Review: Bates Motel 3.01- “A Death in the Family”

Bates Motel is back for Season Three! Last year, things got weird and creepy and altogether crazy! Norman (Freddie Highmore) revealed to his mother, Norma (Vera Farmiga), that he did kill Miss Watson (Keegan Connor Tracy) in a blackout fit. However, Norma lives in denial and tries to play it off, pulling Norman back from attempted suicide. Also, Norman manages to pass the lie detector test, exonerating him from further suspicion. Also, Dylan (Max Thieriot) managed to survive a blow up in the drug world issues of White Pine Bay. The drug war storyline fell flat and let’s hope it’s not back this season.

***** SPOILER’S BELOW *****

We pick up this season immediately getting right into the icky creepiness: Norma and Norman spooning, intimately, in bed together. GROSS (but thank you show for taking it to that level)! Dylan sees them in bed and points out to Norma that it is weird, especially since Norman is now 18. As Dylan leaves, Norma gets a call from a man in Idaho. He informs her that her mother, Frannie Calhoun, has died and wants to discuss her estate, but Norma hurriedly hangs up the phone, saying she isn’t interested.

Bates Motel 3.01 Death in the Family houseIt’s back to school time for Norman, but he doesn’t want to go. Norma literally has to scream at him and pull him from the car in front of everyone. It’s hilarious. She also nonchalantly tells him about her mother dying, but doesn’t seem to concerned. At school. Norman has a vision of Miss Watson with her throat slit and freaks out, running out of the cafeteria.

Meanwhile, Sheriff Romero (Nestor Carbonell) is supervising the burning of marijuana fields with some DEA agents. He is supposedly in charge now, and looks like he is taking things into his own hands. Dylan goes to a cabin and is surprised to see Gunner (Keenan Tracey) there. Where in good god has Gunner been this whole time? Whatever. He wants to help Dylan now, but Dylan doesn’t want his help.

Bates Motel 3.01 Death in the Family poorNormNorman arrives at home, upset and wet, crying into his mother’s arms. Norma looks concerned, but comforts her son. They are interrupted by the arrival of Annika Johnson (Tracy Spiridakos), a scantily clad young woman driving a fancy car. Norman is immediately taken with her and stares at her boobs. Annika seems to be endeared by Norman. I just want to yell at her to be creeped out and to back away quickly. Annika rents a room and heads off. Norma doesn’t like this.

Bates Motel 3.01 Death in the Family annika2Romero and Dylan meet at a cafe to talk. Dylan says he is done being the drug boss and just wants to have his own legal farm and get by on that. Romero is not happy, saying he went out of his way to protect Dylan and if they aren’t working together anymore, he can’t help him. Ouch. Can we put a pin in this drug business shenanigans already?

Bates Motel 3.01 Death in the Family lighthelpBack at the motel, Annika needs helps changing a ceiling light bulb. Norman is glad to assist her. As they work together to change the light, they exchange extremely personal information. Norman shares about he mean, dead dad and she tells him she is basically a hired prostitute. Wow, let’s just share all of our crap with total strangers! It was a little hard to believe this woman would be so forthcoming with a teenage boy. But, who knows!

Bates Motel 3.01 Death in the Family fathernSonThat night, as Dylan drives around listening to rock music, he notices someone tailing him. He ends up pulling them over and forcing them to come out with his gun. Who could it be? Why, it’s Caleb (Kenny Johnson), his father/uncle! He wants to give Dylan some money, but Dylan refuses. Then, he can’t leave town because his van breaks down, so Dylan takes him to a shop. Caleb talks about wanting to be there for Dylan because his mother died and he has no family and blah blah blah. Caleb says that his mother was crazy and his father was abusive and he and Norma only had each other. Blech.

Speaking of Norma, she and Norman watch TV in her bed together. Again, gross. She suddenly brings up that she doesn’t think Norman should go to school anymore (WHAT?) and that he should be homeschooled (terrible idea!). Norman is all for it, of course. She is also making him motel manager. Wow, big step for a mentally unstable lunatic! She then tells him she thinks he should go sleep in his own bed (for once a good idea spouts forth from her lips!). Norman gets all huffy and mad and leaves.

Romero is approached at a bar by two former thugs who are mad about his burning of the weed fields. Romero responds by smashing one of the guys heads into the bar and then casually walking out. Badass!

Bates Motel 3.01 Death in the Family emmaIf you’ve been wondering where Emma (Olivia Cooke) has been, worry no more! She is back and still oddly obsessed with being a part of the Bates family. Why, Emma, why!?! Norman tells her that he is going to be homeschooled now. She tells him that her doctor said her lung capacity has been reduced. Oh noes! Norman responds by telling her that she should be homeschool too and they should date. Uh, what?! Is that how homeschooling works? And clearly Norman doesn’t really like her anymore? I can’t tell. Aw, poor Emma.

Meanwhile, Norma tells Dylan a nice story about her mother and a ribbon she kept of hers. It is endearing and sad to hear Norma finally let out her true feelings about her doomed mother. Later that night, Norman chases some raccoons from behind the motel. He notices the bathroom window to Annika’s room is open, so, of course, he goes to look in it, seeing her take a shower. Creep factor is now one thousand. Norma catches Norman and shouts at him to get out, calling him not normal! Norman is very apologetic, but there is something weird in his eye.

Norma cries in her bed and Norman thinks it is about her, but it’s really about her mother. He comforts her and Norma invites HIM into HER bed. Gag me with a spoon. Norman is hesitant and snarky, but easily gives in.

The next day, Dylan arrives at the cabin to find his father/uncle chatting with Gunner. He is pissed! He wants Caleb to leave town, but Caleb just wants to be with his son. Norma never has to know…

Bates Motel 3.01 Death in the Family annikaAt the motel, Norman and Emma start home school (and I’m still confused as to what exactly and how exactly you can just start homeschool). They talk about dating and it is awkward. Annika shows up, looking sultry in a red dress. She wants directions to a restaurant, but Norman offers to show her in person, as he has to go in town, too. That’s just weird. So, Norman leaves with Annika and they talk in the car about sex and bodies and it is weird and creepy and inappropriate. Poor Emma is left all alone and eventually leaves by herself, just missing Norman, who shows up in Annika’s car, sans Annika. WHAT DID HE DO?! AHH!

That’s it for the season premiere. Let me know what you guys thought in the comments below.

The show is definitely upping the creepy/icky factor and I love that. Things are heading down a direction I am excited to see. What happened to Annika? Something bad? Do we really trust Caleb’s intentions with Dylan or is there more to it? Will Emma break free of the Bates family and go off and be herself? Can she just get over awful Norman already? Time will tell. This season should be exciting and fun. Norman Bates is becoming more and more like the psycho we know!

New episodes of Bates Motel air Monday @ 10/9c on A&E. Watch full episodes on AETV.com, Hulu and Amazon Instant Video.

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Post Author: Ben Fleck