Tuesday, March 08, 2016

Bates Motel: Top of the line television suspense (spoilers).

Before we get to it, let me first say that if you've never seen the series and if you are not caught up to last night's episode and for far future readers, that would be season four, episode one titled "A Danger to Himself and Others".

If you haven't seen it yet, stop what you're doing right now and go watch it. It's an excellent series and if you like any suspense at all, you'll like this. 

If on the other hand you are all caught up and are ready to chat about it, then read on.

I remember when commercials came on advertising the premiere of Bates Motel. For any of you who have read my posts throughout the internet under the same username, you'll realize that I'm a serious Alfred Hitchcock fan. I mean, very very seriously.

As a teen, I had a friend spend the night over one night. My mom came in and told us that a scary movie was coming on. She told me how when it came out, women were afraid to get into the shower. She said that when it came out, it was the scariest film that had been made to that date. 

Mom made us popcorn and we sat down to watch it on the TV in my bedroom. We turned out the light for ambiance. We were seriously wowed. Neither of us had seen it before, but the movie changed my life forever. From then on out, I had to see everything Hitchcock ever touched. 

When they made Psycho II, I tried to keep an open mind and decided to go ahead and see it. It wasn't Hitchcock by any means, but it had Anthony Perkins and Vera Miles in it. In my eyes, the most important cast members were still in it! What made that film unique was that it was almost a character study for Norman. In the end, it was his susceptibility that made you really feel for him. He was a good man really trying to do well in the world. It wasn't as great as Psycho, but was an interesting sequel. When Psycho III came out, I wanted to support Anthony Perkins, but I just couldn't support more films. It felt to me that they were going to try and take this to Psycho C (100 for those who are Roman numeral challenged) and that I could not tolerate.. 

When they remade Psycho, I scoffed. Perfection cannot be replicated and apparently others agreed. It was a serious flop and I was actually insulted that they ever even attempted to try and remake it. When a film is made and it's a classic, remakes are seldom any good. The only exception I can think of is the original The Postman Always Rings Twice with Lana Turner versus the version with Jessica Lange and Jack Nicholson. I've never really been satisfied with how the original turned out. I know a lot of people love it, but after seeing Double Indemnity it seemed silly. 

Circling back around to Bates Motel though, I have to say that when I heard there would be a television series that was a prequel and it would be set in present day, I raised an eyebrow. Not one to turn down a challenge I wanted to see how it worked. Unfortunately, I never could figure out what day and time it came on and by the time I figured it out, it was over. I felt deflated.

When season one it appeared on Netflix, I leaped. I was hooked after the first episode. I really feel that Hitchcock would like what they are doing. In fact, I doubt very much he would have liked Psycho II and III, but this is different. I really feel that they have delved into Norman's background so that we can see his descent into madness.

He's not the only one either. I mean, look around him. He is surrounded by murderers. First it was his mother, then it was Dylan and now it's Romero. I often wonder when Emma will have her turn but we'll see.

Both Freddie Highmore and Vera Farmiga are fabulous in the show. The fact though that Freddie has not even been nominated for an Emmy is high treason. Vera was nominated for the 2013 season (even though that season was technically part of the 2012 season) but has not been nominated again. She should have been!

Perhaps this is their year. Freddie definitely deserves an Emmy if for no other reason than last night's episode. The final moments were so chilling, that I actually got goosebumps. When Audrey deliberately defied Norma's request and knocked on the door. I knew she would never leave. Norman imitated Norma's mannerisms to a tee. He sat across from Audrey with those understanding eyes and nodded listening to her just as Norma would.

He moved to the couch next to her and rubbed her arm reassuringly. It was a though they were making friends. Then, there was the tiniest flicker across Norman's face. Freddie did it perfectly. I mean, WOW!

My daughter and I watch it together. I leaned forward, my mouth falling wide open. "DID YOU SEE THAT?" I yelled, even though my daughter was sitting on the couch next to me and could hear me perfectly well. She said yes in as much shock as I was in.

