illusions throughout the episode, and at times cannot come to terms on what is reality and not. Norman begins to visualize his mother in his room telling him things that he is thinking as reassurance.
The ending of the episode, where Norman sees what could possibly be a new turn to the story, is not clear. Is it reality or just an illusion in Norman’s twisted head? We will find out next week.
The incest angle is still growing strong between Norma and Norman. As Norma begins to use and seduce Deputy Shelby (Mike Vogel) to get him to side away from Officer Romero’s investigation, Norman becomes a bit jealous. The jealousy is so apparent that even Dylan begins to advise Norman to stop becoming so dependent on “mother” over a brief and unexpected half-brother bonding moment.
Like Dylan, most viewers by now should raise a few eyebrows when a teenage boy from modern times stays up late to wait for his mother to come home safe and sound from a date. While Norma and Norman’s chemistry continues to ignite, the discomfort for viewers alike can be mutual. Love triangles in the show mostly consist of Norma-Norman-and whoever threatens to get in the way of their loving relationship. Farmiga and Highmore actually have great chemistry that feeds off very well, but in a very sick-incest way.
One of the strong points of the show is that it gets straight to the point of conflict. It never starts off slow; things get resolved in a timely fashion. Every episode so far has begun with a bang and keeps you watching until the very end. Fans will be surprised how fast an hour goes by and find it difficult to wait a whole week for the very next episode, which promises more intensity.
Highmore’s portrayal of Norman Bates is nothing short of astounding and right on key. Highmore has the awkwardness, but fragility of the character that hides a deeply twisted dark side looming underneath. As Norman’s paranoia increases, and he becomes a bit more psycho, the show is beginning to navigate on the road to an epic route.
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