I then said "Say goodbye lady! You're about to meet your maker!" Sure enough, in what seemed like slow motion, I watched Norman avenge the abandonment he was sure that Emma faced, or would face. Audrey should have listened to Norma. Oh boy, she certainly should have!

A lot are talking about the marriage proposal and that was amusing, if not gawking. Norma never ceases to amaze me with her ability to ask for things no one else in the world would ever have the audacity to ask. She is a very daring person. I love Nestor Carbonell and especially his portrayal of Sheriff Romero, but I could not read his reaction in that exchange.

Was he hurt with the revelation that Norma understands his attraction to her but she is not ready to welcome him into  her heart? Was he, instead, angry for the same reason? Was he thinking, I just killed for this woman and this is what I get for it? What was it exactly? I suppose we have to wait to find out. 

There was in interesting interview of producer Kerry Ehrin posted on TVline.com. Three things interested me and I hope they don't mind my quoting them. The problem stems from their questions not being numbered. This is for clarity purposes only.
TVLINE | Romero is keeping Norma at arm’s length. Is that a direct result of him murdering Bob Paris?
Yes. Bob was a bad guy and he killed people, but he was set to go to prison. And that would’ve been a perfectly fine [punishment] for the crimes he committed. But Romero took things into his own hands because he wanted to make sure Norma was protected, and now it’s rocked him a little bit. He’s probably wondering, “Oh my God. I just committed murder for this woman. What do I actually mean to her? I need to step back and get control of the situation.” 
TVLINE | Fair to say Audrey’s death, and Norman’s role in it, will put some strain on Emma and Dylan’s romance?
Audrey’s storyline is very much one of perception. As the season unfolds, the presence of Audrey — or lack [thereof] — becomes a telltale heart in the season. And where and when that information will pop up and who it will affect is a big part of the storytelling. Dylan has found this love with Emma, and the worst possible thing that could happen is that Norman has possibly killed her mother. That’s going to have a lot of implications. 
TVLINE | I always imagined the show would end when Norman kills Norma. But the speed with which the story is now moving makes me wonder if a big chunk of that final season will focus on Norman’s life after Norma’s death.
Well, obviously that’s a huge question. And a good one. [Laughs] What I can tell you is that we’re not doing Psycho.
The first question is a good one. It was also something I mentioned to my daughter last night. This is reminiscent of Gone Girl (spoiler here so skip to next paragraph if you haven't seen that movie nor read the book). In the book (and movie) that was what tied up the entire thing. Nick realized how much his wife "loved" him, if you can even call it that, because she killed for him. We have the same element going here. Romero killed for Norma.

The second question bothers me. No one is supposed to know that Norman was killing people. That's the entire theme of the film that this was based on. How can this possibly become a factor if Emma doesn't know Norman killed her? The only thing I can come up with is that this is a smoke screen answer. We know that in the film, there is no Dylan and no Emma. They're not mentioned at all. There can only be two answers to what happened to them.
  1. They get married and move away to live happily ever after again.
  2. They die.
It's really that simple. Will they discover Norman's secret then get killed for knowing? Or will they discover Norman's secret and being afraid for their lives, run away together? To me, those are really the only options. That or they just never know, but that's not what Kerry said, is it?

The third question is a definite and deliberate smoke screen. Notice that the answer to the question has nothing at all to do with the actual question, "... we're not doing Psycho," Kerry says. Well, we never saw Norma die in Psycho anyway. In fact, she had died ten years before the film's setting. Ten years! That's hardly Psycho. Of course we wouldn't see ten years of Norman fly by during the final season! During, not the end. ;)

I still say it is not out of the realm of possibility that the final few minutes of the series says "10 years later..." and there a woman signing into the motel as "Marie Samuels". Okay, so that definitely would be part of Psycho, but it would close the door, so to speak. That's where the movie picks up Norman's story and so that's where the series should end. We know the rest.

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